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4551  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Tax Policy: Malpass - Nothing is certain but more debt and more taxes on: January 02, 2013, 04:28:15 PM
[Overtaxing the rich] "hurts aspiring Americans more than it hurts those who have already made it."

This is a very important point that I wish had been made persuasively by Romney, House Republicans, and those who will follow.

This deal is almost all about taxes.  The Republicans will have another chance to cut spending, if they even want to, at the edge of the debt ceiling.  Malpass is right, after we don't cut spending or reform entitlements, it is just more debt and more taxes forever.

One important piece of the deal that may never have been otherwise corrected is the estate tax.  When we surrender all we ever earned and saved, even at death, we have lost.

The highest federal tax rate including surcharges is now 44-46%.  In a high tax state that means approaching 60%.  Combine the cost of regulations and you might as well round it to 100.
David Malpass: Nothing Is Certain Except More Debt and Taxes
The Senate fiscal-cliff bill still means higher taxes on every working American. So much for just going after 'the rich.'


Whatever ultimately emerges from the fiscal-cliff negotiations over the past 48 hours, the country will survive. But the damage can't be undone. Taxes are going up for all working Americans. And so is the size of government.

Businesses have been waiting to see whether a second Obama administration will encourage the economy. During the fiscal-cliff negotiations, however, the president made clear that his goal isn't to get business going again but instead to expand government and redistribute income. He offered no real spending cuts and instead used the year-end deadline to divide America into classes—to the point of campaigning on New Year's Eve against higher earners. Though the president talks about fairness, his policies penalize profit and investment. This hurts aspiring Americans more than it hurts those who have already made it.

The deal that emerged from the Senate early Tuesday morning is being sold as a tax cut for the middle class, but the expiration of the two-percentage-point payroll tax holiday means that working Americans' take-home pay will drop. The bill reduces the value of tax deductions for upper incomes and, with the new open-ended 3.8% Medicare tax that was enacted under ObamaCare, income-tax rates on families and small business owners earning over $450,000 have been pushed above 44%.

The Senate bill makes the tax code more complex, provides for no spending cuts and creates four deadlines—for the debt-limit increase within weeks, the March 1 automatic spending cuts known as the sequester, a second sequester on March 27 (to make up for overspending since the first sequester) and the March 30 expiration of government spending authority. These deadlines will keep Washington negotiations on the front page for months but with little likelihood that government will cut programs, sell assets or downsize the 1,300 federal agencies and commissions.

No wonder many House Republicans balked at what was presented. The New Year's Day legislation is breathtaking in its largess. The Senate bill extends 52 tax credits, mostly for one year, ensuring huge annual lobbying fees and political contributions. Section 206 provides a juicy capital-gains tax exemption for contributions of property for conservation, meaning wealthy environmentalists with extra acreage will be able to take a tax deduction for the appreciated property and have the environmental organization preserve it, adding to the value of the primary property. Section 312 provides faster tax deductions for "motorsports entertainment complexes." Section 317 allows expensing of film and television productions, meaning lower taxes for Hollywood.

The bill devotes much space to tax credits for government-approved energy schemes, providing taxpayer subsidies for energy-efficient new homes, existing homes, appliances, cellulosic biofuel and "Indian coal facilities." Underscoring the complexity of the tax code, the bill takes seven pages to index the alternative minimum tax for inflation because it takes side trips to curry favor with the owners of plug-in electric vehicles and with first-time home-buyers in the District of Columbia.

The pattern across the developed world is for politicians to negotiate with each other and, after much drama, make the brave decision to downsize jobs through taxes and mandates rather than downsizing government. This country is no different: Whatever tax and spending decisions Washington makes over the next few months, the likelihood is that government will be bigger in 2013 and the fiscal problems even more urgent.

There has emerged from the budget negotiations no process to cut government programs, limit the debt or reform the tax code. Many tax rates have now gone up and almost no spending restraint has been implemented, hurting 2013 investment and hiring. Even if the spending sequester is allowed to proceed on March 1 or substitutes are found, the cuts will be a small fraction of the spending binge in recent years that left a string of $1 trillion deficits.

The Congressional Budget Office scores the Senate bill as adding $4 trillion to the national debt by 2022. That assumes the sequester or equivalent spending cuts are fully implemented in March, which seems unlikely. Some are hoping that during the coming confrontation over the debt-limit increase fiscal conservatives will be able to recover lost ground on spending. That won't work, because the debt limit doesn't provide much leverage.

The debt-limit statute was written specifically to make it easier to increase the debt, not as a way to limit the debt. It should be repealed and replaced with a law that cuts spending when there is too much debt. While Republicans rightly want to stop the unending growth in debt, the current debt-limit statute gives most of the power to the president, allowing him to shut down parts of the government and blame holdouts until he gets enough votes for more debt.

Rather than rejecting an increase in the debt limit, fiscal conservatives should offer a lasting remedy. This would be a debt-to-GDP limit that, when exceeded, would give the president the power to underspend congressional appropriations and to propose fast-track reductions in entitlements—but would also require him to make monthly reports to the public on excess spending and prohibit raises for government employees making over $100,000.

Fighting under the current rules isn't working and leaves government inexorably bigger. The country can't afford this approach. Demographics are making it harder each year to restrain spending or win elections on the platform of limited government. The rules pit fiscal conservatives against themselves, leading to bigger government.

Regardless of how the current crisis is ultimately resolved, there is sure to be another. Republicans and fiscally conservative Democrats should use every opportunity to strengthen the framework for limited government, in order to restrain federal spending and allow the private economy to grow.

Mr. Malpass, a deputy assistant Treasury secretary and legislative manager for the 1986 Tax Reform Act in the Reagan administration, is president of Encima Global LLC.
4552  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Who Killed Newsweek? on: January 02, 2013, 03:49:52 PM

Interesting piece.  They cite other news magazines still doing well, but print in general is having problems.  I don't have to pick up a magazine or newspaper to read news.  If it is a day old or a week old it had better be loaded with insights.  Newsweek had 70 years to build a better reputation and didn't.  George Will is great but not a unique asset of Newsweek or part of a theme in their content.  Zakaria, brilliant?  Wow! To the extent that Time leans left with mainstream redundancy, Newsweek could have carved out a different slice instead of competing for the same dollar - and losing.  The Economist is far more interesting and global.  At the least, it is different from the others.
4553  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Tax Policy on: January 02, 2013, 03:17:36 PM
"To take from one, because it is thought his own industry and that of his fathers has acquired too much, in order to spare to others, who, or whose fathers, have not exercised equal industry and skill, is to violate arbitrarily the first principle of association, the guarantee to everyone the free exercise of his industry and the fruits acquired by it." --Thomas Jefferson

Can you imagine a leader today with a thought that deep?  Now we have the Choom gang setting the course.
4554  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: More twaddle from a Georgetown Law Prof on: January 02, 2013, 03:08:04 PM
Yes. Twaddle.  (Who Pays for the Right to Bear Arms? By DAVID COLE)

"...the broader tragedy of gun violence is felt mostly not in leafy suburbs, but in America’s inner cities."

 - The 'planners' want us out of x-urbs and into high density.  But collisions increase with the square of density.

"The right to bear arms typically invokes the romantic image of a cowboy toting a rifle on the plains. In modern-day America, though, the more realistic picture is that of a young black man gunned down in his prime in a dark alley. When we celebrate gun rights, we all too often ignore their disproportionate racial burdens. Any effort to address gun violence must focus on the inner city. "

  - No. The right to bear arms brings to me the image of the Bill of Rights, all of which are amendable.  Substitute "constitutional rights" for "gun rights".  Why do these anti-rights zealots want to teach constitutional law; yet ignore Article V, the amendment process?

"Last year Chicago had some 500 homicides, 87 percent of them gun-related...African-Americans are 33 percent of the Chicago population, but about 70 percent of the murder victims."

  - Chicago has among the strictest gun laws in the country, and the highest gun crime rate.  WHY?

"Could it be that the laxity of the nation’s gun laws is tolerated because its deadly costs are borne by the segregated black and Latino populations of North Philadelphia and Chicago’s South Side?"

  - Where did that come from, is he a law professor or an MSNBC host?  I would love to see his writings that plea us to shut down abortion 'rights' that hit blacks with similar disproportionality.  Those deaths are FAR more preventable.

"Gun rights defenders argue that gun laws don’t reduce violence, noting that many cities with high gun violence already have strict gun laws. But this ignores the ease with which urban residents can evade local laws by obtaining guns from dealers outside their cities or states. Effective gun regulation requires a nationally coordinated response."

  - Good point - if you believe the borders are sealed and the war on drugs was a success.

To tweak the National Rifle Association’s refrain, “guns don’t kill people; indifference to poverty kills people.”

  - Liberal incoherence.  We don't have poverty in these communities.  We have dependency. We have hugely expensive programs that don't even look at unintended consequences.  Poverty is the lack of wealth.  We have widespread failure of an underclass to pursue the productive activities that lead to wealth creation.  Indifference to poverty is when you support paying people to stay out of productive work, away from personal responsibility while selectively stomping out other rights like personal security, property rights and keeping the fruits of your labor.
4555  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The lottery of life on: January 02, 2013, 09:14:39 AM
"Warren Buffett, probably the world’s most successful investor, has said that anything good that happened to him could be traced back to the fact that he was born in the right country, the United States, at the right time (1930). A quarter of a century ago, when The World in 1988 light-heartedly ranked 50 countries according to where would be the best place to be born in 1988, America indeed came top. But which country will be the best for a baby born in 2013?"

USA no. 16, right behind Europe and Asia - with the power IMO to move back up to no. 1 if only we wanted to.
4556  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Hillbillary Clintons long, sordid, and often criminal history on: December 31, 2012, 11:16:41 PM
Previously on Benghazi:  "The injury/illness seems like either BS or hiding something more serious (Daily Mail says it is not brain cancer...)"

My heart goes out to Hillary with her health challenges.  My disagreement is over policy and tactics, not her well being. 

The fable about crying wolf led to the question: how will we know when you are telling the truth?  I have no idea what is true or false about Hillary.  Press reports are of little help. 

Get well, and then come testify.  We have questions for you.
4557  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: If go after guns better go after the freakin media on: December 31, 2012, 10:53:30 PM
...given the statistical anamoly of these events, one should not throw them on to the multitudes of those with Aspergers who are violent to no one...

Cherry picking my excerpt for agreement. )  Disorders and syndromes like Asperger's are defined so vaguely or broadly (MHO) that drawing a connection to mass shooting I agree is a "statistical anomaly".  I find the so called personality disorders to be more in the direction of Psychopath, but only extreme cases.

Much unknown and much to be learned about mental health.  Far more helpful than studying guns.
4558  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / We the Well-armed People: Gallup Poll: NRA Way More Popular Than the Media on: December 28, 2012, 08:23:19 PM
Gallup Poll: NRA Way More Popular Than the Media (2 threads this could go in.)

4559  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Housing/Mortgage/Real Estate on: December 28, 2012, 08:08:18 PM
A chart from Scott Grannis' website yesterday tells the same story in context:

Your real estate investment, if you were able to hold it, had no appreciation over the last 13 years.  Yet for every million you had invested at the start of the year 2000, you owe up to $162,000 (capital gains tax on inflationary gain) if you sell next year (New federal rate+state tax +surcharge) - on NO real gain or income!  Worse than that by more than double if held by a taxable C-corp.

4560  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / US Economics, stock and other investment strategies: NY Times on Bond Pessimism on: December 28, 2012, 07:55:52 PM
This eery piece follows the mortgage discussion, only larger and wider.  Bonds are investments that gamble on both inflation and interest rates.  Interest rates today are a quasi-government (Fed) manufactured product, not the result of aggregate savers and lenders finding an equilibrium.  Inflation of our currency is happening today in front of our eyes; the price consequences, as of now, are not.  A liberal friend forwarded this to me earlier.  I responded to him: "Who is the buyer of this foolish investment?  We are." (I gave him 3 links showing the Fed is buying 70% to 90% of our debt.)  "When no one (else) buys these worthless bonds, it means we all just did.  If balancing the budget is hard now, try doing it in 2017! "  He responded, "That's right. Pretty extreme times."

Scary stuff when opposite sides see the same freight train headed straight towards us.

Reading Pessimism in the Market for Bonds
Published: December 27, 2012                        

“Certificates of Confiscation.”

In September 1981, during a lengthy bond bear market, Wall Street was telling The New York Times that bonds were a bad investment. A bull market soon followed.

Three decades ago, that was what some people said bonds really were. The interest the bond paid would not be enough, they said, to offset the declining value of dollars as inflation added up. The “real” — after-inflation — bond yield would be negative.

That was just as the great bull market in bonds began. Bonds were great investments, and the bond bears turned out to have been dead wrong.

Now we have come full circle. The government is selling bonds that are absolutely, positively guaranteed to not pay enough to offset inflation over the coming years. It is even possible that someone who bought a new Treasury security that will be issued on Monday will end up getting fewer dollars back than he or she invested — interest and principal combined — between now and when the bond matures in 2017.

The securities are inflation-protected Treasury notes. If inflation ticks up significantly over the coming years, investors will get back more dollars than originally invested. But not enough to come close to keeping up with inflation. If there is no inflation, they will get back less than they invested.

When those securities were auctioned last week, buyers agreed to accept a real yield of negative 1.496 percent. It takes a lot of pessimism — about the economy and the future of the United States — to think an investment certain to lose money is an investment worth making.

The great bear market in bonds, both corporates and governments, lasted 35 years, from 1946 to 1981. The bull market lasted about 30 years. A new bear market almost certainly has begun.

If that is true, those seeking a little income now by going out the yield curve will come to rue the decision. They will get the promised interest, but as market interest rates rise, the price of those bonds will decline and decline and decline.

On Oct. 26, 1981, which can be dated as the bottom of the great bond bear market, the yield on 30-year Treasury bonds rose to 15.21 percent. On that date, a Treasury bond issued in 1970 and scheduled to mature in 2000 was quoted at less than 56 percent of face value. It had a coupon of 7.875 percent, but that was not deemed enough to compensate investors for the risk.

At market extremes, it is often worth analyzing what has to be true for a given investment to be a good, or bad, value. Back in 1981, you had to assume that inflation would not only remain in double digits for decades, but that it would also continue to rise, for a newly issued Treasury bond to turn out to be a bad investment. Yet many investors assumed it would be. After all, a lot of people on Wall Street in 1981 could not remember a time when bonds were good investments.

A few weeks before rates peaked, Seth Glickenhaus, an experienced bond trader and head of Glickenhaus & Company, an investment advisory firm, spoke the conventional wisdom when he said, “Anyone who buys a bond today to hold for more than five years is out of his mind.”

Michael Gavin, the head of United States asset allocation for Barclays, pointed out this month that over the past 30 years an investor who stayed invested in American, or British, 10-year government bonds would have earned more than 5 percent a year over inflation.

“It does not require advanced market math to understand that returns like these are no longer remotely plausible,” he wrote. “But they say that fish don’t know that they live in water — until they are removed from it — and we wonder if some of the many market participants whose entire professional experience has been conditioned by the financial backdrop created by the bond market rally might underestimate some consequences of its termination.”

Even if rates stay where they are for the next five years, and investors collect the interest coupons, he said, “bonds will be transformed from wealth creators into wealth destroyers.”

Or at least they will be unless there is severe deflation. For that is the only situation that will allow today’s new long-term bonds to turn into good investments.

Is that possible? To think it is likely, you pretty much have to assume that economic growth is a thing of the past in both the United States and Europe. It is not an optimistic outlook.
4561  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Housing/Mortgage/Real Estate on: December 28, 2012, 07:46:04 PM
"Why is the tax payer assuming all the risk on privately held mortgages?... doing nothing more than trying to eliminate the Private Housing Market."

Yes, a Big Deal.  Wrong on constitutional powers and limits, and as GM says, leading to a crash bigger than we have see.

If the people only knew the government was plotting a complete takeover of housing and healthcare and energy and transportation and agriculture and education, the vote would be... roughly 51-48 in favor.

Where in the constitution did the federal government get the power to do this?  The Commerce Clause??  A house moves across state lines because money does?

Instead of asking what are the limits of this federal power, the supporters of big government ask the question backwards:  Since we have all this power, control over mortgages in this case, how can we grow it further and use it to 'benefit' more people?

There is no S (savings) in S&L anymore.  The top savings account pays 1/10th of one percent interest.  Try illustrating the magical power of compound interest to your kid using that multiplier.  There aren't people out there with combined, insured savings of $100,000 backing up every loan of $100,000.  There is nothing there.  Money is just printed, in bizarre amounts - billions and trillions, no exaggeration.  There are technocrats making social engineering decisions using an increasingly diluted currency backed only with fiction and faith in technocrats and their ability to extend the fiction for another day.  There isn't a private market for mortgages and there isn't a market interest rate anymore.  It is all subsidized and manipulated.  

"It's only temporary until the crash."  And when it all fails, we blame the "free" market and intervene all the more.

4562  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Housing/Mortgage/Real Estate on: December 28, 2012, 07:08:45 PM
You couldn't be suggesting our revered professional journalists might be distorting the facts, could you? Huh

Worse yet, they are reporting accurately without informing you whatsoever.  Giving the right answer to the wrong question.
4563  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Housing/Mortgage/Real Estate on: December 28, 2012, 06:14:08 PM
PP: "2012 will be the 3rd Worst Year since the stats began............only 2011 and 2010 were worse. "

The omission of this elephant in the room is what is wrong with nearly all current reporting on housing. 

"expectations for prices to rise 3.1 percent in 2013"
"Sales were up in the South and Northeast"
"Sales are up 15.3% from a year ago"
"median price of new homes sold was $246,200 in November, up 14.9% from a year ago"

4564  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: December 28, 2012, 02:30:10 PM
Wrapping up the old year's politics with two different looks with hindsight, Peggy Noonan and Michael Barone below.

Peggy Noonan today:  "...the most wrongheaded criticism of the year. The thing I denigrated not only turned out to be important—it was probably the most important single element in the entire 2012 campaign.

In writing about what struck as the president's essential aloofness, I said there were echoes of it even in his organization. I referred to a recent hiring notice from the Obama 2012 campaign. "It read like politics as done by Martians. The 'Analytics Department' is looking for 'predictive Modeling/Data Mining' specialists to join the campaign's 'multi-disciplinary team of statisticians,' which will use 'predictive modeling' to anticipate the behavior of the electorate. 'We will analyze millions of interactions a day, learning from terabytes of historical data, running thousands of experiments, to inform campaign strategy and critical decisions.' "

This struck me as "high tech and bloodless." ... It was unlike any politics I'd ever seen. And it won the 2012 campaign. They didn't just write a new political chapter with their Internet outreach, vote-tracking data-mining and voter engagement, especially in the battleground states. They wrote a whole new book. And it was a masterpiece.

Michael Barone sees it differently:

"Barack Obama got 6 percent fewer popular votes than he had gotten in 2008. And Mitt Romney got only 1 percent more popular votes than John McCain had four years before."

"[Obama carried Florida by 1 percent, Ohio by 3 percent, Virginia by 4 percent, and Colorado and Pennsylvania by 5 percent." 

Yes, there was an amazing turnout operation for Obama to not slide even worse.  But the bottom line is that Romney failed to inspire more people to switch or to just come vote for him.  Failure to bump up the Republican vote by a mere 5 or 6% over McCain's disaster in 2008 cost Romney those 5 battlegrounds and the election.
4565  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: POTH: Irish carbon tax on: December 28, 2012, 12:08:40 PM
As frequently noted in the Tax thread, what you tax more you get less of.   So why not tax what you don't want (e.g. pollution) and don't tax what you do want (income, profit, savings, jobs, etc.)?   By so doing the pricing mechanism of it all will inform us as to how much pollution we are willing to have.   Very, very unfortunately, this concept seems to embraced by the Left without the part about cutting taxes on good things in equal measure.

I follow you in concept and agree this is interesting and important coverage. 

That said, there is a difference between CO2 in normal activities and real pollution, like dumping mercury into the water supply or sulfur into the air.  CO2 is associated with productive activities that are easily moved elsewhere.  Punitive taxation can force those activities out.  For a system like that to work, we still need to keep public sector costs competitive and keep that tax rate low enough to maximize revenue, not just chase away activities like production, transportation and the heating/cooling of homes and schools.

If CO2 reduction is paramount, why aren't we all over nuclear with zero CO2 emissions?  Zero emissions would also mean zero tax revenue, giving the government a perverse incentive.  Nuclear has other risks, how do we price that?

Pointed out in the premise, one HUGE problem with giving another tax the left is that this is in addition to all the other taxes, not in lieu of them.  Like capital gains rates at 15%, they don't even mention there are at least 4 other taxes levied on the same 'gain', just that 15% is a low rate, lower than Warren Buffet's 150k/yr secretary pays. The left is raising taxes on incomes of the wealthy explicitly because they want to lower the incomes of the wealthy, not to raise revenues.  The piling on of new taxes without eliminating old ones was the deal breaker for the consumption tax.  This is both a consumption tax and a production tax.  I strongly oppose adding new tax sources in this political environment, especially those that apply arbitrarily and unevenly.
4566  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: December 27, 2012, 02:13:51 PM
On that Inouye eulogy (previous post in the thread) the final count was “my” 21 times, “me” 12 times and “I” an incredible 30 times for total first person pronouns of 63.

In the Glibness cabinet, we have:

Lawless Holder at Justice,

Tax cheat Geithner at Treasury

The silent lady in hiding - Hillary - as chief diplomat

Replacing her with Sandinista supporter and admitted war criminal John Kerry.

Rumored for Defense is the most anti-Israel Senator of modern time - Chuck Hagel.

Some protest that Hagel is a bad choice, but he looks to me like a pretty good fit.

4567  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Housing/Mortgage/Real Estate on: December 27, 2012, 12:36:37 PM
Another great PP insight:

"it is VERY common to see after buying a home, for the new homeowner to go out and buy a new car.  This is because they were advised to hold off purchasing a car until after the home closed, otherwise they would not qualify due to debt ratios.  But the second the loan closed, they were out buying a car."

Not to mention everything that goes in a new house, furniture, drapes, major appliances...
4568  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Benghazi, The Petraeus/Susan Rice affair; allegations of military misconduct on: December 27, 2012, 12:24:53 PM
Interesting posts Rick and Crafty.  What we know for sure is that we will never hear the whole story through official administration channels.  Something else was going on in that facility.  The "independent" review seems to be more smoke and mirrors.  Tough talk about failure, then 4 mid-level staffers get their desks moved. 

Hillary leaves office with a 66% approval ratings, wholly unquestioned on all aspects of Benghazi.  She took responsibility, then she didn't.  The injury/illness seems like either BS or hiding something more serious (Daily Mail says it is not brain cancer even though the National Enquirer is known to check, re-check and check again before going to print:  You couldn't keep her off a plane or away from a world leader, now she has been in hiding since December 7.  Missed her testimony day, missed the State Dept Christmas party, missed the John Kerry announcement, didn't report the "fall" when it happened.  That is not how you make health rumors go away, but worked pretty well for making hearings go away.  How do you hold someone responsible for incompetence or malfeasance after they already resigned?

Politico is ready to help.  Accuse the right of hate instead of the responsible party of dodging:
4569  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Libertarian Issues - "Legalization" of drugs on: December 26, 2012, 12:42:06 PM
I warned that legalization will lead to greater regulation and taxation, and not remove the money and black markets of drugs as promised.  

This LA Times is about environmental aspects, and starts the ball rolling on regulation first and taxation sure to follow:,0,1182034,full.story

Pot farms wreaking havoc on Northern California environment
Burgeoning marijuana growing operations are sucking millions of gallons of water from coho salmon lifelines and taking other environmental tolls, scientists say.

Wildlife technician Aaron Pole surveys a forest trashed by growers. Carbofuran, an insecticide lethal to humans in small doses, is found regularly at large-scale pot farms. Also flowing into the watershed are rodenticides, fungicides, diesel fuel and other pollutants
Libertarians should have worked toward reversing Wickard v. Filburn before thinking legalization is possible.  (Growing wheat on your own property that is consumed on your own property is an act of interstate commerce.)  Also Kelo where they can just take your property for other private purposes.
4570  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Washington Post: Dems push for tax cuts they "staunchly", viscerally opposed on: December 26, 2012, 12:26:59 PM

a remarkable turnaround for Democrats, who had staunchly opposed the tax breaks when they were written into law about a decade ago.  - WashPost 12/25/12

Where have we seen that before?
"Interesting to note that Democrats opposed cutting the rates that will now be re-imposed..."  - 12/21/12
4571  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues: David Gregory, gun crime or journalistic fraud? on: December 26, 2012, 12:00:45 PM
From the transcript:

DAVID GREGORY:" is a magazine for ammunition that carries 30 bullets."

Video clip:

No gun, no ammunition, I don't get what his point was in having one in hand.  His guest wasn't the least bit interested in that line of questioning and a magazine versus having a rifle or even a sharp knife wasn't the least bit dramatic.

From the thread:  "No person in the District shall possess, sell, or transfer any large capacity ammunition feeding device regardless of whether the device is attached to a firearm."

Gregory's problem is deeper.  To avoid the crime he will have to maintain he committed something worse, journalistic fraud. (Some of us already made that call.)  I think he would prefer the $1000 fine, but a year in prison?

I am curious what the real penalty would be for others caught on a DC street, a black man not dressed in a business suit for example, with similar possession?  Probation? 

With a gun law conviction, would he recuse himself from subsequent, professional journalist discussions about gun control laws?

Aside from the increase in homicides, the District of Columbia actually has a very low crime rate.  - Marion Barry, Natl Press Club, 23 March 1989
4572  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Housing/Mortgage/Real Estate on: December 24, 2012, 12:26:31 PM
PP, Your chart from 1960 shows what I have been asking or saying of Wesbury.  The tail end of that chart showing very slight improvements from the near zero point of the collapse is all we hear, statements like 'up from a year ago' or 'highest level in 3 years', without showing the historical context of how bad things still are.  Readers here are getting a better picture of it.

With all the health and energy efficiency improvements available, wouldn't everyone want a new home today if economic conditions allowed it?
4573  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Pathological Science - IPCC "Chapter 11" on: December 24, 2012, 12:12:06 PM
Anyone out there who is fluent in agendadriventechnobureaucraticbabble want to translate this from the IPCC report into English:

"As discussed in Section, a recent satellite measurement (Harder et al., 2009) found much greater than expected reduction at UV wavelengths in the recent declining solar cycle phase. Changes in solar uv drive stratospheric O3 chemistry and can change RF. Haigh et al. (2010) show that if these observations are correct, they imply the opposite relationship between solar RF and solar activity over that period than has hitherto been assumed. These new measurements therefore increase uncertainty in estimates of the sign of solar RF, but they are unlikely to alter estimates of the maximum absolute magnitude of the solar contribution to RF, which remains small (Chapter 8 ). However, they do suggest the possibility of a much larger impact of solar variations on the stratosphere than previously thought, and some studies have suggested that this may lead to significant regional impacts on climate (as discussed in, that are not necessarily reflected by the RF metric (see 8.2.16)."

David M. Hoffer writing at he world's most viewed site on global warming and climate change translates it this way:
They got the physics completely reversed, but we should still trust them that the order of magnitude is small, but allow that the impacts might be larger anyway?

Tropical cyclones, what about hurricanes getting worse:
"Two recent reports, the SREX (IPCC, 2012; particularly Seneviratne et al., 2012) assessment and a WMO Expert Team report on tropical cyclones and climate change (Knutson et al., 2010) indicate the response of global tropical cyclone frequency to projected radiative forcing changes is likely to be either no change or a decrease of up to a third by the end of the 21st century."

The science says nothing about intensity, but on frequency, somewhere between no change and a one third decrease. One would think that a projection of up to a one third decrease in tropical cyclone frequency would be important enough to make it into the Executive Summary.
4574  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: The Power of Word - The Meaning of Christmas on: December 24, 2012, 10:39:27 AM
A brief one minute clip that Charles Schultz slipped past the CBS censors in 1965:

4575  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Professional Journalist commits felony on Nat'l TV on: December 24, 2012, 10:21:32 AM
He may have some form of diplomatic immunity arising out of the work he does for the Obama administration.

For more information on the immunity that protects Obama administration officials from prosecition on existing gun laws, please see 'Fast and Furious'.
4576  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics - 7 Most Telling Economic Charts of 2012 on: December 22, 2012, 12:13:18 PM
I won't post all at once, but at least mark this good link from The Blaze:

7 Most Telling Economic Charts of 2012

1. (Exploding) Debt under Obama's 2013 Budget.
2. Collapse of the Labor Force participation Rate
3. (Major decline in) Workers as a Share of the Population
4. The Jobs Gap
5. Growth Gap - below
6. Median Household Income
7. The Obama Administration's (False) Unemployment Forecast (vs. actual)

The Growth gap:

This chart illustrates our current situation.  It shows how there is growth without recovery.  It shows the cost over time in the trillion of accepting this anemic, new economic normal.  The gap shows that investment moved away from production and stayed away.  Jobs were lost, paychecks lost, output, consumption, personal savings and wealth all lost, and of course - lost revenues to the Treasury.

The area between the lines is the boat anchor effect of our misguided economic policies.
4577  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Privacy, Big Brother (State and Corporate) & the 4th Amendment on: December 22, 2012, 10:56:33 AM
Being logically conflicted about a loss of civil liberty from increased anti-terror efforts seems perfectly logical to me.   smiley
4578  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Privacy, Big Brother (State and Corporate) & the 4th Amendment on: December 21, 2012, 05:41:29 PM
I have come to like Rand Paul more and more over time,  but these last two issues, NDAA and FISA opposition, are not his best ones IMHO.

We need plenty of protections for our civil liberties, but I don't believe that anti-terror agents hunting down clues of terrorist acts in planning too zealously is among the top 100 problems in this country.

Sen. Paul:  "Would you want government agents listening to your phone calls? Looking at your email? Spying on your online activity?  Chances are they have, and you didn't even know it. "

Most of the time I don't want government in my life at all, but the reality is that running down clues after a terrorist attack is too late, especially in this day of suicide attacks.

Perhaps Kentucky is not a target or terrorist rich area, 8000 miles from Yemen, but Al Qaeda has big ties here.  MSP is where Zacarias Moussaoui came for 747 flight training.  The Imams performed their practice run here.  CAIR owns a congressman here.  We have had dozens of recent, Al Qaeda related arrests in Minneapolis with terrorists in our local Somalia community recruiting for Jihad back home:,DB7611A2-02CD-43AF-8147-649E26813571,frameless.htm

5 9/11 hijackers lived very close to my rentals in Florida as well.  It is a small world.

As learned in Australia, once recruits here join the Jihad they don't limit the attacks to overseas.

I'd rather see conservatives like Rand Paul work on overturning Kelo, the fight against the taking our homes instead of making a scare out much needed counter-terrorism.

If misuse of these powers is the concern, stiffen the penalties for misuse of these powers.
4579  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: budget process on: December 21, 2012, 12:56:38 PM
My understanding is that Ryan was on board with the Boehner Plan B that was shot down by the rank and file.  The big failure was not on taxes but that nothing was gained on discretionary spending, entitlements or deficit reduction in return for the proposed surrender on taxes.  

Republicans need the spending or entitlement deal to come out bipartisan, not unilateral leaving themselves with no cuts enacted and all the push-Granny-off-the-cliff blame.

The Republican collapse last night actually strengthened Boehner's hand.  No amount of private arm twisting with a weak leader in matters in getting a deal.  

The burden moves to the Senate.  Does anyone new like a Marco Rubio, or leaving like Jim Webb, have any ideas that would keep Republicans largely together and pull over 4 or more Democrats? I don't see how, but that would put this back on the R House and Dem President to accept or take all blame.

The estate tax and AMT are caught in the balance. Also the 2% temporary cut in FICA, and unemployment benefit extensions.  New Obamacare taxes are coming on line either way.

The end result I suppose will be a short extension and a continued fight in the new year.  They have about 3 business days left, counting New Years' Eve.  

Investors are betting this gets resolved with markets only down 1% at the moment.  They know something that I don't.  
Stocks fall more than 1% on fiscal cliff fears
CNN Money  Dec 21 1:11pm
4580  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Govt programs, spending, deficit, budget process - Unfunded Liabilities on: December 21, 2012, 11:43:52 AM
4581  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Tax Policy on: December 21, 2012, 11:41:09 AM
Interesting to note that Democrats opposed cutting the rates that will now be re-imposed if there is no deal - and they will blame Republicans for the increase.
4582  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Political Economics: Wesbury proven (partly) right on: December 21, 2012, 11:31:51 AM
Wesbury warned a year or so ago that although we are badly mis-managing our economy, the American economy has enough resilient and strength that growth will recover enough that Republicans will have to more in the campaign than just rely on failed results.

The economic uptick that may have saved Obama

The Commerce Department has upwardly revised third-quarter real GDP to 3.1 percent. Previously, third-quarter growth was reported as 2.7 percent. With this revision, the third quarter of 2012 becomes the strongest quarter of the year and the third strongest since the economy began picking up in the summer of 2009.

As James Pethokoukis suggests, the increasing strength of the economy during this summer likely played a significant role in President Obama’s reelection.

Growth is half of what it should be, but it turns out thought that we didn't want a better economy than this.  It would screw up 'fairness'.
4583  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: We the Well-armed People (Gun rights stuff ) on: December 21, 2012, 11:13:51 AM
Interesting that Mayor Bloomberg and Pres Obama have armed personnel surrounding them at all times.  Why?  Will the new Biden Commission bill end that?  Why not?
4584  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Government spending, deficit: Spending Up 78% After Inflation Since 1998 on: December 21, 2012, 10:17:15 AM

Federal Spending Up 78% After Inflation Since 1998

By David Hogberg, Investor's Business Daily  12/19/2012

President Obama says he wants a "balanced" approach to the fiscal cliff. But critics argue the real problem is spending, which has far outstripped rising tax revenue as well as economic growth.

Federal government revenue rose from $1.7 trillion to $2.4 trillion from fiscal 1998 to 2012, slightly exceeding inflation. Revenue growth averaged 2.9% annually, despite two recessions, bear markets — and tax cuts.

But federal spending rose nearly twice as fast — 5.7% per year — surging from $1.6 trillion to $3.5 trillion over that same span.

The spending spike also exceeds growth in the population.

Some of the spending surge came during the Bush administration — the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, increases in non-defense discretionary spending and the creation of the Medicare prescription drug entitlement.

But spending accelerated under Obama. While he inherited a budget increase from Bush in fiscal 2009, an omnibus bill he signed plus his stimulus package helped boost spending $535 billion in his first year, hiking total spending from $2.9 trillion in 2008 to $3.5 trillion in 2009. Spending has never returned to the already-high 2008 level even after controlling for inflation.

Dan Mitchell, senior fellow at the libertarian Cato Institute, says the U.S. government needs a spending cap.

"It's an issue of trendlines and that's everything in fiscal policy," Mitchell said. "If you are on a path where government spending grows faster than the private sector of the economy, which is your tax base, then in theory there is no level of taxation that will be enough to stabilize the system. ... If we had kept government spending down to just increases for inflation and population growth, we wouldn't be in the trouble we're in now."

Limiting spending to increases in inflation and population growth over 1998-2012 (an annual average of about 3.3%) would have given dramatically different results. The U.S. would have spent $2.6 trillion in FY 12, about $900 billion less than what it actually did. The latest deficit would be $157 billion, a fraction of the actual $1.089 trillion.

The government ran up $6.7 trillion in national debt from FY 1998-'12. Yet if spending had just risen with inflation and population, the U.S. would have reduced the debt by $177 billion.

4585  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Govt spending, deficit, budget process: Grant gave Lee more at Appomattox. on: December 21, 2012, 10:04:11 AM
WSJ:  "After the debacle of 2011, Mr. Obama could have treated the negotiations as the art of the bipartisan deal that could set the stage for immigration reform and other second-term achievements. Flush with victory, he could have at least made a gesture on entitlements.

Instead, he has treated the talks as an extension of the election campaign, traveling around the country at rally-style events at which he berates Republicans for not accepting his terms of surrender. Grant gave Lee more at Appomattox."
4586  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues - Time Magazine Person of the Year on: December 20, 2012, 01:38:54 PM
"low information voter"

Doug,  I know what you mean.

But I really think it unwise politically to assume that many voters for the Dems are just plain ignorant.

I think most know exactly what they are voting for.  That is entitlements and make the rich pay more


I agree with this part.  The President received about 51% of the vote.  Most are from the core Democratic, partisan constituencies and they are not low information voters.  Biased information maybe, but not low information.  The story Time tells is how these other people came out to provide the margin of victory, "the people who don’t much care for politics...aren’t political in the cable-TV sense of the word", and put their faith in Barack Obama.

Link to the Time Magazine Hagiography:

Quoting Time from the second page:

"...the poll questions did not account for Obama’s secret weapon: the people who don’t much care for politics. A sizable chunk of the President’s most ardent backers don’t admire either party yet think Obama is somehow above it all, immune to all the horse trading and favor mongering that politics entails. These voters aren’t political in the cable-TV sense of the word. But in 2012, they stuck by Obama. In the last month of the Obama campaign’s voter registration, 70% of those signed up were women, minorities or people under 30.

The Democrat coalition is complex.  The core constituencies include liberal elites, teachers union members, rial lawyers, civil servants and plenty of successful business people who are affluent and well informed, at least in terms of the amount of time spent paying attention to the issues.  My point from the Time piece is that the margin of victory came from the turnout of these infrequent, less informed, unlikely voters who came out and put their faith in Pres. Obama. 

For all our errors made about the reading of the polls, I remember posting that Obama's lead was most impressive in the group called "unlikely voters".

I honor them here - right now,"for better or for WORSE", as "Person of the Year" -  for giving their faith, trust and support, instead of honoring President Obama for receiving it.
4587  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Issues in the American Creed (Constitutional Law) - Bork and Privacy on: December 20, 2012, 10:06:28 AM
Crafty, regarding Robert Bork on Rest in Peace:

"Personally I opposed Bork's nomination on the grounds that he did not believe that there is a right to privacy in the Ninth Amendment, but I regarded him as an honorable man."

I think I understand your point and agree on the privacy point but I think your right of privacy would have fared much better with Bork on the court than Kennedy or most of the others who followed.  Bork I think would also have been quite restrained about reading government powers into the constitution as well.

One request:  Could you (or anyone else) please put to words what you believe the text of that widely accepted unenumerated right might be.  It sure seems like a moving target.

Bork was saying in confirmation that Griswold could be overturned by legislature instead of by courts, much like what Roberts said more recently upholding Obamacare.  Is there a right of privacy in health care? 

Kennedy, who followed Bork, told the committee he did believe in a right of privacy.  He found a right of privacy in Lawrence, but went on to concur in Kelo where you can forget about privacy in your home, you don't have a right to live there.  Like the Japanese American internment, maybe the right of privacy is transferable.   The government can tell you where your right of privacy will or will not be. 

Kelo is a property rights case, not a privacy case they say.  Where would you have privacy if not on your own bought and paid for property?    I don't know but not there, see also Wickard v. Filburn.  sad
4588  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Regular woman tells of how gun could have saved her parents on: December 20, 2012, 09:13:32 AM

Wow!  Very powerful.
4589  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Benghazi, The Petraeus/Susan Rice affair; allegations of military misconduct on: December 20, 2012, 09:05:31 AM
Four low level officials out, for allegedly... “husbanding resources” ... and that this culture contributed to the security deficiencies in Benghazi. According to the report, the culture at State “had the effect of conditioning a few State Department managers to favor restricting the use of resources as a general orientation.”

Instead of firing these public servants maybe we could have transferred them over to HHS, GSA or SSA.  Or to the new Pentagon where defense cuts are the order of the day, screw national security.
4590  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Time Magazine Person of the Year vs. Little Sisters of the Poor on: December 20, 2012, 08:58:10 AM

Wednesday, December 19. 2012
Obama Vs. Little Sisters of the Poor

The Little Sisters of the Poor are another example of religious based charitable organizations whose scruples and finances would be violated by Obamacare's requirement that it provide medical insurance that includes contraception and medical treatments that cause sterility or can cause abortions. Aside from its 300 sisters working in their facilities, non-users but still charged for the increased premium, the Little Sisters hires without regard to religion and cares for people without regard to religion. So, according to Obamacare, the Little Sisters of the Poor does not qualify for exemption.

Operating on the principles that are inherent in their religion and such work for the poor and operating on very thin margins, Medicaid providing half the costs of quality care, the Little Sisters of the Poor may have to cease operations in the United States. As the Daily Caller reports from Sister Constance Carolyn Veit:

    “As Little Sisters of the Poor, we are not strangers to religious intolerance,” she wrote. “Our foundress was born at the height of the French Revolution and established our congregation in its aftermath. Our sisters have been forced to leave numerous countries, including China, Myanmar and Hungary, because of religious intolerance. We pray that the United States will not be added to this list.”
4591  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues - Time Person of Year 2012 on: December 19, 2012, 12:59:37 PM
Time Person of Year 2012  - a person, group, idea or object that "for better or for worse, ...has done the most to influence the events of the year" - should have gone to the "low information voter".
4592  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Housing/Mortgage/Real Estate on: December 19, 2012, 11:46:58 AM
PP, interesting.  Like life insurance, it is a form of legalized gambling.  Only the federal government could turn that into a big money loser.

"FHA and other reverse lenders cannot determine losses because they have no idea how long the homeowners are going to live. Some who die "quickly", the losses will be small.  Those who die slowly, the losses will be quite severe."

I try to avoid products that give someone a motive to speed up my demise...   wink
4593  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Benghazi probe faults 'systemic failures' at State Department on: December 19, 2012, 11:21:44 AM

Who will be held accountable?  Low to mid level resignations for systemic failures?

“did not find reasonable cause to determine that any individual U.S. government employee breached his or her duty.”

Huh?  No one (at the top) had a duty to have our security rise above systemic failure - at our most dangerous diplomatic mission - on the anniversary of 9/11? 

"The report also confirms that there was no peaceful protest ahead of the attack that killed Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans, as the Obama administration initially said in the days after the attack."

Then why did they say there was?  Who decided to put out a patently false story?  If we can't hold the President accountable and if not the messenger Rice, Then whom?

The report itself reads like a political document to me.  No one held accountable, except an unveiled attempt to blame the deceased:

"Plans for the Ambassador’s trip provided for minimal close protection security support and were not shared thoroughly with the Embassy’s country team, who were not fully aware of planned movements off compound. The Ambassador did not see a direct threat of an attack of this nature and scale on the U.S. Mission in the overall negative trendline of security incidents from spring to summer 2012. His status as the leading U.S. government advocate on Libya policy, and his expertise on Benghazi in particular, caused Washington to give unusual deference to his judgments."

The report goes on to blame the Libyans:  "Libyan response fell short in the face of a series of attacks that began with the sudden penetration of the Special Mission compound by dozens of armed attackers."

We don't know who if anyone controls Libyan forces right now, especially in Benghazi.  Who believed we could rely on Libyans for American security at a "high risk, high threat post"?
4594  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Why they came for Susan Rice’s scalp on: December 18, 2012, 12:58:12 PM
This is too stupid to answer... but here goes:

A NY Daily News opinion piece linked at Real Clear Politics today has the headline:

Why they came for Susan Rice’s scalp

Answer:  "It is about her skin color. It is also about her being female."  Exact quote.

Photo accompanying the bizarre answer:

It could be my television set but I watched those shows and didn't notice she was 'a person of color'.  Nor do I care.  They went after her because she lied - on an important matter when the whole point was to get accurate information out to the American people.

The author must not have known that the same day the Indian American Republican Governor of South Carolina would appoint tea party favorite: Tim Scott.  RCP used this photo:

Excusing them for not knowing, they might though have known that the darling of the Republican party in the campaign of 2012 was Mia Love:

Neither Democrat lying, nor conservative favoring limited government is a topic about race - or gender!

4595  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Rest in Peace: R.I.P. Sen. Daniel Inouye, Hero of the 442nd on: December 18, 2012, 11:24:06 AM
R.I.P. Sen. Inouye, Hero of the 442nd
December 17, 2012

We have just learned that Senator Daniel Inouye (D., Hawaii) has passed away at 88. Whatever else the president pro tempore of the Senate was, he was a Nazi-socking badass of a G.I.:

    In the fall of 1944, Inouye’s unit was shifted to the French Vosges Mountains and spent two of the bloodiest weeks of the war rescuing a Texas Battalion surrounded by German forces. The rescue of “The Lost Battalion” is listed in the U.S. Army annals as one of the most significant military battles of the century. Inouye lost ten pounds, became a platoon leader and won the Bronze Star and a battlefield commission as a Second Lieutenant.

    Back in Italy, the 442nd was assaulting a heavily defended hill in the closing months of the war when Lieutenant Inouye was hit in his abdomen by a bullet which came out his back, barely missing his spine. He continued to lead the platoon and advanced alone against a machine gun nest which had his men pinned down. He tossed two hand grenades with devastating effect before his right arm was shattered by a German rifle grenade at close range. Inouye threw his last grenade with his left hand, attacked with a submachine gun and was finally knocked down the hill by a bullet in the leg.

    Dan Inouye spent 20 months in Army hospitals after losing his right arm. On May 27, 1947, he was honorably discharged and returned home as a Captain with a Distinguished Service Cross (the second highest award for military valor), Bronze Star, Purple Heart with cluster and 12 other medals and citations.

Aloha, Senator.
4596  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Rants & interesting thought pieces on: December 18, 2012, 10:59:41 AM
I share the sentiments of P.C. expressed in the previous post of this thread.  Very well put!

There is copycat element to these shootings.  The media coverage plays some role in that.  I don't want an unconstitutional crackdown on our free press, but I do wish for them to be aware of that problem, report responsibly and move on.
4597  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Energy Politics & Science: U.S. CO2 Emissions Hit 20 Year Low on: December 18, 2012, 10:42:47 AM
U.S. CO2 Emissions Hit 20 Year Low

I came across this in an Aug 2012 'American Interest' post while looking for other things.   

Largely unreported, maybe you saw it in the NY Times - they covered it in a blog:

Readers here might know:
"According to the International Energy Agency, the United States has cut its emissions 7.7 percent since 2006, more than any other country or region in the world."

That world-saving breakthrough was reported by the Washington Post - posted in a blog!

Why is this happening - the reduced emissions, not the poor media coverage.  Increased production and use of natural gas, for one thing.  We don't need more coal if we allow production and consumption of natural gas which burns far cleaner:

   Fossil Fuel Emission Levels - Pounds per Billion Btu of Energy Input

Pollutant         Natural Gas     Oil      Coal
Carbon Dioxide    117,000    164,000    208,000
Carbon Monoxide        40           33             208
Nitrogen Oxides          92         448             457
Sulfur Dioxide              1       1,122          2,591
Particulates                 7           84          2,744
Mercury                0.000       0.007          0.016
Source: EIA - Natural Gas Issues and Trends 1998

Want even cleaner energy?  Anyone ever heard of nuclear?
4598  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Housing: Latest is the Reverse Mortgage Crisis on: December 18, 2012, 09:57:02 AM
What is a federal government agency chartered to help people get into home ownership doing helping people get out of their homes?  And then bungling it!

They don't know how far they misunderestimated, by a factor of 10, next we will give them healthcare??
Housing and Urban Development Secretary told the Senate that the Federal Housing
Administration's once-modest reverse-mortgage program is the latest drain on taxpayers thanks to gross mismanagement.

FHA will lose $2.8 billion this fiscal year on reverse mortgages, and in the worst case $28.3 billion, with the losses stretching through 2019. The feds have no idea how big the pool of red ink might be.

At least FHA guarantees for home purchases foster Congress's professed goal of homeownership—though we've seen in the housing bust how that misallocates capital. But guarantees for reverse mortgages go to people who are already homeowners who want to cash out of a real-estate asset. That's fine if they want to do it at their own risk. FHA's guarantees are essentially a subsidy for older Americans to spend down their savings. FHA crowded out competitors and now accounts for 90% of outstanding reverse mortgages.

(more at the link)
4599  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Tax Policy on: December 17, 2012, 11:56:55 PM
Good arguments all of you.  I can't resist adding: my answer is yes and yes.

To the comparison of cigarettes and economic success, yes - the tax on success is being sold as a sin tax, and yes we are seeing less of it.  If you reject the idea that being driven to succeed is comparable to smoking two packs a day then welcome to our side!  Tax it and you will get less of it.

I keep posting (unrefuted) that startups are happening now at a record low rate in history.  

I also see regulations as a bigger tax than taxes and corporate taxes in America as highest in the world.  So take regulatory burdens, federal individual taxes, state individual taxes, federal corporate taxes, state corporate taxes, the uncertainty of it and all the other taxes like commercial property taxes and add them all together when you make the calculation of why people aren't starting up new startups and why they aren't expanding the businesses they already have.  When you combine these, Crafty's number of 61% is more like having 30% to keep or re-invest.  And a 70% reason to not reinvest.  Add in the elements of risk, that most of these ventures fail, and you get one mathematical conclusion: don't do it.

The best economic indicator I ever read I can't find right now, goes something like this.  We need to start in this country every year at least 130 companies that will someday grow to become billion dollar companies employing at least a thousand people.  One man companies like myself are great but they sadly never amount to much and don't turn around national economies.  We aren't starting real companies right now which means we are looking at a generation of economic disappointment ahead.

In a good economic climate, success of a startup is a leap of faith, the deck is stacked against you with a myriad of risks that can go wrong.  In this climate it goes from improbable to you've got to be kidding.  Odds of failure are near 100%.  If you succeed you will be demagogued and your winnings will be confiscated.  Explain that to the wife or husband, why you are going to work 16 hour days 7 days a week in the early years to get it all going and walk away with nothing more than what a good civil servant makes.

I posted a while back that one of my buddies did that, started a company from scratch in 2002, built it up, it took 6 years to show any profit.  That's a lot of perseverance - believing that it's worth it.  They took the company public, made it the best in the world in their product segment, and sold it for a billion dollars in 2011.  Try doing that now.  What is he doing now?  Not another startup!  His politics may be JK Rowling but his action is - I'm not going through that again.

Instead of demagoguing and punishing success, the best thing we could do for our economy is treat the successful with some semblance of equal protection under the law and hope they keep doing what they do for as long as they can!  

How many people like that are there in the country?  Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, etc. I know one guy with that capability and most people know no one who can do that.  Pres. Obama calls them the wealthiest among us and say get them stopped.  We need enough great entrepreneurs to step forward every year and dedicate themselves to innovation on a new idea and are committed to building it up to make one more American success story.  It takes thousands trying to get a hundred to succeed.  But why should they?

If your whole focus in life is the public sector, public spending and giving to those in need, we still need a vibrant private sector to fund that.

The problem isn't just in America.  In Japan they had Canon and Honda and Toyota and a few others that became phenomenal companies.  What would their economy be without them and where are the new Hondas and Toyotas building new empires in new industries?  Few and far between.  I'm sorry but an economy that cannot replicate success is a failure.

High marginal tax rates don't kill off wealth already accumulated, they kill off the spirit of building new wealth.  The evidence is all around us.  Why are we so willing to shoot down entrepreneurs before they get started?  I will never understand.

4600  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Soledad O'brien vs. John Lott on: December 17, 2012, 04:54:44 PM

(Professional Journalist?  Did she hear a word he said?)
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