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5751  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Environmental issues: Role of the EPA on: October 13, 2011, 10:39:09 AM
Pulling out one point of CW from Politics: "main points I don't agree with the tea party... the EPA..."

I would think the federal role for protecting our air and water involves watching for gaps in necessary regulation and enforcement from across the 50 states and taking action in certain extreme circumstances that can't be solved a better way.  I don't understand having a federal standard for something that is stricter than what the people in the states chose for their standard at home.   But let's say 49 states have good and reasonable air and water protections and one state doesn't, and from that one state they spew filth or pollutants down wind or downstream outward across state lines.  That is when a federal government role is appropriate and justified.

All I think a conservative or tea partier would want for environmental regulation is a practice that regulations are reasonable and based on real cost/benefit analysis.  To unilaterally drive all factories off our shores alone does not reduce global carbon or anything else on the planet by a milligram.
5752  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Politics on: October 13, 2011, 10:13:12 AM
The 99% to me infers a class war war against the top 1% of earners.  I don't feel any of that.  I wish every family could have at least one million-plus dollar earner.  That reminds me to talk to my daughter about careers.

Wall street as an issue to me is only: what should the laws be and are we investigating and prosecuting all the violations.

Other than that, get rid of all the preferences so that businesses can concentrate on business instead of lobbying.  Start with getting it preferences of the tax code.  Then out with all the preferential spending.  Then comb through all regulations to make sure only what is necessary and can't be achieved a better way is regulated.  Obscene profits indicates a lack of competition for those services.  It is over-regulation and overly-complex regulations that pull our best and brightest into things like SEC compliance and employee benefit law instead of inventing, building and innovating.
5753  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Politics on: October 12, 2011, 11:41:13 PM
Thank you CW.

"I'm mostly interested in aggravating politicians that are in bed with large corporations. I'd also like to see something more tangible to prevent things like the 2008 crash. It was just used as an excuse to rob the treasury. Hell, Obama is still doing it."

I agree on these points.
5754  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The congnitive dissonance of the left on: October 12, 2011, 05:33:55 PM

Actual cable:
5755  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The congnitive dissonance of the left on: October 12, 2011, 04:23:25 PM
CCP, That is an amazing story.  The USA under Obama wanted to apologize to Japan for using force to end WWII - and Japan wouldn't allow it.  Unbelievable!

I wonder if the Obamites regret using force against Hitler as well.  Maybe my dad will still be charged aiding and abetting the American military effort in Germany during WWII.

Did we even try to sit down and talk with them first?
5756  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: China, no hard landing... on: October 12, 2011, 04:10:03 PM
Asia's Wesbury?  wink

"Many experienced international investors look at a decline in housing prices as a signal of serious trouble to come. But Beijing itself has engineered this decline using policies that restrict house purchases. If this starts to cause major macroeconomic consequences, the government could easily reverse the restrictions."

Sounds a lot like an argument that could have been made in the U.S., how the resources and powers of the Treasury, the Federal Reserve and FDIC and federal GSEs guaranteeing loans would remove any risk beyond minor fluctuations in housing prices here.  How's that going?

In closing: "Only if there is another global recession would China suffer a hard landing..."

And what are the odds of that?
5757  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential, Romney's lean toward liberalism? on: October 12, 2011, 01:14:56 PM
Slate, of all places, trying to paint Romney positions as liberal.  This was their 4th example:

 Middle-class tax cuts. An hour into the debate, Newt Gingrich asked Romney:

One of the characteristics of Obama in his class-warfare approach has been to talk about going after people who made over $250,000 a year and divide us. And I was a little surprised—I think it's about page 47 of your plan—that you have a capital-gains tax cut for people under $200,000, which is actually lower than the Obama model. Now, as a businessman, you know that you actually lose economic effectiveness if you limit capital gains tax cuts only to people who don't get capital gains. So I'm curious: What was the rationale for setting an even lower base marker than Obama had?

Romney answered:

The reason for giving a tax break to middle-income Americans is that middle-income Americans have been the people who have been most hurt by the Obama economy. … Median income in America has declined by 10 percent during the Obama years. People are having a hard time making ends meet. And so if I'm going to use precious dollars to reduce taxes, I want to focus on where the people are hurting the most, and that's the middle class. I'm not worried about rich people. They are doing just fine. The very poor have a safety net, they're taken care of. But the people in the middle, the hard-working Americans, are the people who need a break, and that is why I focused my tax cut right there.

If I'm going to use precious dollars to reduce taxes, I want to focus on where the people are hurting the most. That’s Romney’s most revealing statement of the night. A property-oriented conservative would say that dollars belong to the people who earned them and that tax cuts should let them keep more of their money. But Romney’s formulation—“ use precious dollars to reduce taxes”—assumes that the dollars are his to “focus,” i.e. distribute, according to need.  Again, it’s a defensible worldview. But it’s fundamentally liberal.
5758  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Trade Issues / Freedom to Trade on: October 12, 2011, 12:53:23 PM
True.  I agree the article and I agree with the quote within from the GE chairman only for the substance inside the quotation marks, not for his slimy acceptance of crony, public-private anti-equal-protection leadership.

For the question posed, reasonable exceptions to free trade make perfect sense to me in situations such as transactions that empower or enrich our enemies, or transactions to lower costs by manufacturing with coerced labor.

Isolating a regime like Iran economically is a legitimate foreign policy tool.  Probably not effective, certainly legitimate and distinct from our approach to trade policies in general.
5759  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / 2012 Presidential: NH Debate October 2011, video and transcript on: October 12, 2011, 12:30:05 PM
GM, That is some major league, big time shrinkage for a man who is only 50!
Another debate gone by, Dartmouth N.H.  

Romney was confident and poised with no gaffes, people say.  Herman Cain is now the main conservative challenger.  They both still have the same strengths and weaknesses that they started with. Perry didn't change the perception that he isn't a great debater considering his strong credentials and isn't ready with his economic plan.  But, this was the economic debate.  Bachmann made a valid point  to Cain's third 9 but mixes in a falsehood (it's not a jobs plan) and ends with a flippant remark.  Ron Paul took to the attack against Greenspan, but Cain had referred to Greeenspan's policies of the early 90's not the loose money policies of post-911.  

Romney I think will win and unless Cain or someone else comes out of the gate winning primaries, it is over.   The candidates should present their own positive agenda and run against Obama-Pelosi-Reid governance, not get further invested into taking down each other.

Those of us to the right of Romney can favor Cain or whoever we want while they are still in, but to really make a difference going forward conservatives IMO can start moving the effort over to the house and senate where these reforms will be written.
5760  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Politics: 99% rally? on: October 12, 2011, 11:34:15 AM
Cranewings:  "Went to my first 99% rally today"

I am curious, CW, as to what the 99% rally main political points are to you or at least what points you wish they were effectively making?
5761  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Trade Issues / Freedom to Trade on: October 12, 2011, 10:49:49 AM
The article below is based in current events today, aimed at our hemisphere, but also summarizes nicely the main benefits of free trade, what I call freedom to trade - a basic economic freedom.  Key points:

1) "There are a billion new consumers that are going to join the middle class in Asia over the next 10 years. We have to have access to them."  In other words, with free trade, whatever you invent or innovate or design or build or just source and sell, the larger the market you can sell into the more return you can earn for your effort.

2) 'access to imports is a key contributor to high U.S. living standards'.  Freedom to buy from far away means the freedom to make the best possible purchase transactions available.  Besides standard of living, this is a key component in competitiveness.  

3) Trade war escalations: "If the U.S. puts up new trade barriers to China and attaches "buy American" provisions to federal spending—as the Obama administration did in 2009 and now wants to do again—other countries are likely to feel justified in moving to protect their own domestic markets."  As with the leadup to the Great Depression, protectionism at home leads to other countries doing the same, and trade wars destroy economies, commerce and wealth.

The Case for Free-Trade Leadership   WSJ
Mexico's growth in investment and trade, both imports and exports, shows the benefits of open borders.


'There are a billion new consumers that are going to join the middle class in Asia over the next 10 years. We have to have access to them."

That was General Electric CEO Jeff Immelt on CNBC Thursday responding to a question about the Senate's 79-19 vote last week to advance a bill that would punish China with antidumping duties if it does not strengthen the yuan.

Bipartisan Washington, as indicated by that vote, is itching to launch a trade war with China. Mr. Immelt warned against it: "Make no mistake. The U.S. will do better if we have a good strong positive engagement with China. I was there last week. It is still growing eight to ten percent. We need to have access to China for our exports."

Too bad President Obama didn't say that.

There is no such thing as a good moment to close markets, but this would seem to be an especially inauspicious time, just as Asians are climbing up the economic ladder, to introduce a policy that is likely to generate reciprocal penalties against U.S. exporters.

But that is only one reason the Senate bill is dumb. The chief reason is that access to imports is a key contributor to high U.S. living standards and American export competitiveness.

A third factor, less often recognized, has to do with the need for U.S. leadership in reaching wider geopolitical goals. If the U.S. puts up new trade barriers to China and attaches "buy American" provisions to federal spending—as the Obama administration did in 2009 and now wants to do again—other countries are likely to feel justified in moving to protect their own domestic markets.

The unintended consequences of a U.S. shift toward protectionism are not hard to predict. Brazil is already loudly complaining about pressure on local industry due to currency weakness abroad—meaning the U.S. dollar. In September it raised duties on some auto imports by 30 percentage points.

Closer to home, Mexico remains vulnerable to internal protectionist forces. Amazingly, the country has stuck to a liberal trade agenda in recent years despite the impact on exports from the 2009 U.S. recession and strong competition from China. But a World Trade Organization commitment it made in 2008 to lift all antidumping duties on some 1,500 Chinese goods this December is stirring up protectionist sentiment. Presidential and legislative elections slated for July will give nationalist populists an opportunity to strike.

The Bombardier manufacturing facility in Queretaro, Mexico

Sensational press coverage of Mexico's narco-violence has obscured the exciting story of the changing economic landscape brought on by openness. In an October economic analysis of the economy, the Spanish bank BBVA says that in 2010 Mexico was among the top 10 destinations in the world for foreign direct investment, which grew almost 22%.

BBVA found that the "main attraction" for that capital was Mexico's "platform" as an exporter of manufactured goods (over $246 billion in 2010) but also as an importer of manufactured goods ($250 billion). Those figures, BBVA said, "place Mexico as one of the economies most open to foreign trade and with the greatest trade activity internationally."

This has allowed Mexico to move up the food chain as a producer. One fascinating development is its evolving role in the global aerospace industry. Using data from the Boston Consulting Group, BBVA found that "in the aerospace category, [Mexico] is the main recipient [in the world] of FDI."

Baja California is home to 52 of the 232 aerospace companies in Mexico today and 40% of the industry's work force. Honeywell and Gulfstream are two household names that have facilities there. In Chihuahua, Cessna manufactures aircraft wiring sets (called harnesses) and ships them to Kansas for airplane assembly while Bell Helicopter manufactures cabins for commercial units. Jalisco is also an aerospace hotspot, with projects "in place," according to the Mexican-government publication Negocios, for "producing engine components, wiring harnesses, cables, landing system components and heat exchangers." By attracting the Canadian firm Bombardier in 2006, the state of Queretaro has pulled in a host of suppliers. A total of 50 local and foreign firms employ 4,800 workers in what is now "recognized as the strongest Mexican aerospace cluster," Negocios reports.

Increasing labor costs in China, and Mexico's low transportation and logistic costs for the Western Hemisphere, its available human capital, and its respect for intellectual-property rights are all conspiring to attract investors. But none of it would be happening without the opening to foreign trade and investment.

It is true that Mexico has not grown fast enough to satisfy its young population. But that's because Mexican competitiveness needs work. Crucial sectors like telecommunications, electricity and oil have to be deregulated to lower costs; and further opening to competitors like China is necessary.

This will entail tough domestic political battles which, if won, will make Mexico a stronger, wealthier democracy and a better U.S. neighbor. A new wave of protectionist thinking out of Washington is not going to be helpful to market liberals who are trying to stay the course.
5762  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Politics, Tea party vs. Occupy on: October 12, 2011, 10:36:05 AM
So far 'Occupy' looks to me like a continuation of the anti-capitalism demonstrations that go back to anti-WTO in Seattle and others.  From a bias-right point of view, I wish for them full exposure to cameras and microphones. Real corporate welfare is one area where far right and far left should be able to come to agreement and get real reform done.

Tea party rallies grew out of tax cut rallies of the past.  After the overspending deficits of Bush, a Republican,  into the escalation on steroids of TARP, Obama stimulus, QE  and healthcare, the emphasis changed to opposing the massive size and scope of what was supposed to be a limited government.  Taxes have become a minor part of the damage now being done.

Bigdog wrote: "When you focus on a small portion of the entire crowd to make a (snarky) point, you do the same thing that liberals do with the Tea Party when they only take pictures of the signs with misssspelinggs.  I think that both the Tea Party and the OWS have beefs, that if others managed to actually listen to what they are saying, there might (shock!) be a lesson in it."

That seems like a fair point to me.  We will see if the kooks are a small portion or the main portion, and what valid points they make. 

Cameras at tea party rallies didn't really find what they were looking for - bigots and racists, mostly just hard working people who came out to express frustration and work toward positive change. Some cameras found too many white people in view but never did I see any racism as reported, and the main leader to come out of it for the moment seems to be Herman Cain. Allen West is another, and Marco Rubio.  The movement became a political force when they began organizing to take down big spending, unprincipled incumbents inside their own party.  Some tea party candidates won, some, lost, but people in these cases were offered a clearer choice.

If the 'Occupy' crowd is a serious movement, where are their candidates? We will see. Where is their opposition to Obama Corporatism?  He certainly is a corporatist, perhaps the biggest one, by their own standards.  Same with Dodd and Frank.  What were the Fannie and Freddie top salaries of their cronies at the time that they succeeded in destroying the market they took over.

Regarding valid points, my own beef with the obscene profits on Wall Street come from two things: a) when they take in a boatload of money for failure, and b) when the big comes from the cozy relationships of crony governmentalism.  Besides government direct investment, we have created a regulatory system so overly complex in so many industries that only entrenched players with their huge political contributions can survive and new entrants with smaller resources are functionally locked out.  That is the objection of the occupy crowd. Their philosophy would take us to a system where Derek Jeter and his batboy should make a similar wage, if I am reading them correctly.

You will never build a better economic system by ignoring concepts like value added and work done. 
5763  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Latin America: Argentine President Poised for Reelection on: October 10, 2011, 08:47:36 AM
"Fernandez...vows to continue current policies that include a strong state hand in the economy, hefty energy and transportation subsidies and trade protectionism.  She is enjoying approval ratings of more than 60 percent"

And second place is a socialist.

One more place where freedom is not on the ballot?

Argentine President Cristina Fernandez has a massive lead over opponents two weeks before a presidential election and looks set to win more than 50 percent of the vote, two polls showed on Sunday.

Fernandez's support now stands at 53.2 percent, according to the latest monthly survey by local pollsters Management & Fit showed. That puts her more than 40 points ahead of her nearest rival
5764  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Dead Mexicans Killed by a Botched Obama Administration Scandal? on: October 10, 2011, 08:31:08 AM
In spite of how well covered this scandal was on the board I have been very slow to figure out who really was trying to do what.  Still working on my theory and its disjointed components:

The Attorney General Eric Holder felt justified in lying about the year he was briefed.  He knew that he wasn't betraying his higher-ups when he chose to obstruct public and congressional oversight.  That means they already knew.  Cross border arms supplying into a neighboring country's civil was isn't something that starts at Attorney General or below.  If it was and it was unauthorized, he would be fired.

Obama STILL hasn't been briefed?  Still knows nothing?  Do you buy it?  I don't buy it.  We just can't find a reporter to ask him.  Or has someone heard a coherent explanation of policy objectives, risk assessments and controls?

Pres. Obama has no reaction whatsoever to learning that his Attorney General was lying under oath for him.  No firing, no promise to get to the bottom of it.  No call for a special prosecutor or an independent investigator.  Nothing.,0,6300714.story

Am I the last guy on earth to figure out that Obama knew about this all along?  It says to me that this operation was the brainchild his own closest political advisersl.  

The same ones that wrote his jobs plan.

Felipe Calderon's knowledge and role in it?  I don't know.

There is one reason I don't believe in conspiracies:  There aren't two people who can keep a secret.  

This was hardly a secret.,0,6431788.story?track=rss
5765  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Will the China real estate bubble burst? Consequences in the U.S. on: October 09, 2011, 03:38:33 PM
Time magazine piece poses interesting questions:,9171,2096345,00.html
5766  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / 6 Years Since 2006, Rep. Keith Ellison Still Thinks Regulations Increase Hiring on: October 09, 2011, 03:13:36 PM

US Unemployment was at 4.4% in between Nov 2006 when the Pelosi-Reid-Obama-Hillary-Biden congress was elected to take the majorty and Jan. 2007 when Catholic-raised Keith Ellison from North Minneapolis first solemnly put his hand on the Koran and swore to hold up the constitution to the best of his ability so help him Allah. 

Neither Jack Webb nor Johnny Carson, both trained professionals, could keep a straight face through the Copper Clapper Caper, but Ellison signed on with an agenda of economic destruction, watched unemployment more than double under his policies of unprecedented increases in business strangulating regulation and then look the camera in the eye today to a very well framed question about regulations killing jobs and say... no, he thinks regulations get companies moving with even more hiring because regulations inspire companies to get going with compliance efforts.  I swear to God, that is what he said - it's on the video - and that is what he believes.  The saddest part of it is that there is a 100% chance he will be reelected in 2012 no matter the unemployment rate.

The video:

The BLS data and chart:

5767  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues on: October 08, 2011, 12:49:46 PM
GM,  Great Post.  Mark Steyn is very witty and persuasive when he gets going on the right issue.  Just coining the name of the scandal 'Dead Mexicans' ought to get someone else besides about 4 people here to ask WHY did this happen?
5768  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Pathological Science: The New Hockey Stick on: October 07, 2011, 07:42:52 PM
October 6, 2011 by Steven Hayward in Climate
The New Hockey Stick?

Everyone who follows the climate change controversy even casually will know about the “hockey stick” controversy.  Well, Nature magazine this week offers a new graph of interest: the rising trend of retractions of scientific research papers (see blow).  Lo and behold, it looks like a hockey stick!  (Heh.)

The Nature story notes:

    Behind at least half of them lies some shocking tale of scientific misconduct — plagiarism, altered images or faked data — and the other half are admissions of embarrassing mistakes. But retraction notices are increasing rapidly. In the early 2000s, only about 30 retraction notices appeared annually. This year, the Web of Science is on track to index more than 400 — even though the total number of papers published has risen by only 44% over the past decade.

There’s a lot more here to ponder, such as the essentially hollow and meaningless nature of modern peer review, and the increasingly tribal and ideological drift of much of the academic scientific establishment.  Some other time perhaps I’ll get further into these matters.

Dan Sarewitz, always worth reading

Elsewhere in this week’s issue of Nature, Dan Sarewitz of Arizona State University, one of the truly honest brokers in the academic science and policy world, offers a terrific essay on what’s wrong with so-called “consensus” science reports.  (Dan is a pal, but hat tip to RH for bringing Dan’s piece to my attention.)  The article may be behind a subscriber firewall, so here’s a relevant excerpt:

    When scientists wish to speak with one voice, they typically do so in a most unscientific way: the consensus report. The idea is to condense the knowledge of many experts into a single point of view that can settle disputes and aid policy-making. But the process of achieving such a consensus often acts against these goals, and can undermine the very authority it seeks to project. . .

    The very idea that science best expresses its authority through consensus statements is at odds with a vibrant scientific enterprise. Consensus is for textbooks; real science depends for its progress on continual challenges to the current state of always-imperfect knowledge. Science would provide better value to politics if it articulated the broadest set of plausible interpretations, options and perspectives, imagined by the best experts, rather than forcing convergence to an allegedly unified voice.

    Yet, as anyone who has served on a consensus committee knows, much of what is most interesting about a subject gets left out of the final report.
5769  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Way Forward for the American Creed on: October 07, 2011, 07:37:11 PM
"I prefer a little higher income tax and no federal sales tax as in his 9 9 9 idea."

This is my view as well and both need to be in the teens.  He can go back to his same experts for the revenue neutral number on that and offer the country through their representatives a choice that includes a President Cain with each. 

5770  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ not buying the third nine in the Cain Plan on: October 07, 2011, 02:00:18 PM
First this comment on Crafty's previous post:  The gunrunning scandal is breaking VERY slowly which could turn it into a political nightmare for the President.  You may have nailed something BIG  here.  For whatever his motives were, by arming criminals entering Mexico they were showing zero respect for the safety of the Mexican people and zero respect for the sovereignty of the Mexican nation.  Meanwhile, amnesty cuts through politics about like gay marriage.  They say what a key interest group wants to hear while giving them roughly the same policy of their opponents.  Why wasn't it amnesty/comprehensive reform instead of healthcare when Dems controlled all branches of government?  Just more disrespect, if that is what the people really wanted.  Then up come minor executive orders at the press office just in time for an election while stonewalling congress over the arming the wrong side of a civil war out the back door of the White House.  When the pandering wears off Hispanics will be left to vote based on same issues that the rest of us face, like jobs and growth.

Cain's tax plan is very, very good in so many ways, however you do not give the powerful bureacracy within the swinging pendulum of politics a new federal tax to escalate without  ending the old ones.  WSJ has fallen a month and a half behind on their reading of the forum, but I expressed these same objections right away when it came out:

"Better to reform the devil we know—the income tax—than to introduce another devil and end up with ever-rising rates of both."

Cain's Tax Mutiny
Creating a new national sales tax on top of the income tax is a political killer.

With Herman Cain's leap in the Presidential polls, the businessman's campaign is suddenly being taken seriously and his plan to overhaul federal taxes is coming under scrutiny. Mr. Cain's 9-9-9 plan would certainly help the economy, but its political flaws may well be fatal.

The plan is nothing if not bold, throwing out the current tax code and replacing it with three new taxes: a 9% flat rate personal income tax with no deductions except for donations to charity; a 9% flat rate tax on net business profits; and a new 9% national sales tax.

The plan abolishes the current payroll and estate taxes, as well as those on capital gains and dividends. All capital expenses of businesses would be expensed in the year of purchase and foreign profits could be repatriated without a tax penalty. The plan is designed to raise as much revenue as the current tax code, and the Heritage Foundation estimates it would not increase the budget deficit.

The plan's chief virtue is its sharp reduction in marginal tax rates, to 9% from 35% for businesses and top-earning individuals. Another benefit is that it would eliminate the current double taxation on savings and investment. When this is combined with expensing of capital investment and the sales tax on retail sales, Mr. Cain's plan would in effect convert the federal tax system into a de facto consumption tax.

In an instant, the U.S. would have the lowest corporate tax rate among our major trading partners, from the second highest today. All of this would provide a significant boost to U.S. domestic investment and global business competitiveness. If Americans want more jobs, this plan would produce them in a hurry.

The simplicity of 9-9-9 is also a selling point, as is its elimination of loopholes. Businesses, for example, would deduct all of their legitimate business expenses (except wages paid) from their gross receipts. The provisions that have allowed companies like General Electric to pay little or no federal income tax would be gone.

The main beneficiaries of the current tax code are already howling in protest, notably the housing lobby. But this is not a reason to oppose the plan. The U.S. economy has over-invested in housing thanks to tax and other subsidies. Any tax reform worth its name will have to reduce this favoritism that robs scarce capital from the rest of the economy.

With a low 9% tax rate, deductions like the one for mortgage interest become much less attractive in any case. The key to an immediate housing recovery is to let prices find a bottom, while the key to a durable housing industry is a growing economy that lifts personal incomes. In the 1980s, Ronald Reagan cut the after-tax value of the home mortgage deduction by more than half—by cutting the tax rate to 28% from 70%—but home sales and values surged.

The real political defect of the Cain plan is that it imposes a new national sales tax while maintaining the income tax. Mr. Cain's rates are seductively low, but the current income tax was introduced in 1913 with a top rate of 7% amid promises that it would never exceed 10%. By 1918 the top rate was 77%.

European nations began adopting national sales and value-added taxes on top of their income taxes in the 1960s, and that has coincided with the rise of the entitlement state and slower economic growth. Consumption tax rates usually started at less than 10%, but in much of euroland "the rates have nearly doubled and now are close to 20%," according to a study by the Cato Institute's Dan Mitchell. Because a sales tax would raise huge sums with small increases in the rate, we would see regular campaigns like "a penny to fight poverty," or "one-cent for universal health care" that would be politically tough to defeat.

The politics of a national sales tax is bad enough on its own. A 9% rate when combined with state and local levies would mean a tax on goods of 17% or more in many places. The cries for exemptions would be great. The experience of the so-called Fair Tax that would impose a 23% national tax rate isn't favorable, as even Jim South Carolina's DeMint learned when he nearly lost his first bid for the Senate after Democrats attacked the sales tax.

Mr. Cain's campaign argues that the after-tax price of, say, potato chips or a new TV will be no higher even after the 9% tax because current prices have current taxes embedded in them. "We rip out the bad taxes (lowering prices) then put the sales tax back in," writes Rich Lowrie, a top economic adviser to the Cain campaign in an email. "It is not an add on tax. It is a replacement tax." That is right economically, but it's a hard political sell to a family that sees the tax on its grocery bill.

Part of Mr. Cain's appeal is his willingness to challenge political convention, and he certainly has with his tax proposal. Voters like that he isn't a lifetime politician but a successful business owner who has met a payroll and created jobs. But his endorsement of a sales tax on top of the income tax is a political gamble that would eventually finance an even larger entitlement state. Better to reform the devil we know—the income tax—than to introduce another devil and end up with ever-rising rates of both.
5771  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The War on Drugs made easy on: October 07, 2011, 01:13:21 PM
Not finding a stupid criminal category I will stick this here:
Man Busted for Marijuana After Petting K-9
Friday, Oct 7, 2011  |  Updated 8:35 AM EDT

Man Busted for Marijuana After Petting K-9

Good advice:  If you have marijuana in your pocket, it's not a good idea to pet a patrolling police dog.     

The Binghamton Press & Sun Bulletin reports that 48-year-old Kelly Simpson was busted Wednesday after he stopped to pet K-9 Tarah, who was on foot patrol with her handler in Endicott.

Police say Tarah smelled marijuana and alerted the officer. (via Drudge!)
5772  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Way Forward for the American Creed on: October 07, 2011, 12:50:24 PM
The original story mentioned is posted in 'Tax Policy'.  I offer this excerpt of a WSJ letter to the editor in partial answer to Marc's point about answering anger about bailouts:

"Regarding Stephen Moore's "Flat Is the New Fair" (op-ed, Sept. 30): The flat tax should have been implemented years ago. It would have ... [/b]denied Congress the means to reward favored groups with special benefits[/b]..."

Since Obama claims there is no real progressivity in taxes now, what on earth would we lose by agreeing to tax all income of all people evenly, instead of based on who do you know and how big is your group.

That simple reform wouldsolve half of the problem and isolate the rest to be tackled over on the spending side of the ledger.
5773  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Illogical Economics, if growth or jobs was your goal on: October 07, 2011, 11:59:43 AM
"Doug what is your take on this:  As noted on Drudge the payroll rate up 103K this month.  Yet 45K is simply Verizon workers going back to work after a strike!  What kind of crap is this?  Those are not 45K new jobs.  What are we all this stupid?  Why can we not have honesty if nothing else in our government?"

CCP,  Great point, thanks for that!  All economic measures are flawed so you work through it the best you can, knowing that your own lying eyes could have better accuracy than their data. If those people were getting unemployment compensation then I guess going back to work means new jobs  created???  Unbleapingbelievable, but no surprise to me.  I have posted for years that we measure the poverty rate while excluding their main sources of income and we measure oil reserves without including most known oil reserves.  The real question is why do voluntarily striking workers qualify for compensation while choosing to not work during contract negotiations?  The freedom to strike should be matched with the freedom to not get paid.  

The main news of the day I thought had to do with some positive revisions of previous months figures.  That makes just slightly better news than downward revisions, about like having Wesbury telling us that 0.3% growth is upward movement even if it is statistically identical to 0.3% in decline.  Either way this economy sucks, everyone knows it, and the inflection point on the curve happens to be not when Obama assumed the Presidency, but  exactly when Pelosi-Reid and Obama took the majority in congress and control of the domestic agenda.  The record of the Obama administration has been only to lock us in at our very lowest point

As my daughter's sports team heads into the heat of their playoff season I can say that in economics like sports, if you focus on doing the fundamentals correctly the scoreboard will take care of itself.

The fundamentals in a nutshell right now are:

Unprecedented over-regulation which includes an uncertainty and fear right now at terroristic levels when it comes to business growth and expansion.  The potential hirers do not even know if Obamacare is coming much less what it will mean to them, much less everything else to do with employment law.  They don't know what EPA carbon rules will mean or what energy will cost.  They are getting just killed with property taxation in the populated areas where workers live.  They don't know what a dollar is worth today or tomorrow and they don't know to the nearest ten percentage points what their tax rate will be tomorrow will be on an investment made today.  What they know is that we are not currently addressing ANY of our underlying problems.

Liberals and leftists actually have a stronger, blind belief in capitalism than right wing supply siders like myself do.  They believe that you can keep piling little things like family leave, layoff notification laws,escalating healthcare penalties and ongoing threats of profits surcharges  on top of OSHA and everything else already on them ini terms of state, federal and local tax, penalties and regulations and that the amazing American economy will still hit on enough cylinders to keep running.  I am amazed that under this level of incompetence, uncertainty and restraints on economic freedoms that anyone goes to work or pays a bill at all.

For every stupid and piddly little $100 million in federal beekeeping or monkey-mating studies we have taken another dollar away from every member of the current workforce.  How many more of these wealth transfers and boondoggles can we keep piling on before every worker and every investors just gets up and quits?

The less I make right now, the more that YOU will be paying for my daughter's college.  What could possibly go wrong with that?  Let me guess.  Doctors our age are taking early retirement in droves, ready to scale back their earnings and their tax contributions.

I have posed this question elsewhere without a serious answer:  Please name for me, anyone, every tax and every regulation at every level of government that one must know inside and out before venturing to start a successful lemonade stand.  You can't.
5774  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Fed, Monetary Policy, Inflation, US Dollar & other currencies, & Gold/Silver on: October 07, 2011, 11:01:16 AM
GM,  You raise a very important point here:

"it's important to note that all paper currency is relative"

The two main currencies are the US$ and the Euro.  It is measure at this point the damage we are currently doing to our currency and our standard of living if central point of comparison is the currency of an economic union in collapse.  Like judging the 0-4 Minnesota Vikings against the 0-16 2009 Detroit Lions, the 2011 Euro isn't exactly the gold standard, nor is the Obama-Bernancke dollar.

Why on earth are we striving to copy the economic policies that put Europe in this mess?
5775  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Real (U3) Unemployment rate under Obama = 11.3%. U6 = 16.5% on: October 07, 2011, 10:47:03 AM
If we measured the number unemployed now against the total of jobs considered available when Obama took office, the unemployment rate would be 11.3%.

  - James Pethokoukis, Biased Blogger at the right wing media outlets of Reuters and CNBC.  He was Economics Columnist and Business Editor at U.S.News & World Report magazine.
Those results are after $6 trillion of artificial 'Keynesian Stimulus' with no plan of lessening much less pay back..  Don't tell me we aren't moving backwards.  

U6 = 16.5%

Do you know what caused all this economic carnage? ...  Government at all levels just got too small, Bush's fault, and economic liberties were too large and too widespread. People across the country, in all states and all industries, were under-taxed and under-regulated.  We must correct urgently - with a new and improved government program.
5776  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: October 07, 2011, 10:07:13 AM
CCP: "I don't think I need to go into detail on Brick Brock's political diatribe this AM."

Besides bad policies, he suffers from over-exposure.  For the last couple of big policy speeches he got zero bump in the polls.  He was the lyricist who could put out words that people could fill with their own meaning.  Amazing that it worked once or worked twice.  He outwitted and outlasted Richardson, Biden and Kucinich to inherit the anti-Hillary vote and outwitted and outlasted McCain to ride the anti-Bush vote in.  But it was all meaningless blather.  His claim to fame was to be the most consistent anti-Iraq-war candidate.  We are still in Iraq.  Then the strongest on anti-Guantanamo and the base is still open.  The one who could get healthcare done but it is now further from done facing the Courts, the polls and new elections than it was before it passed.  We are lazy or cowards if we yawn at Stimulus Seven yet they have not found even an economist who could explain a plausible economic theory behind robbing job creators to pay interest groups in an election.

 CCP: " "F" (I mean "forget")  solar."

That's very funny!  What he doesn't get is that if solar is 15 times the cost of coal, then a little push here and little pull there doesn't take it to the front of the line and shut down all the coal and nuclear with energy to burn.  In a prosperous society, people can CHOOSE little clean wind and solar supplements installed with pride on their abode without caring how that compares with current electric billing rate.  When you have lost your job and are losing your house, that is not so.

Has he visited the Bakken fields in North Dakota, the state with zero structural unemployment to see what is working?  Not even curious about surging state revenues and surpluses that has the looking at repeal of the state income tax.  These are red states.  He didn't even make it to the "Midwest Katrina of 2011".

Natural gas use has carbon emissions but is far cleaner than clean coal.  The Obama brain trust fights it and uses its dupes in the media to bring up new objections.  Nuclear is 100% carbon free and now we can learn how to survive an earthquake with 100 times stronger force than the Loma Prieta quake that brought down the Bay Bridge and World Series in San Francisco 1989.  We know where the fault line are and we have made amazing advances in transmission technology.  The Obama plan: fill your tires and eat your peas.  Rob Peter, pay Paul. 

If we aren't going to fix anything that is wrong under his watch, why should we tune in? 
5777  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Political Economics: What would YOU do? on: October 06, 2011, 12:44:16 PM
The president's jobs bills isn't a jobs bill and it isn't going to pass either chamber.  If it passed it isn't going to grow a single job.

To ALL:  The President today said that people who oppose his 'jobs bill' need to answer, what would YOU do?  Anyone and everyone, this is your shot.  Post the answer - right here.  Let's find some agreement, and start writing to Washington.  Waiting for a year from November, or really January 2013 and hoping a new group will win and do something isn't soon enough or good enough IHMO.  Let's step up the pressure to fix this right now...
5778  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Pathological Science: 5 obvious truths about climate change on: October 06, 2011, 12:33:30 PM
Has anyone heard from BBG?

Five Truths About Climate Change
During the decade that Al Gore dominated the environmental debate, global carbon-dioxide emissions rose by 28.5%.


Over the past two months, environmental activists have held protests at the White House and elsewhere hoping to convince the Obama administration to deny a permit for the proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline from Canada to the Gulf Coast. Some of those same activists have launched a series of demonstrations called "Moving Planet" to move "the planet away from fossil fuels towards a safer climate future." And next month, leaders from dozens of countries will meet at the 17th United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Durban, South Africa.

But for all of the sturm und drang about climate change, what has actually happened? It's time to acknowledge five obvious truths about the climate-change issue:
Related Video

Robert Bryce on why global warming alarmists are losing their crusade.

1) The carbon taxers/limiters have lost. Carbon-dioxide emissions have been the environmental issue of the past decade. Over that time period, Al Gore became a world-renowned figure for his documentary, "An Inconvenient Truth," for which he won an Oscar. In 2007, he, along with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), collected a Nobel Peace Prize for "informing the world of the dangers posed by climate change." That same year, the IPCC released its fourth assessment report, which declared that "most of the observed increase in global average temperatures since the mid-20th century is very likely due to the observed increase in anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions." (Emphasis in original.)

Two years later, Copenhagen became the epicenter of a world-wide media frenzy as some 5,000 journalists, along with some 100 world leaders and scores of celebrities, descended on the Danish capital to witness what was billed as the best opportunity to impose a global tax or limit on carbon dioxide.

The result? Nothing, aside from promises by various countries to get serious—really serious—about carbon emissions sometime soon.

Here's a reality check: During the same decade that Mr. Gore and the IPCC dominated the environmental debate, global carbon-dioxide emissions rose by 28.5%.

Those increases reflect soaring demand for electricity, up by 36%, which in turn fostered a 47% increase in coal consumption. (Natural-gas use increased by 29% while oil use grew by 13%.) Carbon-dioxide emissions are growing because people around the world understand the essentiality of electricity to modernity. And for many countries, the cheapest way to produce electrons is by burning coal.

2) Regardless of whether it's getting hotter or colder—or both—we are going to need to produce a lot more energy in order to remain productive and comfortable.

3) The carbon-dioxide issue is not about the United States anymore. Sure, the U.S. is the world's second-largest energy consumer. But over the past decade, carbon-dioxide emissions in the U.S. fell by 1.7%. And according to the International Energy Agency, the U.S. is now cutting carbon emissions faster than Europe, even though the European Union has instituted an elaborate carbon-trading/pricing scheme. Why? The U.S. is producing vast quantities of cheap natural gas from shale, which is displacing higher-carbon coal.

Meanwhile, China's emissions jumped by 123% over the past decade and now exceed those of the U.S. by more than two billion tons per year. Africa's carbon-dioxide emissions jumped by 30%, Asia's by 44%, and the Middle East's by a whopping 57%. Put another way, over the past decade, U.S. carbon dioxide emissions—about 6.1 billion tons per year—could have gone to zero and yet global emissions still would have gone up.

4) We have to get better—and we are—at turning energy into useful power. In 1882, Thomas Edison's first central power station on Pearl Street in lower Manhattan converted less than 3% of the heat energy of the coal being burned into electricity. Today's best natural-gas-fired turbines have thermal efficiencies of 60%. Nearly all of the things we use on a daily basis—light bulbs, computers, automobiles—are vastly more efficient than they were just a few years ago. And over the coming years those devices will get even better at turning energy into useful lighting, computing and motive power.

5) The science is not settled, not by a long shot. Last month, scientists at CERN, the prestigious high-energy physics lab in Switzerland, reported that neutrinos might—repeat, might—travel faster than the speed of light. If serious scientists can question Einstein's theory of relativity, then there must be room for debate about the workings and complexities of the Earth's atmosphere.

Furthermore, even if we accept that carbon dioxide is bad, it's not clear exactly what we should do about it. In September, Tom Wigley of the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder published a report that determined "switching from coal to natural gas would do little for global climate." Mr. Wigley found that the particulates put into the atmosphere by coal-fired power plants, "although detrimental to the environment, cool the planet by blocking incoming sunlight."

If Mr. Wigley's right, then using sources that emit no particulates, like nuclear and natural gas, will not make a major difference in averting near-term changes in the climate caused by carbon dioxide. But then—and here's the part that most media outlets failed to discuss when reporting on the Wigley study—widespread use of renewables such as wind and solar won't help much, either.

Will Happer, a professor of physics at Princeton and a skeptic about global climate change, recently wrote that the "contemporary 'climate crusade' has much in common with the medieval crusades." Indeed, politicians and pundits are hectored to adhere to the orthodoxy of the carbon-dioxide-is-the-only-climate-problem alarmists. And that orthodoxy prevails even though the most ardent alarmists have no credible plans to replace the hydrocarbons that now provide 87% of the world's energy.

It's time to move the debate past the dogmatic view that carbon dioxide is evil and toward a world view that accepts the need for energy that is cheap, abundant and reliable.

Mr. Bryce is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute. His latest book, "Power Hungry: The Myths of 'Green' Energy and the Real Fuels of the Future" (PublicAffairs, 2010), was recently issued in paperback.
5779  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / 5% Tax on Job Creators on: October 06, 2011, 12:26:30 PM
The Reid proposal to put a 5% surcharge on incomes over a million by will NOT close the deficit by 3% even in a theoretical case where millionaires were stupid and did not adjust their behavior whatsoever to fend off the additional  punishment on achievement and reported income.

Best case is to raise revenues in an between zero to 2% of the current deficit at the expense of a huge percentage, job killing, marginal tax increase.  In the real world, this kind of rate increase will actually DECREASE government revenues.

How long ago was it that our commander in chief just said that everyone knows you don't raise taxes in a recession?
5780  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Media Issues: NY Slimes on: October 06, 2011, 11:08:47 AM
160 years and 106 Pulitzer Prizes and THIS passes for journalism:

"...The Republicans have used that cowardice to embarrass Mr. Reid, his party and Mr. Obama. On Tuesday, when the Senate Republican leader, Mitch McConnell, prankishly offered to bring up the jobs bill, Mr. Reid was forced to object, leading to all sorts of merry, if hollow, taunts from the Republican side.  The Republicans’ willingness to play political games while millions are out of work is inexcusable, ..."
The bill is more of the same of what did not work and dug our debt deeper at frightening pace.  This continues and extends our problems, does not solve them.  Mr. Reid isn't a coward. Slimeball maybe but not a coward.  They know better than that and lie to their own trusting readers.   Majority Leader Reid has a number of Democrat members who reject the bill outright and a good number more with serious doubts.  Mitch McConnell isn't a prankster.  Voting down the bill in the senate just like they voted down an Obama budget 98-0 IS how you call the question and begin to move forward with real solutions.  How can it be a prank to call for a vote on the President's own agenda tight while you are being publicly berated as an obstructionist?

Believe or not, people have honest disagreements in policy with their failed view of economics.  That does not make people cowards and pranksters.  Hard to believe people pay for drivel passed off at the highest levels as journalism. 
5781  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Cain to protestors: If you aren't rich, its your fault on: October 06, 2011, 10:50:08 AM
While Pres. Obama tried to express how he shares their frustration, Herman Cain had a different message.

Unemployed Wall Street protesters only have themselves to blame for lacking a job, so says Herman Cain.

The Republican presidential candidate insisted that the demonstrations were being "orchestrated" to help President Obama.

"I don't have the facts to back this up, but I happen to believe that these demonstrations are planned and orchestrated to distract from the failed policies of the Obama Administration," Cain told the Wall Street Journal.

The Tea Party favorite then argued that the plight of the unemployed was their own fault.

"Don't blame Wall Street, don't blame the big banks, if you don't have a job and you're not rich, blame yourself. It is not someone's fault if they succeeded, it is someone's fault if they failed," the ex-Godfather's Pizza CEO declared.

Read more:
5782  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Fast and Furious, Eric Holder 'misunderstood the question' on: October 06, 2011, 10:46:29 AM
We now know he lied about what he knew when saying he just learned about in the last few weeks a year after he was briefed.  His no.2 and no.3 were intimately involved and he wouldn't know what they were doing on the job?  Why wouldn't he be fired just for being out of the loop in his own department, if that story were true?

I can't believe the coverup is aimed at Holder instead of Obama.  Is it realistic that a cross border operation did not have the authorization from the highest levels of BOTH the American and Mexican?

What could possibly go wrong sending artillery into a neighboring civil war zone.

This is story is breaking out like a slowly dripping faucet.  A CBS reporter silenced in the face of screaming from administration officials and with pressure from the reporter's higher-ups.

Wouldn't they want to get this behind them sooner rather than later- with an election coming up next year?  They should have put what mistakes they made behind them last May instead of next November.
5783  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The cognitive dissonance of the left, why didn't they regulate (Steve) Jobs on: October 06, 2011, 10:25:52 AM
God Bless Steve Jobs.  He was a hero to people from all political stripes who love the innovations and value his company and products brought to their lives.  Curious, what leftist government program made all that he accomplished possible?  Certainly not the pro-abortion agenda.  Jobs was born an unwanted child to an unmarried couple and was successfully adopted.

State-centric economies never make creative advances like the ones Jobs pioneered to market.  The profits that Jobs drove were a measure of the enterprising  impact he had on our civilization, not a subtraction from it. 

Personal computers, sound systems and cellphones have amazing, how important are those?  Someone over at central planning must have thought those products and industries were not crucial and just allowed them to run free.  What was the result?  Consistent declines in prices year after year over decades combined with unfathomable advances in performance, quality, features, usability and value.  Meanwhile over at all industries we designate as crucial such as healthcare, transportation, agriculture, education, housing, banking, you name it,  we take the opposite, failed approach.  Staffers of subcommittees in Washington are meeting as we speak to regulate out the next potential innovation.
5784  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / 2012 Presidential: Hearburn for those trying to warm up to Romney on: October 06, 2011, 09:52:02 AM
I am one who is trying to warm up to Romney.  He is making it very difficult.

Steven Hayword of Powerlineblog, Weekly Standard, Natrional Review, author of 'Age of Reagen', PhD, Clairmont Scholar, AEI Fellow, has written for New York Times, Wall Street Journal,  Chicago Tribune, San Francisco Chronicle... aka biased blogger writes:

October 6, 2011 by Steven Hayward in 2012 Presidential election

The Eternal Cluelessness of the Romney Mind

Mitt Romney has been looking steady and solid in recent weeks, especially compared to the rest of the field, which has stumbled (Perry’s debate performances) or bumbled (Bachman’s overkill of the vaccine issue).  This is, as I mentioned a few weeks back, to be expected of a first tier candidate on his second run for the office.  He’s seen big league pitching before, and is now comfortable at the plate, able to hit the hard sliders and spitballs that come with a modern presidential campaign.

Still. . .  A friend reminded me the other day of a detail I had forgotten from the last time around.  When asked about his favorite book in 2008, Romney answered with the Bible, and then added . . . L. Ron Hubbard’s Battlefield Earth.   Great.  It’s not enough just to be a Mormon, which presents its own set of cultural challenges for a candidate.  It really takes a special kind of cluelessness to embrace the ur-text of what is, at best, a religious cult, and more likely a borderline racketeering enterprise.  Does Romney really have no one around him who can talk sense to him?

This morning’s Wall Street Journal brings a fresh dose of heartburn for those of us willfully trying to warm up to Romney, with a front-page story on Romney’s environmental record during his governorship of Massachusetts.  Now, I’ve argued for a long time that Republicans ought to be able to handle environmental issues with more finesse, but from the looks of this story Romney hasn’t got it.  There’s this quote from Romney, outside a coal-fired power plant that he wanted to rein in somehow:

    “I will not create jobs or hold jobs that kill people, and that plant—that plant—kills people.”

Where to begin with this kind of idiocy?  And if we’re going to have that kind of idiocy, why not just elect Al Gore?

He wasn’t finished.  When helping to design the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (“Reggie” for short), the northeastern state’s attempt to start their own cap-and-trade system that is now slowly collapsing (having barely got off the ground in the first place), Romney said: “These carbon emission limits will provide real and immediate progress in the battle to protect the environment.”  No, they wouldn’t, even if catastrophic global warming were true.  If you wiped Massachusetts off the face of the earth entirely (come to think of it, this is a nice thought experiment isn’t it?), it would make no difference in the climate models.  It wouldn’t even make a rounding error in the climate models.  This man is fundamentally unserious about thinking for himself, or offering anything outside a narrow range of conventional opinion.

Where can I get a Herman Cain bumper sticker?
5785  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Government spending: 10 Wasteful Stimulus Programs, Who knew?! on: October 05, 2011, 11:42:16 AM

1, A Visitor's Center With No Visitors

$554,763 to the U.S. Forest Service to allow it to replace the windows in a visitors center at Mount St. Helens, Wash., that is currently closed and which the Forest Service has no plans to reopen.
2. A Museum Off the Rails

$1.2 million to convert an abandoned train station in Glassboro, N.J., that has been boarded up and unused for 40 years, into “a museum, public meeting space and welcome center.”
3. Analyzing Ants

$1.9 million to allow the California Academy of Sciences to send researchers to the Southwest Indian Ocean Islands and east Africa, to capture, photograph, and analyze thousands of exotic ants--with the photographs to be posted on AntWeb, a Web site devoted to organizing and displaying pictures and information on the world’s thousands of ant species.
4. Monkey Business

$677,462 to researchers at Georgia State University to study why monkeys respond negatively to inequity and unfairness.
5. Artificial Comedy

$712,883 to researchers at Northwestern University using stimulus money in an effort utilizing “artificial intelligence” that will mine jokes from the Internet and “use them to create hilarious presentations that mimic real-life comedians.”
6. Divining Neptune

$456,663 to University of California, Berkeley to support their getting a better understanding of the global circulation in the atmosphere and altitude of clouds on the planet Neptune.
7. Yoga vs. Hot Flashes

$294,958 so that researchers at Wake Forest University can study whether Integral Yoga “can be an effective method to reduce the frequency and/or severity of hot flashes” in menopausal women.
8. Big Brother's Recycling Bins

$500,000 to pay for blue, 96-gallon, microchip-embedded recycling bins for the city of Dayton, Ohio. “The microchips, which use radio frequency identification technology, are installed in the bin handles, and will be used by the city to track citizen participation in the recycling program.” In addition to paying for at least 8,000 bins and equipping collection trucks to read the microchips, another “$500,000 will pay for a consultant to design a campaign promoting recycling.”
9. Better Skiing Through Tax Dollars

$25 million to Mt. Snow in West Dover, Vt., “to replace the Summit Local and Sunbrook chairlifts, construct a 120-million-gallon storage pond for snowmaking, and install additional snowmaking fan guns” that take advantage of a provision in the stimulus that make funds available for “ski area capital improvements.”
10. Meta-Stimulus

$193,956 to researchers at Houston’s Rice University and the University of Texas in Dallas, who are getting money through the National Science Foundation to “estimate the impact of stimulus funds on the perceptions of citizens and the choices of local community decision makers” or, in other words, to do a stimulus-funding study of how people feel about the stimulus.
How's YOUR stimulus going? In spite of equal protection under the law being an essential part of our society enshrined in the highest law in the land, I did not receive any money or benefit from any of these.
5786  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Legal Issues created by the War with Islamic Fascism on: October 05, 2011, 11:25:27 AM
Yes, Newt is right but it is with backhanded compliments that he credits Obama for abandoning his passivist campaign rhetoric and in a 180 reversal continues the hard line anti-terror policies of the previous administration.  Being a critic was easy.  Being responsible for our security is hard.  Can anyone imagine the media and public uproar if the acceleration of drone activity across sovereign lines was happening under a conservative Republican.  Even the killing of OBL would have been highly controversial.

Killing OBL and killing the Yemeni terrorists were great accomplishments, but taking the legs out figuratively of the leftists at home who normally criticize these actions was just as important for our future security.
5787  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness: Fast and Furious on: October 04, 2011, 11:07:54 PM
I have wanted to hear someone coherently explain the motive of the scandal so that we might understand what they were trying to do and what they are now hiding.

Please correct if this is wrong.  Rush L the all time home run leader of political commentary (aka biased blogger) took a stab at it today while I was listening briefly.  It went something like this:

The Obamites were sending guns across the border so that they would be found in violent acts  and then they could use that information to argue for greater cutailment of gun sales in the U.S.

Far fetched or was that obvious to everyone but me?  Someone else have a better explanation?
5788  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Victor Davis Hanson: The Coming Post-Obama Renaissance on: October 04, 2011, 10:30:38 AM
"That change of mood will lead the way to necessary reform in a way a less harmful McCain administration could not have achieved: greater revenue from tax simplification, tax reduction, and greater tax compliance, less regulations, entitlement reform, and budgetary discipline. Obama is doing to liberal politics what no right-wing activist could dream up."
"sadder but wiser Americans will soon be turned loose with a vigor unseen in decades"

Hanson has a PhD from Stanford and teaches History at Stanford, authored more than 20 books with some of the greatest insights I've ever read.  Don't be fooled, though, he is also a 'biased blogger'.  If you are unable to appreciate fact and analysis from one the greatest minds of our time because it comes from a biased blog, please do not read or comment.  For the rest, this is good material.  Please read and enjoy.  Brighter days are coming.

The Coming Post-Obama Renaissance
by Victor Davis Hanson

The Parting of the Clouds

In every literary, historical or cinematic masterpiece, times must grow darkest before the sunrise and deliverance. Tolkien worked that classical theme to great effect. A sense of fatalism overtook a seemingly doomed Gondor — right before the overthrow of Barad-dûr and the dawn of a new age of men. The historian Herodotus, in literary fashion, also brilliantly juxtaposed the Greek collapse at Thermopylae (the Spartan King Leonidas’ head impaled on a stake), and the Persian firing of an abandoned Athens, with Themistocles’s sudden salvation of Western civilization at Salamis. In the classic Western film, hopelessness pervades until out of nowhere a Shane rides in.

What Was Hope and Change?

We are living in an age of such morality tales, though the depressing cycle reminds us that the gloom is hardly fiction or artistry. For those with a little capital there is only a sinking stock market. It seems to wipe out more of their 401(k)s each week, as if each month cancels out yet another year of prior thrift. Near zero interest means any money on deposit is only insurance, not any more a source of income. Millions are trapped in their unsold houses, either underwater or facing an end to any dreams of tapping equity by sale.

And for the greater number without savings? Stagnant GDP, 9.1 unemployment, another $5 trillion in debt, $1.6 trillion annual deficits, and sky-high fuel and food prices have combined to crush any notion of upward mobility. (If in 2004 5.7% unemployment was supposed to mark a “jobless recovery,” what exactly is 9.1% called? If Bush’s average $500 billion deficits over eight years were abhorrent, what must we say of Obama’s average $1.6 trillion over three? Really bad?)

In response, the Obama administration — let me be candid here — seems clueless, overpopulated as it is by policy nerds, academic overachievers, and tenured functionaries (cf. Larry Summers’ “there is no adult in charge”). They tend to flash Ivy League certificates, but otherwise have little record of achievement in the private sector. Officials seem to think that long ago test scores, a now Neolithic nod from an Ivy League professor, or a past prize translates into knowing what makes America run in places like Idaho and southern Michigan.

Yes, I know that Steven Chu is “brilliant” and a Nobel laureate. But that means no more than suggesting that laureate Paul Krugman was right about adding even more trillions to the debt. My neighbors know enough not to quip, as the know-it-all Chu did, that California farms (the most productive in the U.S.) will dry up and blow away, or gas prices should reach European levels, or Americans can’t be trusted to buy the right light bulbs, or a failed Solyndra just needed millions more of taxpayers’ money.

Solyndra and Van Jones are the metaphors of these times, reminding us of the corruption of the very notion of “green.” In the age of Al Gore, it has eroded from a once noble ideal of conservation to a tawdry profit- and job-scam for assorted hucksters and snake-oil salesmen. Without the lofty hype and shake-down, most otherwise would have had to find productive jobs. Tragically, “green” is the new refuge of scoundrels.

Costal del Sol Community Organizing?

I fear we have not seen such a divisive president since Richard Nixon. Suddenly there is a new fiscal Rubicon. Those crossing $200,000 in annual income now are to be suspect (“fat cat,” “corporate jet owner,” “millionaires and billionaires” [note how the two are sloppily associated — as if 1/1000 the wealth of one is still approximate to the other ]); those still on the other bank, are far more inherently noble (cf. Michelle Obama’s selfless legions, who, like the first couple, supposedly were to take her advice to turn down guaranteed riches in the abhorrent, but easy, corporate sector, to take on a life of noble service and relative poverty as hard-working community organizers and reps).

When did immigration law become embedded within the racial industry? If millions of Koreans were entering the U.S. illegally, would the National Council of La Raza insist on their amnesty, or be indifferent, or worry that such an influx might tax existing social services that provide for U.S. citizen poor? Did we ever have a president who issued a video (cf. 2010) appealing to constituents by their race, or suggested that border enforcement was equivalent to “moats” and “alligators,” or beseeched his Latino allies “to punish our enemies”? Is the president trying to turn enforcement of a federal statute into community organizing?

The Black Caucus has sadly become a caricature of itself, bewildered that Great Society II has further decimated the black community — now in racial solidarity with a failing president, now lashing out at the Tea Party. Yet the latter’s advocacy of fiscal discipline, greater deregulation, oil exploration, smaller government, and entitlement reform would unleash the private sector — and, to use the administration lingo, really create for the inner cities “millions of new jobs.”

So we are all confused by this new Morgan Freeman-esque (one of my favorite actors) racial illogicality: electing Obama was proof of racial harmony; but criticizing him proof of racialism; wanting to end his policies (that have impoverished black America most of all) borders on racism; expanding what will further harm blacks is proof of racial harmony? So one was supposed to vote for Obama to prove himself not racist, and then to stay quiet to ensure that he was still not racist? *

Readers will add here the end of an investigative media, ObamaCare, the new Solyndra and Fast and Furious scandals, “lead from behind” foreign policy, spread-the-wealth demonization of business, crony capitalism, punitive measures against everyone from guitar makers to plane manufacturers, distrust of oil and gas producers, Eric Holder’s politicized Justice Department, and so on.

OK—So Why the Optimism?

Why, then, do I see blue sky and a break in the present storms? For a variety of very good reasons.

Quite Exceptional, In Fact

The American Constitution remains singular and ensures a stable form of government of the sort absent in a Russia, China, the Islamic world, and even (or especially) the EU. Yes, I know Obama has mused that democracy is suddenly “messy” and he lamented to the La Razistas that he couldn’t quite enact legislation by fiat. And, yes, the governor of North Carolina, in revolutionary fashion, just wondered why we could not suspend congressional elections for a bit, while former budget director Peter Orszag (did he not get his trillions in “stimulus” from a Democratic Congress before he fled to Citicorp?) now dreams of a way of running around democratic “gridlock.” But for all that sudden liberal lamentation that the noble ends cannot be achieved by any means necessary, our system of government remains. And it will ensure us a stability abjectly absent elsewhere in the world.

Saudi America

Second, even Barack Obama cannot stop the oil and gas industries. Their brilliant new technologies and entrepreneurialism may well turn us into a fuel depot like Saudi Arabia, doubling our proven oil and gas reserves. Soon someone is going to see that our own natural gas can power millions of cars, freeing our foreign policy from Gulf authoritarians. We are poised for an oil boom not seen since the age of Texas and Oklahoma wildcatting. With a friendly new administration and more exploration out West, offshore, in the Gulf and in Alaska to augment the Dakotas oil renaissance, we will soon save hundreds of billions of dollars in imported fuel costs, stop subsidizing our enemies, perhaps help to lower energy prices worldwide, create “millions of new jobs,” and give a larger window of opportunity for solar, batteries, and alternative energies to become more efficient and cost competitive in the free market.

Pressure Is Building

Third, private enterprise is hoarding cash, uncertain over the costs of ObamaCare, in fear of more regulations and higher taxes, stung by “at some point you’ve made enough money” harassing bluster, and still convinced that equally cautious consumers are simply not buying. Yet, the country is still growing, still needs new homes, more food, and more energy. There are few strikes. Americans remain more self-reliant than our competitors. We are not a shrinking nation with the demographic crises of a Europe or Russia. Soon the mounting pressure will be released by a new change in government and we will see a recovery that should have occurred more than two years ago when the recession officially “ended” in June 2009 — only all the more enhanced due to its delay. When Obama leaves office, there will be a sense of psychological release in the business community that will lead to a far greater “stimulus” than printing more money.

Tempered by Fire

Fourth, that psychology of catharsis that accompanies the end of this administration will last for sometime. The next time Keynesians lecture us on more borrowing or greater spending (fill in the blanks), Americans will perhaps ask, “So we need to borrow at least $5 trillion within three years? Keep interest rates at near zero? Vastly inflate the money supply? Extend unemployment insurance to over 100 weeks? Exceed 50 million on food stamps?”

With an inept Carter, the left’s lament was “weak messenger.” With the triangulating Clinton, it was “weak message.” With Obama, despite the recent defections and liberal angst, there were both the messianic messenger and the true-blue message. What’s left? The American people turned on both in less than two years. That change of mood will lead the way to necessary reform in a way a less harmful McCain administration could not have achieved: greater revenue from tax simplification, tax reduction, and greater tax compliance, less regulations, entitlement reform, and budgetary discipline. Obama is doing to liberal politics what no right-wing activist could dream up.

Lead from the Front

Fifth, we tried UN multilateralism. We asked permission from the Arab League to intervene in Libya. We celebrated treating enemies and friends alike as neutrals. It did not quite work. Israel is still a democracy; its neighbors still are not. Europe’s leaders still accuse Obama as much as they did Bush. Hussein as a middle name means nothing to the Middle East. Putin is still Putin, and China still is China. Soon we will return to a quiet sense of American exceptionalism, but this time more so, given that the naysayers have had their naysay. Proper appreciation of U.S. global power and moral international citizenship likewise will restore confidence. I don’t think we will hear anymore that Bush turned off theocratic Iran, that Bush radicalized the Palestinians, that Bush destroyed relations with Turkey or Pakistan, or alienated Russia. In all these cases, things are about the same as in 2008 — or much worse.


Finally, the U.S. military has only improved in the last decade. It secured Iraq against all odds. Its Predator drones, in challenge and response fashion, have outpaced the new terrorism.

The domestic critique of the Bush-Cheney anti-terrorism protocols has been rendered mere partisanship by the Obama embrace or expansion of nearly every element that was once demonized between 2002-8. Obama’s unintended legacy is to legitimize Guantanamo, Iraq, renditions, tribunals, preventative detention, the Patriot Act, and so on. A Barack Obama who demagogued waterboarding won’t again — unless waterboarding three self-confessed mass-murdering terrorists is a “war crime” while blowing up over 2,000 suspected terrorists (and any in their vicinity, including U.S. citizens) with judge/jury/executioner missiles is not. (I think the current administration’s idea is simply that the more we vaporize in Waziristan, the less hassle we have with live suspects at Gitmo — again, on the rationale that a current senator, posing like Obama in 2007, can always have a field day with a captive live person in U.S. custody, but not so much with a dead one on foreign soil.)

Brighter Days

I, like many, am worried about the Republican field — as is the custom at this early stage. There is more to be endured in 2012. The Obama decline will spark venomous politics of the sort we haven’t seen in years. This time hope and change will be even more “Bush did it!/’You’re all racists!/“They” will take your Social Security.” The financial crisis is not over. We are not yet at the beginning of the end for statism, but the Churchillian end of its new beginning.

Still, let us cheer up a bit. The country always knew, but for just a bit forgot, that you cannot print money and borrow endlessly. It always knew that bureaucrats were less efficient than employers. It knew that Guantanamo was not a gulag and Iraq was not “lost.” But given the anguish over Iraq, the anger at Bush, the Obama postracial novelty and “centrist” façade, and the Freddie/Fannie/Wall Street collapse, it wanted to believe what it knew might not be true. Now three years of Obama have slapped voters out of their collective trance.

The spell has now passed; and we are stronger for its passing. There is going to be soon a sense of relief that we have not experienced in decades. In short, sadder but wiser Americans will soon be turned loose with a vigor unseen in decades.
5789  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential, Perry's new problem? on: October 04, 2011, 09:52:11 AM
I don't quite get it either.  They leased land and he was hunting with his Dad.   I just don't know what the meaning of it.  It was someone else's name for the land, they wanted to hunt on the land and painted over the rock. Maybe they waited too long to paint over the rock, but you probably don't carry paint when you hunt and they were not owners of the land.  It wasn't a club of racists that he joined.  It was hunting land probably rich with animals.  The land wasn't racist.  

Did his Dad have the rock painted over before or after a public controversy?  Obviously before but either way, isn't painting over that name on a rock the opposite of racism - an act of putting racism behind us??  

These scandals usually tie to a pattern to be effective.  In Perry's case he is a known tea party enthusiast and therefore it fits a totally false story line about racism.  In fact, Perry appointed an African American Chief of Staff and Texas Supreme Court Chief Justice.  Those don't follow the pattern very well.  One is a position as high up as his own and the other is the top work with him every day with full trust.

Sounds so far to me like the press smells a George Allen moment.  I don't know anyone who knows what a macaca is, but if Rick Perry or even his Dad had or were caught joking or proud of the rock, then I see a problem.  None of that seems to be part of this story.

Maybe Jon Stewart can shed some light:

I guess not.  Stewart laughed and his audience applauded the name.  Also insensitive and hardly offended.  His short clip of Perry's bad debate performance looks more damaging to me.
5790  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US Economics, the stock market , and other investment/savings strategies on: October 03, 2011, 10:18:43 PM
CCP,  My advice is just read Wesbury for the facts.  Statements like highest in 3 months remind me that one of my salesmen told the owner of our company that we doubled our sales last year in our division and won a national award.  He was surprised to hear the reaction that two times sh*t is still sh*t.  We were not their largest division.

Wesbury missed the crash of 2000, so did every other prognosticator except the ones who missed the entire runup to it.  Greenspan for one called it irrational exuberance in December 1996 - the tech crash began in March 2000.  Qualcomm for one went up 2400% in 1999.  Anyone following the doomsayers missed that, and remember fiber optic supplier JDSU IIRC had a billion dollars in the bank and all fiber optic companies had triple digit industry growth forecasts at the time the market came  down.  I had my largest fiber optic contract during that time - in the re-building of Kuwait.

"Get twenty economists in a room and they will give different ideas about where the economy is going."

Yes, or worse they will all give you a forecast within a couple of percent of consensus and they will all be right or all be wrong.  What I'm saying is that forecasting is done by looking out the rear view mirror.  No one has a window into the future. Take the facts from Wesbury and discount the prognostications.  Wesbury is only alleging something like 1% growth.  Breakeven growth is something like 3.1% growth.  If this economy is seriously coming out of its tailspin it would be growing at 4+% sustained growth.  It isn't.  Wesbury is only saying that the growth rate is not negative by accepted measurement standards. IMO, when counting the trillions of injected money diluting our currency and lowering our future standard of living, in reality we are moving backwards right now - at a frightening pace.  
5791  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Tax Policy on: October 03, 2011, 10:26:13 AM
Obama's tax policy:  Take from the millionaires...and give it to the trillionaires.
5792  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Government programs & regulations, spending, deficit, and budget process on: October 03, 2011, 10:23:20 AM
Crony capitalism socialism.

Even socialism implies a more equal outcome than having your government take from you to prop up your competitor.
5793  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: October 03, 2011, 09:55:14 AM
CCP, Yes.  At this point let him go down with no one else in waiting to carry that torch.

One positive sign from the Cain media blitz:  In his one word type answers about his rivals, about Newt Gingrich he said "Brilliant".

Newt is brilliant but Newt needs a boss.  He will make a great policy adviser to the Cain administration, or whoever wins.  Someone with wisdom needs to pick from the best of the Newt ideas and follow them to conclusion.
5794  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Economics on: October 03, 2011, 09:47:14 AM
"How are ordinary people to protect themselves from this war on savings and money itself?"

Change course.   smiley

Unfortunately, ordinary people right now don't have savings.  Open equity lines with low interest became the new savings and now people have neither.
5795  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential, We don't have a Dem nominee yet either on: October 03, 2011, 09:31:05 AM
One point picked up only by Dick Morris so far is that if Obama were to not run or lose in 2012 he would be a relatively young man and still eligible to run for President in the future.  Ex-presidents have good perks, can sell books and speeches and have a pretty easy lifestyle.  I'm sure he preferred being the critic to being the one responsible.  The wife some say is sick of the routine, most recently sent strategically to shop at Target while tipping off AP cameramen is about as low as it gets.  The shoes she wore to the homeless shelter and the clothes she wore on the Spanish villa vacation do not come from Target.  Several ex-Presidents have looked better out than they did in office.  We know that he has more state by state polling than we do and we know it isn't pretty.  There was nothing Republicans could done other than govern better to win in 2006.  There was nothing Dems could have done to win in 2010 other than to have governed better. He has the economic forecasts.  He knows the score as well as anyone.  His JOBS plan is DOA even with Senate Democrats.  Other than adopt an Athur Laffer agenda, what does he have left to turn this around, stimulus no. 8?  Even if he wins based only on personal appeal he will have a Republican House and a Republican Senate and near zero approval of his economic agenda.  The first two years of the second term is a lousy time to be doing nothing but vetoes and fighting off the agenda of a congress he used to control.  He is not exactly the new guy with charisma fresh out from under the Greek columns anymore.  We don't have inside the party divisiveness of 1968 but in terms of timing, LBJ did not drop out until after he won the New Hampshire primary and Bobby Kennedy who had the best chance of winning did not announce his candidacy until mid-March of election year.

At this point, what could revive his popularity better than saying he wants to spend more time with his family.  Those girls, they grow up so fast.
5796  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential, Cain supported TARP on: October 02, 2011, 10:36:29 PM
I wrote about TARP and the other stimuli here:

TARP did some questionable things like bail out investment houses and money to foreign central banks, but it also attempted quash the panic and prop up financial insured banks that could have followed what already fell.  For what was known then and for what advice he would have gotten from his trusted people  inside the Fed as former head of the Kansas City Fed, it is a sign that he wasn't an ideological purist. It wasn't as bad as Stimulus 2-7 but it was a flawed deal. I would probably forgive either side of this issue in the heat of the panic.  Bush, McCain, Obama, Bernancke, Summers, Paulsen, Volcker, Geithner and all the expert staffers supported this as necessary to avoid meltdown.  As Cain suggests, hardly the place to draw a hard line in 2011-2012 to say Cain is a big government liberal.  In fact it could be Cain bringing up a difference with tea party purists in an attempt to start reaching toward the center.
In other Cain news, the media blitz is on, Leno:

Cain on ABC This Week:
5797  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Economics, Bond Vigilantes on: October 02, 2011, 12:42:57 PM
My understanding is that back when the Fed operated under some set of rules, markets dictated interest rates.  Prices and yields of Treasury bonds today are not real because, as he put it, "the Fed's huge expansion of the monetary base" and that a good part of the rest is going to central banks who are looking for storage of funds more than yield.  If we had to sell debt up to the entire revenue shortfall, interests rates would be through the roof.  he is right that the masking of the underlying problem enables it to continue and escalate and he shows how it causes other problems, the pension system collapse and the drying up of private lending and investment as examples prolonging and worsening what is already wrong.  It is a ticking time bomb. 

He says in closing: "Perhaps Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke should think more about how the Fed's near-zero interest rate policy has undermined fiscal discipline while corrupting the operation of the nation's financial markets."

Yes, but when tight money precedes growth policies, like when Paul Volcker tightened while Tip O'Neill's congress delayed tax cuts, the temporary unemploymentsurge was huge.  Today it would be catastrophic.  We need to solve both.
5798  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The congnitive dissonance of the left on: October 02, 2011, 12:00:21 PM
"All true, but also worth noting is how bad the Republican offering was.  For example, just what do you think McCain would have done for/to the economy?"

I am no McCain fan, but he would have been less than half as bad on economics.  He would not obviously have pursued Pelosi-ObamaCare which is the number one tax and regulatory burden sitting out there killing off hiring and growth.  He would floundered through half of a stimulus, he would have taken half this long to get good economic advice. 

His approval rating would be worse now than Obama because of the pounding of stories about a bad economy and 3 wars even though unemployment might be at 7% instead of 9% and it would now be the Republicans losing seats and facing a bad election cycle for an economy half as bad.

Ironically, things would be better but our prospects for the future would be worse.  Obama would have an 80% approval as opposition leader if he had lost to McCain and Palin, would be a shoe-in for 2012 and we would still have this train wreck coming.

As it happened for the last 4 Presidents, Bush, Clinton, Bush and Obama, bad leadership strengthened their opposition more than their own agenda.
5799  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Crony Fascism continued: Govt still investing in Solar on: October 02, 2011, 11:30:45 AM
This piece drifts across other topics, especially energy, but is first and foremost IMO about our misguided government picking winners(losers) and losers in any industry.  Though he is pointing out truths that should be self evident, perhaps you should  disregard because author Walter Russell Mead who teaches American foreign policy at Yale has a blog.  Also he is biased, an admitted Democrat who voted for Obama.

My question is about the government program, why are we doing this?  Forget that it will fail for certain, Why do they get billions taken from other people doing honest work including future generations?  Why can they build plants on public land on the rest of us can't?  These programs are morally and constitutionally wrong.
Walter Russell Mead's Blog
October 1, 2011

As the Energy Department hustled to get another $4.7 billion in loan guarantees for green tech companies out the door before time ran out and the program ended last week, yet another solar panel manufacturer was wilting in the sun, and the green jobs scam was looking more threadbare than ever. Says the WSJ:

    Solar-power equipment manufacturer Stirling Energy Systems Inc. has filed for bankruptcy, adding to a wave of troubles in the solar industry amid soft demand, falling prices and difficulty raising money. [… ] Both [of the company’s plants] were sited on public land in California and obtained fast-track construction permits from the Obama administration.

    The filing is the latest in a string of U.S. solar company bankruptcies, as soft global demand for solar power, falling prices and a glut of solar panels from Asia have hammered manufacturers.

Surprise, surprise: the American “green energy” industry faces much the same problems as everyone else in this economy. Solar firms still have to compete with Chinese labor (and massive Chinese government subsidies further enhanced by cheap Chinese currency).

But there’s another factor behind the failure of so many Obama administration initiatives in this field.  Because alternative energy generation is expensive and inefficient, it requires some combination of subsidies, high energy prices and forced purchases to make these investments pay off.

The Solyndra guarantee and related programs were all developed back in the heady early days of the Obama administrations when delusional greens thought their global agenda was on the verge of being realized.  Cap and trade and other aggressive energy policies would artificially jack up energy prices in the US to the point where demand for solar and other alternative energy would grow.  The global carbon treaty would provide a permanent source of demand for green energy.

The political assumptions underlying the green investment boomlet turned out to be false.  There will be no global carbon regime for the foreseeable future; there will be no cap and trade and no aggressive federal programs to raise energy prices during the deepest recession since World War Two.

Perhaps even worse from the green point of view, a cascade of discoveries and technological advances has dramatically increased the supplies of oil and gas in the western hemisphere — including huge new domestic energy supplies in places like Pennsylvania, Ohio and upstate New York.  These discoveries are devastating to the politics of the environmental movement.

There will be the usual NIMBY-motivated opposition (some of it justified) to frakking and to oil and gas pipelines, but overall millions more Americans are going to be economically tied to domestic energy production and they will not want their congressional representatives voting against the industry on which their paychecks depend.  Nor will they support presidential candidates who promise to eliminate their jobs.  It will not just be the people who work in the extraction business who feel this way.  Those who supply the industry, those who operate pipelines, those who sell goods and services to gas and oil workers: they will form a powerful phalanx of pro-oil and gas interests that will reach far beyond Texas.

At the same time, key environmental arguments will be seriously weakened.  The western hemisphere looks set to become energy independent for the foreseeable future; the US is moving steadily away from the dependence on Middle Eastern oil that makes many national security experts think green.  Importing from Canada just isn’t the same kind of problem as importing from Iraq.

The question of supply and peak oil will also recede; with new technologies and new discoveries coming so quickly, fewer people will feel the need to make large financial sacrifices now in order to prevent huge oil shortage and massive price hikes in the near term.

Increasingly, the climate change argument will be the only argument left to support subsidies for alternative energy generation.  That argument has not been enough to make far reaching legal changes in the past when national security and peak oil worries supported it; there is not much to suggest that the climate change forces can win the political battle standing alone.

The collapse of the green political structure (cap and trade plus global carbon treaty) and the transformation of the American fossil fuel supply have dramatically weakened the case for alternative energy.  Investors take heed.
5800  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Obama's latest economic proposals: More of the Same Old Change on: October 02, 2011, 11:09:58 AM

More of the Same Old Change
Obama's latest economic proposals are just like the earlier ones, only worse.


In the last few years, as promised, the Obama administration has fundamentally transformed America. Our country is now in serious decline. Income is lower, unemployment is higher, jobs are fewer, government is much larger. Federal spending is way up, and America's economic status is way down, as is the global view of our country and our economy. Hardly anyone sees any sign of economic recovery or improvement.

A look at long-term unemployment shows just how bad our economy is. Look at the Labor Department data on the number of Americans 16 and older unemployed for 52 weeks or more during the five most recent recessions:

1976   750,000
1982 1,600,000
1994 1,200,000
2004 1,100,000
2010 4,300,000

Total government spending averaged about 19% of gross domestic product from 1996 to 2007 and rose to about 21% in 2008. In the three years of the Obama administration, it has soared to 25%.

The administration is focused on its increasing control of health care, propping up labor unions, increasing taxes, and expanding the scope and size of government. In the first 70 years of the 20th century, American and European economic growth increased together, but then the Europeans shifted toward socialism, and their growth lagged. But with America is rapidly moving toward the European model, we are starting to see its detrimental impact.

President Obama's recent spending and tax policy proposals would only make things worse. He wants to increase the federal deficit by increasing spending and providing some targeted, but short term, payroll tax cuts. At a time when we need to bring the federal deficit down, his plan would actually increase it by $447 billion over the next year or two. But Mr. Obama has promised this increase will be "paid for," and has proposed a series of permanent tax increases to do that.

But our economy is already facing significant increases in taxes. First will be the end of the Bush tax cuts in December 2012. And because of ObamaCare, starting in 2013 taxpayers making more than $200,000 will pay an additional 3.8% on investment and interest income, another substantial tax increase.

We face other increases as well. The new Obama proposals include reduced itemized deductions allowed for any individuals earning more than $200,000 a year ($250,000 for married couples). In addition to what lower mortgage deductions might mean for our economy, think of the inevitable impact on charitable giving. What a reduction in deductions for charitable giving implies is a government plan that takes some of the money that would go to charity and instead funnels it to federal government spending--a serious step backwards.

The president also has proposed what he calls the "Buffett rule." He hasn't specified how it would work, but its purpose is to make sure millionaires pay higher income taxes. It would likely increase taxes on investment income, but in our current poor economy the last thing our economy needs is higher taxes on business investment.

And tax rate increases often bring in reduced tax dollars. The Cato Institute's Alan Reynolds showed in his recent Wall Street Journal piece that the 28% tax rate on long-term capital gains brought in $36.9 billion a year from 1987 to 1997, while the current 15% rate in 2004 to 2007 brought in $96.8 billion per year. Which once again shows that lower tax rates can get higher government tax revenues.

Add in higher taxes on the oil industry ($40 billion), jet plane owners ($3 billion), and hedge fund managers with carried interest ($18 billion), and you can see the basic effort of the Obama administration against people and industries. Last December when the president extended the Bush tax cuts, he acknowledged that tax hikes both slow economic growth and deter job creation, something he seems to have forgotten.

The higher taxes on energy producers are particularly discouraging, given the importance of energy to our economic recovery and the administration's continued clampdown on energy production. In another measure that is counterproductive to economic growth, the Obama plan includes extending benefits for the long-term unemployed, even though studies show that long term employment benefits raise the unemployment rate from 0.5 to 1.5 percentage points.

President Obama has said that "everything in [his new] bill will be paid for--everything," and that it "will not add to the deficit." But it will be paid for in the future, and the president is saying we should add some more to the deficit now in return for promises of future spending.

All these programs do not look good for the future of America or its people, for as American Enterprise Institute's Director of economic policy Kevin Hassett said earlier this month, the Obama administration's position "throughout this recovery has been that the U.S. can have the highest corporate tax on earth, a big regulatory crackdown, and a vast expansion of labor-union power and still expect a positive jobs story because of cash-for-clunkers and green jobs. This jobs report indicates how much damage that view has done."

In the end, the newest Obama proposals are proof that his recent centrist posturing was just that, posturing. The new proposals are a continuation of the old Obama policies, policies that sadly have extended the recession, stifled economic growth, and will, for some years, have weakened America.

Author is chairman of the National Center for Policy Analysis and former Governor of Delaware
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