Filed under: Capitalism, Economy, Energy, Foreign Policy, Immigration, Military, Politics | Tags: "Only Words", Previous Statements Don't Matter, Speeches Intend to Please
One of the best posts of the day, from Victor Davis Hanson:
Filed under: Capitalism, Domestic Policy, Economy, Energy, The United States | Tags: Free Markets and Innovation, The Failure of Big Government, The Index of Economic Freedom
What are the new inventions and innovations of your lifetime? The things that you take for granted now that were inventions and innovations of their day? What were the innovations of your parents and grandparents lives?
We have cell phones that are small personal computers, drones smaller than hummingbirds, giant wall size TV screens that are on the way to putting the movie theaters that were the innovation of an earlier day out of business.
In an earlier day, few people settled far from where they were born. Children grew up to do what their fathers did. Innovation and invention were rare. And then came the Industrial Revolution, and the discovery of the energy to drive it, Communication and transportation. How is it possible to look at the history of Socialism wherever it has been tried and not grasp the inevitable failings of central planning?
Michael Cox, former Chief Economist at the Dallas Federal Reserve and a professor at Southern Methodist University points out the loss of economic freedom throughout the world.
Filed under: Capitalism, Economy, Energy, Health Care, History, Immigration, Progressivism, Statism | Tags: 12 Million Missing Jobs, 63.3% Participation Rate, Regulatory Burden on Business
The preliminary April jobs number has come in at +165,000, on expectations of +140,000. March numbers were revised upward from 88,000 to 138,000. This brought the unemployment rate down from 7.6% to 7.5%.
The number of unemployed — 11.7 million — didn’t change over the month, and the labor participation rate remains flat, only 63.3% — the lowest since 1979. This is the sour spot in the jobs picture.
The rate at which entrepreneurs create new jobs is down significantly. The U.S,lost 8.8 million jobs during the ‘great recession’, we have gained back about 6.8 million leaving a gap of about 2 million. Even if job gains average 180,000 a month to reach a high in about a year, private sector jobs will still be way below the 1990-2007 trend line. That shortfall is nearly 12 million missing jobs.
The numbers of those involuntarily employed part-time increased by 278,000 to 7.9 million. That’s a direct result of ObamaCare. President Obama’s health care reform law is hurting full-time, high-wage employment.
National Journal expresses concern about the “missing workers”:
So, who are these “missing workers?” Frustratingly, no one knows exactly who they are, why they left, and if they’ll ever return. The size of the pool there and the gap between the potential labor force and the actual working force represents a huge loss of potential productivity.
The answers also have deep political and policy implications over the next decade for the economic and budget outlook: Do we want to pay for the missing workers through programs that help to spur job growth, or through an increased cost in federal benefits?…
Political leaders and policymakers must weigh the economic implications versus the budgetary ones. If no one attacks the jobs crisis with gusto and addresses the issue of the long-term unemployed and the missing workers now, the United States essentially consigns people to rely on government benefits. That will only hurt the budget.
And, if lawmakers decide to attack the problem of the missing workers now, they’ll need to spend more money on job-training programs or infrastructure projects—anything that puts people back into a job, even a temporary one.
Regulatory costs skyrocketed during the first term of the Obama Administration, which added nearly $70 billion to the already excessive annual burden of government do’s and don’ts. Every aspect of American’s lives is controlled to a varying extent by regulation, including how we light our homes, wash our clothes, fuel our cars, feed our families, and obtain our health care.
That’s 131 new major regulations. $1,800 has been added to the average cost of buying a new car. In 2012 alone, we added $23.5 billion to the burden on business with 25 new major rulemakings. Only two rules last year decreased the burden, in spite of initiatives to weed out unnecessary regulations. There are hundreds of rules in the pipeline from Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform and from ObamaCare.
The small business organizations have told us over and over that uncertainty is the villain. Nobody knows what the government is going to do next, or how they are going to cope with the added costs, and the added regulations. The federal government does not understand the effects of their grasp for power. The EPA is the source of most of the regulation and most of the cost, yet they have said specifically that they have no need to consider the cost or effect of their rulemaking. When uncertainty is this high, entrepreneurs and venture capitalists are more reluctant to take on the risk of a new business, or a major expansion.
The National Journal reporter above quite accurately portrays the leftist response. What new program should government issue? What new job-training programs should we try— if I remember correctly there are some 45 job-training programs duplicating each other and managing to be totally ineffective. What the government needs to do is get out of the way. Stop raising fees, issuing rules and regulations and drastically raising the cost of doing business.
Central planning does not work now, nor has it ever worked. Those “experts” doing the central planning are not expert but just the same old political hacks. They don’t know what they are doing, and they are making a mess of things. Just stop!
Filed under: Politics, Science/Technology, Domestic Policy, Environment, Global Warming, Energy | Tags: Russia's Pulkovo Observatory, Cycles of Solar Activity, Predicting the Future
Russian scientists say that a period of global cooling is ahead due to changes in the activity of the sun. Scientists at Russia’s famous Pulkovo Observatory are convinced that the world is in for a period of global cooling that could last for 200-250 years.
Solar activity is waning, so the average yearly temperature will begin to decline as well. Scientists from Britain and the US chime in to say that such forecasts for global cooling are far from groundless.
Yuri Nagovitsyn of the Pulkovo Observatory said:
“Journalists say the entire process is very simple: once solar activity declines, the temperature drops. But besides solar activity, the climate is influenced by other factors, including the lithosphere, the atmosphere, the ocean, the glaciers. The share of solar activity in climate change is only 20%. This means that sun’s activity could trigger certain changes whereas the actual climate changing process takes place on the Earth.”
Solar activity follows different cycles, including an 11-year cycle, a 90-year cycle, and a 200-year cycle. Professor Igor Davidenko comments:
“The Northern Sea Route has never opened so early or closed so late over the past 30 years. Last year saw a cargo transit record – more than five million tons. The first Chinese icebreaker sailed along the Northern Sea Route in 2012. China plans it to handle up to 15% of its exports.”
Prediction of the future is mostly little more than guesswork, but there are trends and there is a past history of cycles. Russia is upgrading its icebreaker fleet, and new generation icebreakers are set to arrive in the years to come. Russia also has great interest in energy in the Arctic. as well as the Northern Sea Route., so they are preparing for eventualities.
While other nations are considering how to prepare for a possible long period of cooling, ours is desperately trying to save the planet from global warming and free us from our addiction to foreign oil, at the same time that they restrict every possible domestic source of petroleum from drilling. Go figure.
Filed under: Capitalism, Domestic Policy, Economy, Education, Energy, Health Care, Law, National Security | Tags: A Truly Tragic Figure, Every Program a Winner, Ten Million Unemployed
Barack Obama has been, as president, a very private person, in spite of his constant presence wherever there is a camera. .He doesn’t pal around with Congressional Democrats, nor with much of anybody else. Somebody actually called him “a man of mystery” a few days ago.
He does not reveal much of himself; and according to aides, associates with only a very few close allies, and keeps much to himself. He avoids meetings, and prefers that advisers present their ideas in writing, with three options for him to choose from, which he tackles late at night. Yet he loves large crowds, the cheering and applause — which explains the constant campaign.
Because he reveals so little of himself, people are quick to attempt to categorize him. He has made no secret of being drawn to radicals, and of seeking out the more radical teachers, advisers and mentors. Is he then a communist, as many have claimed, or a socialist? I think not, though he leans towards communitarianism and is concerned with “fairness” as an ideal.
I think Barack Obama is a truly tragic figure. Shuffled around from one country to another, from parent to grandparent, always the odd one out, the different one. He took his story and made it a triumph of the exotic and the different that destined him for something truly special. It came when he spoke to the Democrat Convention in 2004. A promising state legislator, and a candidate for the U.S. Senate, he was invited to give the keynote address. He stood before 4,322 Democrat delegates in the Fleet Center in Boston, and told them the story of his life, and they cheered and applauded.
Obama noted his unlikely presence on the convention stage. His father was a foreign student, born and raised in Kenya. He grew up herding goats. Obama’s mother was born in Kansas to a father who served with Patton and a mother who worked in a bomber factory. …I stand here today grateful for the diversity of my heritage, aware that my parents’ dreams live on in my two precious daughters. I stand here knowing that my story is part of the larger American story, That I owe a debt to all who came before me and that, in no other country on earth is my story even possible.
The media were enchanted. To Obama it was the moment when he said to himself “I can do this.” His term in the United States Senate was extremely boring to him; he believed he was destined for bigger things. So he ran for President.
Michelle, according to reports, had doubts. He hadn’t done anything yet. She was right. He had no executive experience, no management experience, and no understanding of the private sector. But he really enjoyed being on the campaign trail, doing and saying whatever it takes to get elected, including lying shamelessly about his opponent, the nation and the world.
Supplied with vast political theatrics, from songs for children to a podium with an almost-presidential seal, and the infamous Greek Columns, it was a campaign such as Americans had never before seen.. He promised much, but the promises were empty. They were only designed to please.
Governing was something else again. Obama was an amateur. Confronted with a recession as so many other new presidents have been, he proclaimed it the worst since the Great Depression, the worst trouble ever left by a former president, and quickly rammed a Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) through Congress with the help of that former president, who went to great lengths to make the transfer of power easy.
So Obama embarked on a massive stimulus, $860 billion flooded into the economy only to learn that there weren’t any shovel-ready jobs. Much went to government agencies who sat on it, and the rest was simply wasted. The Auto Industry had to be saved from normal bankruptcy with another $63 billion, the bondholders were illegally shafted, a third of the company was given to the unions who were the reason the companies were bankrupt, and auto dealers (private businesses) were abruptly put out of business.
The federal government made a huge effort, behind closed doors, to take over the world’s best health care system to imitate instead the world’s worst health care system — Britain’s NHS. ObamaCare is an unworkable, unbelievable mess that will ruin lives, kill patients and destroy the medical industry. It is unaffordable, and its nature and its costs are not yet apparent to most people who think they are getting “free” health care.
The facts on climate science have changed, but no one in the administration has noticed. There has been no warming for over 15 years. CO2 continues to rise in the atmosphere and is greening the world, as CO2 is a natural fertilizer for plants. Fracking has changed the earth’s energy picture and the United States has exceeded Saudi Arabia in oil production; but the President is still trying to protect us from our “dependence” on “foreign oil.”And federal subsidies for wind farms and solar arrays continue to multiply although both only exist with constant support from fossil fuel fired power plants, and represent only a miniscule portion of electricity produced
The U.S. National Debt is $16,809,211,500,878 and climbing too fast to count. Our Gross Domestic Product is $15,692,319,919,688 and not climbing nearly as fast as the national debt. We have ten million Americans looking for work, and a president who has no idea how jobs are created.
The president’s narcissism and self-regard do not allow him to consider criticism as meaningful. After this morning’s temper tantrum in the Rose Garden, he will undoubtedly go out campaigning again. He “has a gift,” as he has told us. He can move crowds with the magic of his baritone voice, and he tells people what he believes they want to hear.
He is a tragic figure. Not a tragic hero. When he secured the presidential nomination, he said: “If we are willing to work for it, and fight for it, and believe in it, then I am absolutely certain that generations from now we will be able to look back and tell our children that this was the moment when we began to provide care for the sick and good jobs to the jobless. This was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal. This was the moment when we ended a war and secured our nation and restored our image as the last best hope on Earth.” Looking back on that— it’s only words.
Many Democrats remain enthralled. He is theirs, the first black President of the United States of America, and he is their absolution. They have been burdened with guilt. Slavery and segregation are the history of the Democratic Party. Their parents and grandparents fought against the Civil Rights bill. Racism is the worst, the greatest sin of the modern world, and electing the first black President proves that they are no longer racist. They are absolved. That leaves them free to call everybody else “racist.”
Will the rules continue to be different for this president? I don’t know. Will the media continue to absolve Obama of every failure? Obama wants to bury the deficit, raise more taxes so he can “invest” taxpayer money in new projects.
When he demands a new entitlement of national preschool for every four-year-old to be paid for by raising the tax on cigarettes as a solution to America’s unemployment problem — does no one notice the absurdity?
Filed under: Economy, Environment, Energy, Democrat Corruption, Capitalism | Tags: Government interference, Politicians Are Not Experts., The Free Market Works
There is a mindset that seems to be derived from the propaganda about all things “green.” We humans have not properly cared for the earth. We use far too much of the earth’s bounty. Our lifestyle and profligate overuse of natural resources is killing the earth and depriving the world’s poor of their fair share of the bounty. Climate change is destroying the earth and it’s our fault. We need to use less of everything. Turn off the lights, drive less, buy an electric car to save energy, save water. There are just too many people, have more abortions, fewer kids. Endangered species.
Even if you recognize that all to be sheer hogwash, there’s a mindset that remains. They have been very vocal about their fraudulent claims. It brings out the nannies. They want to make better choices for you consumers, because they’re smarter than you are.
Congress has been determined to legislate efficiency mandates for American homes and businesses since the late 1970s. The most recent legislation is being reintroduced tomorrow with a House companion bill coming on Friday. The bill from Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Rob Portman (R-OH), has supposedly been modified from previous renditions to make it more acceptable.
There are some basic requirements:
- The free market rewards efficiency without any intervention from the government.
Congress should focus on removing the policy and regulatory barriers that diminish the market incentives to pursue efficiency upgrades.
- Consumers and Businesses have other preferences.
Federal mandates assume that everyone has the same needs and make purchases for the same reasons. Not true. The “Energy Star” designations are notably faulty. the DOE latest rule for dishwashers show that almost 20% of households will see no improvement at all, yet costs have skyrocketed.
- When a technology offers more efficiency and lower costs, Americans do not need to be compelled to invest. Congress’s guess about what consumers want may not match reality. Front-loading washers and dryers have been far too costly and unpopular.
- Mandates risk taxpayer resources to subsidize private sector efficiency. The mandates distort, and usually raise, the prices involved. and distort the marketplace to consumer’s grief.
You might let your representatives and senators know that this is not acceptable. and Congress has no business mandating efficiency. They have already made a mess with twisty lightbulbs, low-flow showerheads, low-flush toilets, none of which have improved anyone’s lives.
Filed under: Environment, Fun n Games, Energy, Music | Tags: A LONG Construction Project, Imagine the Tuning, Exquisite Patience
In a Japanese Forest, — and Sung By Alien Robots.
Filed under: Architecture, Art, Energy, Environment, Politics, Science/Technology | Tags: Theo Jansen, Strandbeests, Kinetic Sculpture
Theo Jansen makes wind-fueled kinetic sculptures specifically for walking and “surviving”on the beaches of Holland. He calls them Strandbeests and they are extraordinary. His 2007 TED talk explains in more detail how “the animals” move and survive. You can find more videos on Vimeo.
Filed under: Capitalism, Democrat Corruption, Economy, Energy, Junk Science, Politics, Progressivism | Tags: Overlapping Programs, Waste and Duplication, Wind Energy Projects
Accountability. Good word. You have to be responsible for your own actions. Hard to believe, but we have a Government Accountability Office (GAO) that is trying to make our government accountable. In theory each person and each department will stand up and say, yes I’m in charge of that and I screwed up. Uh huh. Not so’s you would notice. But that’s why we have the GAO, to keep track of duplication and waste. The Inspectors General are part of this office.
So we had, as you know, The Sequester. You surely know that President Obama has gone to great efforts to make sure you know that there is a sequester and the Republicans are entirely responsible. (Did I just explain accountability? The Sequester originated in the Oval Office, and was entirely Obama’s idea and attempt to trap the Republicans into giving him more money to spend). The President is not accountable, nothing is ever his fault, and his efforts to make the public feel the pain of every last cent of the $85 billion in sequester cuts aren’t working. People are supposed to freak out and demand that Congress give the president the money he wants so he can spend it.
The Government Accountability Office (GAO) reports they have found 162 areas where services are duplicated or money is being wasted in the federal government. The annual cost of these programs is estimated at roughly $250 billion— that’s three times the amount involved in the sequester, which is only a reduction in the increases for next year, not the present budget. One would think that eliminating government waste would be more popular than ending White House tours and locking National Park bathrooms. Here’s some of what The GAO found:
— Renewable Energy Initiatives Federal support for wind and solar energy, biofuels, and other renewable energy sources has been estimated at several billion dollars a year — is fragmented because 23 agencies implemented hundreds of renewable energy initiatives in fiscal year 2010 — the latest year for which GAO developed these data.
The GAO has identified 82 federal wind-related projects being implemented by nine different agencies in fiscal year 2011. The 7 dozen initiatives are split up across agencies, and have overlapping characteristics, and duplicative financial support. Big wasteful Bureaucracy.
— Sixty-eight of the 82 programs overlapped with at least one other because of shared characteristics. They were administered by Energy, Interior, Agriculture, Commerce and Treasury. Why are all these departments involved in wind projects? These five departments collectively implemented 73 of the 82 proposals. Does the left hand know what the right hand is doing, and are they doing the same things?
The federal government should get out of the business of betting taxpayer dollars on energy projects. They should let the American people vote with their pocketbooks on which forms of energy and which projects should succeed.
Flushing good money after bad, the government has increased the production tax credit because of inflation, and wind, geothermal and biomass projects will now get 2.3 cents per kilowatt-hour of electricity produced, up from 2.2 cents. The IRS keeps updating the tax credit. The tax break costs taxpayers about $1 billion a year, and the new increase adds another $545 million in support for the wind industry. Just as the wind industry cannot exist without subsidy, it cannot exist without support from fossil fueled power plants. The wind is intermittent and requires full-time support from a dependable power source.
— The 2008 Farm Bill assigned the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service responsibility for examining and inspecting catfish and for creating a catfish inspection program. Repealing this provision would save millions of dollars annually without affecting the safety of catfish intended for human consumption.
— The Department of Defense’s approach to combat uniforms is fragmented. Developing and acquiring uniforms could be more efficient, and better protect service members resulting in $82 million in savings in development and acquisition costs through collaboration among the military services.
Filed under: Capitalism, Conservatism, Economy, Energy, Freedom, Politics, Taxes | Tags: Economist John B. Taylor, Free Markets / Free People, the American Economy
High unemployment. Business in the doldrums, the recovery that Obama keeps promising remains elusive, in spite of his claims. Many small businesses that are the usual engine of growth are struggling. The elephant remarked yesterday that the only business that seems to be visibly expanding is the gun range.
The business organizations, the Chamber of Commerce and Small Business Association and others readily say that uncertainty is holding them back. To open and run a business is a risk. There are all sorts of uncertainties that affect your bottom line. Nobody knows what will happen tomorrow. The actions of this administration have been to increase uncertainty across the board. Will taxes go up? Are energy costs going to rise and by how much? What new regulations are going to be issued? Have I broken any regulation that I don’t even know about that will have an armed swat team breaking in my front door? What crazy new environmental regulation is the EPA going to come out with tomorrow? John Taylor explains.
Filed under: Democrat Corruption, Energy, Freedom, Humor, Junk Science, Politics, Sports | Tags: A Differet Kind of Freedom, Imaginary Physics, Who's In Charge Here?
The Centrifuge Brain Project is a short (fictional !) film by German digital artist Till Nowak about making super imaginative amusement park rides that are divorced from ordinary physics and reality. As Chief Engineer Dr. Nick Laslowicz says “These machines provide total freedom…”
You could consider this a metaphor for the president’s budget released today, only two months late. Divorced from reality. But adventurous.
Filed under: Capitalism, Democrat Corruption, Economy, Energy, Health Care, Politics, Taxes | Tags: Changing the Language, Government Spending —"Investing", Raising Taxes — "Saving"
President Obama’s budget plan which will be released next week will, according to advance notice, limit how much wealthy individuals — like Mitt Romney — can keep in IRAs and other retirement accounts. “The proposal would save around $9 billion over a decade, a senior administration official said, while also bringing more fairness to the tax code.”
Notice the phrasing. The proposal would save around $9 billion. If the federal government manages to get more of your hard-earned money — it’s “saving.” The senior administration official said that wealthy taxpayers can currently “accumulate many millions of dollars in these accounts, substantially more than is needed to fund reasonable levels of retirement saving.” So the government will decide what a reasonable level of retirement saving is, and the rest is saved so the president can spend it?
Obama has also proposed to cut seniors’ Social Security benefits by using a less generous formula to calculate any increases in benefits. Naturally Democrats are outraged. He also wants to cut back on payments to healthcare providers and pharmaceutical companies, which is brilliant since seniors are having a hard time finding doctors now. It would be perfectly reasonable to raise the retirement age slowly to match the increase in life expectancy, but Obama’s approach is to minimize the cost of the old folks.
If you look at official estimates of how much savings people have as they get close to retirement age, it is alarming. Yet the government’s conversation about Social Security benefits concentrates on those folks who have plenty of savings put away and still receive Social Security benefits. This is the governmental conundrum — It’s not fair if people get Social Security benefits they don’t need, yet if you only give benefits to those who need it, you have made Social Security a welfare program, but of course the left approves of welfare programs.
I keep going back to economist Alan Reynold’s remark “Barack Obama does not understand economics, and apparently he refuses to listen to anyone who does.”
Next week we will hear President Obama’s whole budgetary request. And the response. I think the president is intent on becoming a world class president. He wants to be remembered for great and lasting things — but so many of them aren’t working: the electric cars, the end of dependence on foreign oil (we have already surpassed Saudi Arabia, but that has been in spite of Obama, not because of his efforts), ending or diminishing the threat of CO2, high-speed rail, ending the threat of guns in private hands, the infrastructure bank, a country powered by clean wind and solar energy, a more peaceful and secure world without war. Those have all gone well. But the new project of mapping the brain, that will be a star in the crown, won’t it?
The president just needs more money to invest. His budget will request more so that he can do noble things. Just wait and see.