Wednesday, November 30, 2011
We must remember, anything that the progressive liberal left proposes to do that they say is for the betterment of us all, in reality, is a just another way to get more power and control.
Fuel Efficiency Standards Will Be Expensive
Source: David Shepardson, "Price Tag of 2025's Fuel Efficiency Standards: $157 Billion," Detroit News, November 16, 2011.
Doubling fuel-efficiency standards to 54.5 miles per gallon (mpg) by 2025 won't be cheap -- and it will require the government to consider other implications, says the Detroit News.
The Obama administration finally unveiled the price tag to the auto industry for its proposed 2017-2025 fuel economy regulations earlier this month: $157.3 billion. In total, the proposed regulations will supposedly save drivers $1.7 trillion at the pump.
But the administration said the savings at the pump will wipe out about $50 billion in gas tax revenue -- and the government will have to find another way to fund road repairs.
It's one of the most expensive -- if not the most expensive -- regulation in U.S. history.
The hike comes on top of the $51.5 billion price tag for 2012-2016 rules that boosted by more than 30 percent requirements to a fleet-wide average of 34.1 mpg by model year 2016.
Most of the increases -- $113 billion -- comes to boost passenger car fuel economy, while $44 billion will be to improve light trucks.
The proposal will boost the cost of an average car in 2025 by $2,023 and light truck by $1,578.
But costs could be as high as $2,800 if a different analysis is used to forecast future price costs, the administration said.
The regulation will have other costs. Since it will be cheaper to drive, Americans will drive more -- and the administration predicts congestion costs from added driving will be between $26.2 billion and $32.7 billion.
The rule also will have some safety implications. Americans will drive more and therefore get into more car crashes. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimated the cost of the crashes over the life of the rule at $12.4 billion to $15.5 billion.
It has always been clear to me the EPA, is and always has been, out of control, as well as the DNR for that matter. How is it one unelected person can have the power to decided the fate of millions of people when she alone decided CO2 is an environmental problem effecting all fossil fuel electrical generation plants across the country to either shut down or spend billions to retool?
Regulatory institutions, agencies, can not have law making powers period. To allow this continue will only further the destruction of our economy and our way of life.
If this isn't enough to scare the general population into making a power change in Washington this next November, then we are doomed.
One More Reason to Reject Climate Change Regulation
Source: Nicolas Loris, "New EPA Inspector General Report: One More Reason to Reject Climate Change Regulation," Heritage Foundation, November 16, 2011.
In September, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a report by its Office of Inspector General (OIG) stating that the EPA's technical support document (TSD) on greenhouse gas emissions violated federal standards. The TSD provided the scientific backbone and technical analysis for the EPA's 2009 "endangerment finding," which gave the EPA authority under the Clean Air Act to regulate greenhouse gas emissions.
The significance of the finding being invalidated should not be underestimated, and should reinforce efforts to rein in out-of-control regulatory powers, says Nicolas Loris, a policy analyst with the Heritage Foundation.
Among the failures of the EPA in creating its TSD was the fact that it did not publish its findings for public review -- if it had, it might have discovered the true amount of contrasting science that the public might have brought to the forefront. Additionally, the TSD violates federal codes because one member of the 12-person panel that created the document was an EPA employee.
The failure of the TSD and the unwillingness of the EPA to compromise its goals of limiting carbon emissions are even more egregious when it is recognized that the EPA continued along this path despite numerous calls from climatologically-motivated sources that called into question the validity of its climate change data.
This is a clear example of the fact that the EPA, in the absence of checks on its power, is capable of pushing the boundaries far beyond what was intended by Congress. Furthermore, in addition to relying on data and facts that are questionable, the EPA's emissions-slashing policies are extremely damaging in that they hurt economic growth and also that they fail to significantly reduce emissions.
American efforts to reduce emissions unilaterally are insignificant on a global scale, as the burgeoning economies of China and India produce enough emissions to eliminate American gains.
Higher energy prices faced by energy companies and regular businesses will ultimately be paid by American consumers by driving up prices. Many businesses, seeking to avoid artificially inflated energy prices from EPA regulations, will likely relocate to other countries, causing a net loss of American jobs.
For these reasons, EPA regulations on emissions will stunt economic growth with little environmental gain, and should therefore be subject to strict scrutiny.
Monday, November 28, 2011
This is just one more example of the agenda of Obama that wants to destroy the middle class and therefore this country. Between the oil, coal and nuclear industry that have been regulated almost into oblivion, 10's of thousands of job are gone and thousands more will not be created.
Can anyone imagine what will happen to our country if Obama and the progressive left socialist Democrats get to say in power for another 4 years? It's easy, total destruction of everything that 236 years of individual freedom brought about.
Keystone XL vs. Solyndra
The two big energy stories of the moment are the Obama administration's announcement that it will wait another year before making a final decision on the Keystone XL pipeline, and the continued pummeling of the Department of Energy and Energy Secretary Steven Chu for their handling of the $529 million loan guarantee to Solyndra.
A comparison of these two projects, in the context of the Obama administration's decision to fund one and delay the other, is enlightening: it allows the American public to understand the priorities of the president and the motivations for his policies, says Robert Bryce, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute.
The Keystone XL is a $13 billion project that doesn't depend on federal loan guarantees or production tax credits from the federal government. Keystone could create about 13,000 construction jobs in the United States, along with 7,000 manufacturing jobs -- this contrasts strongly with the 1,100 workers who lost their jobs with the Solyndra bankruptcy.
Keystone would have supplied 700,000 barrels of oil each day towards the nation's energy mix (which is 37 percent oil).
In these terms, it becomes bewildering that the Keystone XL pipeline is being subjected to another year's worth of scrutiny despite its numerous benefits, while Solyndra was able to receive a public loan without a thorough look at its ability to compete in an international marketplace. The egregiousness of this pair of decisions becomes even more serious when discussing each project's contribution to national energy.
The Keystone's 700,000 barrels of oil each day, at 1.64 megawatt-hours per barrel, would have generated 380,000 megawatt-hours of electricity per day.
Meanwhile, all of America's solar panel and wind turbine production for the last year amounted to 94.6 million megawatt-hours, translating to 260,000 megawatt-hours of electricity per day.
Therefore, the Keystone project would have generated 46 percent more energy each day than the entire country's solar and wind output.
Source: Robert Bryce, "Energy Smackdown: Keystone XL vs. Solyndra," National Review, November 21, 2011.
SO LONG ARIZONA
Illegal immigrants are boycotting Arizona by the thousands, showing their outrage with Arizona's controversial new SB-1070 law by moving elsewhere.
In the small town of Guadalupe, AZ, south of Phoenix, Manuel Reynaldo is one of those who is punishing Arizona by leaving. As he loaded his car with his belongings and family of ten, Reynaldo told this reporter through an interpreter "It's a matter of principle; I refuse to be supported by a state that treats me like a criminal!"
The effects of the exodus are being felt by Arizona retailers, who are reporting dwindling sales of beer, spray paint, and ammunition.
Also hit hard are the states hospitals, which have reported a dramatic decline in unreimbursed births and emergency room visits. Tattoo parlors are in a state of panic.
Reynaldo told a reporter through an interpreter that he and his family are moving to California,
a democratic state that will support him and his family with dignity!
Sunday, November 27, 2011
These crews are targets for the enemy!
23 November 2011
Army Dustoff MEDEVAC helicopter crews have been performing stellar work in Afghanistan. When troops are wounded, the Dustoffs go into hostile territory often while taking ground fire. Most interesting: they go in unarmed.
The helicopters are emblazoned with the Red Cross, and so according to the Geneva Conventions they are not allowed to carry offensive weapons. Just what constitutes an offensive weapon is another line of discussion, but the bottom line is that Dustoffs do not carry machine guns.
More interesting is that the Red Cross is one of the symbols used in the Crusades. After years of throwing around the COIN acronym while pretending we have learned something about Counterinsurgency, we still fly around Afghanistan in CrusaderCopters.
The Air Force Pedro rescue helicopters are not burdened with the Red Cross, and so they carry two .50 caliber machine guns. The U.S. Marines and British Army also don’t burden themselves with the Red Cross, nor are there the World War II-type scenes with medics wearing crosses on their sleeves. The medics are armed. In fact, some medical crews working in Kabul are armed even while in the operating room.
The Taliban and other enemies in Afghanistan do not subscribe to the Geneva Conventions. They try to shoot down any and all helicopters, and sometimes they succeed. If you ask an Afghan what the Red Cross means, he’ll likely say it’s a symbol of Christianity — and in that regard, it might actually draw fire. This poster describing evil symbols was found hanging on a wall in an Afghan village. Most of the symbols are crosses.
There are numerous reasons why the Dustoffs should remove the Red Cross. We’ve been plagued with helicopter shortages in Afghanistan since the beginning of the war. When Dustoffs perform rescue missions, they must have armed top cover, often in the form of an Apache helicopter. By comparison, the Air Force Pedro rescue helicopters do not need top cover because they carry machine guns. And so in addition to adding more stresses to our helicopter fleet, the necessity to have top cover can lead to delays in MEDEVAC.
In September, I videotaped such a delay after an IED strike. The most wounded soldier was a triple amputee. Another soldier was deaf from the blast. A Dustoff crew was stationed probably two to three minutes away at Forward Operating Base Pasab. You can sometimes see the crews at Pasab running to start up a Dustoff helicopter. The Dustoff was parked about 200 meters from my tent. If it takes the Dustoff seven minutes to launch and three minutes to get to the LZ, they could have picked up the patients in about 10 minutes.
The hospital at Kandahar Airfield was about 13 minutes away, and so this means the patients could have been at the hospital in about 25 minutes. Instead, it took 65 minutes.
The Army claims it took 59 minutes, but they don’t start the clock until after a “9-line” casualty report has been called up. The Golden Hour doesn’t start when the 9-line goes up; it starts when the bomb explodes. In any case, 59 minutes is a lot longer than 25, and this delay was caused because the Dustoff needed Apache top cover.
The triple amputee was very much alive and talking, but you could hear him fading as the minutes ticked by. His buddies were saying he was going to live. The commander said to me that he was going to live, but as the minutes dragged by the soldiers became frustrated with the delay. We were sitting on a landing zone vulnerable to enemy fire, and there was little doubt the enemy knew where we were. In addition to endangering the wounded with delays, the delay also provided the enemy time to prepare to shoot down a rescue helicopter, or to attack troops who would be in the open on the LZ.
An Air Force Pedro pilot with 420 combat missions worth of experience read this article for accuracy and he responded:
“Pedros fly in a two ship formation for several reasons, mutual support, both with fires and mission management, and added capacity. In a dynamic and inaccurate threat environment we may launch on one Cat A, and arrive to discover additional survivors (or, God forbid, Heroes). This happened often, but as an example one of my missions in the “Cat Triangle” SE of Bastion, I was launched to rescue a Brit double amputee. 30 sec from the zone a second IED detonated and rendered a second Brit as a double amputee. Both Pedro’s effectively split and worked individual rescues while maintaining each others “back” — we minimized the time in the zone and got the survivors back as rapidly as possible. In my opinion two armed Dustoffs are better for the fight than one unarmed Dustoff and an Apache.”
If the Dustoffs were armed, there would have been no delay. So why does the Army hide behind Geneva Conventions when the Air Force, Marines, and British do not? It’s not about Geneva, but about who controls the Dustoff helicopters. It’s not about the “moral high ground.” The crosses have been used as a crucifix to ward off change within the military.
Some Army officers will attempt to confuse laymen by slapping the “Geneva Conventions” card on the table. There are two categories of people who will say we are legally or morally obligated to sport Red Crosses on our helicopters. The first category is the uninformed. This dispatch is written for the uninformed yet smart-minded people who, when presented with the evidence, will make a good decision. The second category consists mostly of a small number of Army officers who are lying. They have a political dog in this fight and they are willing to sacrifice combat readiness and troops’ lives to maintain the status quo. These people are disgraceful and I make no effort not to offend them. They should be discharged from the Army.
To be sure, it will be difficult to find senior NCOs or officers from the combat arms who will say that it’s a good idea to send unarmed troops into combat while marking them as defenseless.
Let’s number the problems, any one of which is enough to take off the crosses:
1) Sending unarmed troops into combat is unwise2) Marking them as unarmed is tantamount criminal3) Delays in MEDEVAC leave wounded troops bleeding on battlefields4) Creates additional stresses on overstretched helicopters5) CrusaderCopters create a “COIN fail”
If the Army insists on sending defenseless CrusaderCopters into combat, it should use common sense by not alerting the enemy that the helicopter is unarmed.
Saturday, November 26, 2011
Has common sense and reality completely escaped these people that are in charge of the countries purse strings? What is going on here? Why do we allow this to happen over and over again? This isn't just corruption and malfeasance on the part of Washington insiders, this is pure insanity!
Ex-Solyndra Staff Eligible for Federal Aid
Source: Sean Higgins, "Ex-Solyndra Staff Eligible for TAA Federal Aid; Packages Worth Average $13,000 Each," Investors.com, November 21
The Labor Department announced on November 21 that it had approved Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) for the former employees of the bankrupt solar panel maker Solyndra, says Investors.com. That means all of the firm's 1,100 ex-employees are eligible for federal aid packages, including job retraining and income assistance.
The department has valued packages at about $13,000 a head.
Taxpayers will have to cough up yet another $14.3 million as a result of Solyndra's bankruptcy.
They are already on the hook for $528 million in federal loan guarantees to the company that are unlikely to ever be paid back.
The TAA program offers help to domestic workers who have lost their jobs due to the trade practices of foreign countries. The assistance includes job retraining, allowances for job searching, health benefits and up to 130 weeks of income support.
Solyndra was given a $535 million federal loan guarantee in 2009 by the Obama administration as part of a program to boost green jobs. Behind the scenes, the company was bleeding cash and seeking a second Department of Energy (DOE) loan to stay afloat. By late 2010 it had defaulted on the original loan and DOE agreed to a restructuring to allow the company to survive.
The renegotiation included giving private investors first crack at the first $75 million recovered in the event of liquidation. The decision was in apparent violation of DOE loan rules. It all but ensures that taxpayers will recover none of the original loan.
Friday, November 25, 2011
Back in the day, it was 'live fast, love hard, die young'. Now it's 'gimme that, I want it now. You don't know who I am! Why should you have all the nice stuff and I don't have any of it?' Smart talk from twenty somethings. Are these the majority or a vocal minority?
Right? Wrong? Think about it - you decide.
What's Behind the Dramatic Decline in Youth Employment?
Source: Christopher L. Smith, "Polarization, Immigration, Education: What's Behind the Dramatic Decline in Youth Employment?" Federal Reserve, October 2011.
Since the beginning of the recent recession, the employment-population ratio for high-school age youth (16-17 years old) has fallen by nearly a third, to its lowest level ever. However, this recession has exacerbated a longer-run downward trend that actually began in the 1990s and accelerated in the early 2000s.
Given the longevity of this trend, it is a mistake to assert that current levels of teenage unemployment are due largely to the recent recession, as this appears not to be the case, says researcher Christopher L. Smith. Teenage employment has fallen with employment figures as a whole in each recession in the last 30 years -- but unlike other demographics, teenage employment showed little recovery each time.
Since the start of the most recent recession, the employment-population rate for high school-age youth has fallen from around 23 percent to around 15 percent. Analysis shows that this precipitous drop is at least half-explained by changes in labor demand for teenagers, while changes in labor supply have proven to be less impactful.
Many theories have been proposed to explain the decrease in teenage employment. In labor demand, some have emphasized changes in occupational polarization as the primary culprit, while others have pointed to immigration. In labor supply, changes in education priorities and the wage premium between high school and college graduates has had significant impacts.
Occupational polarization refers to the automation and efficiency gains that have replaced many adult workers in labor jobs, moving them into the service sector where teenagers typically work.
Increases in immigration in some states has tracked over time with increases in teenage unemployment as low-skilled immigrants take jobs previously held by teenagers.
Changes in education, on the other hand, suggest that a greater emphasis on college preparation and summer school has decreased the proportion of teenagers who are seeking employment.
Regardless of the relative importance of each of these factors, and those factors not yet identified, it is difficult to assess the aggregate impact of this trend. If teenagers are replacing the time they might have spent working with other activities that grow human capital, such as self-education and schooling, then the United States might actually experience a net gain from teenage unemployment.
Until it is known how teenagers are increasingly spending their time, however, the potential consequences of this trend cannot be meaningfully calculated.
Thursday, November 24, 2011
Obama's Indefensible Pipeline Punt
Source: Vaclav Smil, "Obama's Indefensible Pipeline Punt," The American, November 15, 2011.
President Obama has decided not to consider the fate of the Keystone XL pipeline until after the 2012 election. Should the president choose to cancel the construction of the massive line, he will not only sacrifice thousands of American jobs in constructing and maintaining the pipeline, but will also jeopardize America's energy security, says Vaclav Smil of the American Enterprise Institute.
Canada is the single-largest provider of America's imported crude oil and refined oil products, supplying 21.4 percent of all U.S. crude oil purchases abroad in 2010 (the entire Persian Gulf region supplied only 18.4 percent).
The current Keystone pipeline has a capacity of 600,000 barrels per day, which constitutes about 30 percent of Canada's total crude oil exports to the United States. The XL line would have a capacity of 700,000 barrels a day and hence bring the entire Keystone system to 1.3 million barrels a day, equal to about 13 percent of the country's total imports.
The opposition to the construction of the new line relies on two exaggerated arguments. First, environmentalists claim that the pipeline poses a danger to fragile ecosystems that it traverses -- namely, the Ogallala aquifer. Second, they put forth that the oil derived from the sand formations in Alberta requires more energy to extract, and therefore has a higher level of emissions attached to it. These arguments are exaggerated and negligible.
With a total length of close to 3,000 kilometers, the new pipeline would add just over 1 percent to the already existing network of crude oil and refined products lines that crisscross the United States and parts of Canada, some of which run through the aquifer.
Additional safety measures can easily be put in place for ecosystem areas deemed "fragile."
On this basis of carbon dioxide emissions, fuels derived from Alberta oil sands are only about 5 percent higher than for an average barrel consumed in the United States.
Furthermore, if the pipeline is not constructed in the name of limiting the use of this less-efficient fuel, it bears mention that it will likely be exported to China as an alternative.
Therefore, it is clear that President Obama would sacrifice America's energy interests for little environmental gain.
The mentality of the aged in our population believe they are entitled to their share of the American dream, just like the seniors before them, but the one thing they seem to forget is the money isn't there like in the past.
Trying to explain this to most seniors that if they will accept less now they can be assured of receiving a check for the future, brings on shouts of 'no way - we earned this money, we paid in our share, now give it us'.
The question remains, how many seniors believe there is a bottomless pit of money for them to tap, and if the money runs out, how will they handle the worst case scenario of a much reduced check, worse, no check at all, whether they like it or not. How will they cope? Who will they blame. How will they vote?
Social Security, Ponzi Schemes and the Need for Reform
Source: Michael D. Tanner, "Social Security, Ponzi Schemes and the Need for Reform," Cato Institute, November 17, 2011.
Recently there has been much debate over whether Social Security is or is not a Ponzi scheme. Clearly Social Security has many structural characteristics that resemble those of the classic Ponzi or pyramid scheme, says Michael Tanner, a senior fellow with the Cato Institute.
For example, like a Ponzi scheme, Social Security does not actually save or invest any of a participant's payments. When a worker pays taxes into the system, that money is used to pay current beneficiaries. Therefore, participants receive payments, not from returns on their own investments, but directly from inflows from subsequent participants.
As a result, Social Security was able to pay early participants a windfall return on their money. But as demographic changes result in fewer workers paying into the program and more recipients taking benefits out, the return to subsequent generations grows steadily worse. Today's young workers will receive a rate of return far lower than what they could receive from private markets.
However, there is one crucial distinction between Social Security and a Ponzi scheme.
Once Ponzi was unable to talk enough people into investing with him, his scheme collapsed.
People participate in Social Security because the government makes them.
And if the Social Security system begins to run short of people paying into the system, as it is now, it can always force those people to pay more.
Yet, Congress's ability to preserve Social Security through higher taxes and lower benefits should not distract from the more fundamental problem that the program's Ponzi-like structure makes it unable to pay currently promised levels of benefits with current levels of taxation. In short, the program is facing insolvency without fundamental reform.
Instead of just making a bad deal worse, that reform should fundamentally restructure Social Security. It should remove the Ponzi-like aspects of the program and allow younger workers to save a portion of their payroll taxes through privately invested personal accounts.
Wednesday, November 23, 2011
The best way to fix this problem is to reelect Obama for another four years. Just think how much better everything will be.
Doctor Revolt Shakes Disability Program
Source: Damian Paletta, "Doctor Revolt Shakes Disability Program," Wall Street Journal, November 21, 2011.
Earlier this year, senior managers at the Social Security Administration in Baltimore, frustrated by a growing backlog of applications for federal disability benefits, called meetings with 140 of the agency's doctors. The message was blunt: The number of people seeking benefits had soared. Doctors had to work faster to move cases. Instead of earning $90 an hour, as they had previously, they would receive about $80 per case -- a pay cut for many cases which can take 60 to 90 minutes to review -- unless the doctors worked faster. Most notably, it no longer mattered if doctors strayed far from their areas of expertise when taking a case, says the Wall Street Journal.
The agency is under political pressure to reduce the backlog.
The Social Security Disability Insurance program paid $124 billion in benefits in 2010, up from $55 billion in 2001.
The backlog of pending appeals in September was 771,318, up from 705,367 in 2010 and 392,397 in 2001.
In targeting the doctors, the Social Security Administration says it is seeking to overhaul a part of the disability-review process that can be both expensive and slow. But many doctors and former agency officials say the changes threaten the quality of decisions. Several doctors said medical opinions were now prone to inaccuracy since many specialists don't have the backgrounds to make decisions outside their areas of expertise. The new policy could make doctors more likely to award benefits to those who don't qualify and deny benefits to those who are entitled, these doctors said.
After the procedures were implemented in Baltimore, an eye doctor was assigned back pain cases, several doctors said.
A dermatologist reviewed the files of someone who had a stroke.
A gastroenterologist reviewed the case of someone with partial deafness, the doctors said.
Two other doctors also said they were pressured to award benefits in cases where they were reluctant.
The reality is if they would have been able to go through bankruptcy and then emerge, they would be in much better shape then they are now. Even though they seem to be doing well in sales, the owners of a large share of this enterprise are selling their shares.
Have the government running things, especially progressive left socialists, scares the hell out of the shareholders.
Taxpayer Losses on GM Bailout Are Going to Be Massive
Source: Shikha Dalmia, "Treasury Admits What Everybody Already Knew: Taxpayer Losses on GM Bailout Are Going to Be Massive," Reason Magazine Blog, November 17, 2011.
Last week the Treasury Department revised its loss estimate for the General Motors (GM) bailout from $14.33 billion to $23.6 billion, thanks to the company's sinking stock price. GM's September 30 closing price, on which the new estimate is based, was $20.18, about $13 less than its December IPO price and $35 less than what is needed for taxpayers to break even, says Shikha Dalmia, a senior analyst at the Reason Foundation.
The $23.6 billion represents a 25 percent loss on the federal government's $60 billion direct "investment" in GM. But that's not all that taxpayers are on the hook for.
As explained previously, Uncle Sam's special GM bankruptcy package allowed the company to write off $45 billion in previous losses going forward.
This could work out to as much as $15 billion in tax savings that GM wouldn't have had had it gone through a normal bankruptcy. Why? Because after bankruptcy, the tax liabilities of companies increase since they have no more losses to write off. This means that the total hit to taxpayers, who still own about a quarter of the company, could add up to $38.6 billion.
Although GM will never make taxpayers whole, taxpayer losses could be mitigated if GM's stock price rises before the Treasury sells its remaining equity, something it was supposed to do by year-end but has postponed under the circumstances.
GM actually has been doing quite well in North America and China with profit margins of 10 percent, among the best in the industry. The company's big weak spot right now is Europe for two reasons: One, thanks to political pressure and labor resistance, it hasn't been able to address its bloated cost structure there. Two, Europe's economy is imploding, weakening car sales.
All of this shows why forcing taxpayers to wager their hard-earned dollars on a risky venture was exactly the wrong thing to do.
Tuesday, November 22, 2011
While the rest of us freeze or roast and find living in card board boxes, eating berries and switch grass for survival hardly the American dream, the eco-fascist is jetting around the country finding other ways to bring down our living standards so they can feel better about themselves.
Answer this question, how can so few demand so much from so many and get away with it? Easy, they do it because they have a willing political class without backbone or remorse.
The way to stop this insanity is to vote them out of office next November!! If we don't, believe they will take away your card board box because it an eye soar for them when they drive by in their new car.
As you shiver in the cold wondering how it came to this, the answer immediately comes to you, "that damn Bush".
Source: Bjørn Lomborg, "Seeming Green," Project Syndicate, November 14, 2011.
In recent years, it has become increasingly popular politically to tout one's own policies as being the greenest of the green. Rhetoric involving "green" jobs and sustainability has come to the forefront and symbolic shows of strength against climate change are on the rise as various countries' politicians each want to demonstrate their own personal commitment.
However, this piecemeal exercise in which a random smattering of countries takes action is unlikely to change anything at all, says Bjørn Lomborg, an adjunct professor at Copenhagen Business School.
For example, the Danish government intends to expand wind power dramatically by 2020. That is a significant gesture, but, since the country is part of the European Union's emissions-trading scheme, it will mean absolutely nothing for global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. It will simply make coal power cheaper in other EU countries.
Indeed, costly emission cuts in Denmark and elsewhere are likely to lead to a partial relocation of CO2 emissions to more lenient countries, such as China (where production is less climate-efficient), and thus to an overall increase in global CO2 emissions.
The EU has reduced its emissions since 1990, but, at the same time, it has increased imports from China, which alone has produced enough emissions to offset those reductions.
Politicians claim that a green economy will cost nothing, or may even be a source of new growth. Unfortunately, this is not true.
Globally, there is a clear correlation between higher growth rates and higher CO2 emissions.
Furthermore, nearly every green energy source is still more expensive than fossil fuels, even when calculating pollution costs. Moreover, while green-energy subsidies generate more jobs in green-energy sectors, they also displace similar numbers of jobs elsewhere.
Many politicians are drawn to photo opportunities and lofty rhetoric about "building a green economy." Unfortunately, the green energy policies currently being pursued are not helping the environment or the economy. More likely, they will lead to greater emissions in China, more outsourcing to India, and lower growth rates for the well-intentioned "green" countries.
Monday, November 21, 2011
Late last week, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and force to recognize same-sex marriages from other states.
If passed by the full Senate, the so-called "Respect for Marriage Act" (S. 598) will repeal DOMA and give federal recognition to two homosexuals who wish to be "married."S. 598 shows anything but respect for the sanctity of marriage. Urge your Senators to stop this bill!
The repercussions are enormous:
States laws protecting marriage as between "one man, one woman" will become null and void - including the 31 states who have voted on constitutional amendments.
The military will be thrown into complete chaos and disarray, as Department of Defense leaders try to figure out housing, benefits, and "same-sex spouse" sensitivity training regimens.
Churches will come under fire from radical homosexual activists. Ministers and churches will be sued for "religious discrimination" for refusing to perform or allow gay "marriages."
Public schools will be forced to indoctrinate our children, teaching them that homosexual marriage is both natural and acceptable.
S. 598 now goes to the full Senate, where YOUR Senators can stop it dead in its tracks.
Last July, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said President Obama supports the bill to repeal DOMA. Carney replied: "I can tell you that the president has long called for a legislative repeal of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act...He is proud to support the Respect for Marriage Act...which would take DOMA off the books once and for all."
Oh wait, this smells like a Barney Frank situation. "There is nothing wrong with Fannie and Freddie. Leave them alone."
Is Federal Housing Administration the Next Housing Bailout?
Source: Joseph Gyourko, "Is FHA the Next Housing Bailout?" American Enterprise Institute, November 11, 2011.
Given that the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) has not needed a direct recapitalization from Congress since its founding over three-quarters of a century ago, it is tempting to assume that the institution is perpetually stable. However, for the past two years, it has violated its most important capital reserve regulations, under which it is supposed to hold sufficient reserves against unexpected future losses.
However, the risk of unexpected losses has been chronically underestimated, allowing the FHA to leverage its commitments at astounding rates, says Joseph Gyourko, the Martin Bucksbaum Professor of Real Estate, Finance, and Business & Public Policy at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.
Aggregate insurance-in-force more than tripled in recent years, from $305 billion at the end of the 2007 fiscal year to just over $1 trillion according to the latest data available from July 2011.
The FHA's liquid reserves currently amount to $30 billion, which represents only 3 percent of its potential liabilities ($1 trillion). Furthermore, the corrected measures of credit risk suggest that the FHA faces default risks that are 50 percent greater than initially projected, amounting to approximately $13 billion in unforeseen losses.
For any institution to run at such high levels of risk and leverage, default would be a constant concern. Yet the FHA's problems are particularly acute for three reasons.
In their accounting methods for assessing risk, they have ignored or underplayed crucial variables that would have offered a much more accurate valuation of likely losses.
Additionally, the FHA has made guarantees on mortgages to numerous homeowners who are underwater in their payments -- underwater homeowners can cause financial stress and spark liquidity crisis in which losses cannot be avoided.
Finally, many of the assumptions made by the FHA about employment and housing prices in the near future, along with other macroeconomic indicators, are overly optimistic and paint a rosier picture of future finances than should be seen.
Democrats have no reason to be helpful. Progressive left Democrats are about getting and keeping power any way they can. The very foundation of the Democrat party is to get as many individuals dependent on the government which will broaden the voting base by any means. The ends always justifies the means.
If a proposal by the progressives is touted out to be in the best interest of the general public, rest assured it will do just the opposite. History of Democrat mandates is proof enough.
Another Glitch in the Health Reform Law
Source: Jonathan H. Adler and Michael F. Cannon, "Another ObamaCare Glitch," Wall Street Journal, November 16,
Even if the health reform law survives Supreme Court scrutiny next spring, its trials will be far from over. That's because the law has a major glitch that threatens its basic functioning, say Jonathan H. Adler, professor of law and director of the Center for Business Law and Regulation at Case Western Reserve University, and Michael F. Cannon, director of health policy studies at the Cato Institute.
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) offers "premium assistance" -- tax credits and subsidies -- to households purchasing coverage through new health insurance exchanges. The intent of this assistance was to offset increases in premiums that would come about through the implementation of the PPACA, yet it is in helping people to qualify for this assistance that the administration will find itself in trouble.
The PPACA encourages states to establish health insurance exchanges in which consumers can find health care plans, and it allows the federal government to create an exchange if a state fails to do so. Yet the law also stipulates that the aforementioned assistance can only be granted in state-run exchanges, to the exclusion of those run by the federal government.
Given that only 17 states to-date have passed exchanges, it would seem that many states will require the creation of federally-run systems that will not allow for premium assistance.
The Obama administration, seeking to avoid this end but also not wanting to have to work with the Republican-controlled House, proposed an IRS rule that would offer assistance in both types of exchanges. A Treasury Department spokeswoman expressed confidence that the debacle could be side-stepped. However, this confidence may easily be misplaced.
While Congress' intent is arguably ambiguous as to whether it intended for assistance to be offered in both types of exchanges, the letter of the law is extremely clear. Furthermore, while some experts claim that a case will not be brought because no one would have standing for such an endeavor, this also does not seem to be true. Because the law imposes a fine on employers whose employees receive premium assistance, any major employer who suffers substantial costs because its employees are receiving assistance when they shouldn't (as through a federal exchange) could be party to a suit.
For these reasons, it seems President Obama has several more obstacles to overcome before his signature legislation can get off the ground.
Sunday, November 20, 2011
I not sure which is worse, those that we know are progressive liberal left Democrats or those that tell us they are Republicans but in reality perform as progressives Democrats.
Progressives are not hiding their socialist agenda where as the RENO Republican, Republican In Name Only, doesn't even have a basic knowledge of Conservatism, and yet they proclaim loudly when ever they have camera time their Conservative agenda, but when the time comes to vote for those principals, they slide into the agenda of 'I just want to get along so we have to compromise to get things done'.
Either they believe or they don't. There can't be compromise on principle. In November, watch them closely and vote them out.
California: Toxic for Business
Source: Wendell Cox and Steven Malanga, "California -- Toxic for Business," Los Angeles Times, November 14, 2011.
For years, California could rely on its temperate climate and talented workforce to attract and keep businesses even as taxes and regulations increased. No more. In surveys, executives regularly express the view that California has one of the country's most toxic business environments, and they say it is one of the least likely places they would open or expand a company.
Many firms headquartered in the state say they have forsaken expansion in the state, say Wendell Cox, an adjunct scholar with the National Center for Policy Analysis, and Steven Malanga, a senior fellow with the Manhattan Institute.
California has an unemployment rate some 2 percentage points over the national average.
From 1992 to 2000 California added 777,000 more jobs from start-ups than it lost to closures, but it lost 262,000 more jobs than it gained between 2000 and 2008. Additionally, jobs are migrating out of California faster than they are entering, with a net loss of
some 80,000 jobs to migration to states such as Texas and Oregon between 2000 and 2008.
Among those jobs that the state has created, 35 percent of them were in construction and real estate -- jobs that the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts have since disappeared. California's dismal business environment is due to a multitude of factors, including its burdensome regulatory climate, tax policies and steep litigation costs.
Through labor and environmental regulations, California has scared away a number of businesses that cannot afford to take on the additional expenses associated with abiding by the complex statutes. Researchers have estimated that regulations cost the state's businesses $493 billion annually, or nearly $135,000 per company, and this has caused numerous businesses to flee to relatively regulation-free states.
Significant corporate tax policies have also made California unattractive to businesses. According to the Tax Foundation, California imposes the nation's second-heaviest tax burden on businesses.
Lastly, the fear of litigation drives businesses away, especially when dealt in tandem with the complex regulatory climate.
Saturday, November 19, 2011
This changing of facts occurs in any situation that might have an advantage for the liberal progressive to create chaos. Class warfare has always been a useful wedge that liberals use to convince disadvantaged people to rise up and take their share from others that have more then they do.
Unfortunately for all of us, this technique has been effective for decades. Witness the chaos in New York City and other cities around the country. Liberalism results for all to see is on parade!
Liberal Programs Deserve Share of Blame for Income Inequality
Source: Shikha Dalmia, "Liberal Programs Deserve Blame for Income Inequality," Reason Magazine, November
Liberals are touting a new Congressional Budget Office study showing that income inequality increased in America over the last three decades as a true indictment of capitalism. They cite the enormous gains made by the country's wealthiest as evidence of the inherently unequal and unfair social outcomes brought about by a system that leaves the nation's poor behind.
However, this misrepresents the complete message of the report and fails to acknowledge the role played by liberal policies in limiting gains made by the poor, says Shikha Dalmia, a senior analyst with the Reason Foundation.
The factoid that garnered the most attention is that after-tax household income of the top 1 percent of Americans grew by 275 percent between 1979 and 2007, yet this fails to take into account the losses absorbed in 2008 and 2009 when the wealthiest took large hits.
But the study also reports that in the same period, households in the top quintile saw a 65 percent income gain; the vast middle in the 21st to 80th percentiles saw about a 40 percent gain; and the bottom quintile saw an 18 percent gain.
In other words, no group lost ground or even stagnated.
Another thing liberals are worked up about is that the study attributes rising inequality to fewer "federal transfers" to the poor. But that's not because poor people are getting less money from Uncle Sam in absolute dollars. In fact, they get more every year. It is just that they are getting a smaller portion of total transfers.
In 1979, households in the bottom quintile received more than 50 percent of all transfer payments. In 2007, similar households received about 35 percent of transfers.
"The shift reflects the growth in spending for programs focused on the elderly population (such as Social Security and Medicare), in which benefits are not limited to low-income households," the study explains. "As a result, government transfers reduced the dispersion of household income by less in 2007 than in 1979."
In other words, poor people are getting relatively fewer handouts thanks to the Great Society programs that liberals themselves put in place for the elderly.
Friday, November 18, 2011
Sowell lays it all out here concerning the Democrat party and where they want us to go. It would be difficult to add anything to this description of the progressive socialist left Democrats that are in power to day and how desperate they are as they see their power slipping away.
The good news is a majority of Americans are waking up to the destructive direction the Democrats are taking the country and that the consequences are real. No matter how much the progressive left Democrats lie about what is happening with the economy, which effects everything that we value in this country, the American people see through the smoke and mirrors that the progressive socialist are using to hide their true intent.
"Fundamentally change America" from a free society of individuals to a European socialist disaster of subservient, submissives ruled by irresponsible mobs.
Next November remember this little description of what Democrats have brought upon us when you enter the voting booth. It's up to us now to let the country slip away or bring it back to prosperity.
The current Occupy Wall Street movement is the best illustration to date of what President Barack Obama's America looks like. It is an America where the lawless, unaccomplished, ignorant and incompetent rule. It is an America where those who have sacrificed nothing pillage and destroy the lives of those who have sacrificed greatly.
It is an America where humans have been degraded to the level of animals: defecating in public, having sex in public, devoid of basic hygiene. It is an America where the basic tenets of a civil society, including faith, family, a free press and individual rights, have been rejected. It is an America where our founding documents have been shredded and, with them, every person's guaranteed liberties.
It is an America where, ultimately, great suffering will come to the American people, but the rulers like Obama, Michelle Obama, Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, Barney Frank, Chris Dodd, Joe Biden, Jesse Jackson, Louis Farrakhan, liberal college professors, union bosses and other loyal liberal/Communist Party members will live in opulent splendor.
It is the America that Obama and the Democratic Party have created with the willing assistance of the American media, Hollywood , unions, universities, the Communist Party of America, the Black Panthers and numerous anti-American foreign entities.
Barack Obama has brought more destruction upon this country in four years than any other event in the history of our nation, but it is just the beginning of what he and his comrades are capable of.
The Occupy Wall Street movement is just another step in their plan for the annihilation of America ."Socialism, in general, has a record of failure so blatant that only an intellectual could ignore or evade it."
Thursday, November 17, 2011
Worse, millions of citizens turn a blind to this abuse of power. But, then again, it shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone that cares about our country, it was plain as day what Obama had in mind for us during the campaign, he said it many times, American needs to be "fundamentally changed". He is a man of his word! Hello socialist European nightmare.
A Gold Rush of Subsidies in Clean Energy Search
Source: Eric Lipton and Clifford Krauss, "A Gold Rush of Subsidies in Clean Energy Search," New York Times, November 11, 2011.
Government support for large, renewable energy projects has increased dramatically within recent years, with spending from the 2009 stimulus package taking the expenditure amount to unprecedented levels. The government support -- which includes loan guarantees, cash grants and contracts that require electric customers to pay higher rates -- attracted private-sector partners by largely eliminating their risk, thereby guaranteeing them large profits for years to come.
Yet these market interventions have warped the entire renewable energy sector, distorting motivations and transferring taxpayer-funded subsidies to bank-rolling investment firms, says the New York Times.
From 2007 to 2010, federal clean energy subsidies jumped from $5.1 billion to $14.7 billion.
Nearly 90 percent of the $16 billion in clean energy loans guaranteed by the federal government since 2009 went to subsidize lower-risk power plants.
In the 2010 fiscal year, the oil and gas producers got federal tax breaks of $2.7 billion.
Clean-energy advocates emphasize this last point in order to justify their subsidies, yet federal funds expended elsewhere cannot justify clearly wasteful spending on clean energy. These funds, while technically supporting the construction of clean power plants, line the pockets of big-dollar investors that recognize the government actions for what they are: riskless investment opportunities.
This can be seen in the case of NRG Energy's California Valley Solar Ranch project.
The plant is expected to cost $1.6 billion to build.
In late September, the Energy Department agreed to guarantee a $1.2 billion construction loan.
This loan was issued by the Treasury Department with the exceptionally low interest rate of 3.5 percent, compared with the 7 percent that executives said they would have paid otherwise.
The project benefits from a California state law that requires 33 percent of its power to come from clean energy sources by 2020; this allowed NRG to strike a lucrative contract setting its rate an estimated 50 percent above the market rate.
The total value of all those subsidies in today's dollars is about $1.4 billion, leading to an expected rate of return of 25 percent for the project's equity investors.
The large returns to be made on these projects are largely gathered by private investors such as Goldman Sachs and Google. And the government's generosity requires them to bear little risk at all.
Celebrities Received Federal Funds
Source: Nicholas Ballasy, "Coburn Report: Bon Jovi, Springsteen, Quincy Jones, Ted Turner Received Federal Funds," Daily Caller, November 14, 2011. U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn, "Subsidies of the Rich and Famous," U.S. Senate, November 2011.
Wealthy celebrities including Bruce Springsteen and Jon Bon Jovi have received federal subsidies, according to "Subsidies of the Rich and Famous," a new report from the office of Oklahoma Republican Senator Tom Coburn, reports the Daily Caller.
The Government Accountability Office (GAO) identified several individuals receiving farm payments "whose professions had nothing to do with farming or agricultur[e]," says the report.
These individuals include real estate developer Maurice Wilder, a "part-owner of a professional sports franchise [who] received total of more than $200,000 in farm program payments in 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2006."
The report says millionaires Jon Bon Jovi and Bruce Springsteen have collected farm subsidies, noting that Bon Jovi paid property taxes of just $100 last year on his real estate holdings in New Jersey that he uses to raise bees. Springsteen also received farm subsidies "because he leases his property to an organic farmer," the report explains.
Wednesday, November 16, 2011
Let the market dictate the prices of food stuffs, supply and demand will resolve most of the problem.
The ACRE Program: A Disaster Waiting to Happen
Source: Barry K. Goodwin and Vincent H. Smith, "The ACRE Program: A Disaster in Waiting," American Enterprise Institute, November 3, 2011.
The U.S. Average Crop Revenue (ACRE) program was introduced as part of the 2008 Farm Bill. Though ACRE was marketed as a farm revenue safety net program, it has the very real effect of making direct payments to farmers when the prices of major crops fall. The damage done by this policy is twofold.
First, it is an incredibly wasteful program with American taxpayer dollars both because of its substantial price tag and also because most of the payments will go to the wealthy.
Second, an initiative such as this will likely only accomplish being torn down by numerous complaints within the World Trade Organization (WTO), say Barry K. Goodwin, of North Carolina State University, and Vincent H. Smith, of Montana State University.
The large subsidy payments could amount to as much as $10 billion in some years and average as much as, or more than, $6 billion a year.
While there is a current cap of $19.1 billion on trade-distorting amber box domestic subsidies through the WTO, a new WTO agreement will likely reduce amber box aggregate measure of support caps (the current commodity-specific and overall levels of domestic supports) by 60 percent, which may create problems for the United States.
In a time when a "super committee" of Congress is considering even some of the most drastic changes to the federal government in order to cut spending, the possibility of spending an additional $10 billion per year on farm subsidies seems contradictory to overarching goals.
Furthermore, these payments will go for the most part to well-off farmers. This is because the payments through the program are tied largely to acreage, meaning that those with the most land will receive the largest cash benefits. Additionally, this policy can also come back to haunt taxpayers indirectly through punitive measures through the WTO which could impose substantial financial sanctions if the United States exceeds the amber box domestic subsidies cap.
Where Females Are Rising the Fastest
Source: Joel Kotkin and Zina Klapper, "Women Ascendant: Where Females Are Rising the Fastest," New Geography, November 8, 2011.
Traditionally, the best opportunities for women have been in developed economies, where women have substantially more legal rights and political power. However, recent studies of female political participation, education and business ownership suggest that this trend is shifting, with the largest gains being made by women in the developing world.
While many reasons have been suggested to explain this change, it is clear that women in growing economies such as Brazil, India and Vietnam are rising rapidly, relative to their male competitors, say Joel Kotkin, executive editor, and Zina Klapper, deputy editor, of New Geography. In terms of business ownership, the trend seems to have reversed for a number of relatively obvious reasons.
In developing economies where women have fewer rights and are typically confined by patriarchic family structures, their opportunities for traditional work are limited.
However, this has the effect of encouraging entrepreneurship and out-of-the-home business operations. Women thrive in this regard in East Asia particularly, where 24 percent of Vietnam's 100,000-plus incorporated enterprises are owned by women, 11 percent in China and 13 percent in Japan.
In the sphere of education, women have made considerable gains worldwide, with an enormous amount of this change taking place in developing nations. Between 1970 and 2008, the number of female tertiary (post-high school) students expanded by 70 million, compared with 60 million for males.
Political gains have also been substantial for females, particularly in South America and Africa. Worldwide, the percentage of parliamentary seats held by women has risen considerably during the first decade of this century, and is now about 18 percent. Much of this gain has been witnessed in Latin America, where women have obtained 30 percent-plus parliamentary representations in Costa Rica, Argentina, Ecuador and Bolivia.
The only way to bring our industrial base back for the brink, and Europe, is to elect good Conservatives to congress and the White House. Baring that, we are doomed to further decline in the present and total collapse in the future.
Why the United States Needs to Restructure the Corporate Income Tax
Source: Jason Fichtner and Nick Tuszynski, "Why the United States Needs to Restructure the Corporate Income Tax," Mercatus Center, November 2011.
To increase employment and expand their economies, most developed countries are both reducing their corporate tax rates and restructuring their corporate tax systems. The United States appears to be taking the opposite approach.
Consequently, the increasingly costly U.S. corporate tax structure is driving competitive, profit-seeking corporations to minimize their tax exposure and defer income overseas to lower-tax countries. If the federal government wants to reverse this trend and remove barriers to American companies competing internationally, it will need to consider an overhaul to the corporate tax structure, reducing its rates and simplifying its stipulations, say researchers Jason Fichtner and Nick Tuszynski.
While the average national statutory rate for Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries is 23.4 percent and the average effective rate is 20.5 percent, the United States has a national statutory rate of 35 percent and an effective rate of 29.0 percent.
In 2004, multinational corporations shifted roughly $50 billion away from the United States to low-tax countries. U.S. corporations' share of worldwide profits attributable to foreign revenue has increased from 6.7 percent in 1965 to 38.2 percent in 2009. During the 2000s, major multinational corporations reduced U.S. jobs by 2.9 million while increasing overseas employment by 2.4 million.
The first change that is necessary is an outright reduction in rates. As American businesses increasingly find themselves competing with foreign firms (notably those of the OECD), the structural disadvantage that they must overcome due to an enormous tax burden will inhibit their ability to compete. This phenomenon has already begun to occur, with American companies contracting their domestic operations and expanding abroad to take advantage of low-tax economies.
Furthermore, an outright reduction in rates and simpler standards would address the current incentive among firms to turn accounting departments into tax-manipulating, revenue-maximizing think tanks, allowing them to focus their efforts instead on productivity and investment.
Additionally, the government should consider a territorial as opposed to a worldwide tax structure. This would facilitate the repatriation of corporate earnings and reduce the incentive among firms to protect their profits by keeping them abroad.
Tuesday, November 15, 2011
Some reports say there are jobs to be had, but many workers are afraid of taking jobs that don't have pay levels like the ones they had before, and they will lose their unemployment checks as well that are paying better then the new job.
Reality check - many of the old high paying, low skill jobs that were lost will not return. Time to face the new norm. Get use to having less discretionary cash or up-grade your educational skill to meet the demands in the new job market.
Is it time to shut off unemployment at the end of 26 weeks, period?
Unemployment Insurance Taxes
Source: Joseph D. Henchman, "Unemployment Insurance Taxes: Options for Program Design and Insolvent Trust Funds," Tax Foundation, October 2011.
Record high levels of unemployment and record low reserve funds have placed great pressure on the federal-state unemployment insurance (UI) tax and benefit system. Indeed, many states have been forced to borrow from an already cash-strapped federal government.
Because it does not appear that these funds are likely to be repaid any time soon, corporations must look down the road at the potential consequences of this shortfall, focusing on the probable tax increases that will be necessary to cover the difference, says Joseph D. Henchman, the vice president of legal and state projects at the Tax Foundation.
Between 2008 and 2011, $174 billion was paid in unemployment taxes while $450 billion was paid out in benefits, a gap of $276 billion. In 2011 alone, employers and employees are projected to pay $51.8 billion in taxes, while $131.4 billion is projected to be paid out in benefits for workers recently unemployed.
Over the past two years, 34 states exhausted their unemployment insurance trust funds and have had to borrow from the federal government, with only seven having repaid those funds to date.
The current outstanding balance of loans is $37.3 billion, which will result in approximately $1.3 billion in interest payments starting in October 2011.
One of the primary concerns about UI insurance going forward is that those 27 states that are now in the red will be forced to implement new UI taxes to cover their shortfalls. UI taxes are paid by employers and employees within each respective state, meaning that increased taxes will hit businesses when so many are already hesitant to hire; this could negatively affect job growth, thereby having the exact opposite of the countercyclical effect that UI was intended to have.
Reforms should be considered to the UI program.
First, those who have been unemployed for atypically long periods should be offered bonuses for obtaining part-time work while they search for a full-time position.
Second, bonuses should be offered to those recipients of UI benefits who find new work quickly.
Third, states should conduct mandatory job-search seminars and ramp up fraud prevention efforts.
Plastic Bag Bans Are Bad for the Environment
Source: Angela Logomasini, "Plastic Bag Bans Are Bad for the Environment," Competitive Enterprise Institute, November 8, 2011.
The past several years have seen a groundswell of regulations on plastics, particularly plastic bags and cups and food containers made from polystyrene or Styrofoam. Supporters of these bans mostly claim that such policies promote environmental protection, when in reality they carry considerable environmental tradeoffs and impose needless burdens on consumers and economic growth, says Angela Logomasini, a senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute.
Plastic bags generate 39 percent less greenhouse gas emissions than regular paper bags and require only 6 percent of the water necessary to make paper bags. Simultaneously, they consume 71 percent less energy during production than paper bags and produce one-fifth the amount of solid waste.
Similarly, reusable bags are only more environmentally friendly than plastic bags if they are used 103 times, yet on average they are used only 51 times before they are thrown away.
A comparison of the environmental impacts of plastic cups with paper alternatives yielded similar results, with plastic causing 50 percent less solid waste by volume.
Much of the craze that has inspired frivolous and counterproductive environmental bans stems from news stories that emphasize the negative impacts of excessive pollution and littering. Specifically, numerous references are made by environmental blogs and activists to the infamous garbage "island" in the Pacific -- a giant trash heap that is "twice the size of Texas."
However, researchers have debunked much of the hype regarding this "island" by showing that no such island exists. Regardless, concerns about littering should not provoke environmental bans -- they should provoke greater public support of antilittering movements, says Logomasini.
It would be a 'willing suspension of disbelief ' to think that a drug program developed by the Obama administration would have anything to do with cost reduction or be beneficial to the citizens.
What this is all about is the control of drug allocation by a select few in Washington, just as ObamaCare is about over all health care for the entire nation. Here again, in a glaring example of "fundamental" change to how we live our lives by Obama. He promised he would do this and he is well on his way to that end.
Killing Competition in Prescription Drugs
Source: Robert Moffit, "Bad Medicine for Federal Workers and Taxpayers: Killing FEHBP Competition," Heritage Foundation, November 2, 2011.
President Barack Obama wants the Joint Committee on Deficit Reduction ("super committee") to kill market competition for prescription drug coverage chosen by workers and retirees in the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHBP).
In the president's proposal, the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM), the agency that administers the FEHBP, would contract directly for pharmacy benefit management services on behalf of all federal workers, retirees and their dependents. While the president claims that this will be a cost-saving measure that will lower prices for the program's 8 million beneficiaries, this conclusion does not seem to fit the facts, says Robert Moffit, a senior fellow with the Heritage Foundation.
While the FEHBP pays out $40 billion in claims annually, the administration estimates that its FEHBP drug price-fixing scheme would save $1.6 billion over 10 years. Given that FEHBP drug expenditures alone (approximately 30 percent of total spending) will easily be in excess of $120 billion over the next 10 years, projected savings will come to less than 2 percent of drug savings.
In analyzing 569 million Medicare prescriptions, an econometrics research team found that 99 percent of all scripts and 100 percent of brand-name drug scripts were covered in the FEHBP, while the VA covered 72 percent of the total and just 41 percent of the brand-name scripts.
In order to obtain the cost benefits that President Obama discusses, an approved drug list would have to be created, with individual companies accepting or rejecting a take-it-or-leave-it offer from federal negotiators. While this heavy-handed method may leverage consumers' collective demand in order to gain price concessions, it will politically cut numerous prescriptions out of the market, thereby reducing coverage options for the program's beneficiaries.
This point becomes all-the-more crucial when it is taken into account that the Congressional Budget Office estimates that no such cost reductions will be obtained by the use of leverage.
Monday, November 14, 2011
So if the middles class melds into a lower class and pays no taxes and the upper classes send all there money over seas along with the high paying jobs, what or who's left to pay for all of the cool socialist programs the progressive Democrats have demanded in our country?
With no one to pay the bills, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out the future of our country. And when all has failed, the Democrats will flee the scene blaming the Republicans for the mess, Democrats will be voted out of office, see this as 'taking the money and running', the Republicans will be left to fix the problems left behind as usual.
But this time, the damage is so great we might not be able to save our country from disaster.
What If Middle Class Jobs Disappear?
Source: Arnold Kling, "What If Middle-Class Jobs Disappear?" The American, November 3, 2011.
The economy is in a state of transition similar to its transformation in the 1930s. However, while the Great Depression was instrumental in the rise of the middle class, the current downturn has hit that class harder than most, says Arnold Kling, a member of the Financial Markets Working Group at the Mercatus Center of George Mason University.
Between 1930 and 1950, demand fell for human effort such as lifting, squeezing and hammering. Demand increased for workers who could read and follow directions. The evolutionary process eventually changed us from a nation of laborers to a nation of clerks.
The proportion of employment classified as "clerical and kindred workers" grew from 5.2 percent in 1910 to a peak of 19.3 percent in 1980.
Workers classified as laborers, other than farm or mine, peaked at 11.4 percent of the labor force in 1920 but were barely 6 percent by 1950 and less than 4 percent by 2000.
Farmers and farm laborers fell from 33 percent of the labor force in 1910 to less than 15 percent by 1950 and only 1.2 percent in 2000.
This sort of transformation is similar to what the American economy is undergoing now, as unprecedented gains in automated machines, information technology and personal computers have again revolutionized the needs of the economy. These trends serve to limit the availability of well-defined jobs. If a job can be characterized by a precise set of instructions, then that job is a candidate to be automated or outsourced to modestly educated workers in developing countries.
The result is the polarization of the American job market, under which wage and employment growth have both been lowest at the middle segment of the skill distribution. Wage improvements have tended to be concentrated at the high end, and employment gains have tended to be largest at the low end of the skill distribution.
In the United States, this polarization was exacerbated by the economic downturn, hitting mid-skilled workers the hardest. For example: Growth in employment in sales was 54 percent from 1979 to 1989 and 14 percent from 1989 to 1999. But it was just 4 percent from 1999 to 2007, and -7 percent from 2007 to 2009.
Sunday, November 13, 2011
Of course it doesn't matter that 47% of entire population doesn't any taxes at all. What does matter is that these people are the ones that vote Democrat for the most part. Who knew?
There are many things wrong with a VAT in that since every step of the manufacturing process is taxed, this opens up a lot of area to hide revenue gathering without anyone knowing. On the other hand, most people don't know how they are being taxed right now and they don't seem to want to know. It's easier to just want to take form others then it is to actually find common sense solutions.
'When ignorance is bless, 'tis folly to be wise'
Taxing Our Way to Prosperity
Source: Thomas Pauken, "Taxing Our Way to Prosperity," First Principles Journal, Fall 2011.
Manufacturing has been particularly hard hit during this past decade. In that time, the United States lost one-third of its manufacturing sector as American jobs were shipped overseas. A central reason for the loss of our manufacturing base is a business tax system that is among the most onerous in the world, with its 35 percent income tax rate and its 6.2 percent employer portion of the payroll.
A value-added tax (VAT) of 8 percent could reform this system, reducing the tax burden on corporations and removing distortions within the market, says Thomas Pauken, former State Chairman of the Republican Party of Texas.
Currently, U.S. businesses average an 18 percent tax disadvantage to their trade competitors.
All Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries, other than the United States, have adopted VATs or their equivalents, averaging 18 percent.
Whereas the United States once enjoyed a trade surplus, it now suffers from a deficit of over $500 billion each year.
A VAT would broaden the corporate tax base by closing loopholes, and would also eliminate negative incentives to save and produce that the current system enables. Also, its flat rate would reduce market distortions and promote economic efficiency. Despite these benefits, the VAT has garnered negative criticism from many sources, yet a review of these attacks show that they hold little water and therefore fail to outweigh the potential benefits of the VAT.
Two arguments put forth against the VAT fall into the same vein: that it is yet another tax that, regardless of benefits, will only increase the total tax burden, and also that it fails to address the real problem of out-of-control spending. Both of these criticisms sidestep the issue.
The first assumes, without justification, that the VAT would be implemented in addition to taxes that are already on the books, yet it can just as easily replace the current corporate tax.
The second is specious -- while the VAT does not reduce spending, this is not a compelling reason to ignore its potential benefits.
One of the biggest arguments put forth against the VAT, however, is that because its taxes are relatively hidden from consumers, tax increases would be easy to obtain, politically. However, not only are current taxes also hidden from consumers (such as the business half of the payroll tax), but also this argument precludes the development of watchdog groups and community oversight, both of which would operate as significant checks on this possibility.
Saturday, November 12, 2011
Well, the most vibrant that is until the progressive left socialist took power. Now we are headed into decades of decline in economic wealth development for the average family.
Supply: A Tale of Two Bubbles
Source: Mark A. Calabria, "Supply: A Tale of Two Bubbles," Cato Journal, Fall 2011.
To the extent that monetary policy influences asset prices, it does so via the demand for assets, by changing the borrowing costs to purchase assets, or via supply, where movements in interest rates can make investment in assets look more or less attractive.
While most discussions of asset bubbles focus on demand (or the sudden lack of it), a concentrated focus on supply side can also prove enlightening in establishing definitively those circumstances that give rise to bubbles.
The effects of supply-side economics can be seen in two of the more famous American asset bubbles of the last decade: the housing bubble and the dot-com bust, says Mark A. Calabria, director of financial regulation studies at the Cato Institute.
With the housing bubble, the tendency that really brought home prices down was that the supply and demand sides of the equation were never truly in sync. As the government expanded generous programs in order to increase nationwide home ownership, aggregate demand for houses increased drastically, driving up the quantity demanded and prices. Producers who sought to react to this development increased the quantity supplied, yet their efforts could not keep pace.
For instance in 2006, at the height of the housing bubble, there was an excess of almost 600,000 housing starts -- an almost 40 percent increase in supply -- yet, prices continued to rise.
Similarly, the dot-com bubble can be partially explained by the mandatory holding period that often accompanied internet stock initial public offerings. These holding periods limited the ability to sell recently purchased stocks for a set amount of time, thereby limiting the ability of investors to react to contemporary changes in the stock market.
These kinds of policies lock up financial assets and limit flexibility, causing extreme resistance in the effort to bring supply and demand into equilibrium. In this way, those policies which seek to interfere in the market should be assessed for their potential to cause this same problem.
Friday, November 11, 2011
The problem that we have here is our government is using this Keynesian theory to have access to trillions of dollars that they can use to cement their grip on political power. By funneling billions to groups that are sympathetic to the agenda of those in power, such as unions of all kinds and large corporations looking for hand outs, much of the money eventually comes back to the power brokers in the form of campaign contributions.
This can be called 'money laundering' of tax dollars and has been used for decades. It's only now that the 'light' of failing state and federal governments that is beginning to shine on this form of getting contributions for elections and is getting results. Witness the budget reform in Wisconsin that stopped the laundering which has balanced the budget and saved thousands of jobs.
Where Keynes Went Wrong
Source: Charles Wolf, Jr. "Where Keynes Went Wrong," Weekly Standard, November 7, 2011.
It is generally recognized that the conceptual underpinnings for so-called stimulus programs lie in the theory developed by John Maynard Keynes in the 1930s. And though his theories have been broadly developed throughout the past century and touted by leading economists as revolutionary, the poor performance of policies based on his theories in resolving the recent recession should give cause for reassessment. In doing so, it is first important to look to the real costs of the recent stimulus package, says Charles Wolf, Jr., a senior research fellow at the Hoover Institution.
In addition to the $787 billion in "stimulus" money, the Troubled Asset Relief Program funding ($700 billion), bailout funds for the auto industry ($17 billion), the extension of unemployment benefits ($34 billion), and the "cash for clunkers" program ($3 billion) bring the total cost of the package to $1.5 trillion.
Between the end of the second quarter of 2009 and the end of the second quarter of 2011, nearly all the stimulus funding was disbursed with the result that gross domestic product (GDP) increased from $12.6 trillion (in 2005 prices) to $13.3 trillion.
In that same period, gross private consumption rose by $400 billion and gross private (nonresidential) fixed investment rose by $155 billion; employment decreased by 581,000.
These results paint a negative picture of the impacts of the stimulus package's effects in the American economy. The fact that $1.5 trillion in spending resulted in a GDP increase of a mere $700 billion suggests that American taxpayers received less than 50 cents on the dollar of investment. This seems to contradict the results predicted by Keynes, who predicted that increases in aggregate demand should realign the economy into full-employment equilibrium and lift it out of the recession.
In looking to Keynes' theories for some explanation of the package's meager results, it is prudent to reexamine the assumptions his model made. In so doing, one of his assumptions, that increases in government spending would not adversely affect investment or consumption, stands out as overly optimistic. It is possible that the borrowing necessary to finance the stimulus package sent the message to consumers that they should save rather than spend. Similarly, it is possible that many investment opportunities were ignored by potential investors who did not want to inject cash into the heavily regulated American market.
These adverse effects perhaps explain the poor results of the stimulus package, and should remind policymakers to consider the assumptions upon which Keynes' theories rely.
Reforms for the Failing Postal Service
Source: R. Richard Geddes, "Return to Sender: Reforms for the Failing Postal Service," American Enterprise Institute, November 1, 2011.
The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) is facing a fiscal crisis. The demand for its core activity of mail delivery has collapsed, and further declines are likely. Increasing use of substitutes for physical mail are all eating away at traditional mail volumes. Simultaneously, the USPS has been held up in attempting to respond to a changing market by its congressional ties, which limit its autonomy and authority to address internal issues. However, the USPS cannot survive in its current state if it is not given the ability to adapt to a changing market, says R. Richard Geddes, a visiting scholar the American Enterprise Institute.
Mail has fallen over 20 percent since its 2006 high.
First-class mail is down almost 25 percent since its 2001 peak, and declines are accelerating.
Revenue in real dollar terms has fallen over 15 percent since peaking in 2007. Having already exhausted all of its $15 billion borrowing capacity from the U.S. Treasury, the Service still expects to lose between $9 billion and $10 billion for its 2011 fiscal year, on top of losses of $8.4 billion in 2010.
In order to address its growing issues, the USPS must sever its congressional ties through a process of de-monopolization, corporatization and privatization.
De-monopolization will likely result in lower overall rates, as the industry that has been protected and insulated by government regulation is forced to compete. The experience of deregulation in other network industries, in addition to empirical evidence from the de-monopolization of postal services in Europe suggest that the overall impact for the efficiency of the industry and rates for consumers will be beneficial.
Corporatization would allow the USPS to have more internal authority. It would release the agency from onerous government oversight and would allow the body to be controlled by a board of directors.
Privatization, culminating in an initial public offering of USPS stock, would also improve the service, as it would keep a board of directors loyal to the company's owners.
Thursday, November 10, 2011
Cadillac Pay in the Land of Lincoln
Source: Andrew G. Biggs, "Cadillac Pay in the Land of Lincoln," The American, November 4, 2011.
It's very likely that Illinois public employees receive a pay premium over similar private sector workers, says Andrew G. Biggs, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute.
Based on 2005-2010 data from the Census Bureau's Current Population Survey, Illinois state and local workers receive salaries around 5.8 percent below those of private sector workers with similar education and experience. But public sector benefits are a lot more generous than those in the private sector.
Let's say you had an Illinois state employee who retired at age 65 with 30 years of service and a final salary of $60,000. His annual pension benefit would be around $29,160. For this, he contributed about 4 percent of his working salary, although in some cases the contribution is "picked up" by the employer.
From 1992 to 2003, it seems that most Illinois state employees paid no pension contribution, and many still do not.
Now let's see what that same worker might get from a 401(k), which most private sector workers have. Let's assume he contributed the same 4 percent of pay and his employer contributed 3 percent, which is fairly typical in the private sector.
Let's also assume he invested in government bonds, since he wants a guaranteed benefit to match the public sector defined-benefit plan. This would provide him with a retirement annuity of around $4,450. In addition, he would receive a Social Security benefit of around $22,700, for a total of $27,150. Illinois public employees generally don't participate in Social Security.
About even, right? Except that to get the Social Security benefit a private sector worker has to pay an additional 6.2 percent of his wages. So the private worker contributes 10.2 percent of pay for a pension of $27,150 while the Illinois government worker contributes 4 percent (and sometimes less) for $29,160.
To produce the same pension as the stylized Illinois public employee illustrated above, a private sector worker would have to increase his 401(k) contribution from 4 percent of salary to more than 40 percent. So it appears very likely that generous public sector pension benefits are more than enough to make up for a modest public sector salary penalty in Illinois.
The only time someone is poor is when someone else tells them they are poor. Isn't poverty more a state of mind for the individual? How does the saying go, 'life consists of more than one's possessions'. hmmmm Go figure!
Debate Brews over New Method to Measure Poverty
Source: Dennis Cauchon, "Debate Brews over New Method to Measure Poverty," USA Today, November 8, 2011.
Debate over how the federal government measures poverty intensified Monday when the Census Bureau announced a second way to calculate the number of America's poor, says USA Today.
The new method for the first time adds the value of food stamps, school lunches, housing subsidies and the earned income tax credit. It also subtracts payroll and income taxes, child care costs and out-of-pocket medical expenses.
The new estimate says 16 percent of Americans lived in poverty in 2010, slightly higher than the official rate of 15.2 percent released in September. Most important difference: The number of seniors termed poor almost doubled while the number of children classified as poor fell.
The poverty threshold for a family of four in 2010 was $24,242 in the new measure versus $22,113 in the official measure, a change that added about 3 million people to those considered poor.
Analysts were divided on the new formula.
"The old way measured how much steak and potatoes you had," says Robert Rector, a researcher at the conservative Heritage Foundation. "The new method measures how much steak and potatoes you have compared to everyone else." The result is that most people living in poverty have adequate food, shelter and medical care, not to mention air-conditioning, cable television and DVD players, he says.
Curtis Skinner of the liberal National Center for Children in Poverty says the new measure is "far superior, although nothing is perfect." The new measure will reflect geographic differences, he says. "The income needed is very different in San Francisco than rural Kansas," he says.