Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Education Report Card Ranking Performance

The sooner we can get the federal government out of education the better we will be. The states can do a much better job of deciding on performance of students and legislators.

The people have a much better chance of influencing outcomes for their students if they have a closer relationships with the people that control the money and educational material used in the class room.

Report Card on American Education
Source: Matthew Ladner and Dan Lips, "Report Card on American Education: Ranking State K-12 Performance, Progress and Reform," American Legislative Exchange Council, January 2012.

The American Legislative Exchange Council's 17th edition of the Report Card on American Education contains a comprehensive overview of educational achievement levels (performance and gains for low-income students) for the 50 states and the District of Columbia.

The Report Card details what education policies states currently have in place and provides a roadmap for legislators to follow to bring about educational excellence in their state, say Matthew Ladner, senior adviser of policy and research for the Foundation for Excellence in Education, and Dan Lips, a senior fellow at the Goldwater Institute.

Focusing on the reforms recently enacted in Indiana, and with a foreword by Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels, the Report Card examines the experiences other states can learn from the struggles and triumphs in Indiana. Ladner and Lips analyze student scores, looking at both performance as well as how scores have improved over recent years. Additionally, each state is graded based on its current education policies.

The top five states for performance were:
New Jersey.

The bottom five states for performance were:
West Virginia.
South Carolina.

Despite ranking 47th in performance, Missouri was the only state to receive an A-grade (A-) when it comes to education policy.

Green Energy Stealing Resources From the Poor

Green energy is not ready for public consumption as witnessed by the failure of all such projects. But then it was never really meant to be workable, just used as a means to stop fossil fuel expansion and use.

Green energy is a 'straw man' used by environmentalists to stop the expansion of industry in this country and around the world. What the environs see fossil fuel recovery as the destruction of 'mother earth' through the consumption of our natural resources, but the rest of us see industrial expansion with fossil fuels as the future of freedom and prosperity. More than 50% of all energy in this country comes from fossil fuels.

With cancellation of the XL pipe line and the creation of 20,000 new jobs immediately, the Obama administration believes it is more important to cater to his environmental base then help our country to survive. Again, it's not about the country, it's about power, getting it and keeping it no matter the cost.

When "Being Green" Means Favoring the Rich
Source: Iain Murray and David Bier, "When 'Being Green' Means Subsidies for Rich, Harm for the Poor," Washington Examiner, January 23, 2012.

During last year's Occupy Wall Street protests, President Obama expressed sympathy with calls for more "green" policies from the self-styled advocates for the 99 percent. So far, however, the environmental agenda has overwhelmingly favored the 1 percent, say Iain Murray, vice president, and David Bier, a research analyst, at the Competitive Enterprise Institute.

Consider the Obama administration's subsidies for electric vehicles.

To start with, there is the $7,500 credit for the car itself. Add to that the recently expired $1,000 credit for installation of a 220-volt charger. And on top of these, the government has thrown more than $3 billion at the Chevrolet Volt alone -- which totals out to $250,000 per vehicle.

Not only do these credits go to corporate giants like General Motors, they subsidize cars for the wealthy. The Volt sells for about $40,000, while the Fisker Karma sells for $100,000 -- well above most Americans' price range.

That means that the federal government is again working to benefit the rich so they can drive cars that ease their environmental conscience. In fact, nearly every environmental policy hurts the poor the most.

Last year, Americans spent more on gasoline as a percentage of their income than they have for 30 years.

Yet that hasn't stopped the president, cheered on by his environmentalist allies, from rejecting the Keystone XL oil pipeline or restricting offshore oil permits.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Health Care Spending Increasing : Competition Going Down

ObamaCare, and other government intervention in the free market, screws up everything. And who suffers the most, the poor and those that find themselves without a job, those without company sponsored health insurance. These are the very individuals that Obama said he wanted to be the basis of his health care plan. He lied.

The Obama intention was to make those that can afford the insurance to pay more and for those that can't pay more, the vast majority of the population, pay little or nothing. The eventual result is the complete destruction of the health care system. We will become Cuba.

Go figure!

If Health Spending Is Increasing Slower, Why Are Premiums Rising Faster?
Source: John Graham, "If Health Spending Is Increasing Slower, Why Are Premiums Rising Faster?" Pacific Research Institute, January 2012.

The financial crisis of 2008, which resulted in a significant jump in unemployment, meant that the number of Americans with private coverage dropped. As a result, the overall rate of private health spending has decreased, compared to recent years, says John Graham, director of health care studies at the Pacific Research Institute.

According the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), the annual rate of increase in spending by private health insurance was 7.8 percent in 2007, but has since dropped to just 2.4 percent in 2010.

CMS data also shows that the "net cost of health insurance" (that is, the share of health insurance that does not pay for medical claims) shrank by an average of about 2 percent annually in 2008 and 2009.

These results are expected during a recession. However, these trends were rapidly reversed with the signing of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) in 2010, as premiums rapidly increased.

The "net cost of health insurance," which as mentioned above actually decreased in 2008 and 2009, jumped by 8.4 percent in 2010.

CMS' analysts pointed out that the rate of growth in total private health insurance premiums was greater than the growth in total benefits for the first time in seven years in 2010.

The Kaiser Family Foundation's latest survey of employer-based health benefits reported a significant increase in total health costs of 9.5 percent from 2010 to 2011. As these premiums become increasingly unaffordable for many small businesses, enrollment will drop as the proportion of small firms offering health benefits already decreased from 69 percent to 60 percent just from 2010 to 2011.

The rapid turnaround and subsequent increase in premiums is due to two separate factors. First, the PPACA introduced a number of "consumer protections" that inherently increase costs, such as the expansion of coverage to children until age 26.

Second, as insurers consciously reduce market share in a burdensome and uncertain market, those who can bear the regulations benefit from decreased competition, allowing them to increase rates without consequence. This drives up costs for recession-hit individuals and families nationwide.

Global Warming? No! Global Cooling Coming

Interesting stuff - the question I have is why is the scientific community even questioning the computer models used by the 'warmers' when so much of it has been proven to be fraudulent.

And even the guy on the street can tell you, when the sun doesn't shine in the summer it's cooler, and in the winter, when the sun is low in the sky, it's colder. Why would scientists who supposedly are the smartest people in the room say the sun really doesn't have much effect on climate? It's just common sense, isn't it?

Forget global warming - it's Cycle 25 we need to worry about (and if NASA scientists are right the Thames will be freezing over again) UK Mail Online 1-30-12· Met Office releases new figures which show no warming in 15 years
By David Rose
Last updated at 5:38 AM on 29th January 2012

The supposed ‘consensus’ on man-made global warming is facing an inconvenient challenge after the release of new temperature data showing the planet has not warmed for the past 15 years.
The figures suggest that we could even be heading for a mini ice age to rival the 70-year temperature drop that saw frost fairs held on the Thames in the 17th Century.

Based on readings from more than 30,000 measuring stations, the data was issued last week without fanfare by the Met Office and the University of East Anglia Climatic Research Unit. It confirms that the rising trend in world temperatures ended in 1997. A painting, dated 1684, by Abraham Hondius depicts one of many frost fairs on the River Thames during the mini ice age

Meanwhile, leading climate scientists yesterday told The Mail on Sunday that, after emitting unusually high levels of energy throughout the 20th Century, the sun is now heading towards a ‘grand minimum’ in its output, threatening cold summers, bitter winters and a shortening of the season available for growing food.

Solar output goes through 11-year cycles, with high numbers of sunspots seen at their peak.
We are now at what should be the peak of what scientists call ‘Cycle 24’ – which is why last week’s solar storm resulted in sightings of the aurora borealis further south than usual. But sunspot numbers are running at less than half those seen during cycle peaks in the 20th Century.

Analysis by experts at NASA and the University of Arizona – derived from magnetic-field measurements 120,000 miles beneath the sun’s surface – suggest that Cycle 25, whose peak is due in 2022, will be a great deal weaker still.

Hotter summers 'may kill 5,900 every year', warns first national risk assessment of climate change
Winter bites back: Britain braced for first cold snap of year as ice and snow transform countryside in scenes of breathtaking beauty
What are the mysterious blue balls that fell from the sky over Bournemouth?

According to a paper issued last week by the Met Office, there is a 92 per cent chance that both Cycle 25 and those taking place in the following decades will be as weak as, or weaker than, the ‘Dalton minimum’ of 1790 to 1830. In this period, named after the meteorologist John Dalton, average temperatures in parts of Europe fell by 2C.

However, it is also possible that the new solar energy slump could be as deep as the ‘Maunder minimum’ (after astronomer Edward Maunder), between 1645 and 1715 in the coldest part of the ‘Little Ice Age’ when, as well as the Thames frost fairs, the canals of Holland froze solid.
Yet, in its paper, the Met Office claimed that the consequences now would be negligible – because the impact of the sun on climate is far less than man-made carbon dioxide. Although the sun’s output is likely to decrease until 2100, ‘This would only cause a reduction in global temperatures of 0.08C.’ Peter Stott, one of the authors, said: ‘Our findings suggest a reduction of solar activity to levels not seen in hundreds of years would be insufficient to offset the dominant influence of greenhouse gases.’

These findings are fiercely disputed by other solar experts.

‘World temperatures may end up a lot cooler than now for 50 years or more,’ said Henrik Svensmark, director of the Center for Sun-Climate Research at Denmark’s National Space Institute. ‘It will take a long battle to convince some climate scientists that the sun is important. It may well be that the sun is going to demonstrate this on its own, without the need for their help.’ He pointed out that, in claiming the effect of the solar minimum would be small, the Met Office was relying on the same computer models that are being undermined by the current pause in global-warming.

CO2 levels have continued to rise without interruption and, in 2007, the Met Office claimed that global warming was about to ‘come roaring back’. It said that between 2004 and 2014 there would be an overall increase of 0.3C. In 2009, it predicted that at least three of the years 2009 to 2014 would break the previous temperature record set in 1998. So far there is no sign of any of this happening. But yesterday a Met Office spokesman insisted its models were still valid.
‘The ten-year projection remains groundbreaking science. The period for the original projection is not over yet,’ he said.

Dr Nicola Scafetta, of Duke University in North Carolina, is the author of several papers that argue the Met Office climate models show there should have been ‘steady warming from 2000 until now’. ‘If temperatures continue to stay flat or start to cool again, the divergence between the models and recorded data will eventually become so great that the whole scientific community will question the current theories,’ he said.

He believes that as the Met Office model attaches much greater significance to CO2 than to the sun, it was bound to conclude that there would not be cooling. ‘The real issue is whether the model itself is accurate,’ Dr Scafetta said.

Meanwhile, one of America’s most eminent climate experts, Professor Judith Curry of the Georgia Institute of Technology, said she found the Met Office’s confident prediction of a ‘negligible’ impact difficult to understand. ‘The responsible thing to do would be to accept the fact that the models may have severe shortcomings when it comes to the influence of the sun,’ said Professor Curry. As for the warming pause, she said that many scientists ‘are not surprised’.

She argued it is becoming evident that factors other than CO2 play an important role in rising or falling warmth, such as the 60-year water temperature cycles in the Pacific and Atlantic oceans.
‘They have insufficiently been appreciated in terms of global climate,’ said Prof Curry. When both oceans were cold in the past, such as from 1940 to 1970, the climate cooled. The Pacific cycle ‘flipped’ back from warm to cold mode in 2008 and the Atlantic is also thought likely to flip in the next few years .

Pal Brekke, senior adviser at the Norwegian Space Centre, said some scientists found the importance of water cycles difficult to accept, because doing so means admitting that the oceans – not CO2 – caused much of the global warming between 1970 and 1997.
The same goes for the impact of the sun – which was highly active for much of the 20th Century.
‘Nature is about to carry out a very interesting experiment,’ he said. ‘Ten or 15 years from now, we will be able to determine much better whether the warming of the late 20th Century really was caused by man-made CO2, or by natural variability.’

Meanwhile, since the end of last year, world temperatures have fallen by more than half a degree, as the cold ‘La Nina’ effect has re-emerged in the South Pacific. ‘We’re now well into the second decade of the pause,’ said Benny Peiser, director of the Global Warming Policy Foundation. ‘If we don’t see convincing evidence of global warming by 2015, it will start to become clear whether the models are bunk. And, if they are, the implications for some scientists could be very serious.’

Sunday, January 29, 2012

ISOU Message Managed News : BHO Laughs At Public

This president will say anything to get votes. It's truly unprecedented in our history that a sitting president would knowingly lie to the public. Just think about this for a minute and try to comprehend the magnitude of this.

Try to comprehend how virtually the entire media, and much of the general public, accepts this without demanding retribution for such actions.

Imagine what would happen if this was George Bush or any Republican.

Energy. National Center for Policy Analysis

Although he was silent on his opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline, the President said, “This country needs and all-out, all-of-the-above strategy that develops every available source of American energy.”

He said we should open at least 75% of the potential offshore oil and gas resources and develop more clean energy. The President didn’t mention the $535 million bet that taxpayers lost when solar panel company Solyndra went bankrupt. Nevertheless, he said taxpayers should “double-down” on subsidies for clean energy.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Sarah Palin's Message About GOP Savagery

This is a must read for all of us that thinks the character assassination going on in the GOP debates is really bad for Conservatives and our country.


Europeans Invest In America : A Rising Danger for EU

As bad as the United States is as a place for investment given our current financial condition, it is still a whole lot better than what is going on in Europe.

The Europeans still believe America is the most stable country in the world, but they should take a few moments to consider just what might be waiting just around the corner if Mr. Obama gets another term. Our economy is moving forward but is straining it's capacity with what workers it has now.

Industry has no plans to hire more works if it can push the ones that they have as hard as they can to achieve their future goals. And the workers know this and say nothing as they are aware of the thin line between having food on the table and staying warm in the winter against freezing in an unemployment line.

This is great news just the same on the investment front, but I must take the author to task on his stance that Republicans are against immigration. This is entirely untrue. What Republicans want is legal immigration, not the free-for-all that is taking place on our boarder now. To ignore this is as a problem, we do so at our own peril.

This Is America's Moment, If Washington Doesn't Blow It
Source: Joel Kotkin, "This Is America's Moment, If Washington Doesn't Blow It," New Geography, January 19, 2012.

The vast majority of Americans believe the country is heading in the wrong direction, and, according to a 2011 Pew Survey, close to a majority feel that China has already surpassed the United States as an economic power. However, these views ignore some of the greatest components of America's economic, political and social success that will continue or increase in importance in the near future, says Joel Kotkin, executive editor of NewGeography.com.

In energy resources, America finds itself in one of the best positions it has ever known: increased technology and new discoveries have made it the world's largest producer of natural gas, and it could emerge as the leading oil producer by 2017.

The U.S. agricultural sector is also booming, with exports reaching a record $135.5 billion in 2011, and food prices are projected to continue to increase.

In manufacturing, while China has been plagued with rumors of worker unrest (making investors uneasy) and Japan, Germany and Brazil have scaled back production, U.S. manufacturers have expanded their payrolls for two straight years.

These are advantages that America is rapidly exploiting, yet they are only a small manifestation of America's thriving economy. This can be seen in the demographic and competitive fundamentals of the economy, which remain strong and portend future growth.

America is one of the most competitive economies in the world, with foreign investment in the United States rising 49 percent in 2010, while overall investment in the European Union dropped 36 percent in 2009.

In information, America's domination appears invulnerable, with more than two-thirds of the world's 500 largest software companies and nine of the top 10 located in its borders.
In terms of demographics, America's population growth has remained relatively stable, thereby sidestepping the issues involved in having a large elderly population that Germany and Japan will encounter.

In order to capitalize on these fundamental boons, both political parties will need to amend their policies and belief systems. Democrats will need to realize the damaging effects of higher income taxes on entrepreneurialism and free markets. They must also embrace America's natural advantage in fossil fuels.

Republicans, on the other hand, will need to surrender their vendetta against immigrants, who diversify America's pool of skills, and bow to infrastructure needs.

Debt Bomb Coming? No! It's Here

Just when is the right time to take responsibility for our own actions? Better yet, how do we make sure that those in charge of the national debt take the responsibility for not doing anything about fixing the problem?

Washington seems to have a way of always making things worse rather than better no matter what it is. The trouble now is we are at a 'tipping' point where if we do nothing to solve the problem, we are doomed to lives of subsistence. If we start now, it will take many generations for us to regain some kind of real prosperity but at least we have a chance.

Worst case scenario if we do nothing now, we will become like Greece in that our country is failing, but unlike Greece, we are much larger and our problems are much larger and harder to fix as well.

Writing Checks against the Future
Source: Emily Skarbek, "Writing Checks against the Future," Washington Examiner, January 22, 2012.

Despite its prevalence in the national dialogue, controlling the burgeoning government debt does not appear to be a priority of the federal government. Approval of the Budget Control Act last August did little to control deficit spending and the government continues on an increasingly perilous course from which it will be difficult to recover, says Emily Skarbek, a research fellow at the Independent Institute.

On January 9, the federal government's debt officially surpassed $15 trillion -- an amount larger than the total annual output of the U.S. economy.

At present, the Obama administration projects total debt to increase by $26 trillion in 10 years, which is more than 15 percent higher than the projected $22.5 trillion gross domestic product.
Public debt has increased by at least $500 billion per year every year since 2003. More than 30 percent of the current total (some $4.6 trillion) has been accumulated in just the past four years.

Dismissing these concerns, some argue that the debt only continues to grow because of low interest rates and that all is well because we owe this money to ourselves. However, this misleads a national audience to the point that they do not recognize the unprecedented nature of the current situation.

Public debts of this magnitude have historically been reserved for massive capital investments or emergencies. However, the current debt is ballooning solely because of current consumption, as tax dollars leak into the hands of a variety of interest groups. Large corporations, the big banks and financial institutions, federal entitlement recipients, health care providers, defense manufacturers and government workers each leech away public monies to the point that President Obama's call for a $1.2 trillion increase in the debt ceiling has become a formality.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Federal Employees Owe Millions in Unpaid Taxes

The question then is why isn't the IRS going after these people to get the money that the rest of us has to pay? Yeah, maybe they can't pay their taxes because they aren't paid enough.

Maybe the answer is if they don't want to pay, have them sweep the streets for a few hours a day to make payments!

Can you imagine these 'smartest guys in the room' types having to do actual work to pay their bills. Yikes!

Federal Employees Owe $1.03 Billion in Unpaid Taxes
Source: Ed O'Keefe, "Federal Employees Owe $1.03 Billion in Unpaid Taxes," January 23, 2012

Congressional staffers owed about $10.6 million in unpaid taxes in 2010, a slight increase from the previous year and a growing slice of the roughly $1 billion owed by federal and postal workers nationwide, says the Washington Post.

About 98,000 federal, postal and congressional employees owed $1.03 billion in unpaid taxes at the end of fiscal 2010, according to records provided by the Internal Revenue Service.
The total number of delinquent employees dipped slightly from 2009, but the amount owed jumped by $32 million.

On Capitol Hill, 684 employees, or almost 4 percent, of the 18,000 congressional staffers owed taxes in 2010 -- a jump of 46 workers from 2009. Four percent of House staffers owed $8.5 million and 3 percent of Senate employees owed $2.1 million, the IRS said.

Civilian employees of the Defense Department -- the federal government's largest employer -- fared the worst: More than 25,600 workers at the departments of the Army, Air Force and Navy owed a combined $225.7 million, while another 4,600 civilian Pentagon employees owed $39.4 million.

Overall, American taxpayers owed $114.2 billion in unpaid taxes, interest and penalties at the end of fiscal 2010, according to the IRS.

Artic Becoming Battle Ground : Russia Will Sends Troops

This all seems like more things we have heard before, 'get together with our NATO allies and discuss what needs to be done'. What exactly needs to be discussed?

First, NATO will not be able to do anything as they are toothless. NATO nations want nothing to do with 'adventurism' in a part of the world far, far away. If something needs to be done, it will be up to the United States to do it. Secondly, Canada the other northern nations that have a stake in this will want to do their part but exactly what can they contribute?

And going to the United Nations for direction and cooperation on international law is just a joke.

Energy Needs Fueling Tensions in the Arctic
Source: Alan Dowd, "The Big Chill: Energy Needs Fueling Tensions in the Arctic," Fraser Institute, December 1, 2011.

While today's energy concerns turn focus disproportionately toward the Middle East, international tension over the last decade suggests that tomorrow's battleground will be the far off Arctic Circle. With vast untapped reserves of natural gases and oil, the region has increasingly become a topic of discussion among the northernmost countries as national leaders vie for a larger share of its resources, says Alan Dowd, a senior fellow at the Fraser Institute.

The U.S. Geological Survey estimates that the Arctic may hold 1,670 trillion cubic feet of natural gas -- 30 percent of the world's undiscovered gas.

According to that same study, the region also contains 90 billion barrels of oil, which constitutes 13 percent of undiscovered reserves.

The large endowment of these natural resources is not a new discovery, but the price of these commodities has only recently risen high enough that extraction from the Arctic Circle would be cost efficient. Furthermore, with forecasts from the Energy Information Agency estimating a 20 percent increase in daily world oil consumption by 2030, prices will continue to climb and the Arctic's resources will become more valuable.

Given this context, it is no surprise that the nations that line the Arctic Circle are increasingly searching for means to stake their claim to broad swathes of the territory. This is especially true of the United States and Russia: the United States cites Alaska and its proximity to the Arctic as substantive motive for involvement while Russia looks to an underwater ridge extending from its continental shelf. Their conflicting claims are a growing source of strife.

Russia claimed almost half the Arctic Circle in 2001, substantiating this claim in 2007 when it planted a flag below the North Pole. In 2011, Russia announced plans to deploy two army brigades (10,000 troops) to defend its Arctic claims.

In order to make progress on this front and help ensure that Russia is not allowed to take advantage of its outsized claims, the United States will need to cooperate with its NATO allies who also have an interest in the region, including Canada and the Scandinavian countries. It should also consider ratification of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea to establish standards for negotiation.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Cats For Daily Life

All it takes to make your day is a friendly face at your door. He is here for us. What a nice kitty.
Posted by Picasa

California Spending On Education Up 95% : Tests Drop 4%

Why is it to solve problems politicians, mostly Democrats, believe one has to spend more money. Given that California is a financial nightmare and in debt to the tune of billions they decide to raise more taxes. Are these people out of their collective minds or is it just more of the same fail policies that got them in debt to begin with?

More Spending Doesn't Lead to Higher Test Scores
Source: Andrew J. Coulson, "A Case against More California Taxes," Orange County Register, January 18, 2012.

Despite the grim economy, Governor Jerry Brown is asking Californians to approve a $7 billion tax hike. The governor emphasizes that without the increase in spending enabled by higher taxes, public education in the state would face significant cuts. The question for California voters, therefore, is a comparison of the respective benefits of lower taxes and higher education spending, says Andrew J. Coulson, director of the Cato Institute's Center for Educational Freedom.

In making this decision, voters should look to education spending in the past, and realize from this data that an ever-growing state education budget has done little to improve educational outcomes as measured by SAT results.

Between 1968 (the first year for which the data is available) and 2010, real spending per student increased by 95 percent. This represents increased spending of $27 billion dollars since 1974, adjusting for increased enrollment.

In almost the same time span, from 1972 to 2010, SAT scores among California high school student dropped by 4 percent, taking into account test rescaling in 1996.
Detractors argue that the use of SAT scores in assessing educational outcomes is ineffective and misleading, pointing out that it is unrepresentative and has limited participation.
However, none of the arguments put forth are particularly persuasive. While it is acknowledged that broader participation can lower scores, participation was actually 4 percent higher in the mid-1970s than it was in 2010. Moreover, white students nationwide have gradually seen a drop in scores, and therefore the increased inclusion of low-scoring minority students alone cannot explain the drop.

It is relevant that only the top third of students take the SAT, as this introduces the possibility that increased spending helps low-performing students (which is arguably not captured by the SAT variable).

However, voters should still question why increased spending actually hurt scores among SAT takers over the past four decades.

State Pension Problems ARE State Problems : Feds Stay Out

This article is right on the mark - want an example for how this can be done, follow the trend in Wisconsin that solved a 3.6 billion dollar deficit in one budget. Of course, it took a good Conservative to make it happen, and one that is willing to stand up against the hate machine that is the progressive socialist left and their close friends the unions.

Scott Walker is fighting for his political life because of his insight and knowledge of the needs in Wisconsin. There has a huge number of people in this state that are unaware or uninformed about the true circumstances, or they just don't care enough to take the time to find out what is going on around them.

Worse, maybe they are just Democrats and have always been Democrats in which case we will have to rely on a slim majority of the Wisconsin population that is paying attention to solve the states problems.

States Created Their Public Pension Problems, and States Should Solve Them
Source: David John, "States Created Their Public Pension Problems, and States Should Solve Them," Heritage Foundation, January 17, 2012.

Today, 31 states are sponsoring public pension plans with funding ratios that are under 80 percent of what is needed to pay full benefits, says David John, a senior research fellow in retirement security and financial institutions at the Heritage Foundation.

Funding ratios measure a pension plan's current assets, projected contributions and investment earnings in relation to its predicted benefit obligations. A ratio that is under 80 percent indicates that the plan is in severe trouble and will have great difficulty meeting its obligations.

This is not a small problem.

A 2010 academic study estimates that 116 major state-sponsored pension plans have assets of about $1.8 trillion to pay pension promises of between $3.6 trillion and $5.2 trillion.
This leaves a gap of between $1.8 trillion and $3.4 trillion.

A follow-up study found that major pension plans for municipal workers in 50 major cities add an estimated $574 billion to the problem.

Fixing the problem will not be easy, but Congress should not step in and attempt to impose a solution, a model for reform, or a bailout of severely troubled states. Just as states and local governments created the public pension problems they now face, it should also be their responsibility to deal with these situations.

Indeed, data from the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) show that federal action does not appear to be necessary, as more states are taking actions that will reduce their underfunding. The states should be left to continue their efforts, prompted by pressure from taxpayers and the bond markets.

Congress should ensure that state and local government bond issues sold in national markets include a full and accurate disclosure of the risks, especially if any underfunded public pension programs might damage the issuing jurisdiction's ability to repay its debts as scheduled.

Otherwise, Congress should remain watchful but refrain from action.

Culture Changes Indicates Moral Decay

I don't know if this is really from one of our military but it still says a lot about the current culture in which we live. Author unknown.


Piss on a Crucifix, and they'll call you an "Artist"
Piss on The American Flag, and they'll call you a Freedom of Speech "Constitutionalists"
Piss on a Police Car, and they'll call you an Occupy Wall Street "Freedom Lovin' 99 percenter" Piss on a Taliban piece of shit that just tried to kill you and your fellow Marines, and they'll call you a "Villain" Sure is a ****ed-up administration we have running this great country!!!!!

Be sure to vote them ALL GONE in November!!!!!

Solar Power in Germany Like the DoDo Bird

Why do so many people forge ahead with strategic plans that they know will not work but do the wrong thing anyway. In their collective hearts they know when something is not right, but can't find the intestinal fortitude to move on this inner voice of common sense and experience.

It isn't as though there wasn't plenty of information before hand on all this nonsense of solar energy being the wave of the future, and we have to move right now to make it happen. Sure, there is a future for solar energy, but the technology is not here yet for it to be profitable. And without profits for those willing to take a chance in this industry, it is just another scheme to steal money by those in power.

Anyone that was paying attention knew it was about politics and just another way to take money from taxpayers and feed the accounts of those who control th purse strings in our government.

Germany Vows to Quicken Solar Power Subsidy Cuts
Source: "Solar Stocks Plunge as Germany Vows to Quicken Subsidy Cuts," Bloomberg, January 20, 2012.

Solar stocks plunged around the world after Germany, the largest market for panels, said it will make quicker cuts to subsidized rates and phase out support for the industry by 2017, reports Bloomberg.

German Environment Minister Norbert Roettgen said last week that he planned to reduce feed-in tariffs providing above-market prices for solar power every month instead of twice a year as he does now. He said he's working to curb an "unacceptable" surge in installations last year.

Yesterday's decision indicated ministers are speeding up efforts to restrain the boom in installations after developers added 7.5 gigawatts of panels last year, surpassing the 3 gigawatts that Roettgen said would be acceptable.

A slowdown in the German and Italian markets, which accounted for about half of worldwide installations last year, is bound to hurt the industry. Germany targets 2.5 to 3.5 gigawatts a year and seeks to phase out subsidies by 2017, Roettgen said.

The country was expected to cut tariffs by 15 percent in July, following a 15 percent reduction that took effect Jan. 1. Under the current law, lower rates are imposed automatically by above-target installations.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

State of The Union Speech : Take From the Productive

This is interesting when one contemplates the presidents speech tonight on the economy.

It must be that the new norm for the 'unwashed' in the country, 'do what the smartest people in the room say, but pay no attention to what they do'.

The liberal socialist progressive mind set is they have to take what ever is needed for them selves from the general population to accomplish their agenda and what is ever left over they divide up amongst those that bend the lowest.

Again, never, ever forget, it's about getting and keeping power no matter what it takes or who will suffer the consequence.

A good example is the fight in Wisconsin for control of the taxpayer proceeds. The union lost the control when Gov Walker won the election and took away the collective bargaining for the health care and retirement for the public sector unions.

Now the unions are furious and have issued a recall of Gov Walker collecting over 1 million signatures for this purpose, or so they say.

They have put out a emergency message to all union member across the country for funds as they are running low, even Obama's reelection war chest. This is just how desperate they are to regain control of taxpayer monies to feed their own war chests and donate to liberal politicians that are sympathetic to their demands.

The unions also see this as must win situation for the rest of the country where unions are fighting states contemplating similar actions to get their own budgets back into the black.

That the state of Wisconsin would be driven to catastrophic debt again means nothing to the unions or the liberal Democrats. It's all about the money and therefore the power to control the destiny of millions of people, taxpayers, that have nothing to do with the unions.

It's all about getting and keeping power.

Monday, January 23, 2012

CBO Predictions : Managed Information?

The question is are the people in power at the time having an influence on the people that make the predictions of debt and deficit? Why are they called into question and why are they wrong most of the time? Just asking.

How Good Are the Government's Deficit and Debt Projections and Should We Care?
Source: Kevin L. Kliesen and Daniel L. Thornton, "How Good Are the Government's Deficit and Debt Projections and Should We Care?" Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis Review, January/February 2012.

The Congressional Budget Office's (CBO) annual Budget and Economic Output report provides deficit projections for the current fiscal year (FY) and the next 10 FYs. Though these reports are widely followed, CBO projections are consistently inaccurate, and become more inaccurate as the projection length increases, say Kevin L. Kliesen and Daniel L. Thornton of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.

While the CBO predicted in 2001 that the publicly held debt of the federal government (then about $3.5 trillion) would be eliminated by 2010, it actually increased to $9 trillion.

While many defend the projection by arguing that much of the debt was accumulated ameliorating the effects of an unforeseeable recession, the projection was very inaccurate excluding the recession -- the debt level reached $5 trillion before the recession began.
In 2001, the CBO projected that government budget surpluses would span the entire decade, yet deficits began as early as 2002.

These failed projections took place over the course of a decade with predictions and estimates that reached relatively far into the future, yet the CBO's projection accuracy does not improve markedly even in the short term. While its January 2011 report estimated that the 2011 deficit would amount to 9.8 percent of gross domestic product (GDP), its August update released just seven months later amended this amount to 8.5 percent.

Furthermore, a study of CBO five year deficit projections from 1976 to 2006 shows that the agency's estimates have routinely been inaccurate. The average absolute projection error amounted to 2.65 percent of GDP. Twenty out of the 30 projections were under-projections of the actual deficit, indicating a chronic tendency to underestimate deficits.

It also bears mention that while they were slightly more accurate, even the CBO's one year estimates were significantly erroneous.

Governing Corruption Drives Down Prosperity

The over powering effect of corruption in Belize is like a picture of what is happening here, in the United States, as well.

State and local governments are becoming dominated by agenda driven laws and regulations, especially where the agenda is designed for one reason and that is to gain control of the populations wealth and voting power.

Lucky, in this country, we are fighting back against the corrupting influence. The Tea Party.

Cayman Is Rich, Belize Is Poor. Why?
Source: Richard W. Rahn, "Tale of Two Small Countries," Washington Times, January 16, 2012.

Cayman is rich, and Belize is poor. Why? Both are small Caribbean countries with the same climate and roughly the same mixed racial heritage, and both were English-speaking British colonies. Belize received its independence in 1981, while Cayman is still not fully independent but is self-governing at the local level, with its own currency, laws and regulations, says Richard W. Rahn, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute.

Back in the early 1970s, Cayman was as poor on a per capita basis as is Belize today. Both countries had ambitions to be tourist and financial centers. Cayman succeeded and has about six times the real per capita income of Belize. What did Cayman do right and Belize do wrong?

It comes down to one word: governance.

Perhaps most important is that Cayman had and maintained a competent and honest judicial system, which gave foreign investors confidence that their property would be protected.
Cayman also has a very low crime rate, allowing tourists to walk around freely without fear.
Unfortunately, many judges in Belize are poorly trained, incompetent and, in some cases, corrupt.

These issues cause foreign investors to consider higher-risk factors for projects in Belize as contrasted with Cayman. If Belize would clean up its courts, fully protect property rights and adopt the best economic practices of its competitors, it could quickly become rich.
For instance, it takes an average of 44 days to get all of the required permits to open a new business.

In some countries, such as Estonia, Singapore and even the Commonwealth of Virginia in the United States, the required paperwork to open a business can be done online, turning days into hours.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Golden Retrievers ARE Life Itself

That title may sound a little over the top but I think this gang of pure gold is a house full of life. They bring so much love and friendship to us and to not believe that dogs are the handiwork of the Lord himself in all of our lives is just plain foolish.
Humanity can only be diminished without their presence.
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Health Care Competition Smooths Out the System

This seems like a good report at first reading but what bothers me is the kind of people that take advantage of the Medicare Advantage plan to start with skewers the outcome of this report.

I believe the individuals that take advantage of this plan are people that were smart enough to understand when they were growing up they needed to make good decisions based on logical conclusions or just plain common sense.

One might think that most health people that kept an eye on their health all their life will buy into a plan that will continue to work in positive manner when they are more susceptible to health problems. Where as those individuals that didn't care what happened during their formative years whined up less healthy and less able to afford the health care advantage program.

This means doing the right thing at the right time whether it was related to their personal financial health or their physical health.

Still, the researchers here are correct in that competition improves the system. The free market always is a better alternative to government interference.

How Competition Improves Quality: The Case of Medicare Advantage
Source: Kathryn Nix, "How Competition Improves Quality: The Case of Medicare Advantage," Heritage Institute, January 11, 2012.

Since 2005, seniors have had the option to receive their Medicare benefits through a private plan of their choice offered under Medicare Advantage (MA). Since that time, studies have increasingly shown that MA plans offer superior services to their participants with better health outcomes, says Kathryn Nix, a policy analyst at the Heritage Foundation.

Since its inception with a population of 5.3 million participants, MA plans have doubled in size and continue to grow.

In 2010, close to 25 percent of the Medicare population was enrolled in an MA plan.
MA plans' increasing popularity is due at least partly to their above average services to participants. Research conducted by Niall Brennan, acting director of the Office of Policy at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), and Mark Shepard, a Harvard University Ph.D. candidate in economics, shows that, based on several widely accepted measures of quality, MA plans outperform Medicare fee for service (FFS) in offering higher quality care.
Brennan and Shepard looked at 11 measures of the underuse of effective care starting in 2006 (the first year data was available).

For eight of the 11 measures, MA performed substantially better than FFS, and it performed slightly better on a ninth.

Though FFS outperformed MA on the final two, both variables are newer and considered to be relatively marginal in importance to overall care.

In a follow-up study conducted by America's Health Insurance Plans, researchers studied hospital utilization rates of FFS and MA participants with diabetes or heart disease, noting that the superior health care plan would offer preventative services that would reduce hospital stays.
The findings showed that for diabetes patients, all of the MA plans had fewer inpatient days and readmissions than FFS.

The vast majority of the plans had fewer emergency room visits, fewer admissions overall, and fewer potentially avoidable admissions. Though somewhat less consistent, heart disease patients followed these same trends.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Health Care Regulation (ACA) Causes Premium Increases

No one, with an once of common sense, thought ObamaCare (ACA) would actually help our health care system, if for no other reason then it was a government project, but maybe even more so, that it is was a progressive Democrat government program.

If a program is developed by progressives Democrats, one can be assured it will be to gain power and control and for no other reason. Progressive Democrats have always used government as a tool for such an agenda, and health care now is just the biggest and most ambitious.

This is just who they are and always will be.

Overregulation Reduces Choice in Health Insurance
Source: John R. Graham, "Overregulation Reduces Choice in Health Insurance: An Update Health Policy Prescription," Pacific Research Institute, December 2011.

Many Americans complain that there is too little competition between health plans. To some degree, this is true. However, promises that the Affordable Care Act's (ACA) implementation will increase competition between plans are misleading. On the contrary, concentration among health plans has largely occurred subsequent to government action. A comparison of premiums in the small-group market in 2008 (before the ACA) and 2010 (after the ACA) demonstrates this point, says John R. Graham, director of health studies at the Pacific Research Institute.

Of the 37 states that had available data, 36 experienced an increase in the average premium paid after the passage of the ACA (the lone exception was Utah).

The median percent increase in premiums amongst the states was 20 percent.
The state with the highest percent change was Washington, which experienced a 68 percent increase in the average premium paid.

This before-and-after comparison demonstrates that the promised drop in premiums that would result from increased competition did not occur. In fact, the opposite has occurred with insurance consumers in almost every state paying higher rates.

ACA advocates also point to the broadened use of "prior approval" as another means of controlling premium increases. A prior approval rule will require insurance providers to obtain permission for premium increases from a state's insurance commissioner. However, the aforementioned study of 37 states also demonstrates the inefficacy of this policy.

Of the 37 states, 18 already used prior approval, 16 were standard file-and-use states which merely required providers to file increases with insurance commissioner without seeking permission, and 3 states were completely unregulated.

The median increase over the period was 17 percent for states requiring prior approval, 22 percent for the file-and-use states, and 14 percent for completely unregulated states.
The highest increase in the file-and-use states was 50 percent (in Tennessee), the highest in the states that required prior approval was 68 percent (in Washington), and the highest unregulated state was 22 percent (Georgia).

Finally, the only state that experienced a decrease in premiums, Utah, is a file-and-use state.

These mixed results lend little credence to the argument that the ACA's spreading of prior approval rules will aid efforts to arrest premium increases.

Class Income Warfare : A Wedge Issues by Progressives

Proof again that the Democrats are using income disparity between classes as a wedge issue to bring the two groups into conflict. Class warfare is not new to the progressive Democrats as they have used it in almost every election in memory.

The difference now is we have a sitting president that is willfully using class conflict as a tool to divide the country and thereby instigating an agenda that is out right Marxist in nature to gain control of a majority of the voting population. His idea is to develop a class of needy and dependent individuals that the progressive socialist left Democrats can use, and abuse, as they see fit to gain power.

May societies through out history have tried this and failed, and as a consequence the entire population of these failed societies became useless pawns to progressive ambitions. The results, of course, took generations to fix and some never recovered.

The question now, will we be one of the failures that could never recover, or if we can change this nightmare scenario, how long will it take, how many generations into the future? This November, be aware of history and the consequences of not taking responsibility for future generations.

Economic Gain Not Zero-Sum Game
Source: Veronique de Rugy, "For Richer and For Poorer," Reason Magazine, February

In making the argument that the income gap is an ever-widening disparity, many economists point to studies of the progress of the rich and the poor over the previous decade. The narrative portrayed by these studies paints the picture of an economic pie that is increasingly dominated by a small few at the expense of the public at large, says Veronique de Rugy, senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University.

However, this perspective precludes the fact that economic gain is not a zero-sum game, and that
greater wealth for the wealthiest does not eliminate the possibility of higher incomes for the poor.
Even though lower earners have a smaller share of income today than they did in 1990, their absolute income is higher.

According to IRS statistics the bottom 50 percent of income earners reported 15 percent of real adjust gross income (AGI) in 1990 ($517 billion), while they reported only 12 percent of AGI in 2007, but this percentage amounted to more absolute dollars -- $1.1 trillion.

This speaks to the logical argument that a smaller slice of a larger economic pie can still yield significantly more income for lower earners.

Furthermore, traditional statistics about the income gap ignore the dynamic nature of income mobility in the U.S. economy. While studies point to the increased income share of top earners between two time periods, they ignore the fact that it is often not the same people earning large incomes over time -- the top 1 percent in 1990 are not necessarily the same people as the top 1 percent in 2012.

Using IRS data, the Tax Foundation has shown that of the 675,000 taxpayers who reported $1 million in income at some point between 1999 and 2007, only about half remained millionaires just one year later. A tiny 6 percent, or 38,000 people, retained their millionaire status for all nine years.

Meanwhile, 60 percent of households that were in the lowest income quintile in 1999 had moved to a higher quintile by 2007. Furthermore, about one-third of those in the lowest quintile moved to the middle quintile or higher.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Pension Funds Grossly Underfunded

This question has come up so many times, government officials failure to fund promises to retirees, that to do it again is not the best thing to do, but maybe if it is repeated over and over again it will sink in.

The voting public has to show up at the voting booth with good knowledge of the people that they are putting into office, and then demand that they do what they said they would do no matter how painful the outcome.

At the same time the voter has to be ready to accept and live with these painful outcomes to fix the problems that loom in the very near future that are about to bring down our way of life.

Congress' Pension Math Doesn't Add Up
Source: Steven Malanga, "Congress' Pension Math Doesn't Add Up," Real Clear Markets, January 18, 2012.

Last week Sen. Orrin Hatch issued a report noting the rising unfunded liabilities of state and local defined benefit pension plans, and which illustrates the potential impact of those liabilities on the taxpayer, says Steven Malanga, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute.

Pointing out that local governments' unfunded retirement obligations may now approach $4 trillion, the Hatch report noted that the failure of a few big public sector pension plans could spark a credit "contagion" that would make it difficult for all governments in America to borrow money.

Federal safety-net programs like Medicaid and food stamps might be strained if retirees in government pensions saw their benefits cut sharply, as they have been in a few municipal bankruptcy cases.

Although defined benefit plans date back more than 100 years, when a few big employers like railroads began offering them, they were never widely used for very long. Over time, more and more firms switched to 401(k) style pensions, where an employer makes an annual contribution to a retirement account for a worker and the employer's liability ends there.

Today, only about 20 percent of private workers are covered by defined benefit plans.
Only in one area did traditional pensions continue expanding, in government, where the taxpayer is the backstop when these plans get in trouble.

Today, some eight in ten public workers are covered by defined benefit plans, though governments have done such a poor job of funding their promises to workers that one analysis predicts that without reform the pension systems of 11 states would exhaust their assets by the end of this decade.

Instead of encouraging private and public employers to assume obligations that wind up crushing them, Congress ought to be pointing the way toward a system where the costs are transparent, the liabilities are not open-ended, and where retirees can count on plans that will remain solvent so that the money will be there for their retirement.

Government Handouts The New Norm?

Is this the new norm? With 48.6% of the population taking some sort of hand out from the government and the expectation is that could double in the next decade if nothing is done to turn the economy around.

The scary part here is the current administration is okay with this trend. They see the increased number of dependent individuals as useful to the progressive socialist Democrat agenda. That is, the more people that can't fend for themselves the more they will have to have assistance from the outside, see this as the federal government, the more they will have to vote to keep this type of government in power.

It is becoming a way of life for millions right now and tens of millions in the near future. When the economy can't afford to pay these people any more, what then? Oh wait, that's happening right now. We're broke!

Nearly Half of U.S. Households Receive Government Benefits
Source: Sara Murray, "Nearly Half of U.S. Lives in Household Receiving Government Benefits," Wall Street Journal, January 17, 2012.

The pool of Americans relying on government benefits rose to record highs last year as an increasing share of families tapped aid in a weak economy, says the Wall Street Journal.
Expanding government programs combined with the worst downturn since the Great Depression have led to an explosion in the share of Americans relying on outside help.

Some 48.6 percent of the population lived in a household receiving some type of government benefit in the second quarter of 2010, up a notch from 48.5 percent in the first quarter, according to Census data.

To combat prolonged economic weakness, Congress extended unemployment benefits to a record 99 weeks (up from the normal 26-weeks offered in most states).

The food stamp program was tweaked so it was more generous.
Americans flocked to Social Security disability, a last bastion of support for some of the long-term unemployed.

The largest chunk of benefits flowing to families came from means-tested programs.
In the second quarter, 34.4 percent lived in a household benefiting from food stamps, subsidized housing or Medicaid, among others.

That number is up from 32.8 percent a year ago (when a total of 46.8 percent of the population lived in a home receiving benefits).

The biggest increases came from an uptick in those turning to food stamps and Medicaid.
Nearly 15 percent of Americans lived in a household receiving food stamps in mid-2010; almost 26 percent had access to Medicaid.

Only a small share of the population accessed cash welfare benefits as the 1990s overhaul made it more onerous in many cases to receive and maintain those payments. Some 1.9 percent of the population lived in a household that received welfare in the second quarter of 2010.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Climate Change : A Balanced Approach

Interesting approach to climate change. Balanced in theory and common sense. Is this possible?

In the past it took thousands of years to see changes in the weather but now Al Gore and the eco-fascists environmentalists believe the end of the earth, as we have known it, is here and the only way to stop is to give them more money.

This article is fairly balanced in it's approach in that it uses approximate periods of weather change in the hundreds of thousands of years using some modern dating like ice cores. Still one has to read this some a jaundiced eye and then ponder the facts and assumptions before coming to any conclusions.

Are We Holding a New Ice Age at Bay?
Source: Matt Ridley, "Are We Holding a New Ice Age at Bay?" Wall Street Journal, January 14, 2012.

In the early 1970s, after two decades of slight cooling, many scientists were convinced that the end of Earth's 11,600 year old warm spell was at hand. Since then, of course, warmth has returned, probably driven at least partly by man-made carbon dioxide emissions, says the Wall Street Journal.

A new paper drew headlines last week for arguing that these emissions may avert the return of the ice age. Less noticed was the fact that the authors, by analogy with a previous warm spell 780,000 years ago that's a "dead ringer" for our own, expect the next ice age to start "within about 1,500 years." Hardly the day after tomorrow. Still, it's striking that most interglacial periods begin with an abrupt warming, peak sharply, then begin a gradual descent into cooler conditions before plunging rather more rapidly toward the freezer.

The last interglacial -- which occurred 135,000 to 115,000 years ago -- saw temperatures slide erratically downward by about two degrees Celsius between 127,000 and 120,000 years ago, before a sharper fall began.

Cyclical changes in the earth's orbit probably weakened sunlight in the northern hemisphere summer and thus caused this slow cooling.

Since the northern hemisphere is mostly land, this change in the sun's strength meant gradually increased snow and ice cover, which in turn reflected light back into space, further cooling the air and, gradually, the ocean too.
Carbon dioxide levels did not begin to fall much until about 112,000 years ago, as the cooling sea absorbed more of the gas. Our current interglacial shows a similar pattern. Greenland ice cores and other proxy records show that temperatures peaked around 7,000 years ago.

An erratic decline in temperature followed, culminating in the exceptionally cool centuries of the "Little Ice Age" between 1550 and 1850, when glaciers advanced all over the world.
In the Greenland ice cores, these centuries stand out as the longest and most consistent cold spell of the current interglacial.

In other words, our own interglacial period has followed previous ones in having an abrupt beginning and a sharp peak, followed by slow cooling. The question is whether recent warming is a temporary blip before the expected drift into glacial conditions, or whether humankind's impact on the atmosphere has now reversed the cooling trend.

Government Pay Inflated Over Priavte Industries

Whatz new here? Like most large industries, the federal government, local and city to, has a huge number of employees that 'take the money and run'. That is, they are there just for the money. They scam the system as much as they can to get by with as little effort as possible. And being the government, scamming is easier than in larger corporations where they have efficiency requirements to meet.

The problem here then is the system is to large and therefore uncontrollable, and the only way to have any semblance of organization is to put the system on autopilot. Managers in the system, for the most part, are no better than the general employees as they have the same tendency to be unqualified for their jobs because they were promoted through longevity or just promoted through the 'good old boy' system.

The solution is to shrink the government to a size that is controllable.

Government Pay Is Inflated
Source: James Sherk, "Federal Compensation: Why Government Pay Is Inflated," Heritage Foundation,January 12, 2012.

In a new report, James Sherk, a senior policy analyst in labor economics at the Heritage Foundation, explores federal compensation by comparing it to market rates, and considering its policy concerns and economic effects.

How Does Federal Compensation Compare to Market Rates?

The average federal employee earns 57 percent greater cash pay and 85 percent greater total compensation (which includes benefits) than the average private-sector worker.

Controlling for observable skills and characteristics, the federal pay system gives the average federal employee hourly cash earnings 22 percent above the average private worker's. Including benefits raises the average compensation disparity to between 30 and 40 percent.
Despite these average pay differences, many federal employees are not overpaid. The General Schedule does not connect pay with performance. Many of the hardest-working and most highly skilled federal employees receive at- or below-market compensation.

Federal employees demonstrate with their actions that they receive better compensation in the public sector than in the private sector: They quit their jobs at one-third the rate of private employees.

Policy Concerns

Many federal employees retire in their late 50s, collect their pension and retiree health benefits, and then take a second job in the private sector, leaving taxpayers to subsidize this double-dipping.

It would be better to scrap the General Schedule, under which workers automatically receive step and grade increases in pay, and move to a performance pay system with federal pay tied to market rates and market signals of labor demand.

Economic Effects

Reducing federal pay to market rates would save taxpayers approximately $47 billion per year.
This reduces the deficit without reducing public services. This also frees up more resources for private businesses to save and invest, expanding the economy and creating more jobs.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Stimulus Ruines Lives/Destroys Cities

Here is more proof that electing progressive socialist left Democrats to high office over and over again will destroy the government and the people they were elected to serve. The examples are everywhere.

And yet, the corrupt Democrats keep getting into office and they continue to feed at the public trough even when the trough is empty. The question asked over and again, are the citizens of these cities, like Detroit, ignorant of what is going on or are the just plain stupid!

Or maybe they are just Democrats and can't help themselves?

How Stimulus Spending Ruined Buffalo
Source: Steven Malanga, "How Stimulus Spending Ruined Buffalo," Wall Street Journal, January 14, 2012.

In his State of the State Address this month, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced $1 billion in incentives to attract new investment to Buffalo. Too bad Mr. Cuomo ignores the factors that help keep areas like Buffalo inhospitable to new investment -- namely steep tax rates and the high cost of government, says Steven Malanga, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute.
This is an old story for Buffalo.

Ever since the city began losing its manufacturing base in the 1950s and gradually declined into one of America's poorest cities (the poverty rate today is nearly 29 percent), the federal and state governments have poured hundreds of millions of dollars into subsidized redevelopment schemes that have yielded few tangible benefits.

In 2004, the Buffalo News estimated that the city had garnered more federal redevelopment aid per capita than any other city in the country, a total of more than half a billion dollars since the 1970s. Yet, the paper noted, the city had virtually nothing to show for the money.

These massive investment subsidies failed partly because officials were ill-suited to select the right projects and often instead gave money to favored insiders. But Buffalo also struggles because it remains among the highest-taxed localities in the country.

According to Cato Institute scholar Dean Stansel, a Buffalo resident pays 25 percent more in income taxes than does the average resident in America's 100 largest metro areas.

Buffalo's 8.75 percent sales tax, according to the Tax Foundation, is the fifth highest among the country's 120 cities with more than 200,000 residents. And the property-tax burden in Buffalo and surrounding Erie County ranks in the top 10 percent nationwide.

These taxes have gone to support a spendthrift local government that nourishes itself at the expense of the private sector. The city also struggles to cut spending because of expensive state-imposed mandates, including a union-friendly binding arbitration law that results in rich public-employee contracts, and a state law that allows unionized public workers to continue receiving the benefits of a contract even after the contract has expired.

Iran Gone Nuclear Changes Everything

One has to believe that our president doesn't care what happens to our country or the rest of the world as long as he can change the American way of life from one of individual freedom to one of total subservience.

Allowing Iran to become nuclear will change how we live and how future generations will not have the freedom that we know today. Even now, today, that freedom is slipping away before our very eyes and nearly half of the population doesn't care.

The Mortal Threat From Iran
Iran can sea-launch from off our coasts. Germany planned this in World War II. If cocaine can be smuggled into the U.S. without interdiction, we cannot dismiss the possibility of an Iranian nuke ending up in Manhattan.

To assume that Iran will not close the Strait of Hormuz is to assume that primitive religious fanatics will perform cost-benefit analyses the way they are done at Wharton. They won't, especially if the oil that is their life's blood is threatened. If Iran does close the strait, we will fight an air and naval war derivative of and yet peripheral to the Iranian nuclear program, a mortal threat the president of the United States has inadequately addressed.

A mortal threat when Iran is not yet in possession of a nuclear arsenal? Yes, because immediately upon possession all remedies are severely restricted. Without doubt, Iran has long wanted nuclear weapons—to deter American intervention in its and neighboring territories; to threaten Europe and thereby cleave it from American interests in the Middle East; to respond to the former Iraqi nuclear effort; to counter the contiguous nuclear presences in Pakistan, Russia and the U.S. in the Gulf; to neutralize Israel's nuclear deterrent so as to limit it to the attrition of conventional battle, or to destroy it with one lucky shot; to lead the Islamic world; to correct the security imbalance with Saudi Arabia, which aided by geography and American arms now outclasses it; and to threaten the U.S. directly.

In the absence of measures beyond pinpoint sanctions and unenforceable resolutions, Iran will get nuclear weapons, which in its eyes are an existential necessity. We have long known and done nothing about this, preferring to dance with the absurd Iranian claim that it is seeking electricity. With rampant inflation and unemployment, a housing crisis, and gasoline rationing, why spend $1,000-$2,000 per kilowatt to build nuclear plants instead of $400-$800 for gas, when you possess the second largest gas reserves in the world? In 2005, Iran consumed 3.6 trillion cubic feet of its 974 trillion cubic feet of proven reserves, which are enough to last 270 years. We know that in 2006—generation exceeding consumption by 10%—Iran exported electricity and planned a high-tension line to Russia to export more.

Accommodationists argue that a rational Iran can be contained. Not the Iran with a revered tradition of deception; that during its war with Iraq pushed 100,000 young children to their deaths clearing minefields; that counts 15% of its population as "Volunteer Martyrs"; that chants "Death to America" at each session of parliament; and whose president states that no art "is more beautiful . . . than the art of the martyr's death." Not the Iran in thrall to medieval norms and suffering continual tension and crises.

Its conceptions of nuclear strategy are very likely to be looser, and its thresholds lower, than those of Russia and China, which are in turn famously looser and lower than our own. And yet Eisenhower and Churchill weighed a nuclear option in Korea, Kennedy a first strike upon the U.S.S.R., and Westmoreland upon North Vietnam. How then can we be certain that Iran is rational and containable?

Inexpert experts will state that Iran cannot strike with nuclear weapons. But let us count the ways. It has the aerial tankerage to sustain one or two planes that might slip past air defenses between it and Israel, Europe, or the U.S., combining radar signatures with those of cleared commercial flights. As Iran increases its ballistic missile ranges and we strangle our missile defenses, America will face a potential launch from Iranian territory.

Iran can sea-launch from off our coasts. Germany planned this in World War II. Subsequently, the U.S. completed 67 water-supported launches, ending as recently as 1980; the U.S.S.R. had two similar programs; and Iran itself has sea-launched from a barge in the Caspian. And if in 2007, for example, 1,100 metric tons of cocaine were smuggled from South America without interdiction, we cannot dismiss the possibility of Iranian nuclear charges of 500 pounds or less ending up in Manhattan or on Pennsylvania Avenue.

The probabilities of the above are subject to the grave multiplication of nuclear weapons. Of all things in respect to the Iranian nuclear question, this is the most overlooked. A 1-in-20 chance of breaking a leg is substantially different from a 1-in-20 chance of dying, itself different from a 1-in-20 chance of half a million people dying. Cost drastically changes the nature of risk, although we persist in ignoring this. Assuming that we are a people worthy of defending ourselves, what can be done?

Much easier before Iran recently began to burrow into bedrock, it is still possible for the U.S., and even Israel at greater peril, to halt the Iranian nuclear program for years to come. Massive ordnance penetrators; lesser but precision-guided penetrators "drilling" one after another; fuel-air detonations with almost the force of nuclear weapons; high-power microwave attack; the destruction of laboratories, unhardened targets, and the Iranian electrical grid; and other means, can be combined to great effect.

Unlike North Korea, Iran does not yet possess nuclear weapons, does not have the potential of overwhelming an American ally, and is not of sufficient concern to Russia and China, its lukewarm patrons, for them to war on its behalf. It is incapable of withholding its oil without damaging itself irreparably, and even were it to cease production entirely, the Saudis—in whose interest the elimination of Iranian nuclear potential is paramount—could easily make up the shortfall. Though Iran might attack Saudi oil facilities, it could not damage them fatally. The Gulf would be closed until Iranian air, naval, and missile forces there were scrubbed out of existence by the U.S., probably France and Britain, and the Saudis themselves, in a few weeks.

It is true that Iranian proxies would attempt to exact a price in terror world-wide, but this is not new, we would brace for the reprisals, and although they would peak, they would then subside. The cost would be far less than that of permitting the power of nuclear destruction to a vengeful, martyrdom-obsessed state in the midst of a never-subsiding fury against the West.
Any president of the United States fit for the office should someday, soon, say to the American people that in his judgment Iran—because of its longstanding and implacable push for nuclear weapons, its express hostility to the U.S., Israel and the West, and its record of barbarity and terror—must be deprived of the capacity to wound this country and its allies such as they have never been wounded before.

Relying solely upon his oath, holding in abeyance any consideration of politics or transient opinion, and eager to defend his decision in exquisite detail, he should order the armed forces of the United States to attack and destroy the Iranian nuclear weapons complex. When they have complied, and our pilots are in the air on their way home, they will have protected our children in their beds—and our children's children, many years from now, in theirs. May this country always have clear enough sight and strong enough will to stand for itself in the face of mortal threat, and in time.

Mr. Helprin, a senior fellow at the Claremont Institute, is the author of, among other works, the novels "Winter's Tale" (Harcourt) and "A Soldier of the Great War" (Harcourt).

Monday, January 16, 2012

Class Warfare As Weapon for Politic Agenda A Fraud

As usual, the information that we rely on from "experts" in the government is managed to support an agenda that basis it's survival on reducing America's population of workers to subservients.

Does the progressive socialist think this is a problem? Of course not. It's who they are and what they do.

The Income-Inequality Myth
Source: Michael Tanner, "The Income-Inequality Myth," National Review, January 10, 2012.

Much reporting on income inequality in America has suggested that the incomes of the rich have been rising, while incomes for the rest of us have been stagnant or even declining. But that may represent a significant misreading of the data.

Most studies of inequality, including the recent widely reported study by the Congressional Budget Office, rely on IRS-reported taxable income. This metric is inaccurate for numerous reasons, including that it fails to account for many forms of income that went unreported in earlier decades, says Michael Tanner, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute.

As more businesses have switched from filing under the corporate tax to individual taxes, high-income earners have increased their taxable income.

Furthermore, the tendency for executives to switch from accepting stock options taxed as capital gains to nonqualified stock options taxed as salaries has the same effect.

Finally, the 1986 decrease in income tax rates saw greater income reporting that the aforementioned studies interpret incorrectly as an increase in wealth. Additionally, studies that use taxable income as their measure of wealth do not take into account non-salary benefits and payments that the lower and middle classes have increasingly received in recent decades.

A recent study by Mark Warshawsky of the Social Security Advisory Board suggests that nearly all of the recent increase in earnings inequality is attributable to rising costs of benefits -- the new implementation of these benefits is most noticeable among the non-wealthy.
Similarly, many studies looking at low-income Americans fail to account for non-cash social-welfare benefits such as food stamps, housing subsidies and Medicaid.

When all of these inaccuracies are accounted for, it is likely that income inequality has not increased at all in recent decades. Furthermore, any increases that researchers do notice have a perfectly plausible explanation that has little to do with wealth-friendly public policy: a gradual transformation of the American economy from manufacturing to service-based industry. This drastic output change rewards workers with higher levels of education, causing them to earn more. Therefore, income inequality should not be attributed solely to government policies like the Bush-era tax cuts.

Finally, the presence of income inequality does not mean that someone must inherently earn less so that the wealthy can earn more. This defies the fact that prosperity is not a fixed value, and that all people have the potential to succeed.

ObamaCare : It's About The Money

What is the motivation for these groups to support the individual mandate in ObamaCare? Why would they think they will benefit from a small group of bureaucrats deciding what health care is right for all individuals and corporate ententes?

After all, it about money and who will get the most of the allocations and who will not and the consequences of both. It's really not about health care, it's about the money, stupid!

Obamacare update. With the Supreme Court slated to hear arguments for and against the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) in March, legal briefs from a variety of different interests are being submitted to the court.

The American Cancer Society, the American Heart Association, and the American Diabetes Association support the law while a group of 26 states filed a brief opposing the law. A group of state legislators from across the country joined together in a brief supporting the individual mandate, as did the American Hospital Association and a few other hospital groups. A possible record number of legal briefs are expected to be submitted over the coming weeks.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

'The Liberal Mind' by Lyle Rossiter

Here is synopsis of the book The liberal mind by Lyle Rossiter - this is good stuff if you know and love freedom and are afraid we are on the brink of losing it.

"In the course of this analysis, The Liberal Mind asks and answers the following critical question: Why would anyone want a political system that restricts personal freedom instead of enhancing it; denounces personal responsibility instead of promoting it; surrenders personal sovereignty instead of honoring it; attacks the philosophical foundations of liberty instead of defending them; encourages government dependency instead of self-reliance; and undermines the character of the people by making them wards of the state?"

Health Care Spending : A Few Consume Half of Total

This is well within the scope of a previous report that said we have to change the health care for 87% of the population to fix the problems of the 12%.

Just where does the common sense come in this scenario? If we know who the spenders are and who the consumers are we should be able to work this out without destroying the entire system. Right?

Five Percent of Patients Account for Half of Health Care Spending
Source: Kelly Kennedy, "5 percent of Patients Account for Half of Health Care Spending," USA Today, January 12, 2012.

Just 1 percent of Americans accounted for 22 percent of health care costs in 2009, according to a recent federal report. That's about $90,000 per person, according to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. U.S. residents spent $1.26 trillion that year on health care, says USA Today.

While the report showed how a tiny segment of the population can drive health care spending, the findings included good news -- in 1996, the top 1 percent of the population accounted for 28 percent of health care spending.

The report's findings can be used to predict which consumers are most likely to drive up health care costs and determine the best ways to save money, said Steven Cohen, the report's lead author.

About one in five health care consumers remained in the top 1 percent of spenders for at least two consecutive years, the report showed. They tended to be white, non-Hispanic women in poor health; the elderly; and users of publicly funded health care.

Five percent accounted for 50 percent of health care costs, about $36,000 each.
The report also showed these characteristics of patients in the top 10 percent of health care spenders in 2008 and 2009:

Eighty percent were white.
Sixty percent were women.
Forty percent were 65 or older.
Only 3 percent were ages 18 to 29.
Only 2 percent were Asian.

The study also found that Hispanics, 16 percent of the population in 2009, spent less on health care. Twenty-five percent of Hispanics were in the bottom half of health care spenders, the report showed, while only 7 percent of Hispanics were in the top 10 percent of spenders.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Keystone Pipeline A Dead Issue : Fossil Energy is Bad

I think our president really doesn't care about what happens in the Straits O Hormuz. As far he is concerned, if the oil stops flowing and the gas price goes up to $6 a gallon, all the better to force everyone to stay home and remember just who is in charge of their lives.

We really don't get that much oil from there anyway, and if the rest of the free world has to bend the knee to Iran to feed their industries, Mr. Obama and the liberal left thinks that's there problem.

Mr. Obama knows if he can control the movement of the population he can control everything else as well. A population that is dispirited and cold is much easier to manipulate. And given that at least 48% of population wants to be control and have others tell them what to do and think, the progressives have this one in the bag.

And the XL Pipeline, what a laugh. That's dead in the water. It's been said that Mr. Obama will look into this problem once he finishes the back nine at his favorite course in Florida.

Maybe next week sometime if he isn't too busy campaigning for reelection or getting together with a few friends for a pick-game of hoops in the WH gym. First things first. It's all about priorities.

"Keystone XL. At the same time President Obama is warning Iran not to jeopardize the flow of Middle Eastern oil through the Strait of Hormuz, the President can’t seem to decide whether the flow of Canadian oil through the Keystone pipeline is a good idea. Congress has set a February 21 deadline for the President to decide whether the Keystone pipeline is in the national interest. But with each passing day, it appears the President is looking for ways to sidestep the issue."

Regulation Nightmare Killing Companies and Jobs

Bottom line here, cut the red tape and save billions of dollars which equates to thousands of new jobs. Isn't this what we all want to solve our financial problems? Maybe not.

Federal Regulations Cost Billions
Source: Steve Stanek, "Federal Regs: 231 Billion Dollars, 133 Million Paperwork Hours," Heartland Institute, January 4, 2012. "2011: The Year in Regulation," American Action Forum, January 2, 2012.

In yet another year of growing federal regulations, businesses faced enormous amounts of economic loss and wasted man-hours in compliance costs. A recent study by the American Action Forum found that these costs are concentrated strongly in only a small number of onerous regulations, says Steve Stanek, a research fellow at the Heartland Institute.

According to the study, federal regulations in 2011 added more than $231 billion in regulatory costs to private businesses and state and local governments.

The CAFE (Corporate Average Fuel Economy) standards for light-duty vehicles had the highest single price tag with $141.4 billion in compliance costs.

Lost work hours associated with abiding by new regulations totaled an outstanding 133 million hours of paperwork.

Additional employee rights notifications will cost 12 million hours.

Medicaid eligibility changes under the Affordable Care Act will cost 11.07 million hours.

A new railroad conductor certification program will cost 10.99 million hours.

While these three are, according to the study, the most costly in terms of lost hours, they are only a small portion of the total regulatory burden. However, something can be said for the progress that was made in 2011 over 2010.

While the Obama administration published 82,480 pages of regulations in 2010, this figure dropped to 78,464 pages in 2011. Obama's Executive Order 13563, which called for an analysis of "outdated, ineffective, insufficient, or excessively burdensome" regulations, finalized $187 million in deregulatory actions in 2011.

Nevertheless, an administration that is serious about jumpstarting an economy and encouraging greater employment will do away with onerous regulations at a greater pace.

Social Democracy Kills Economic/individaul Freedom

The message is clear - the more economic freedom, the more prosperous the country becomes. The messages is also clear as to why the United States is falling into a ditch when measured against those countries that have more individual and economic freedom.

Progressive socialism prevents progress on all fronts. But then that is what it is designed to do. A socialist democracy is an agenda to control the population through scarcity.

America is in the throws of becoming socialist democracy right now demanded by the people that can not see the danger or are willing to over look the danger that will be only a short term gain.

Are these people unaware or just ignorant of the calamity that awaits them.

A Step Backward for Economic Freedom in 2012
Source: Edwin J. Feulner, "A Step Backward for Economic Freedom in 2012," Wall Street Journal, January 12, 2012.

The 2012 Index of Economic Freedom, published Thursday by the Heritage Foundation and The Wall Street Journal, documents a world in which economic freedom is contracting, hammered by excessive government regulations and stimulus spending that seems only to line the pockets of the politically well-connected, says Edwin J. Feulner, president of the Heritage Foundation.

Most of the decline in economic freedom was in countries in North America and Europe.
Canada, the United States and Mexico all lost ground in the index, and 31 of the 43 countries in Europe suffered contractions.

Government spending rose on average to 35.2 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) from 33.5 percent last year as measured by the 2012 index. The United States' economic freedom score dropped to 76.3 in 2012 from 81.2 in 2007 (on a scale of 0-100).

U.S. government expenditures have grown to a level equivalent to over 40 percent of GDP, and total public debt exceeds the size of the economy.

There are some bright spots.

Economic freedom has continued to increase in Asia and Africa. In fact, four Asia-Pacific economies -- Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia and New Zealand -- topthe Index of Economic Freedom this year. Taiwan showed impressive gains, moving into the index's top 20.

Eleven of the 46 economies in sub-Saharan Africa gained at least a full point on the index's economic freedom scale, and Mauritius jumped into the top 10 with the highest ranking -- 8th place -- ever achieved by an African country.

The 2012 index results confirm again the vital linkage between advancing economic freedom and eradicating poverty. Countries that rank "mostly unfree" or "repressed" in the index have levels of poverty intensity, as measured by the United Nations' new Multidimensional Poverty Index, that are three times higher than those of countries with more economic freedom.

Positive measures of human development in areas such as health and education are highly correlated with high levels of economic freedom, and economically free countries do a much better job of protecting the environment than their more regulated competitors.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Chinese Housing Problem : Communism/Progressive Socialism

Who knew? All is not smooth sailing in China - even if the New York Times believes the Communist economic model is better than our market economy. The reality is Communism is a complete loser and always has been.

Now that the Chinese are coming to grips with their own housing problem, they are making the same mistakes as our progressive socialist left Democrats did with Fannie and Freddie. Government intervention in the free market.

The question now is what is the difference between the progressive socialist left in this country and the Communist Chinese?

A Shifting Market Stings Chinese Homeowners
Source: "A Shifting Market Stings Chinese Homeowners," BusinessWeek, December 15, 2011.

While property privatization has helped fuel one of the fastest episodes of wealth creation in world history, new buyers in China often mortgage their futures to afford a home in the country's expanding cities. After reforms that were implemented 13 years ago allowing for private ownership of real estate, housing values in China's cities have skyrocketed, forcing buyers to scrape together unprecedented amounts of money to be able to afford a dwelling, says BusinessWeek.

However, the central government is now attempting to douse the housing market, for fear of a bubble. The story of newlywed Danny Deng is demonstrative of the negative effects the government's policies can have for those who are caught on the wrong side of the sector.
Pooling his own and his parents' savings, a loan from his boss, and a 1.1-million Yuan ($172,000) mortgage, Deng bought his first apartment for himself and his new bride.

According to SouFun Holdings, China's largest real estate Internet portal, Deng purchased his
apartment for approximately 17,000 ($2,690) to 18,000 ($2,848) Yuan per square meter.
Several weeks after the purchase, government policies forced the building's developer to lower his asking price by 4,000 ($600) Yuan per meter, meaning that Deng took a 20 percent loss on the value of his home overnight.

Deng was not alone when he took to the streets in protest of the government's market intervention that cost him a large portion of his life's savings -- hundreds of his neighbors joined him in outrage. Yet while the government recognizes the plight of the protesters and the damaging effects that its policies have had, it maintains that the need to address the housing bubble is nonetheless paramount.

Urban residential values have risen 155 percent nationwide in the 13 years since the reforms were implemented.

Prices in Shanghai, famous for the strong growth of its housing sector, almost quadrupled over the past decade.

A potential bubble in China's housing market is particularly worrying for government officials because at least 12 percent of the country's gross domestic product is tied to the sector (this excludes related industries like building materials).