Saturday, March 31, 2012

Trayvon And George Defined by Personal Spaces

Interesting information on how Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman come from different back grounds, cultures and how the two ethnic groups define their personal space in the community.

This a little long but well worth reading to get some idea of the possible motivations of each player in this tragedy.

The Real Trayvon Martin Story- George Zimmerman Is Mestizo
Posted on March 20, 2012 by

Half Sigma comes up with this news story, which makes the Trayvon Martin shooting a whole new deal.

George Zimmerman is clearly not white, and not even a white Hispanic. He looks like your run-of the-mill Mexican, which is to say a mestizo, a person of mixed European and Amerindian ancestry.

The term “Hispanic” is of course racially meaningless. It is officially and legally an ethnic category, invented if I remember correctly by the Nixon administration. If you are from Spain you are not Hispanic. Hispanic means you come from Latin America, and could be of any race.
When I was a kid, it was a lot simpler. Anyone from Latin America in California was a Mexican, whether recent immigrant or old stock. So we just called them “Mexicans”. The term Hispanic encompasses these people- who whether they come from Mexico, Guatemala, or El Salvador, are almost always mestizos or Amerindians.

These people form the lower class of these countries, and the whiter middle and upper classes have less reason to leave. I remember a kid named Victor showed up at my school. He had dark hair and tannable skin, but with freckles. He wore a cardigan and leather shoes, and the other Mexican kids- who adhered to the cholo dress code- thought he was a dork and made fun of him for being from Mexico.

East of the Mississippi things are more complicated. Puerto Ricans have much more African ancestry, as do various other Caribbean Hispanics. The exception was the original Cuban refugees from Castro, who were upper-class and fairly white, even if brunette. Other Cubans had already come to Florida and settled in Tampa, but I don’t know how white they were.

If you hear of a Hispanic around Orlando named George Zimmerman, you might be excused for assuming- as I and apparently most others have- that he is a fairly white Cuban, who generally behaves like a European American. For a white person to behave aggressively toward a black person is extremely unusual. Bernie Goetz, the famed “subway vigilante”, is an example.

But Florida has changed a lot in recent years and now has a lot of Mexicans and Central Americans. He is described as having a white father and Hispanic mother, but his mother must be mostly “indio” for him to look like he does. But your rougher sort of Hispanics- and I’ll just say Mexicans for simplicity- don’t play well with blacks. They come from a culture where blacks are at the bottom of the totem pole and nobody feels bad about it. They are quite violent and racist, and don’t defer to blacks or like having them around.

Where there are large numbers of Mexicans they seem not to mix with blacks, and blacks seem to steer clear of them. In Los Angeles they have driven blacks out of many areas usually thought of as black strongholds- Compton, once white working class (and home of Kevin Costner and James Coburn) became black and scary, but not scary enough to keep out the Mexicans, who displaced the blacks. In some areas Mexican gangs have explicitly targeted blacks to make them leave.

But it has to be cultural too- blacks just don’t like being around any significant number of non-blacks, I’m sure they find the Latin culture and language strange and frightening, and Mexicans are not deferential and inclined to ignore black predation, as whites are.

And that last bit tells the whole story. The neighborhood is a modest community of townhouses going for just over $100,000. A simple, blue-collar and lower middle-class place. While theoretically gated, a black resident quoted on Coates’s blog admits black “youth” have been walking in and stealing stuff.

Zimmerman was quite angry about this. The area seems to be about 50% white and 25% Hispanic, but the census tract covers a large area so it’s hard to tell the racial mix of The Retreat at Twin Lakes. (Yes, housing developments in Florida have silly names like this.) I suspect that it is mostly white and white-acculturated Hispanics, which is why Zimmerman was the only resident willing to volunteer time to the Neighborhood Watch. His white and acculturated neighbors seem to have been willing to accept the incursions and treat them as a nuisance- locking the garage and house more carefully, and calling the insurance company about the loss.

One of white people’s serious defects is an unwillingness to protect their turf. White people are adapted, culturally and genetically, to avoid confrontation with those physically close. In a hostile climate a communal culture develops that discourages this.

Had Zimmerman not been there, there would have been no confrontation. Had there been more Mexicans, the local black kids might have gotten the message, however exactly Mexicans communicate it, that coming into the neighborhood to steal stuff- or coming into the neighborhood at all- was a bad idea.

We are going to be seeing Zimmerman’s sad mug in the paper and on TV a lot in the coming months. It is going to be hard to portray him as a secret Klansman. But he is not going to get off the hook. Blacks are enraged, and the Holder Justice Department has a headline-grabbing case.
Hispanics may get angry, seeing the sad face of a guy who looks like he ought to be hanging out in the Home Depot parking lot, daily excoriated as a “racist! RACIST!” And this may lead to a Hispanic pushback. That may be why the cops let him go.

They see a fight between a Mexican and a black end with a gunshot, and the Mexican claims self-defense. A white cop doesn’t realize that because the Mexican has a German name he’ll be identified as white, and don’t want to get heat from the Hispanics for an unjustified arrest. So he writes it up as self-defense and figures it will go away.

In any case, this will be interesting. Blacks live on the assumption they can hurt and steal from all other races, but especially whites and Asians. They need to get taken down a notch, and if this does that, good.

Supreme Court Wonders Aloud : Who Are You?

Judge Scalia, Roberts and Kennedy asked some good question regarding ObamaCare's mandates. The following is one section of a larger article on the analysis of this exchange.

(National Center for Political Analysis)

Solicitor General Verrilli's defense of Obamacare was largely criticized by professional Supreme Court watchers. He seemed to stumble and stammer throughout his argument against the individual mandate.

The White House had to defend his performance: "Mr. Verrilli is an extraordinarily talented advocate who possesses a sharp mind, keen judgment, and unquestionable integrity. He ably and skillfully represented the United States before the Supreme Court yesterday, and we have every confidence that he will continue to do so."

Friday, March 30, 2012

Education Failing Students Needs & National Security

What this article is saying is 'just how far can the next generation go on stupid.

U.S. Education Reform and National Security
Source: "U.S. Education Reform and National Security," Council on Foreign Relations, 2012.

A Council on Foreign Relations-sponsored Independent Task Force report on U.S. Education Reform and National Security has found that education woes in the United States pose a security risk for the United States. As American students gradually fall behind their international peers, the task force has argued that the country will face threats to its economic growth and competitiveness, physical safety, intellectual property, U.S. global awareness, and U.S. unity and cohesion.

The 2009 Program for International Student Assessment, an international assessment that measures the performance of 15-year-olds in reading, mathematics and science every three years, serves as a reliable metric for comparing American students with those of other developed countries.

U.S. students rank 14th in reading.
In science, they placed 17th.
They also obtained a paltry rank of 25th in mathematics.

These sub-par rankings reflect an education system that fails to serve students. This failure is not only reflected in comparisons to other countries, but is also visible in entirely domestic metrics.

More than 25 percent of students fail to graduate from high school in four years, and for African-American and Hispanic students, this number is approaching 40 percent.
In civics, only a quarter of U.S. students are proficient or better on the National Assessment of Educational Progress.

Although the United States is a nation of immigrants, roughly eight in 10 Americans speak only English and a decreasing number of schools are teaching foreign languages. A recent report by ACT, the not-for-profit testing organization, found that only 22 percent of U.S. high school students met "college ready" standards in all of their core subjects.

The College Board reported that even among college-bound seniors, only 43 percent met college-ready standards, meaning that more college students need to take remedial courses.
Recognizing these issues and seeking to address them, the task force proposed three broad policy needs:

Increase educational access to subjects that are crucial to the aforementioned areas of national security.

Allow greater competition among education providers.
Publicize efforts to improve security readiness through augmented education programs.

Buffett Rule A Economic Ruse : Who Knew?

All this data assumes that the rich will just wait in line to hand over their profits to the federal government. Not going to happen. They're not rich because they're stupid. The money will flee the country or be locked away.

The result will be more unemployment and a slowing further of economic growth. And the cry from the left Democrat progressives will be as usual, 'the mess was worse then we thought' or 'the Republicans are blocking our programs from working'. There are many other excuses for failure used by Democrats, but these two are the ones used most often.

This is the progressive socialist message to the country, " welcome to our world".

"Buffett Rule" Would Raise Less than $5 billion in Taxes a Year
Source: James O'Toole, "'Buffett Rule' would raise less than $5 billion in taxes a year," Yahoo! News, March 20, 2012.

The Obama administration has placed a great deal of emphasis on the implementation of the "Buffett Rule" as a means to ensure that everyone pays their "fair share" and a tool of deficit reduction. However, economic analysis of the rule as written suggests it would do little to accomplish either goal, says Yahoo! News.

The "Paying a Fair Share Act," a bill introduced by Senate Democrats last month, would require those who make more than $1 million a year to pay at least 30 percent of their income in taxes, with certain exceptions and stipulations.

The Joint Committee on Taxation, which provides the official Congressional analysis of tax legislation, estimates the act would generate $47 billion over the next decade, or an average of just $4.7 billion per year.

To put that in perspective, President Obama's budget forecasts a $901 billion deficit in 2013.
An important note in the analysis was that it assumed that the income tax cuts currently in effect expire as scheduled next year, putting the maximum personal income tax rate at 39.6 percent and the capital gains tax at 20 percent. That's up from current rates of 35 percent and 15 percent, respectively.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

'Warmers' Get More Bad News : Earth Hot In Dim Past

Oh no, another fact to confuse the issue. Just what the nut jobs in the environmental trenches didn't need to hear, but then it really doesn't matter what facts are found to debunk 'man made climate change', the 'warmers' will never admit they are being mislead.

This a fact of life for those that sit in the front pew of the church of environmental fantasy, and have drunk the lemonade of the environmental agenda, or sometimes called the Dan Rather syndrome, 'it might not be true but it should be', they will always believe anything that fits their twisted view of reality.

What we have here is better known as 'genetic mutants' by humans more based in common sense and how the world really works.

Medieval Warm Period Was Global Event
Source: Ted Thornhill, "Is This Finally Proof We're NOT Causing Global Warming? The Whole of the Earth Heated up in Medieval Times without Human CO2 Emissions, Says New Study," Daily Mail (U.K.), March 26, 2012.

Current theories of the causes and impact of global warming have been thrown into question by a new study that shows that during medieval times the entire planet heated up. It then cooled down naturally, says the Daily Mail (U.K.).

A team of scientists led by geochemist Zunli Lu from Syracuse University has found that
contrary to the "consensus," the Medieval Warm Period approximately 500 to 1,000 years ago wasn't just confined to Europe. In fact, it extended all the way down to Antarctica -- which means that Earth has already experience global warming without the aid of human carbon dioxide emissions.

At present the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change argues that the Medieval Warm Period was confined to Europe -- therefore that the warming we're experiencing now is a man-made phenomenon. However, Professor Lu has shown that this isn't true -- and the evidence lies with a rare mineral called ikaite, which forms in cold waters.

"Ikaite is an icy version of limestone," says Lu. "The crystals are only stable under cold conditions and actually melt at room temperature." It turns out the water that holds the crystal structure together -- called the hydration water -- traps information about temperatures present when the crystals formed.

This finding by Lu's research team establishes, for the first time, ikaite as a reliable way to study past climate conditions.

The scientists studied ikaite crystals from sediment cores drilled off the coast of Antarctica. The sediment layers were deposited over 2,000 years. The scientists were particularly interested in crystals found in layers deposited during the "Little Ice Age," approximately 300 to 500 years ago, and during the Medieval Warm Period before it. Both climate events have been documented in Northern Europe, but studies have been inconclusive as to whether the conditions in Northern Europe extended to Antarctica.

Lu's team found that in fact, they did. They were able to deduce this by studying the amount of heavy oxygen isotopes found in the crystals. During cool periods there are lots, during warm periods there are not.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

EPA Moves To Crush Coal Energy

The aim here is to tighten the grip on the populations ability to prosper. The progressive left socialists, including environmentalists and unions for the most part, believe to save the world, the human population must be reigned in, slowed down or even according some, eliminated.

The EPA is the face of the Obama administration. If new regulations that stop coal fired energy generation plants means millions freeze or roast, so be it. Who cares. It's the Marxist socialist agenda that counts. The country be dammed.

EPA Takes Aim at Coal Plants
Source: Keith Johnson, "EPA Takes Aim at Coal Plants," Wall Street Journal, March 26, 2012.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is set to introduce new rules this week that take aim at greenhouse gas emissions from coal-fired power plants, says the Wall Street Journal.
The long-awaited action will sharply limit the emissions allowed from power plants built in the future, but will allow existing coal plants to keep operating for years.

The new rules will essentially make it unviable to build new coal-fired power plants, unless they are fitted with yet-to-be-commercialized carbon-capture technology. The rules would limit the permissible emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases to a little more than half of what a typical coal plant emits today, administration officials have said. By contrast, cleaner-burning, gas-fired power plants are expected to remain viable under the rules.

The utility industry has fought hard against the rules, arguing that if new coal plants are effectively banned, the industry will be forced to forswear a cheap and plentiful source of electricity generation. The unveiling of the rules is also likely to draw fire from Republicans and business groups.

Some environmentalists are also expected to criticize the measure, because it doesn't apply to the hundreds of coal-fired plants currently operating and gives them years to clean up.

Wis High School Students Confront Leftists : A Video

Here is great video on what Democracy looks like - a bunch of Lutheran high school students confronted progressive left demonstrators in the Wisconsin state capital -

The union leftists progressives used the 'this is what Democracy looks like' slogan when the stormed the capital by the thousands and stopped all activity that was normal operations causing millions of dollars of damage over a period of months that they sat, slept, defaced, destroyed urinated and or defecated in the capital rotunda.

This wasn't the face of Democracy, this was and is the face of the new progressive left Marxist Democrats. Make no mistake, this is who they are and they aren't going away.

Britain's High Tax Rate Reduces Revenue Income

The bigger the government gets and demands more money from the population to feed it's ever growing needs, that government will find with every tax rate increase the revenue stops increasing or begins to fall.

Britain is proof of this situation - the more they raised the tax rate the results were a decreasing increase over time and then revenue falls. Do we, in this country, need more first hand information before we wake up? Maybe if we looked to Canada and how they are prospering from reduced tax rates? What about that? nah -

Why the Higher Rate of Income Tax Yielded so Little
Source: "Falling Flat: Why the Higher Rate of Income Tax Yielded so Little," The Economist, March 24, 2012.

Britain's 50 percent personal income tax reaped little revenue, according to an analysis by tax-office officials. The study is based on a single year's tax returns, but is nonetheless compelling, says The Economist.

It shows that the combined incomes of the taxpayers liable to pay the 50 percent rate (i.e., those with earnings above £150,000, or $238,000) fell by a quarter, from £116 billion ($185 billion) to £87 billion ($139 billion), in 2010-2011, the first year in which the tax applied.
This sharp drop means either that the well-paid did a lot less work in Britain or that they shielded their income from the higher tax rate. A closer look suggests the latter.

The tax wonks find that up to £18 billion ($29 billion) of income was brought forward to the previous tax year to avoid the top rate. Much of this "forestalling" came in the form of higher dividend income, which surged in 2009-2010 before plummeting a year later, as owner-directors of companies altered the timing of their own payouts. There was a similar spike in employment income in 2009-2010, which is put down to the early exercise of share options to avoid the new tax.

The forestalling made it tricky for the tax officials to estimate what the take from the 50 percent rate would be in a "normal" year. The study puts the figure at around £1 billion ($1.6 billion) "at most," far less than the hoped-for £2.5 billion ($4 billion).

The Treasury estimates a £100 million ($160 billion) revenue loss from cutting the top rate of tax to 45 percent, based in part on the analysis of 2009-2010 tax receipts. The results suggest that the tax take from incomes over £150,000 is little different whether you set the tax rate at 45 percent or 50 percent. Setting the rate much higher than 45 percent is pointless; beyond 50 percent it is self-defeating.

The additional revenue loss of abolishing the higher rate altogether is estimated at a few hundred million pounds.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Health Care Can Be Saved From Obama : Really!

This is good for all of us - anything that brings common sense this nighmare must be the bottom line in any health care systems.

How to Replace the Health Reform Law
Source: James C. Capretta and Robert E. Moffit, "How to Replace ObamaCare," National Affairs, Spring 2012.

History suggests that, now that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act ("ObamaCare") is with us, the law cannot be reversed without a credible proposal for what should take its place. Those reforms must account for both the strengths and the weaknesses of our health care system, and must solve the problems that contributed to the demand for ObamaCare in the first place.

There is room for debate about the particulars of these reforms, and different components of our health care system will call for different kinds of fixes. What any effective solution must involve, however, is the creation of a true market in health coverage -- one that drives efficiency through competition, and places health care decisions in the hands of consumers and taxpayers, where they belong, say James C. Capretta, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and a fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, and Robert E. Moffit, a senior fellow in the Center for Policy Innovation at the Heritage Foundation.

To be credible, the replacement for ObamaCare must address in a plausible way the genuine problems with our system of financing health care. Preeminent among these are the explosion in costs, the rising numbers of uninsured, and the challenge of covering Americans with pre-existing conditions.

The first crucial component of any serious reform must be a "defined contribution" approach to the public financing of health care -- the essential prerequisite for a functioning marketplace that imposes cost and quality discipline. For market forces to work, consumers must be cost-conscious.

The second pillar of reform should be personal responsibility and continuous-coverage protection.

The third pillar of reform must be a genuine partnership with the states.

The fourth pillar of a real reform agenda would address the tax treatment of employer-sponsored plans, transforming today's tax exclusion for employer-provided insurance into a standard tax credit that would extend to all Americans, regardless of employment status, which they could then use to purchase the private coverage of their choice.

The fifth key component of a genuine health care reform plan must be an overhaul of Medicaid -- policymakers should move lower-income people out of the limited sphere of Medicaid options and into the same private health insurance markets in which their fellow citizens purchase coverage.

The sixth pillar of a replacement plan must be premium-support reform of Medicare.
Finally, as a key criticism of ObamaCare is the danger it poses to federal finances, the seventh pillar of a serious health care reform plan must be the full offset of all new costs through spending cuts.

ObamaCare PPACA First Step to Total Control

As this article points out, many people will 'game' the system causing it to fail to provide adequate health care, not only for the new intranets, but also for everyone that had good health care in the past under the private health care system.

Of course, again, it's not really about providing good health care, it's about establishing a power base to demand control of everything that the population wants to do. If the government can demand you have to buy a form of health care or be fined under the Commerce Clause of the Constitution, they can demand you buy an electric car or how much you can travel and where. It's bad for your health to travel places deemed by the government as risky. Really?

Take a minute and give this some thought - every aspect of your life will have a price tag on it set by someone else. If you don't want to pay the price, you pay a fine and or go to jail. How long then before the government decides some in society are enemies of the state and take steps to eliminated the threat.

It's the new America according to the progressive liberal left agenda.

Importance of the Individual Mandate to the Health Reform Law
Source: Margaret Steele, "Analysts Debate Importance of the 'Individual Mandate' to Health-Reform Law," U.S. News & World Report, March 22, 2012.

The individual mandate will be a primary topic of discussion when the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) comes before the Supreme Court. Long recognized as one of the 2010 health care law's most controversial provisions, the mandate requires the purchase of health insurance, imposing a tax penalty for those who don't participate, says U.S. News & World Report.

The law can be carried out even if the individual mandate is struck down. But John C. Goodman, president of the National Center for Policy Analysis, emphasizes that even if the law is found to be entirely constitutional, it will still face a number of practical obstacles that will limit its effectiveness.

Goodman's analysis of figures from the Congressional Budget Office suggest that though they vary by region and age, typical insurance premiums in 2016 will average about $5,800 for an individual and $15,200 for a family of four.

Meanwhile, according to the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, fines for noncompliance will amount to $695 for individuals and $2,085, or 2.5 percent of total taxable income for families.
Essentially, the current system will likely fail to achieve the broad participation among the nation's young and healthy that it hopes to.

Goodman also identifies an additional problem with the current scheme of premiums and fines: it offers a substantial opportunity to game the system. The disparity between the fines and premiums will encourage people to wait until they're sick to buy insurance and cancel it when they're well, causing costs to skyrocket.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Afghanistan's Way of Life and Death : Time to Understand

This is long but a must read to understand what happened in Afghanistan and what will happen now. There are no easy answers or fixes, only hard work and risks of failure.

Are we up to the task or do we cut and run?

Michael Yon Dispatch-Mass Murder
15 March 2012

Got this message from former Marine Tim Lynch, in Afghanistan. Tim's not always polite, but he's a former infantry officer and I listen to him very closely: "The Taliban killed 13 women and children today with an IED in Uruzgan and I think they got 8 yesterday - but that's all cool here because their the Taliban and we're the big fat retarded kid on the block who gets bullied everyday but still shows up to fork over even more lunch money while assuming at some point everyone will like us because we're so xxxxx generous."

5 March 2012

The New York Daily News asked for an op-ed on the mass murder in Afghanistan. I invested several hours writing and they took it as is. As per normal, they changed the title. Practically every publication does this to suit their specific readership, and that’s fine. But on my website we can stick with the original title, some in the American forces buckling under the pressure of war?

The mass murder in Afghanistan was predictable. Twice in the past three weeks, I published that it was coming. Why was I able to write this with sad confidence? I’ve spent more time with combat troops in these wars than any other writer: about four years in total in country, and three with combat troops.

About 200 coalition members have been killed or wounded from insider attacks. Afghan President Hamid Karzai is tantamount to being Taliban and has not bothered to apologize. Instead, Karzai whips up anti-U.S. fervor at every opportunity. Twice, Karzai has threatened to leave politics and join the Taliban.

Even our most disciplined troops — not the few problem troops — have lost all idealism. They have not lost heart for the fight. Mostly, they just don’t care. They fight because they are ordered to fight, but they have eyes wide open. The halfhearted surge and sudden drawdown leave little room for success.

We face a discipline collapse. The bulk of our force is solid — then there’s a small fraction, probably a sliver of a percent, who might be crushed by the pressure.

On Feb. 24, I published:
“As the prevalence of insider attacks rises, and we lose more troops to Afghan troops going berserk and murdering our people, it’s likely just a matter of time before a U.S. troop or troops turn the table and intentionally slaughter Afghan forces.
“That could lead to a meltdown. We are at risk of losing control of more than some people might imagine. There is only so much that U.S. forces will put up with before fringe U.S. combat troops start taking matters into their own hands. Believe me.”

The next day, I published, “If things keep going this way, my expectation is that it’s a matter of time before discipline breaks and the gun turns.”

I’ve seen a few men on our side precariously close to the edge. In fact, my official embed status was ended by the Army in August 2011 after I wrote about issues with three soldiers.
I was accused of saying there were issues because I was disembedded. Yet the written trail and chronology is clear: I publicized discipline problems, then the Army circled the wagons and I was shown the door.

I published that a master sergeant stationed in Kandahar was homicidal after he strongly hinted at murder on his website. For years, he had been writing about his mental issues — yet the Army sent him to Afghanistan. Between hate-filled rants about gays and so on, he would write about his mental illness. In January of this year, he turned himself in to a clinic in Kandahar for mental issues.

Why was this guy armed and in Afghanistan in the first place? (He had nothing to do with the 16 murders.)

The 16 murder victims, including women and small children, are Pashtun. Pashtuns live by a code called Pashtunwali, which they take as seriously as the Koran. Pashtunwali includes “nanawatai” (asylum), “badal” (justice/revenge), “tureh” (bravery, specifically protecting women, children and property) and “namus” (honor of women).

Pashtunwali commitment to “badal” makes the Hatfields and McCoys look like a schoolyard fight. Nor is this just a Pashtun thing. There is an annual bloodfest between the Hazaras and Kuchis. That feud should be cranking up again with spring.

Afghan feuds are famously persistent. Badal carries through the generations like DNA. A grandson not born today might take revenge for events decades before his birth. He may kill someone who also was not born at that time.

Panjwai district, the scene of the crime, had been one of the most dangerous districts in Afghanistan. Panjwai saw major battles involving Canadian, U.S., U.K., Dutch and Afghan forces. Many hundreds of enemy were estimated killed, and we took substantial casualties.

Progress was happening there. In early 2011, I drove there from Kandahar city without the military. The mood of the locals was tense. The journey was unsafe, but the fact that we entered what had previously been a Taliban-owned district, and returned safely, was demonstrative.
Yet in one furious night of murder, a single U.S. soldier (apparently) has wiped Panjwai progress off the map.

Karzai is Pashtun. He said, “This is an assassination, an intentional killing of innocent civilians, and cannot be forgiven.” Afghans will seek revenge and they will have it. This will lead to yet greater possibilities of another mass murder from our side. We are considering holding the trial in Afghanistan. Pashtuns don’t care about our justice system. They don’t even care about the Afghan government; they want blood for blood. We are being drawn into a feud.

“The Panjway 16.”

Student Loan Debt Costs Huge : Destructive

Who Knew? The student loan program is worse then first thought. The administration had to be aware of this but went ahead taking control of the entire program. Why would they do this?

Easy, Mr. Obama wants to secure the vote of students, and that it would cause cost to go up made no difference. It's about 'getting and keeping' power no matter how destructive it will be for the country.

Student-Loan Debt Tops $1 Trillion
Source: Josh Mitchell and Maya Jackson-Randall, "Student-Loan Debt Tops $1 Trillion," Wall Street Journal, March 22, 2012.

The ballooning of student loan debt is causing uneasiness among many lenders, and the inherent uncertainty in attempting to assess the exact amount of debt compounds this feeling. Yet a recent reexamination of crucial loan data suggests that the national level is likely much higher than previous estimates, says the Wall Street Journal.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), a federal agency created in the wake of the financial crisis, recently stated that total student debt outstanding appears to have surpassed $1 trillion late last year. This estimate is roughly 16 percent higher than an estimate earlier this year by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

The differential in the two estimates comes from the input data used: while the Reserve Bank used a sampling of consumer credit reports, the Bureau surveyed private lenders.
CFPB officials, who will release the official report regarding the estimate this summer, have pointed to a number of conspiring factors that have contributed to the ballooning of student debt:

Over the long term, more students are attending college than in previous years. This broad trend is compounded by the fact that numerous workers have left the labor market in response to the recession in order to return to school. Additionally, postsecondary education institutions across the country are consistently raisingtheir tuition faster than inflation.
Finally, as more students fall behind on payments, interest rates climb and more money is owed on interest.

The bubble-like nature of the student lending market could have broad implications for lenders and borrowers alike. Additionally, the high debt level will carry serious consequences for the economy as a whole. Because students (and parents who have cosigned on student loans) are allocating large portions of their income to payments, they cannot save money for large expenditures like mortgages. Additionally, students that have interest in buying a home can face credit rating obstacles from student loans.

These factors can conspire to further undermine confidence in an already-fragile housing market.

EPA Watch Dog Now a MAD DOG! : Stop the Mad Dog!

Clearly the EPA is out of control and must be defunded completely until it can be reorganized. We need a watch dog over our environment, but a 'mad dog' is not what the people of this country had in mind.

An EPA Power Grab
Source: Marlo Lewis, "An EPA Power Grab," National Review, March 15, 2012.

The Obama administration's fuel economy standards, which will require an average of 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025, have come under a great deal of criticism for perceived costs. Though the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) claim the move will produce net benefits ranging from $262 billion to $358 billion, analysts remain skeptical, says Marlo Lewis, a senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute.

There is, however, a component of the regulation that makes it far more dangerous than its potential costs, because the rule itself undermines the separation of powers and democratic accountability.

This is because the laws used to justify the regulation were never intended for that end, and any bill justifying these standards would be dead-on-arrival before Congress.
Nevertheless, the EPA maintains an intrusive hand in the dictation of fuel standards without seeking the approval of Congress.

The NHTSA is supposed to have singular authority over the fuel standards, pursuant to the Energy Policy Conservation Act. The EPA, however, has justified its actions through the Clean Air Act, which was never intended to directly regulate fuel standards.

The agency has even gone so far as to expand its mandate to stationary sources of emissions, gaining the ability to establish greenhouse gas performance standards for coal power plants and oil refineries.

The EPA is quick to emphasize that automakers remain amenable to the standards, often lobbying against congressional provisions that would remove the EPA's teeth. However, the auto industry does so through coercion, fearful of a complicated patchwork of regulations that the EPA might create if the fuel standards are discontinued.

Furthermore, the EPA's actions clearly flout the will of Congress. In the last Congress, after almost two decades of global warming advocacy, Congress declined to give EPA explicit authority to regulate greenhouse gases. The notion that Congress gave EPA authority over fuel standards when the Clean Air Act was passed in 1970, years before global warming emerged as a public concern, defies chronology.

It is widely accepted that a legislative proposal boosting average fuel economy to 54.5 miles per gallon would not pass in the 112th Congress.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

ObamaCare Turns Two : Progressive Liberals Silent

This entire contribution to the destruction of our health care in America was done against the will of the people. The Republicans had no hand in this at all, none, zero impute.

As Nancy Pelosi said 'congress has to pass the bill to find out what's in it' has come full circle. We now know what's in it and we now know what's in it spells disaster for all of us. And not only in health care will the pain be felt but in all aspects of our way of life.

If the Supreme Court doesn't strike this bill down as unconstitutional, and if Republicans don't win the White House and the Senate to repeal this law, all is lost. That is, it will take more than decades to repair the damage, it will take generations.

(National Center for Policy Analysis)
As the country marks the second anniversary of Obamacare, the Supreme Court is preparing to hear oral arguments next week on the Constitutionality of the law.

If you recall, 26 states are suing the federal government over the legitimacy of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA). At issue is whether the government can force Americans to buy health insurance and whether the federal government can force states to expand their Medicaid roles.

Conservatives are marking the second anniversary of Obamacare with protests, rallies and marches around Washington D.C. All of the Republican candidates for President are taking advantage of the anniversary to explain why they would repeal Obamacare.

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is stepping up his game, saying that if the Republicans gain a majority in the Senate next year, the first vote would be to repeal Obamacare. The House already voted last year to repeal the law.

For the most part, the White House has been silent on the anniversary, except for inane pronouncements like this. However, the President’s re-election website prominently features the controversial law.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Pensions Payments Proposal : Pay Later?

Is there no end to the ignorance of our government? How can these people, with a straight face, say all we have to do to fix our problems now is pass them on to next year or the next generation.

They have to believe it always worked before, why not now? What exactly do these politicians use for intelligence? This is why we are in trouble now. We're at the edge of darkness, there is no tomorrow.

Who are these people?

The Big Lie at the Heart of the Highway Bill
Source: Alex Brill and Alan D. Viard, "The Big Lie at the Heart of the Highway Bill," The Atlantic, March 16, 2012.

The Senate-passed highway bill takes a big step backward on pension policy by adopting a provision that allows employers to shirk some of their pension plan contribution obligations. The Senate explains that the benefits are twofold, say Alex Brill, a research fellow, and Alan D. Viard, a resident scholar, at the American Enterprise Institute.

By alleviating the burden on businesses to contribute to pensions, the Senate's action will essentially stimulate the economy by freeing up business' cash for hiring. Because businesses won't allocate nearly as much cash to their pensions, they will not be able to claim that deduction on their corporate tax rates, which means tax revenue will increase.

Estimates suggest the provision will bring in $18 billion over seven years, a fraction of which will be used to fund roads, bridges and public transportation. However, each of these claimed benefits is far more injurious than beneficial, and additional consequences of the bill make it dangerous, threatening the need for future bailouts.

First, many of the largest pension plans are already underfunded, and a further holiday on contributions will only further exacerbate the problem. The 100 largest plans were roughly $200 billion underfunded at the end of last year.

The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC), a federal agency responsible for covering pensions for workers when plans prove insolvent, already faces a $26 billion gap between the assets it holds and its liabilities from past pension failures. If the PBGC can't get the necessary money from the fees it charges and the assets it holds, taxpayers will be left on the line to cover inevitable losses.

Second, the plan will do little to stimulate the economy. Pension investments by one firm become part of the pool of savings that finances investment throughout the economy. By further choking the flow of business savings, the Senate is only shifting money around the economy and is stimulating nothing.

Finally, the bill increases government revenues now, but they will decrease later to compensate. A break on contributions for the near-future simply means that businesses will allocate more to pensions later on. When they do, they will take greater advantage of the tax deduction and the government will face a no-gain or even a net loss.

Ryan Budget Based on Common Sense & Reality

Any time great things happen it's because someone has shown courage in the face of opposition or ignorance.

When catastrophe is about to come our way and we knowingly turn a blind eye to it, then we deserve to be diminished in physical terms as well as moral.

To ignore this Ryan proposal strictly along partisan lines is to prove we have no grip on reality but act strictly on self interest. Have we learned nothing from past disasters where politics has overcome common sense?

(National Center for Political Analysis)
FY 2013 budget. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) introduced a fiscal year 2013 budget this week. It is similar to the budget he proposed last year.

The FY 2013 Ryan budget overhauls the tax code, repeals Obamacare, and reforms the Medicare and Medicaid entitlement programs.

In response, the White House said Ryan and his supporters are “ignorant” and have “severely diminished capacity.”

Democrats in general lamented the “end of Medicare as we know it.”

The House Budget Committee passed the Ryan budget on Wednesday and the full House of Representatives is expected to consider it next week. For their part, the Senate isn’t even expected to offer a budget.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Education Expenses Skyrocket : Federal Aid Key

This is a fact and to the point, college is a waste of time for a huge percentage of people. And with the cost being so high and the debt accumulation so large, it seems to make sense to turn as many people away from pursuing higher education and direct them into some kind of skill building trade where they are really needed.

Reducing Federal Aid Key to College Affordability
Source: Neal McCluskey, "Reducing Federal Aid, Not Changing Bankruptcy Laws, Key to College Affordability," Cato Institute, March 20, 2012.

As the federal government seeks to address the skyrocketing tuition rates of postsecondary institutions, one consideration has been to expand bankruptcy eligibility so that students can escape crushing loan debt. However, as Neal McCluskey, associate director of the Center for Educational Freedom at the Cato Institute, explains, a better solution would be for the federal government to lower aid levels.

According the College Board, between the 1981 and 2011 school years, inflation-adjusted aid per full-time equivalent student rose from $4,418 to $13,914 -- a 215 percent increase.

Over the same timespan at four-year public institutions prices expanded from $2,242 to $8,244 -- a 268 percent increase.

At four-year, nonprofit private institutions prices rose from $10,144 to $28,500 -- a 181 percent increase.

While it is difficult to state definitively that higher aid caused higher tuition, the logic behind the relationship is strong: because students have greater access to funds, schools inflate rates.
The overall conclusion that can be drawn from this inflation is that because of government subsidies, too many students are going to college. This not only saddles them with substantial debts and widely varying earnings potential, but also grants only mediocre educational outcomes.

According to data from the federal Digest of Education Statistics, only 55 percent of first-time, full-time bachelor's degree seekers at public institutions finish their degree within six years.
Estimates of the lifetime financial gain from a college degree range from $1 million to just about $100,000, with many not even earning that much.

According to Bureau of Labor Statistics' data, the weekly earnings for people whose maximum educational attainment is a Bachelor's have dropped over the last decade by about 4 percent.
Researcher found that 45 percent of students in their sample demonstrated no significant learning in their first two years of college, and that 36 percent demonstrated no learning in four years.

All of these trends suggest that college education is actually becoming less valuable while becoming more expensive. Indeed, currently about one-third of people with Bachelor's degrees are in jobs that do not require them.

Social Secority by the Numbers : No Government Aid

This works but we can't have this nation wide as it makes it too hard for the politicians to steal from these accounts.

Social Security by Choice
Source: Merrill Matthews, "Social Security by Choice," American Spectator, March 15, 2012.

The experience of three Texas counties offers a realistic demonstration of how Social Security can be successfully reformed. Galveston, Matagorda and Brazoria counties opted out of Social Security in the early 1980s, and have since developed and implemented what they call the Alternate Plan, says Merrill Matthews, a resident scholar with the Institute for Policy Innovation.

Like Social Security, employees contribute 6.2 percent of their incomes, which the counties match with the option of providing more (as Galveston does).
Unlike a traditional IRA or 401(k) plan, which account holders can actively manage, the contributions are pooled, like deposits to a bank savings account.

Top-rated financial institutions then bid on the right to manage the funds, offering minimum interest rates that yield significant protection from market downturns.
The plan avoids the pitfalls of pay-as-you-go systems by giving workers only what they pay in.
The experience of the three counties' employees over the past 30 years speaks to the effectiveness and efficiency of the plans. While paying out substantially higher payments to retired workers, the plans do not face burdensome unfunded liabilities that haunt many states' legislatures.

A lower-middle income worker making about $26,000 at retirement would get about $1,007 a month under Social Security, but $1,826 under the Alternate Plan.
A middle-income worker making $51,200 would get about $1,540 monthly from Social Security, but $3,600 from the Alternate Plan.

And a high-income worker who maxed out on his Social Security contribution every year would receive about $2,500 a month from Social Security compared to $5,000 to $6,000 a month from the Alternate Plan.

In addition to protecting the local governments from large debts to retirees, the plans also protect participants from bad markets via the aforementioned minimum interest rates.
Most plans have written into them a minimum 3.75 percent minimum rate.
Over the last decade, the accounts have earned between 3.75 percent and 5.75 percent every year, with an average of around 5 percent.

The 1990s often saw even higher interest rates, from 6.5 percent to 7 percent.
The plans also offer substantially better benefits in other regards, including life and disability insurance that is more comprehensive and easier to access.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Europe's Debt Problems Solutions Not Good

The problems of debt and deficit are all around us. Just look at what is going on in Wisconsin and other states that are trying to reign in their respective deficits. Public employees riot at the state capital causing millions of dollars of damage.

Unions and other liberal Democrats are attacking the very foundation of the recovery by 'recalling' legislators responsible for proposing and implementing rules to solve the state's problems, which by the way, are working.

It's not about solving problems that face the state for the unions and Democrats, it's about getting back the power to use tax dollars for their own purposes.

Europe's Real Crisis
Source: Megan McArdle, "Europe's Real Crisis," The Atlantic, April 2012.

European policymakers seem to have finally reached an agreement on how to save the continent's troubled economies from a debt crisis. However, the details of the plan suggest that it relies heavily on the ability of these imperiled economies to grow their way out of trouble -- a feat that will be difficult, says Megan McArdle, a senior editor for The Atlantic.

Italy serves as an excellent example of the challenges that these economies will face. Furthermore, because of its economic centrality to the Eurozone, analysts have remarked that the ability of Italy to accept austerity and pay off its debt will likely determine the fate of the whole system. In this regard, Italy will clearly face numerous upfront obstacles to growing out of its debt burden.

Italy's public debt stands at $2.3 trillion, roughly 20 percent larger than the country's gross domestic product (GDP). Interest payments on its debt, exacerbated by growing fears about insolvency that have driven up interest rates, constitute a full 5 percent of GDP.

These interest payments, which will likely continue to grow with each additional year of deficits, turned what would have been a surplus last year into a deficit equal to 3.6 percent of national income. Furthermore, for every percentage point that the interest rate on the debt increases, Italians have to divert another 1.2 percent of national income into debt payments.

Exceptional economic growth will be necessary to overcome this debt burden -- growth that seems less likely as austerity measures are adopted that will reduce aggregate demand.
Additionally, exceptional growth in the long run also seems unlikely because of the demographic shift currently taking place in Italy and many other Eurozone countries.

As their populations age, governments owe greater sums to retiree benefits and simultaneously have fewer productive workers to tax. Though Italy's fertility rate has inched up over time, it is still low at 1.4 children per woman -- well-below the replacement rate of 2.1.

This suggests that this aging trend will likely continue in the near future.

Health Care Premiums Rising? ObamaCare Good Alternative?

Along with all of the federal mandates that are crushing the family income now, little wonder Obama sees this as an opportunity to push 'single payer' health care, ObamaCare.

Employers with dump their respective employees into the government program and pay the fine for not providing coverage.

It's way cheaper to pay the fine than to provide the insurance through private insurance companies. Mr. Obama knew this would happen. ObamaCare was designed to do just this very thing. But in the end, not only will costs sky rocket, quality and availability will disappear. So whose to blame? Oh wait, I know - Bush, the Koch Brothers and Halliburton, Republicans - - - etc.

Who Will Be Able to Afford Health Insurance in the Future?
Source: Richard A. Young and Jennifer E. DeVoe, "Who Will Have Health Insurance in the Future? An Updated Projection," Annals of Family Medicine, March/April 2012.

For more than a decade, the rate of growth of health care premiums has far exceeded the growth of average American household incomes. Given these trends, projections regarding the portion of a household's income that is consumed by health care expenses inevitably predict increases over the course of the next few decades, say Richard A. Young, a doctor in Fort Worth, Texas, and Jennifer E. DeVoe of the Oregon Health Science University.

From 2000 to 2009, the average annual increase in insurance premiums was 8.0 percent while household incomes rose an average of only 2.1 percent annually. Though the rate of increase for premiums slowed during the second half of the last decade, household incomes dipped sharply during the recession.

If health insurance premiums and national wages continue to grow at recent rates, the average cost of a family health insurance premium will equal 50 percent of the household income by the year 2021; it will surpass household income by 2033. If out-of-pocket expenses are also included, these benchmarks move forward to 2018 and 2030, respectively.

It bears mention that employers almost always pay a portion of employees' premiums, and therefore the burden on families is not as high as these figures might suggest. However, even this fact does not completely mitigate the burden of growing premiums.

A 2010 Kaiser Family Foundation found that 30 percent of employers reported having reduced the scope of health benefits or increased cost sharing. Additionally, 23 percent reported increasing the share of the premium that the employee has to pay.

Given these trends, the employee contribution to a family premium plus out-of-pocket costs will comprise one half the household income by 2031 and total income by 2042.

These rising costs for individual policyholders do not reflect the burden of growing expenditures on the economy as a whole, as they fail to account for the increasing burden imposed by Medicare and Medicaid as well.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Fracking Means Lower Prices AND Less Enviro Damage

I'm a little confused here - this article doesn't tell us just how dirty coal really is and just how important it is for our immediate future. At any rate, natural gas is definitely is now, and in the future, a stable source of energy that will off set coal and nuclear power. We have such a huge supply of it that to not exploit it would be nonsense. Oil is also a very vital part of our natural energy production and will be for decades to come. And if you didn't already know, we have a huge supply of oil as well that is estimated to last for more then 100 years.

But as everyone that is awake these days to the media, environmentalists, drum beat for all sources of fossil fuels to be abandoned, they produce too much green house gases, which would mean living a forced substandard life style. By the way, humans do produce CO2 as well and all plant life depends on this gas to survive. hmmmmm

This, of course, is exactly what the 'warmers' want. The facts in the matter that there is no 'man made climate change' are only confusing to the agenda that demands we all regress to the 1800's living standards.

The smartest minds in the world have decided this what is best for everyone. Everyone except them which will live in Washington and have all the benefits of the modern life style.

Hey, someone has to lead the 'unwashed' to their ultimate reward, right?

Fracking Cuts Greenhouse Gases
Source: Adam Peshek, "Fracking Cuts Greenhouse Gases," Reason Foundation, March 19, 2012.

While the Environmental Protection Agency continues its crusade against emissions by championing renewable energy and regulating automobile manufacturers, the benefits of hydraulic fracturing (fracking) have gone relatively unreported.

The fracking revolution in the United States that will produce enormous amounts of natural gas will also have the net impact of cutting emissions, says Adam Peshek, a research associate at the Reason Foundation.

This reduction, which is yielded indirectly by the implementation of fracking, is achieved by the process' contributions to the efficiency of natural gas production. Fracking enables miners to produce roughly eight times as much natural gas per well, lowering costs and producing gas at a lower rate.

Because fracking has allowed greater access to natural gas trapped in shale rock formations, production has skyrocketed and prices have plummeted. Gas prices dropped from $12 per million British thermal units (MMBtu) in June 2008 to less than $4 per MMbtu in September 2009. During that time, the cost of generating electricity from natural gas plants fell an average of about 4 cents per kilowatt.

Gas prices have continued to plummet since then, falling to a historic low of $2.30 MMBtu today.
These lower prices have incentivized electric utilities to switch from dirtier coal to cleaner-burning gas. This has the aggregate effect of producing more electricity for American consumers while reducing emissions from the sector.

Natural gas plants emit roughly half the greenhouse gases that coal-fired plants emit.

According to a recent study, the United States emitted nearly 9 percent less carbon dioxide in 2009 than it did in 2008, mostly due to the wider employment of natural gas. Because prices of natural gas have continued to plummet since then as more firms move into the sector, further gains are likely to be realized.

These advances have also resulted in American exports of liquefied natural gas, which means that these reductions in emissions will be realized by America's trade partners as well, while simultaneously helping to correct America's trade balance.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Green Energy Insanity : Taxpayers Lose Again!!

How does one begin to understand just how bad our government really is after reading this story? And how do people still believe 'big' government is what we need to solve our financial problems?

These people that advocate bigger government are our neighbors, friends that we have known for decades but now it seems, all of a sudden, they want others to control their personal lives and seemly happen to live a substandard life style. What?

The scary part in this dark tale is maybe our friends and neighbors have always been this way, we just never recognized it until our own personal lives have come under attack. But why do some of us see this as a threat to our freedom while others accept enslavement without a word?

Are we in trouble here - you bet!

Firm Sells Solar Panels, Taxpayers Pay
Source: Timothy P. Carney, "Firm Sells Solar Panels -- to Itself, Taxpayers Pay," Washington Examiner,March 19, 2012.

A heavily subsidized solar company received a U.S. taxpayer loan guarantee to sell solar panels to itself, says the Washington Examiner.

First Solar is the company and the subsidy came from the Export-Import Bank (Ex-Im).
Here's the road of subsidies these solar panels followed from Perrysburg, Ohio, to St. Clair, Ontario.

First Solar is an Arizona-based manufacturer of solar panels.
In 2010, the Obama administration awarded the company $16.3 million to expand its factory in Ohio.

In 2010, then-Ohio governor Ted Strickland announced more than a million dollars in job training grants to First Solar.

The Ohio Department of Development also lent First Solar $5 million, and the state's Air Quality Development Authority gave the company an additional $10 million loan. After First Solar pocketed this $17.3 million in government grants and $15 million in government loans, Ex-Im entered the scene.

In September 2011, Ex-Im approved $455.7 million in loan guarantees to subsidize the sale of solar panels to two wind farms in Canada. That means if the wind farm ever defaults, the taxpayers pick up the tab, ensuring First Solar gets paid.

But the buyer, in this case, was First Solar. A small corporation called St. Clair Solar owned the wind farm and was the Canadian company buying First Solar's panels. But St. Clair Solar was a wholly owned subsidiary of First Solar. So, basically, First Solar was shipping its own solar panels from Ohio to a solar farm it owned in Canada, and the U.S. taxpayers were subsidizing this "export."

This subsidy undermines the arguments for Ex-Im's existence. Ex-Im, whose authorization expires May 31, is supposed to be a job creator, helping U.S. manufacturers beat foreign manufacturers by having U.S. taxpayers backstop the financing.

Solar Industry Subsides Cut in Europe : Stopping Waste

More bad news or good news, depending on who and what your beliefs are, on the insanity that is 'green energy'.

How and why do some people continue to believe something that is blantely false with passion, and are willing to defend this belief with no evidence of any kind to back them up that would support their belief? Who are these people? What in God's good name do these people us to get through the day?

Solar Industry Faces Subsidy Cuts in Europe
Source: Michael Birnbaum and Anthony Faiola, "Solar Industry Faces Subsidy Cuts in Europe," Washington Post, March 18, 2012.

Across Europe, governments are slashing public spending to cut their deficits, and green energy subsidies are a target, says the Washington Post.

German policymakers indicated last week that they planned to cut once-generous subsidies as much as 29 percent by the end of the month, on top of a 15 percent cut in January.
Britain and Italy have made similar moves, and in January, Spain abandoned its subsidies altogether.

Advocates say that in sunny regions, solar energy is within several years of becoming cost-competitive with fossil-fuel power -- if solar companies can stay in business in the meantime. Several companies have already declared bankruptcy. Others say they'll give up on Europe and focus on developing countries, where poor infrastructure makes solar panels that work off the grid a cost-effective competitor to diesel generators.

While many concede that the subsidies have become overly generous at a time when solar panels have dropped dramatically in price, they insist that governments are reneging on their pledges to go green and argue that the rollbacks are happening too abruptly. Some question whether countries will still be able to boost renewable energy's share of the power supply in 2020 to their goals of 20 percent in Britain and 35 percent in Germany.

Yet alternative-energy experts suggest that with the solar panels' declining prices, subsidy cuts are not only acceptable, but to be expected.

Though they criticize governments for offering woefully short notice, they suggest the cuts are inevitable as the solar industry becomes more competitive with fossil-fuel energy production.
Companies that generate renewable energy get a guaranteed above-market rate for 20 years.
The subsidies for renewable energy cost German consumers about $14 a month for a family of four.

Though solar energy supplied 3.1 percent of Germany's electricity needs in 2011 -- hampered in part by the country's famously dreary weather -- the industry consumed closer to half of the overall renewable subsidies, which also support other energy sources such as wind and biomass.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Postal Reform : Smaller - Smarter OR Go Bust

This is long over due. The biggest question now is how will the unions handle this new change on how they control the employees and the mail operation? I hope it's not like the public sector unions handled the changes they got in Wisconsin.

The Last, Best Hope for Postal Reform
Source: Rick Geddes, "The Last, Best Hope for Postal Reform," Real Clear Markets, March 14, 2012.

The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) has long been on the track toward fiscal crisis. As consumers substitute electronic mail for physical mail, USPS faces a rapidly plummeting volume from which to collect revenues. This leaves the government-run industry with chronic deficits and an uncertain fiscal future, says Rick Geddes, an associate professor at Cornell University and an adjunct scholar with the American Enterprise Institute.

For the most profitable form of physical mail -- first-class mail -- volume is now down over 25 percent since its high in 2001.
With these declining volumes and relatively stagnant fixed costs, USPS reported a $5.1 billion loss for its 2011 fiscal year.

Furthermore, it expects to lose over $18 billion annually by 2015 unless changes are made.

One of the issues that USPS faces is that it is currently situated on the down-slope of economies of scale. Because a national mail system requires substantial upfront costs that are not related to volume, a sudden decrease in mail does not result in lower costs that are able to cope. This limits its options.

However, substantial change does appear to be possible. Congress is now considering a new bill, the 21st Century Postal Service Act, which will seek to address many of USPS's long-term issues.

USPS will tap $7 billion in overpayments it has made to the Federal Employee Retirement System in order to ease approximately 100,000 workers out of its labor pool, through buyouts and early retirement.

The bill will require arbitrators to consider the financial condition of the USPS when rendering a binding arbitration decision, hopefully lowering future labor costs.

It would allow some deliveries to be converted from front door to curbside, which the Postal Service has estimated would save up to $4.5 billion per year.

It would also allow USPS to optimize its network by converting some retail outlets to window service inside a nearby drug store, for example, which would reduce the costs of providing those services in separate buildings.

The new bill offers a long-awaited opportunity to save the U.S. Postal Service from eventual fiscal insolvency.

Britain's Green Program - Wind - Bankrupt

First and most important in this decision is 'there is no global warming caused by man' and the second important aspect of this nonsense, maybe the most important, we, as humans, cannot do anything about 'warming' or 'cooling' - period.

This entire push for green energy is bogus - this is non other than a select group of people that have scared the public into an agenda that is self serving, making this elite group rich while driving entire countries in bankruptcy.

Where is the common sense here? Who exactly are these people? They don't appear or act like people that have our best interests at heart. dah!

Wind Power Will Cost Britain
Source: Bjørn Lomborg, "Gone With the Wind," Project Syndicate, March 16, 2012.

Efforts to stem global warming have nurtured a strong urge worldwide to deploy renewable energy. As a result, the use of wind turbines has increased tenfold over the past decade, with wind power often touted as the most cost effective green opportunity.

While wind energy is cheaper than other, more ineffective renewables, such as solar, tidal and ethanol, it is nowhere near competitive. If it were, we wouldn't have to keep spending significant sums to subsidize it, says Bjørn Lomborg, an adjunct professor at the Copenhagen Business School.
In the United Kingdom, for example, wind remains significantly more costly than other energy sources. Using the U.K. Electricity Generation Costs 2010 update and measuring in cost per produced kilowatt-hour, wind is still 20 to 200 percent more expensive than the cheapest fossil-fuel options. Even this is a significant underestimate.

With its "20-20-20" policy, the EU has promised that, by 2020, it will cut its carbon emissions by 20 percent below 1990 levels, and increase its reliance on renewables by 20 percent. For the United Kingdom, this requires a dramatic increase in wind power, especially offshore. This will be surprisingly costly.

The U.K. Carbon Trust estimates that the cost of expanding wind turbines to 40 gigawatts, in order to provide 31 percent of electricity by 2020, could run as high as £75 billion ($120 billion).
And the benefits, in terms of tackling global warming, would be measly: a reduction of just 86 megatons of carbon dioxide (CO2) per year for two decades.

In terms of averted rise in temperature, this would be completely insignificant -- using a standard climate model, by 2100, the United Kingdom's huge outlay will have postponed global warming by just over 10 days.

Moreover, this estimate is undoubtedly too optimistic. Wind frequently does not blow when we need it. Insisting on wind power means using energy that is far from competitive, does not help to avert climate change and will be costly for the United Kingdom.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Gas Prices Rising : Agenda Driven

This is not rocket science - most of us that have been paying attention back in 2007 and '08, before the 'great one' came on the scene, knew how to solve this problem of rising oil prices if we stopped searching for it.

President Bush proved how to stop the rise of crude oil prices by opening off shore drilling. The price of crude dropped almost over night as speculators drove down the cost per barrel.

How is it we need to be reminded over and over again how we got where we are today. How America became the greatest nation in the world spreading freedom and prosperity from one end to the other.

And yet, here we are trying to figure out how to stop our country from becoming a financial and moral disaster when the proof is right in front of us. Thousands of books have been written on our success and how we achieved it, but we seem to still rely on others to tell us how this great country is going in the wrong direction and must be stopped and turned back to a time when we all were under the boot of tyrants.

Who are these people? Why do so many of us fail to understand where prosperity and individual freedom comes from?

How to Lower Gasoline Prices
Source: Diana Furchtgott-Roth, "How to Lower Gasoline Prices," Manhattan Institute, March 2012.

As the economy slowly makes headway on its anemic recovery, Americans continue to face a substantial burden on their household budgets in the form of escalating gas prices. Prices for crude oil, which contribute substantially to growth in the price of gasoline, have risen sharply during the years of the Obama administration, and many predict they will continue to rise into the near future, says Diana Furchtgott-Roth, a senior fellow with the Manhattan Institute.

On January 20, 2009, when Mr. Obama was inaugurated, the average price of gasoline was $1.84 per gallon, but it has since risen to $3.28 per gallon. Simultaneously, the price of crude oil has risen from $39 per barrel in early 2009 to $107 per barrel.

Significant gains in domestic oil production have mitigated this price increase: Domestic production averaged 8,184 thousand barrels per day in November 2011, which is up from 6,895 thousand barrels per day average in 2005.

Rising prices damage household budgets, with the average household in North Dakota taking on the largest oil burden of $396 per month.

Low energy prices are crucial to economic recovery, as they simultaneously lower the costs of doing business and alleviate budgetary demands on households. According to the late David Salzman, president of LightSpin Technologies, gasoline will be the primary source of energy for at least the next two decades. Therefore, the Obama administration should adopt policies that will lower prices.

Approve the XL Keystone Pipeline -- this will ease transportation from Canada, North Dakota, and Ohio to the Gulf and allow refineries to operate at higher capacities.

Allow additional oil exploration -- states should be given greater autonomy in adopting policies regarding oil exploration off their coasts, such as California and Alaska.

Speed up permitting.

Add flexibility to boutique fuel requirements.

End the ethanol mandate -- ethanol is bad for the environment, historically expensive and damaging to several staple food industries.

Do not impose oil taxes -- President Obama's proposed oil tax ($50 billion during the next decade) will undermine American oil's ability to compete.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Communication With Dogs is Primal - Enjoy It!

Here is how we, as humans, live to connect to our dogs. Believe it, it is about communication. It's primal.

Go with it and enjoy the connection.

Conservative Budget Proposal : Paul Ryan Steps Up

If one tries to come up with an explanation for how the Obama administration works, they will find it nearly impossible. Mr. Obama and his people defy all reason and common sense. It seems they are motivated by ideology alone.

Never in our history have so few done so much damage to our country is so little time.

Ryan Budget. (National Center for Political Analysis)

As he prepares to release his FY 2013 budget plan, which is scheduled to be unveiled next week, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) posted a video teaser of his plan. “What if your president, your senator, and your congressman knew a crisis was coming?” It would be immoral not to do anything, says Mr. Ryan.

Yet “this coming debt crisis is the most predictable crisis we’ve ever had in this country.” Behind the scenes, Mr. Ryan is clearly focused on entitlement reform. He is also factoring in the $1. 2 trillion in budget cuts that were mandated by last year’s failure of the so-called Super Committee.

Mr. Ryan is trying to avoid additional defense cuts, even though the mandate calls for half of the cuts to come from defense. Meanwhile, for the third year in a row, the Senate isn’t planning to offer a budget.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Corporate Tax Rate Drops in Canada : Revenues Stable

Cutting the tax rate isn't the problem here in the United States, it's the agenda of the Obama administration deeming all corporations are bad, except those that see fit to contribute to Obama's reelection, General Electric for one, so they must pay more in taxes to make up for this corrupting influence in our society.

Of course, the revenue that is generated is good too, in that it comes instantly and not over a period of years from a reduced tax rate, so it can be used to generate more opportunities to redirect these tax dollars into campaign contributions.

After all, this is what it's all about in the first place, more money to the right people to secure the correct political outcomes. The country be damned!

What Policymakers Can Learn from Canada's Corporate Tax Cuts
Source: Chris Edwards, "What Policymakers Can Learn from Canada's Corporate Tax Cuts," Daily Caller, March 13, 2012.

Most agree that the U.S. corporate tax rate should be cut. The sticking point on slashing the corporate tax rate has been the fear that the federal government might lose revenues under such a reform. To prevent an expected revenue loss, policymakers have searched for tax loopholes to close in order to "pay for" a corporate rate cut. The problem is that members never find any loophole closings that they can agree on, says Chris Edwards, director of tax policy at the Cato Institute.

The good news is that a corporate tax rate cut without any changes to the tax base probably wouldn't lose the government any money over the long term. Good evidence comes from Canada's corporate tax cuts of the 1980s and 2000s.

Canada's federal corporate tax rate plunged from 38 percent in 1980 to just 15 percent by 2012.
There has been no obvious drop in tax revenues over the period. Canadian corporate tax revenues have fluctuated, but the changes are correlated with economic growth, not the tax rate.

In the late 1980s, a tax rate cut was followed by three years of stable revenues.

In the early 1990s, a plunge in revenues was caused by a recession, and then in the late 1990s revenues soared as the economy grew.

In 2000, Canadian policymakers enacted another round of corporate tax rate cuts, which were phased in gradually.

Corporate tax revenues initially dipped, but then rebounded strongly in the late 2000s.
In 2009, Canada was dragged into a recession by the elephant economy next door, and that knocked the wind out of corporate tax revenues. However, it is remarkable that even with a recession and a tax rate under 20 percent, tax revenues as a share of gross domestic product (GDP) have been roughly as high in recent years as they were during the 1980s, when there was a much higher rate, says Edwards.

In 2012, Canada will collect about 1.9 percent of GDP in federal corporate income tax revenues with a 15 percent tax rate. The United States will collect about 1.6 percent of GDP with a 35 percent tax rate. Do we need any more evidence that our high corporate tax rate makes no sense?

Nuclear Power Waste Site - Yucca Mt. - Shut Down!

I wonder if the general public is aware of the hundreds of millions of dollars that have already been spent on preparing Yucca Mountain site for nuclear waste? This is the site that congress, and the NRC, tapped to be the best place in the country to store this waste material after much deliberation and hand wringing.

Now they say the site isn't right or we need more studies or we need to look further or - - - ! Sound familiar , XL pipe line.

This is just a pattern by the Obama administration to kill any form of power generation that isn't wind, solar or bio. They approved two new site to construct new nuclear power plants, but if there aren't any waste disposal sites, they can't begin construction. Who Knew?

I don't know where these people come from but it's not from around here. This is insane.

No Confidence in Nuclear Energy
Source: Jack Spencer and Cornelius Milmoe, "Obama Administration: No Confidence in Nuclear Energy," Heritage Foundation, March 5, 2012.

After a lengthy legal and political battle, it appears that the Obama administration is likely to win the battle regarding the Yucca Mountain repository for spent nuclear fuel (SNF).

During the 2008 campaign, then-Senator Obama promised that the enormous government project would be shut down. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has since allowed Yucca Mountain's application as a viable deposit site to be withdrawn, signaling President Obama's victory, say Jack Spencer and Cornelius Milmoe of the Heritage Foundation.

However, the move affects the nuclear industry far beyond the retirement of a single repository, as the decision will be extensive in undermining confidence in nuclear power for years to come.
The NRC has ignored the requirements of the Nuclear Waste Policy Act, which mandated the existence of a national repository program and specified its location at Yucca Mountain.

By sidelining Yucca Mountain, the NRC has eliminated a viable site to store SNF, essentially broadcasting a no-confidence message in the future of nuclear power. The decision has allowed nuclear reactors to temporarily store their SNF onsite until a new repository can be made available, yet this leaves reactors open to litigation concerns regarding the waste.

It undermines investor confidence in nuclear power, as concerns over possible litigation and uncertainty regarding waste disposal crowd out the profitability of the plants. The decision encourages the continuance of the status quo by charging no party involved with creating an eventual solution.

By consciously choosing to ignore the Nuclear Waste Policy Act, the NRC has essentially defied an explicit mandate of Congress. However, Congress can reassert itself and repair the damage of this NRC decision by taking two courses of action:

Force the NRC to make a final decision on Yucca Mountain instead of putting the issue off indefinitely in violation of the three-year cap imposed by the Nuclear Waste Policy Act.

Reaffirm that the national government is responsible for the management of SNF, thereby placing the onus of action on a specific party for future progress.

By seeking to correct the mistakes of the NRC and reaffirming its dominance over the issue, Congress can pave the way for future investment in nuclear energy.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Organic Farm Production to Starve World Population

This is interesting - organic farming takes up to much land and it's production is very low to have any effect on the needs of an expanding world demand. The environmentalists will tell us we need to return to days of the eighteenth century if we to survive.

We know that Ethanol, as a substitute for fossil fuel, is a huge burden on the availability of basic food stuffs, and the cost to consumers is going up every day. We also know that the cost to product green energy is more then 20% higher then that for fossil fuel, and as this article points out, the land density that is required to produce the needed bio-substances to green energy is massive.

If we decide to covert our entire energy production to bio fuels, wind and solar, half or more of the world population would starve to death. But then, as most environmentalists will tell us, this is a good thing.

Get Dense
Source: Robert Bryce, "Get Dense," City Journal, Winter 2012.

Inherent in the growth of the world's population is the need to produce more staple food items and energy. However, restrictions imposed by the need to preserve the natural environment require further efforts in this area to focus on producing more with marginally less space. This lends credence to the expansion of energy density. The lessons of density can be seen in farmland acreage, says Robert Bryce, a senior fellow at the Center for Energy Policy and the Environment at the Manhattan Institute.

Across the entire world, there are currently 3.7 billion acres under cultivation.
Indur Goklany, a policy analyst for the U.S. Department of the Interior, estimates that if agriculture had remained at its early-1960s level of productivity, feeding the world's population in 1998 would have required nearly 8 billion acres of farmland.

This additional 4.3 billion acres is only slightly smaller than South America, which underlines the point that without technological advances augmenting farm density, much of the natural environment would have to have been developed to produce more food.

The need to improve food and energy density, especially with growing demand from developing countries such as China and India, undermines the arguments of many environmentalists, who impose substantial burdens on producers.

Organic farming, which has been advocated by the Green Left as an alternative to mass production farming, produces substantially less food per acre.

Various recent studies have found that land devoted to organic farming produces 50 percent less wheat, 55 percent less asparagus and lettuce, and 23 percent less corn than conventionally farmed land of the same acreage does.

Sales of organic products, which more than doubled to some $51 billion between 2003 and 2008, further constrain food production, contributing to 2011's higher prices that, according to the Food Price Index, are 60 percent higher than 2007.

The lessons of density are also instructional in the production of energy.

President Obama stated in his recent State of the Union speech that America can end its dependence on foreign oil through the use of biofuels. However, this energy source consumes enormous amounts of edible foods -- 15 percent of global corn production and 5 percent of all the grain grown in the world.

Meanwhile, traditional natural gas and nuclear energy have far greater energy densities that interfere comparably little with the environment.

Taxes Made Simple : Billions Saved

Here is another reason to get the tax code changed as soon as possible. Billions of dollars saved to spend on consumption. And just think how much simpler it would be if all we had to do is pay a flat tax rate determined on how much money you made for the year?

Oh, but wait, if we had such a simple system of paying our tax, just think how harder it would be for the government to steal our money. And everyone would pay something in tax instead of 48% of population paying nothing.

How about a 'consumption' tax - we pay a tax on everything we buy and if we think the tax is too high, we don't buy it. WOW We control the tax rate! Self regulation. Taking responsibility.

Tax Simplification
Source: Carrie Lukas, "Tax Simplification," Independent Women's Forum, March 2012.

The complexity of the American tax code is not only inconvenient: it is also very costly, says Carrie Lukas, managing director of the Independent Women's Forum.

A 2009 survey conducted by the Tax Foundation revealed that 85 percent of adults agree the federal tax code is complex and 82 percent believe it either needs major changes or complete overhaul.

In 1980, 38 percent of Americans used a paid preparer to compile their taxes, but as of 2007 (the most recent year with data available), 58.6 percent of Americans used paid assistance.
Altogether, individual taxpayers spend $35 billion out-of-pocket in filing their taxes, with the average non-business individual filer spending $160 on tax filing help.

Money spent on professional assistance to comply with complicated taxes is wasteful and would be better spent in more productive industries in the economy. Furthermore, American taxpayers don't just waste money filing their taxes, but also their time. The National Taxpayers Union reports that Americans spend an estimated 7.64 billion hours complying with the tax code. This equates to 3.82 million employees working full-time year-round just on tax compliance.

Furthermore, Nina E. Olsen, the official National Taxpayer Advocate at the IRS, said that even with 100,000 employees, the IRS has difficulty administering the tax code efficiently.
The burdens of the tax code are also damaging to American businesses, which in turn impose their costs on consumers through higher prices and lower levels of hiring.

In 2009, the National Taxpayers Union estimated that compliance costs alone would take $159.4 billion from American corporations.

Because this is approximately half of what corporations pay in taxes, this essentially means that for every dollar the government collects in revenue, American businesses pay $1.50.

The need to avoid this burden incentivizes businesses to lobby the federal government, creating loopholes and further complicating the tax code.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Green Energy Cost More : Why Not Say So!

As electrical rates continue to increase and those of us that can pay the increase will just complain to our Representatives to stop the insanity, while those us on fixed incomes, or no incomes, will be even more dependent on relief from state and local agencies to heat and cool their homes.

What this means is, those of us that can pay the higher rates for our own homes will also have to pay for those that can't pay to stay warm in the winter and cool in the summer.

Just what do we do now? How much more will we have to pay to fulfill the destructive agenda of others?

The High Cost of Renewable Electricity Mandates
Source: Robert Bryce, "The High Cost of Renewable Electricity Mandates," Manhattan Institute, February 2012.

In the absence of federal action to set carbon emission standards, many states have created renewable portfolio standards (RPS) on their own, whereby an agreed-upon fraction of their electricity production is supplied by renewable sources, says Robert Bryce, a senior fellow with the Manhattan Institute.

However, RPSs contain substantial hidden costs that adopting states often fail to take into account. Indeed, the economic burden that they impose likely harms job growth as consumers and businesses alike are saddled with higher rates.

Thus far, 29 states, as well as the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, have adopted RPSs.
However, because electricity produced from renewable sources tends to be more expensive than energy from traditional sources, RPSs tend to raise rates.

In 2010, the average price of residential electricity in RPS states was 31.9 percent higher than it was in non-RPS states.

A Heritage Foundation study estimated that by 2035, a national RPS mandate would raise residential electricity rates by 36 percent above the baseline price and industrial rates by 60 percent above the baseline price. These higher rates can be seen among the states, where residents of states that have adopted RPSs are forced to pay above-market electricity rates in order to comply with the state mandate.

Of the 10 states with the highest electricity prices, eight have RPS mandates including all of the top five.

California, which has the tenth-highest rate, recently raised its RPS standard from 20 percent to 33 percent of energy from renewables by 2020. Of the 10 states with the lowest electricity prices, only two have RPS mandates.

Coal-dependent states witness an even starker contrast: electricity rates in the coal-dependent RPS states increased by an average of 54.2 percent between 2001 and 2010, more than twice the increase seen in the coal-dependent non-RPS states.

This demonstrates that RPSs place substantial downward pressure on state economies, as poor families and businesses are forced to pay higher electricity rates. In this context, it is crucial for states to recognize the importance of energy prices in economic activity and the effects that RPSs can have on an already-fragile economy.

Middle School System 'Old News' ?

Interesting situation for the school system - change in thinking about maturation and learning come in to play. In the old days it was 'junior high' school which was 7 through 9th grade and then it was 6th through 8th grade with high school starting with the 9th grade.

This last type was the best as it allowed freshmen time to take a look around at the really big kids and adjust.

The Middle School Plunge
Source: Martin West and Guido Schwerdt, "The Middle School Plunge," Education Next, Spring 2012.

In various school districts across the country, administrators remain unsure about the optimal policy regarding school transitions from elementary to middle school. Some are increasingly moving toward separate K-5 and 6-8 schools, while others embrace a K-8 system that sidesteps the middle school transition altogether, say Martin West, an assistant professor of education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, and Guido Schwerdt, a researcher at the Ifo Institute for Economic Research in Munich, Germany.

Studies on this subject attempt to compare the various systems -- transitions from elementary school to middle school are typically marked by a slump in student achievement, but less attention has been paid to these students' progress in later years, specifically in transitioning to high school. To this end, West and Schwerdt recently tracked the progress of students in Florida and found that the middle school transition is substantial.

Math achievement falls by 0.12 standard deviations and reading achievement falls by 0.09 standard deviations for transitions at grade 6. This equates to a drop between 3.5 and 7 months of expected learning over the course of a 10 month school year.

Furthermore, this drop persists for all three years of middle school with students who entered in sixth grade scoring 0.23 standard deviations in math and 0.14 standard deviations in reading worse than would have been expected had they attended a K-8 school.

Additionally, these students do not perform significantly better than their K-8 peers upon entering high school, undermining the argument that making the middle school transition better prepares them for the high school transition.

Finally, entering a middle school in sixth grade was found to increase the probability of early dropout by 1.4 percentage points (or 18 percent).

These results held true both for urban and rural school comparisons. In attempting to identify factors that contribute to this disparity, researchers analyzed data regarding school policies, funding and grade sizes, but found that none of these variables were significant.

They did, however, identify that the general school "atmosphere" differed significantly between traditional middle schools and K-8 schools. Specifically, students benefitted from being the oldest students in a school that included very young children, as this presented them with leadership opportunities that contributed to student achievement.