Monday, April 30, 2012

Education Dictated : 46 States Buy Into Big Brother Control

Is this possible? 46 states have bought into this federal over reach? What has happened to common sense, and worse, where is the outrage from the parents and the general public that have to see this as 'big brother' dictating what is taught in the public schools.

Have we sunk to such a low level that we prefer to have a master in Washington that tells our schools what our kids are taught rather then what we as parents want them to learn? Do we really want to be enslaved to others? What ever happened to individual freedom?

States Must Reject National Education Standards While There Is Still Time

Source: Lindsey M. Burke, "States Must Reject National Education Standards While There Is Still Time," Heritage Foundation, April 16, 2012.

The Obama administration is intent on nationalizing the content taught in every public school across America. Without congressional approval, the administration has used a combination of carrots and sticks to spur states to sign on to the Common Core State Standards Initiative (CCSI), says Lindsey M. Burke, an education policy analyst at the Heritage Foundation.

The Initiative is comprehensive in its breadth:

•Common Core includes standards for English Language Arts and mathematics, and federally funded national assessments have been crafted to align with the standards.
•Billions in federal funding was used to create incentives for states to adopt the standards.
•Furthermore, coercive efforts were also made, including restricting access to Race to the Top grants and No Child Left Behind waivers to those states that adopted the standards.

The CCSI seeks to remove control from those closest to the individual student, such as parents and school leaders, and allotting it to federal bureaucrats. This push to nationalize education is potentially harmful for a number of reasons.

•It should be struck down on constitutional grounds alone: authority for education rests with states and localities, not the federal government.
•Also, such standards undermine competition among differing curricula, thereby limiting the ability of the best course packages to rise to the top.
•Furthermore, national standards that fail to account for state resources will inevitably push states into unsustainable financial situations; indeed, the implementation of the CCSI has been conservatively estimated to cost more than $16 billion for states.
•Finally, national standards will compromise educational outcomes by standardizing and overvaluing mediocrity through catering to the mean of states instead of the best.

In addition to these practical problems, the wide adoption of the CCSI, which has already been approved by 46 states, will have the overall effect of increasing the federal government's role in yet another sphere of American life.

Social Security Benefits Better/Worse @ 62?

Interesting - but if both individuals are retired at 62, is the benefit that much lower? If one can retire early, then why not start receiving the benefit while one's health is good and can make good use of the extra income.

The Decision to Delay Social Security Benefits: Theory and Evidence
Source: John B. Shoven and Sita Nataraj Slavov, "The Decision to Delay Social Security Benefits: Theory and Evidence," National Bureau of Economic Research, February

Social Security benefits may be commenced at any time between age 62 and age 70. As individuals who claim later can, on average, expect to receive benefits for a shorter period, an actuarial adjustment is made to the monthly benefit amount to reflect the age at which benefits are claimed. Researchers with the National Bureau of Economic Research investigate the actuarial fairness of this adjustment.

•The researchers' simulations suggest that delaying is actuarially advantageous for a large subset of people, particularly for real interest rates of 3.5 percent or below.
•The gains from delaying are greater at lower interest rates, for married couples relative to singles, for single women relative to single men, and for two-earner couples relative to one-earner couples.
•In a two-earner couple, the gains from deferring the primary earner's benefit are greater than the gains from deferring the secondary earner's benefit.

The researchers then used panel data from the Health and Retirement Study to investigate whether individuals' actual claiming behavior appears to be influenced by the degree of actuarial advantage to delaying. They find no evidence of a consistent relationship between claiming behavior and factors that influence the actuarial advantage of delay, including gender and marital status, interest rates, subjective discount rates, or subjective assessments of life expectancy.

Social Security & ObamaCare Tools for Control

This is something that just blows ones mind - to think that you can bring 16 million more people into a mandate and not have it effect every aspect of the entire system of health care is insane. Worse, it will efffect every other part of life as well.

 But then, the people that designed the system of ObamaCare didn't care that the system would collapse under it's own weight, it was always about forcing as many people to become dependent as possible, there by creating a huge class of individuals that must have government funding to just survive. Of course, when other peoples money runs out, chaos will reign.

Little wonder then the agenda of the progressive liberal Democrat is to bring on board 'single payer' health care knowing full well that the system we have now will have grown so expensive that only the rich can afford treatment. This will mean stress between the classes that will find their personal health care will be nearly nonexistent, while the well to do will have all the best.

The class warfare will be a 'twofer' for Obama and his minions - force substandard health care on the middle and lower classes and demonize the rich at the same time. A win win situation. 

This is a fantasy of the Obama administration come true, America at war with itself. Remember Rhom's statement, "never let a good crisis go to waste". The progressive liberals have  orchestrated this nightmare perfectly.

This disaster will only come true we allow it to happen - remember this when you vote in November.

Social Security Trustees: We're Going Broke
Source: John C. Goodman, "Social Security Trustees: We're Going Broke," Politico, April 25, 2012.

Here's some bad news: The latest report of the Social Security and Medicare trustees shows an unfunded liability for both programs of $63 trillion. That is equal to about 4.5 times the entire U.S. gross domestic product (GDP), says John C. Goodman, president of the National Center for Policy Analysis.

Now -- some really bad news.

•The actual liability is almost twice what the government is reporting.
•In 2009, the trustees calculated the two programs' unfunded liability at about 6.5 times the size of the U.S. economy.
•But the next year the unfunded liability was cut in half.
•The reason: "ObamaCare." The minute President Barack Obama signed his health reform bill, he cut Medicare's unfunded liability by more than $50 trillion.

You would think this accomplishment would be an occasion for great joy, but the Obama administration isn't talking about it. Here is what's going on:

•ObamaCare uses cuts in Medicare to pay for more than half the cost of expanding health insurance for young people.
•So even if the Medicare cuts take place, they won't reduce the government's overall obligations -- they just replace entitlements for seniors with entitlements for young people.

So the only realistic way to make cuts in Medicare spending is a mechanism that will pay less and less to doctors and hospitals over time. The Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services' Office of the Actuaries has predicted what this can mean for seniors.

•By the end of this decade, the fees that Medicare pays to doctors will be lower than what Medicaid pays.
•Also by the end of the decade, one in seven hospitals will be forced out of business.

To address these defects, Medicare must be truly reformed. That means shifting from the current "pay as you go" system to one in which workers pay their own way.

•Goodman and his colleagues have calculated that workers (and their employers) must save and invest 4 percent of payroll.
•Eventually, we will reach the point where each generation of retirees will pay for the bulk of its own post-retirement medical care -- with a payroll tax no higher than the one we have today.


Sunday, April 29, 2012

Women's Pay Rate Higher Then Men?

The old saying 'the devil is in the details' is pretty close in this article except here it's the 'truth is in the details' when it comes to what the left wants us all to believe.

Another 'truth' that has be borne out is when the progressive's proclaim the truth by consensus, it's not the truth, it's an aggregate of opinion. In other words it's what Dan Rather said about George Bush's National Guard service flap some years back, 'it's not true but it aught to be'.

If it feels good it has to be true.

The "Equal Pay Day" Myth
Source: Carrie Lukas, "The 'Equal Pay Day' Myth," Independent Women's Forum, April 2012.

The Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics reported in the fourth quarter of 2011 that the median full-time working woman made 81.6 percent of the wages of the median fulltime working man. Since then, big government, feminist organizations and liberal politicians repeat this "wage gap" statistic, implying that discrimination is its cause, says Carrie Lukas, managing director of the Independent Women's Forum.

This, however, is simply not the case. Rather, the publication and intense focus on this presented wage gap is an exercise in statistical manipulation, espousing a conclusion that is unreal. Aggregately comparing full-time working men and women without holding other factors constant is disingenuous -- an analysis that accounts for hours worked, education and industry type would be more enlightening.

Incorporating the number of hours worked variable, it can be found that while both men and women in the original analysis were vaguely labeled "fulltime," this fails to capture hours put in.

•The Department of Labor's 2011 Time Use Survey shows that fulltime working men work about 5 percent more time at work each day on the job.
•Therefore, it should hardly be a surprise that workers who work more do in fact earn more.

Similarly, the sectors that men and women tend to dominate have to be taken into account:

•Men dominate fields like construction, manufacturing and trucking -- jobs with higher personal risk (both in job security and safety), but with salary premiums to compensate.
•Women cluster in service industries, teaching, health care and the social services -- jobs with fewer risks, more comfortable conditions, regular hours and greater flexibility.
•While radical feminists argue that women are socially pressured into these low-paying positions, the same argument can be made that men, pressured to be the bread-winner, sacrifice comfortable positions to make a better salary.

Finally, children create an important variable. Two new parents tend to respond oppositely to having a child. The mother tends to seek a positions with greater flexibility and time off (sacrificing salary in the process), while the father actually seeks further salary gains. When these and other factors are taken into account, the wage gap usually disappears and sometimes even reverses.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Medicare Going Broke Sooner Not Later

This isn't news - this is what anyone that has half a brain knew years ago. Add 16 million new recipients, reduce funding for doctors and expect cost savings?

In the unreal world of the progressive socialist, individuals react predictably to social changes. In a world of fantasy, progressive believe individuals do as they are told by those that are smarter then they are.

But in the real world, individuals do what is in their best interest no matter the circumstances. The progressive makes no allowance for this deviant, like doctors quiting or refusing to take more patients. Worse, individuals deciding on other careers rather then becoming tools of the state.

Trustees Issue Warnings on Medicare, but Make No Changes to Solvency Projections

Source: Marilyn Werber Serafini and Phil Galewitz, "Trustees Issue Warnings on Medicare, but Make No Changes to Solvency Projections," Kaiser Health News, April 23,

This week, trustees of the Medicare program forecast increased financial troubles as a result of an aging population and rising health care costs, increasing the visibility of an issue that is already proving divisive in the 2012 presidential and Congressional campaigns, says Kaiser Health News.

•Overall, the outlook for the Medicare program which covers nearly 50 million elderly and disabled people was only slightly worse than findings from last year.

•Once again, trustees forecast that Medicare's hospital fund would begin to run out of money beginning in 2024.

•The report emphasized that Medicare costs in both the short term and long term would rise higher than previously reported, but that these costs would be offset by 2 percent cuts to the program agreed to in last year's deficit reduction agreement, unless Congress passes an alternative cost-cutting plan.

•The trustees stressed the need to look beyond the exhaustion date for Medicare to the toll health care costs are already taking.

In a politically charged campaign season, both sides attempted to use the report to their advantage. Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, who is the program's managing trustee, said the 2010 health care law had strengthened Medicare by beginning to rein in costs.

Tom Saving, professor of economics at Texas A&M University and a former trustee, and John Goodman, president of the National Center for Policy Analysis, painted a more dire scenario. The trustees must base their projections on current law, they said, but it is unrealistic to think that Congress will allow reductions to providers to stand in the long term, or that changes to reimbursements based on better performance and coordination of care will help much with costs.

The trustees based their findings on demonstration projects in the law, and Goodman says there is no solid evidence that they will save money. "All this about pay-for-performance and coordinated care and integrated care, none of it is working," says Goodman. "They are trying all this out, and there's no reason to believe there will be large savings here."

Medicare's Chief Actuary Richard S. Foster also said he was skeptical that some projected savings, from provider cuts to improved productivity, would materialize.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Education Managed by Progressives for "Fundamental" Change

The new agenda for education from the progressive liberal Obama administration where the students are thaught how important government is for our future is part of the "fundamental" change they have in mind for all of us.

Remember, Mr Obama said the Constitution says what the government 'can't' do to you, but Mr Obama is not happy with this. His plan is to rewrite the Constitution to reflect want the government 'can' do for you and to you.

What a good way to get this done is to keep the population stupid and therefore dependent.

Education Slowdown Threatens United States

Source: David Wessel and Stephanie Banchero, "Education Slowdown Threatens U.S.," Wall Street Journal, April 26, 2012.

Throughout American history, almost every generation has had substantially more education than that of its parents. That is no longer true, says the Wall Street Journal.

•When baby boomers born in 1955 reached age 30, they had about two years more schooling than their parents, according to Harvard University economists.
•In contrast, when Americans born in 1980 turned 30 in 2010, they averaged about eight months more schooling than their parents.

This development already has broad ramifications across the U.S. job market:
•Those with only a high school diploma had an 8 percent unemployment rate in March, roughly double that of college graduates, who had a 4.2 percent unemployment rate.

•Workers with bachelor's degrees earn 45 percent more in wages on average than those of demographically similar high school graduates.

More serious consequences may be felt in the future.
•Without better educated Americans, economists say, the United States won't be able to maintain high-wage jobs and rising living standards in a competitive global economy.

•Increasingly, the goods and services in which the United States has an edge rely more on the minds of American workers than on their muscle.

The reasons American education levels are no longer increasing as they once did are numerous: Despite years of effort, high school dropout rates remain stubbornly high. College tuition is rising and the prospect of shouldering heavy debt discourages some from enrolling in college or sticking with it. There is also growing skepticism among some Americans about whether a college degree actually translates into a well-paying job.

While not every college grad does better in the job market, statistics consistently show that, on average, the more educated the worker, the better he or she fares in today's job market.

•For example, 54 percent of high school graduates over age 25 were working in March, the Labor Department says, while the rest were either looking for work or out of the labor force.
•Among those with some college, 64 percent were working while 73 percent of those with a bachelor's degree or more were working.

Social Security Crashing : Obama Finishes Back 9

Does it really matter that the Trust goes broke? The Obama administration has no plan to fix the Social Security Trust as they don't care - most of the over-the-top officials that are now in power are concerned only about keeping power that they have so when they are turned out in November they can keeping sucking at the federal tit in some manner.

That the people will be cast into the street means nothing to the progressive liberal. After all, it's only about getting and keeping power by any means necessary.

Social Security Trustees: We're Going Broke
Source: John C. Goodman, "Social Security Trustees: We're Going Broke," Politico, April 25, 2012.

Here's some bad news: The latest report of the Social Security and Medicare trustees shows an unfunded liability for both programs of $63 trillion. That is equal to about 4.5 times the entire U.S. gross domestic product (GDP), says John C. Goodman, president of the National Center for Policy Analysis.

Now -- some really bad news.
•The actual liability is almost twice what the government is reporting.
•In 2009, the trustees calculated the two programs' unfunded liability at about 6.5 times the size of the U.S. economy.
•But the next year the unfunded liability was cut in half.
•The reason: "ObamaCare." The minute President Barack Obama signed his health reform bill, he cut Medicare's unfunded liability by more than $50 trillion.

You would think this accomplishment would be an occasion for great joy, but the Obama administration isn't talking about it. Here is what's going on:

•ObamaCare uses cuts in Medicare to pay for more than half the cost of expanding health insurance for young people.

•So even if the Medicare cuts take place, they won't reduce the government's overall obligations -- they just replace entitlements for seniors with entitlements for young people.

So the only realistic way to make cuts in Medicare spending is a mechanism that will pay less and less to doctors and hospitals over time. The Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services' Office of the Actuaries has predicted what this can mean for seniors.

•By the end of this decade, the fees that Medicare pays to doctors will be lower than what Medicaid pays.

•Also by the end of the decade, one in seven hospitals will be forced out of business.

To address these defects, Medicare must be truly reformed. That means shifting from the current "pay as you go" system to one in which workers pay their own way.

•Goodman and his colleagues have calculated that workers (and their employers) must save and invest 4 percent of payroll.

•Eventually, we will reach the point where each generation of retirees will pay for the bulk of its own post-retirement medical care -- with a payroll tax no higher than the one we have today.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

California Exodus Leaves More & Higher Taxes

More bad news for states that are controlled by progressive liberal Democrats. Pick out just about any states that is and has been controlled by liberal left agendas and you will see a state that is or has gone broke.

Mired in debt, crushed by high taxes that has driven the citizens into early financial and moral destitution. These states can go in only one direction and that is to ruin.

What is the fix, vote out the socialists. If you are satisfied with your current condition, then except your own fate. 

The Great California Exodus

Source: Allysia Finley, "Joel Kotkin: The Great California Exodus," Wall Street Journal, April 20, 2012.

For decades, California was regarded as the domestic paradise of the United States, lush with beautiful views and ample resources. This no longer seems to be the case. While many insist that those who reside in California are among the happiest in the country, studies show that Californians are increasingly pursuing happiness elsewhere.

In an interview with demographer Joel Kotkin, the Wall Street Journal found that this exodus of California residents is enormous in scale -- with potentially profound impacts.

•Nearly 4 million more people have left the Golden State in the last two decades than have come from other states.

•This is a sharp reversal from the 1980s, when 100,000 more Americans were settling in California each year than were leaving.

•According to Kotkin, most of those leaving are between the ages of 5 and 14 or 34 to 45; in other words, young families.

Mr. Kotkin's analysis has found that the driving factors behind families' decisions to move to states like Nevada and Texas include:

•State and local government restrictions on development have artificially limited housing supply and put a premium on real estate in coastal regions.

•The cap-and-trade law AB32 will raise the cost of energy and drive out manufacturing jobs without making even a dent in global carbon emissions.

•The renewable portfolio standards, which mandate that a third of the state's energy come from renewable sources like wind and the sun by 2020, will further raise California's already-high electricity prices.

•The state government's corporate tax structure earned it the designation of having the "48th worst business tax climate" in the country by the Tax Foundation.

•Individual income taxes also tower high, with those making more than a million dollars paying a top rate of 10.3 percent -- the third highest in the country.

According to Kotkin, these upwardly mobile families are fleeing in droves, leaving behind a permanent lower class and a lavish upper class. This has resulted in the gradual shrinking of the middle class and an altogether dysfunctional social dynamic.

Electric Car Future Plug In Source : Pond Scum

Nice comparison on the value of electric cars and why we have to get rid of coal - oh wait, coal produces 53% of all our electricity which is a power source for plug in cars in most states. Still more fun stuff, nearly all the states that are 'politically correct' on energy sources are broke or going broke.

The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) has a history of questionable conclusions, research techniques that are managed if not completely manipulated. UCS is an organization funded to exist.

What we need now is for more states to demand we get rid of all coal, nuclear and gas fired plants so can depend on solar and wind to power our cars and airplanes. The fact that we will not be able to depend on the green energy power sources for another 30 to 40 years, if then, isn't important.

Is it a wonder that these states that are in debt for 100's billions have been and are still controlled by progressive Democrats?

What's really important is the fraud that is carbon science. Green house gases. What would be the true test of all this hype is to cut off all federal funding to CO2 research. Cutting off the money will tell just who's really believes the planet is in trouble and who is looking to take the money and run.

How Green Are Electric Cars? Depends on Where You Plug In

Source: Paul Stenquist, "How Green Are Electric Cars? Depends on Where You Plug In," New York Times, April 13, 2012.

According to a recent report by the Union of Concerned Scientists, the amount of greenhouse gases resulting from charging electric vehicles' battery packs varies significantly among the states. Crucially, in some regions of the country, the well-to-wheel emissions level for all-electric vehicles may be higher than the best hybrid and all-gasoline competitors, says the New York Times.

This occurs because many states produce electricity from relatively high emissions sources such as coal. This contrasts strongly with coastal states like California, Washington, New York and Louisiana that put emphasis on other sources.

The relative emissions of these sources can be seen in a comparative example:

•Two identical commuters are both driving a Nissan Leaf in the exact same circumstances, but one is in Los Angeles and the other is in Denver.

•The hypothetical Los Angeles Leaf would be accountable for the release of a low level of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, similar to a gasoline car getting 79 miles per gallon (mpg).

•The Denver car, on the other hand, would cause as large a load of greenhouse gases to enter the atmosphere equivalent to a 33 mpg car.

The Union of Concerned Scientists' study points out that this phenomenon is not confined to Colorado, but occurs often in regions that are particularly coal-dependent.

•For 45 percent of the U.S. population, an electric vehicle will generate lower levels of greenhouse gases than a gasoline-engine vehicle capable of 50 mpg.

•About 37 percent of Americans live in regions where a Leaf's greenhouse gas emissions would equate to a gasoline-powered vehicle rated at 41 to 50 mpg.

•Meanwhile, the final 18 percent of the population lives in regions where the carbon footprint would be equivalent to 31 to 40 mpg.

These final two values undermine the claim by all-electric vehicle manufacturers that those vehicles outperform any and all gasoline or hybrid vehicles, as a number of those vehicles can outperform these carbon footprint standards.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Tax Fairness A joke : Where is The Flat Tax?

We, as individuals, have no idea just how many of these benefits are in play that change how much tax we pay. If there was ever a time to have tax reform it's now.

Understanding Tax Fairness

Source: Alex Brill, "Understanding Tax Fairness (and Why the Buffett Rule Is a Distraction)," The American, April 17, 2012.

President Obama has called for the implementation of the Buffett Rule (a higher tax rate on the rich) because he says that the current tax system unfairly favors the wealthy. To support this point, he has emphasized the low tax rates paid by American millionaires and those few cases in which millionaires pay no taxes, says Alex Brill of the American Enterprise Institute.

However, this degradation of the wealthy as tax evaders and unwilling to pay their fair share is misleading the voting public. There are numerous injustices present in the tax system that manifest themselves in much larger problems than a handful of millionaires.

•President Obama took to Twitter recently to decry the fact that 1,470 millionaires paid no federal income tax in 2009.

•Yet the president's argument ignores the fact that 5.1 million households with incomes ranging from $40,000 to $100,000 also paid no income taxes in 2009.

•For the 35.8 million other people in the same income range who paid, on average, thousands of dollars in federal income taxes, this is also a significant matter of fairness.

This growing group of non-paying filers is a long-term trend for the American tax structure, and it suggests that the largest problem with our taxes is not that the rich do not face higher rates.

•While the number of tax returns filed jumped from 107 million in 1987 to 140.5 million in 2009, the number of taxable returns actually fell from 87 million to 82 million.

•Of the 10.8 million taxpayers with adjustable gross incomes (AGIs) between $40,000 and $50,000, 22 percent paid no federal income tax in 2009, while those who did have tax liability paid an average of $3,000.

•Of the 18.7 million taxpayers with AGIs between $50,000 and $75,000, 12 percent paid no federal income tax. Among the remaining 16.4 million returns in this income bracket, the average tax bill was about $4,700.

If the president were truly dedicated to tax fairness, he would lead a charge to do away with the tax expenditures that make all of this avoidance possible.

New York Times - Paper of Record - Intellectually Lost

Who would have ever thought such an newpaper icon could completely melt down into just another organization willing to do anything someone elses tells them to do.

How can we believe anything they print as the truth? Is this how freedom of the press was suppose to operate as founded?

John Swinton (1829-1901) was a Scottish-American journalist, newspaper publisher, and orator. Swinton also served as chief editorialist of the New York Times and New York Sun during two stints totaling more than a dozen years.

This Man Who Came to Dinner as far back as 1880, had an interesting opinion about the American Press Corps, which pretty much leads the western media if not the World. John Swinton, the doyen of the New York press corps, upon his retirement , made the following speech:

“There is no such thing, at this stage of the world’s history in America, as an independent press. You know it and I know it.

There is not one of you who dare write your honest opinions, and if you did, you know beforehand that it would never appear in print.

I am paid weekly for keeping my honest opinions out of the paper I am connected with.

Others of you are paid similar salaries for similar things, and any, of you who would be foolish as to write honest opinions would be out on the streets looking for another job.

If I allowed my honest opinions to appear in one issue of my papers, before twenty four hours, my occupation would be gone. The business of the journalist is to destroy the truth, to lie outright, to pervert, to vilify, fawn at the feet of Mammon, and to sell his country and his race for his daily bread. You know it and I know it, and what folly is this toasting of an independent press?

We are the jumping jacks, they pull the strings and we dance. Our talents, our possibilities and our lives are all the property of other men.

We are intellectual prostitutes.”

Financial AND Moral Destruction : Socialism

What more can one say to identify the problems that we all face from a socialism agenda?

"Socialism is a philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance, and the gospel of envy, its inherent virtue is the equal sharing of misery.."
-- Winston Churchill

Below are possibly the 5 best sentences you'll ever read: Unfortunately, most voters don't know this.
1. You cannot legislate the poor into prosperity, by legislating the wealth out of prosperity.
2. What one person receives without working for, another person must work for without receiving.
3. The government cannot give to anybody anything that the government does not first take from somebody else.
4. You cannot multiply wealth by dividing it.
5. When half of the people get the idea that they do not have to work because the other half is going to take care of them; and when the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work, because somebody else is going to get what they work for, that is the beginning of the end of any nation.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Carbon Tax for Airlines Over Europe: A Carbon Tax War

Here's another chance for our fearless leader to give a speech on how bad this new carbon tax is and how the United States will not stand for being told what to do or where we can and cannot go.

Of course, when push comes to shove, Obama will convene a blue ribbon panel to discuss the problem and then meet in the afternoon again for their conclusions, which in 'Obamaspeak' means more discussions.

At the same time this will give Obama time in the morning to hit the front 9 and then later, after the blue ribbon panel submits it's findings, Obama will say he needs more time before he can make a decision, and then he will head back to the course to hit the back 9 before supper.

The First Carbon Trade War?
Source: Claude Barfield, "The First Carbon Trade War?" The American, April 18, 2012.

The European Union seems determined to take on the whole world by demanding that all airlines pay a carbon tribute for the privilege of crossing EU airspace. The tax, which will start being collected in 2013, would be levied not just on the miles flown over EU territory but for the entire length of the trip, says Claude Barfield, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute.

The European Union justifies the extraterritorial basis of the tax system through the save-the-world mandate that has provided impetus for many of its cap-and-trade environmental policies. Nevertheless, the implementation of the tax is likely to backfire.

•All told, it is estimated that the European Union would have taken in $1.2 billion from all airlines in 2012 had the new system been in place.
•This estimation rises to $3.6 billion by 2020.
•Airlines that refuse to comply will be subject to a fine of €100 ($131) per ton of carbon dioxide, and possibly banned from operating in the European Union.
•In violation of the Kyoto Protocol, no deference is given to airlines from developing countries that have historically not contributed as much to the global warming problem.

Needless to say, the political powerhouses of the international community are inflamed at the idea of the tax, which is set to ignite a carbon trade war. More than 20 countries, both developed and developing, and including the United States, Brazil, Russia, China, India, South Africa, Nigeria and Saudi Arabia have met twice to consider common or individual responses.

Though no collective response has yet been agreed upon, this has not stopped individual countries from demonstrating their anger through threats.

•China and India have already forbidden their airlines to pay the tax.
•Russia has threatened to cancel air rights for EU airlines flying over Siberia.
•China has also upped the ante by delaying and possibly canceling aircraft orders from Airbus worth $12 billion.
•In October the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill making it illegal for U.S. airlines to comply with the EU scheme.

Despite this final fact, which demonstrates the American collective will to stand against the tax, the Obama administration has dragged its feet in negotiating this position. Analysts recognize that a showdown is likely -- it just remains to be seen if the United States will stay on the sideline.

Wisconsin Democrat Primary : Vote for Scott Walker

I think this is a great idea - This is an open primary so all it will take is some 'force of will' to do what's necessary to save our state. Actually, this will just be a test run by Republicans and Conservatives at the polls before the real vote in June.

Think of it this way, by voting in the progressives primary in huge numbers and defeat the whack jobs on the left, our vote will save the state some 20 million dollars that we the taxpayers will not have to cough up. Isn't that motivation enough?

So get out there in two weeks or so when the progressives socialists have their primary and write in Scott Walker.

Dear Friends and Wisconsin neighbors -

I voted for Scott Walker in the last gubernatorial election because his moral values closely resemble my own.

Walker's views on abortion, embryonic stem cell research, homosexual sexual marriage, human cloning and euthanasia all which are intrinsically evil, reflect not only my views but also those of the Catholic Church.

Walker's views on union collective bargaining for public employees are the same as former President Franklin D. Roosevelt and former AFL-CIO President George Meany. Their reasoning was that collective bargaining by public employees could turn the public against their government.

Because of the high cost to Wisconsin taxpayers of a recall election without giving Governor Walker a chance to prove his program, I will vote in the upcoming democratic primary and write in Scott Walker. Hopefully than a recall election will not be necessary, saving the taxpayers of this otherwise great state.
Ray Raflik

The Democratic Primary for governor in the recall effort against Scott Walker will possibly have 4 candidates splitting the vote. We the majority of voters, who elected Scott in the first place, have had to sit quietly fuming for some months now.

If 500,000 of us turn out for the democratic primary, and write in Scott Walker, it’s a slam dunk for all taxpayers. We CAN defeat the recall of Scott Walker!

 If we all participate in this perfectly legal act of freedom, we will defeat those who wish us to go back to the days of $3.6 billion dollar deficits.

Wisconsin will become the third state ever to attempt recalling their Governor. In order to defeat the other side we must be more united than ever.

With that thought in mind we should be committed to seeing we retain Scott Walker
The first step is to vote in the Democratic primary election and write in Scott Walker.
If we can gain a majority of the votes in the democratic primary we will have defeated the
democrats at their game and save the tax payers millions of dollars.


Monday, April 23, 2012

Health Care Bock Grants to States Work

Much like the mess in Wisconsin with the liberal Democrats that see their exclusive access to taxpayer dollars eliminated when Scott Walker put his budget into law saving the state hundreds of millions for local communities and eliminating a 3.6 billion deficit, the progressives see the Paul Ryan block grants much the say way.

It wouldn't come as as surprise to find the most states that are in trouble with spending are controlled by progressive liberals at all levels of government and community organizations, which includes hospitals and private organization that depend on taxpayer funding from the federal government. Where there is huge amounts of virtually uncontrolled funds, there one will find the progressive.

Medicaid Block Grants and Medicaid Performance

Source: Linda Gorman, "Medicaid Block Grants and Medicaid Performance," Independence Institute, March 2012.

Medicaid has expanded rapidly since its inception in 1965. This could possibly be linked to the program's financial structure, in which the federal government matches state spending. The incentives are so dysfunctional that states have increased the cost of health care in order to increase the federal matching funds that they receive, says Linda Gorman, a senior fellow at the Independence Institute.

The need for reform is paramount. This is not only true because the program has expanded rapidly over the past few decades, but also because this trend is expected to continue into the near future.

•With almost 60 million people enrolled, state expenditures on Medicaid have increased from 0.2 percent of total state tax revenues in 1966 to an estimated 21 percent in 2005.

•In 1975, just 10 percent of the U.S. population was enrolled in Medicaid, but by 2008, 19 percent of the U.S. population was enrolled in Medicaid.

•In FY 2010, Medicaid surpassed elementary and secondary education as the largest component of total state spending.

•Furthermore, the Affordable Care Act will add at least 18 million people to Medicaid rolls.

•Without reform, some states will see Medicaid spending increase by as much as 50 percent in 10 years.

An obvious reform is to block grant Medicaid funds to the states. This would grant them greater flexibility in tailoring Medicaid offerings to their state's specific needs, and would place the onus upon the states to limit spending.

•Block grants would encourage states to mimic successful private health care delivery reforms, and if those reforms reduce spending on acute care by just 4 percent per year, annual spending would fall by $9.5 billion.

•Another possible benefit from eliminating matching fund finance is lowering the cost of uncovering Medicaid fraud, thus making policing Medicaid fraud more attractive to states.

•Finally, block grants would remove a significant incentive for states to inflate the price of health care by imposing health care taxes that increase federal matching funds.

Such a reform would likely have the same impact as was seen when Aid to Families with Dependent Children (a federal funds matching program) was converted to Temporary Assistance for Needy Families block grants. In that case, caseloads fell, poverty was reduced and states streamlined the process.

Health Care Rationing : ObamaCare Death Panels

Having a bunch of unelected bureaucrats sitting around a table determining where you are important enough to live or die. Sarah Palin is right again. These are "Death Panels"

Welcome to the real world of progressive liberal socialism. Welcome to ObamaCare!

Comparative Effectiveness Research: A Slippery Slope to Health Care Rationing

Source: Kathryn Nix, "Comparative Effectiveness Research Under ObamaCare: A Slippery Slope to Health Care Rationing," Heritage Foundation, April 12, 2012.

One of the most important goals of health care reform is to slow the runaway growth in health care spending. Medical care has gradually become more expensive, and this is particularly troubling for those who oversee government-provided health programs such as Medicare and Medicaid, says Kathryn Nix of the Heritage Foundation.

The growth of this spending is likely to only become more severe with the passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), which will add millions to government enrollment sheets.

•The United States spent 17.6 percent of its gross domestic product (GDP) on health care in 2009.

•This figure is projected to rise to 20 percent of GDP by 2020.

•Medicare's cost accounted for 3.7 percent of GDP in 2011 and is growing faster than any other area of federal spending.

•One reason for Medicare's ballooning cost is its fee-for-service structure, which rewards providers for quantity of services and offers little incentive for patients to lower costs.

As a part of its goal to limit this spending growth, the PPACA has established the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) -- an institution that would conduct comparative effectiveness research. This research would compare treatment options and establish which choices are relatively cost-effective.

While this sounds admirable in theory, consumers should be wary of the mandate provided to the PCORI. Specifically, cost-effectiveness recommendations can quickly turn into medical care rationing as a body that is charged with limiting spending becomes autocratic. The experience of Britain's health care system is instructive in this regard.

•Britain's National Health Service offers health coverage to all British citizens and determines which treatments will be covered and paid for, and under which circumstances.

•The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) is charged with making these decisions, incorporating cost-effectiveness and the limitations of fiscal resources.

•By NICE rulings, British patients have been refused effective treatments for several conditions because of cost.

•This included coverage for fingolimod, a promising new medicine shown to reduce relapses and delay disease progression in multiple sclerosis patients.

•PCORI could essentially become the NICE of the United States.

Illinois Residents Flee Progressive Corruption

This is a letter from someone that has knowledge of what corruption looks like first hand. This man who wrote this letter saying good bye to Illinois is the result of unchecked corruption and what is being fought in Wisconsin by Scott Walker.

Little wonder then our country is fighting the same battle as Wisconsin due, in large part, to a former resident of Illinois and Chicago, Barack Obama.

I lived in Illinois for well over 50 years and will always

remember the people of Illinois as fine examples of the
great mid-western States of America.
It is with an aching heart that I read of the pitiful
decline of the state that the
following letter indicates.

Goodbye to Illinois.

Former State Senator and Republican Cook County Board President candidate Roger Keats and his wife Tina are leaving Illinois to live in Texas. They bid farewell to their Illinois friends with the following letter.

Dear friends, As we leave Illinois for good, I wanted to say goodbye and wish all of you well. I am a lifelong son of the heartland and proud of "The Land of Lincoln" state.

After 60 years, I leave Illinois with a heavy heart. But enough is enough. The leaders of Illinois refuse to see we can't continue going in the direction we are and expect people who have options to stay here.

I remember when Illinois had 25 congressmen. In 2012 we will have 18. Compared to the rest of the country we have lost 1/4th of our population. Don't blame the weather, because most of us love the 4 beautiful seasons of Illinois.

Illinois just sold still more bonds, and our credit rating is so bad we pay higher interest rates than junk bonds. Junk Bonds!

Illinois is ranked:
• 50th for fiscal policy
• 47th in job creation
• 1st in unfunded pension liabilities
• 2nd largest budget deficit
• 1st in failing schools
• 1st in bonded indebtedness
• Highest sales tax in the nation
• Most judges indicted (Operations Greylord and Gambat)

Five of our last 9 elected governors have been indicted. That is more than the other 49 states added together! Then add 32 Chicago Aldermen and (according to the Chicago Tribune) over 1,000 state and municipal employees indicted.

The corruption tax is a real cost of doing business. We are the butt of jokes for stand-up comics.
We live in the most corrupt big city, in the most corrupt big county, in the most corrupt state
in America. I am sick and tired of subsidizing crooks. A day rarely passes without an article about the corruption and incompetence. Chicago even got caught rigging the tests to hire policemen and firemen!

Our Crook County corporate tax system is intentionally corrupt. The Democrat State Chairman, who is also the Speaker of the Illinois House (Speaker Mike Madigan), and the most senior alderman in Chicago, each make well over a million dollars a year putting the fix in for their clients tax assessments.

Cook County's property tax system is a disaster:

The assessed value of our Chicago home was 50% higher than the sale price. Our home value is down 40%, our property taxes are up 20%, and our local schools have still another referendum
on the ballot to increase taxes more than 20% next year.

The Illinois system is unfair and incompetent. In the Hill Country of Texas (near Austin and San Antonio) we bought a gracious home on almost 2 acres with a swimming pool. It is new, will cost us around 40% of what our home in Wilmette just sold for, and the property taxes are a third of what they are here.

We are moving to Texas where there is no income tax, while Illinois just went up 67% Texas sales tax is half of ours, which is the highest in the nation. Southern states are supportive of job
producers, taxpayers and folks who offer opportunities to their residents. Illinois shakes them down for every penny that can be extorted from them.

I could go on, but enough is enough. I feel as if we are standing on the deck of the Titanic and I can see the icebergs right in front of us.

I will miss our friends a great deal. I have called Illinois home for essentially my entire life. But it is time to go where there is honest, competent, and cost effective government. We have chosen to vote with our feet and our wallets.

Our best wishes to all of you.

Roger and Tina Keats

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Health Care - ObamaCare - Progressives - Investigated

Interesting development -  An investigation into how ObamaCare legislation was developed and passed. Who would have ever thought the Democrats would do anything underhanded to get ObamaCare passed.

Was the Congress conducting 'criminial' activity behind closed doors? Is this something the people should know about? This a concern only if you are a Republican or Conservative. To most Democrats and progressive liberals, this is how things get done in their world.

Why would they invite opposition? The rule of law? The people?

Health care. The House Energy and Commerce Committee is conducting an investigation into meetings between the White House and various health care groups during the deliberations on Obamacare. The Committee report says that the real negotiations were done behind closed doors and that the public events were “merely political theater designed to give the impression that the law was both widely supported and inevitable”. The Committee says the White House helped coordinate third party advertisements to promote the passage of the law. Meanwhile the Republican Senate Joint Economic Committee staff published a report this week finding $4 trillion in tax increases included in Obamacare.

Sunday, April 08, 2012

Immigration Video : America Attacked by It's Leader

This is probably the best video on what is going on in Arizona with SB1070 immigration law. When you watch this, please be seated as it will stun you with it's inconceivable, incomprehensible information.

What's truly incredible is that this is acutally happening in our country. American citizens are being attacked by our own president. Who is this man and why would he do this?

Saturday, April 07, 2012

Tax Dollars for Film Credits? Whatz This?

This is a little know funnel for tax dollars to people that live in a fantasy land. It's bad enough our tax dollars are wasted by people that we elect to watch our money, but now they give our money to people that just landed in a space ship from the planet Hollywood.

Whaz up with this? Are we star struck into thinking maybe, just maybe, we might be in the movies, or are we just lazy and stupid.

Important Questions to Ask in Evaluating a Film Tax Incentive Program
Source: Joseph Henchman, "Important Questions to Ask in Evaluating a Film Tax Incentive Program," Tax Foundation, March 22, 2012.

Speaking before the Finance Committee of the Alaska House of Representatives, Joseph Henchman, vice president of legal and state projects for the Tax Foundation, argued against the state legislature's bill to extend the state's tax credit for film production companies through 2023. He states the credits, worth up to $200 million over the period, do little to benefit state residents and are not cost effective.

First, he attacks the oft-made point by proponents that by regularly attracting productions to the state, Alaska will eventually attain a critical mass beyond which films will continue to shoot there without additional financial incentive. The number of states offering film tax credits has increased from four states offering $2 million in 1999 to 40 states offering $1.4 billion in 2010.

Because of the competition among states, film production companies maintain little state loyalty and instead flock to whatever state offers the best deals. This means that the attainment of that critical mass is unlikely.

Henchman then moves on to disprove the claim that the film tax credit is revenue-neutral. While proponents argue that the credit merely forgives taxes on activities that would not have occurred in the state anyway, this hides the true financial interworking.

Many states' tax credits, including Alaska's, are transferable or refundable. This means that often, when the allocated credit is greater than the tax liability of the production, the credit receives a refund or is transferred, thereby reducing state revenues. This likely explains why in the last couple of years, several states have reconsidered their entire film tax credit, with some like Michigan sharply contracting the credit amount.

Finally, Henchman makes the argument that even if the film production does create jobs and provides a positive economic effect on the community, this effect does not outweigh the costs of the credit. Thus, film tax credits on the whole are not cost effective.

A Michigan study of its own tax credit found that it was essentially paying $100,000 for each full-time equivalent job created.

Arizona's Department of Commerce calculated a receipt of 28 cents per dollar spent.
Studies in Connecticut, Louisiana, Massachusetts, New Mexico and Pennsylvania all arrived at even lower amounts.

Friday, April 06, 2012

Stimulus Money Stole the Work Ethic

The bad news for Obama's recovery plan, spend more money we don't have supporting projects that don't work and giving out benefits to people who find taking is easier that working, only gets worse as time goes on.

Other Western countries saw the problem and have dealt with it - We, on the other hand, elected a socialists that believes things have to get much worse before he can finally and "fundamentally" fix the problem. The results of this ideology is only to obvious to us all.

Obama's Stimulus Delayed Recovery
Source: John Lott and Grover Norquist, "Obama's Stimulus Delayed Recovery," Politico, April 2, 2012.

In justifying the current deplorable state of the economy and his administration's inefficacy at fixing it, President Obama has often relied on the argument that recoveries from substantial financial crises are usually much slower than typical recession recoveries. However, an international analysis shows that this line of argument is likely not true, say John Lott and Grover Norquist in Politico.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has produced comparable unemployment data using the same definition of unemployment for nine foreign countries, allowing for direct and fair comparison with the United States. Four of these countries -- Germany, Japan, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom -- are currently recovering from financial crises.

The other five -- Australia, Canada, France, Italy and Sweden -- were simply recovering from a normal state of affairs recession.

From January 2009 to December 2011, the unemployment rates in the countries with financial crises actually increased less than in those that avoided such a crisis (0.66 percentage points versus 0.86 percentage points). Both subsets also experienced similar growth patterns.

This suggests that the argument that the American recovery is slower than normal because of the unique downward burden of our previous financial crisis is weak. Rather, the stagnant recovery is likely the result of how lawmakers dealt with that crisis. Indeed, the stimulus bill spent nearly $1 trillion, inherently making that money unavailable to market-selected ends that would likely have been more efficient investments.

In addition, burdensome government regulations in financial markets, housing, health care, credit cards and energy have raised the costs of doing business. A direct comparison of the United States with Canada helps flesh out the true sources of America's recovery malaise.

Their unemployment rates increased in lock step from August 2008 until six months later, in February 2009, when the stimulus was passed in the United States.

During those six months, the U.S. unemployment rate rose by 2.1 percentage points, from 6.1 percent to 8.2 percent.

Simultaneously, the Canadian rate grew by 1.9 percentage points, from 5.1 percent to 7 percent.
The countries' behavior only diverged when the United States passed its stimulus bill, when Canada recovered and America worsened.

Europe's Permanently Unemployed : What to do?

As in the United States where manufactures are doing more with the same number of employees they had in 2008, not hiring more employees and pushing longer hours, the Europeans are finding that the same thing is happening with there unskilled and mostly uneducated workers. The jobs that these people had are now gone and are not likely to return.

The question that remains, is this the new norm, and if so, what does one do with all of the permanently unemployed?

Ranks of Working Poor Grow in Europe, Despite Social Safety Nets
Source: Liz Alderman, "Ranks of Working Poor Grow in Europe," New York Times, April 1,

As the height of the European debt crisis gradually passes and tensions cool, the European Union can look forward to what is likely to be a slow and painful recovery. However, the pain caused by deficit-reducing austerity measures will likely be much more significant than many realize: a contraction of government services will hit Europe's poor hard, worsening an already-desperate situation, says the New York Times.

The poor of EU nations will face significant obstacles on this road to recovery, and this pain will not be isolated to those countries that are most in debt -- even France and Germany are discovering a striking amount of desperation among their working poor.

In 2010, 8.2 percent of workers in the 17 EU countries that use the euro were living under the region's average poverty threshold of 10,240 euros, or about $13,500 annual income.
The situation is nearly twice as bad in Spain and Greece. This is up from only 7.3 percent in 2006, according to Eurostat.

As a point of comparison, the Labor Department estimated that 7 percent of single adult workers in the United States earned less than the poverty threshold of $10,830 in 2009.
France, which is second only to Germany in its aggregate level of prosperity, has seen a fundamental failure of its own generous social safety nets to protect the poor. Slightly lower than the European Union average, France still faces a below-poverty rate of 6.6 percent for single workers.

Furthermore, half the nation's workers earn less than $25,000. Even though the country's workers make more than most other workers in the European Union, they also face higher prices that diminish this advantage.

For example, the lack of affordable housing (home prices have surged 110 percent in the last decade) have left many homeless.

One of the obstacles that the EU's workers face is that traditional jobs, which include benefits and comprehensive compensation packages, are largely being replaced by inconsistent contract work. In 2011, temporary contracts accounted for 50 percent of all new hires in the European Union, according to Eurostat.

The growing needs of the poor place greater pressure on government services just when EU governments are cutting back on those same services.

Thursday, April 05, 2012

Income Inequality based on Possessions Not Capability

Interesting - The author here muddies the water a little on the income disparity question. In truth, I believe, the question of income disparity comes down to what you have, not what your are capable of. This is how class warfare is started. This is what the progressives are using to divide the country into haves and have-nots.

This is taking from the productive and giving to the unproductive for securing votes. How long does one think this could go on before one runs out of other peoples money?

Forget About Income Inequality
Source: Shikha Dalmia, "Forget About Income Inequality," Reason Magazine, March 30, 2012.

According to David Grusky, professor of sociology at Stanford University, the central problem confronting America is income inequality. He argues that the root cause of this malady lies in how rich people acquire their pre-tax income -- by rigging the rules of the market to extract illicit "rents." According to him, the economic system, not the tax system, is unfair, says Shikha Dalmia, a Reason Foundation senior analyst.

Grusky's problem is that he is using the wrong metric to measure market-generated income inequality. He should be using individual income -- including paychecks, capital gains, and dividends -- instead of household income.

Grusky's argument on rising income inequality is overblown and his argument on income inequality constitutes a red herring.

Even though the after-tax income of the top 1 percent of households grew 275 percent between 1979 and 2007, there was a 65 percent income gain in households in the top quintile, 40 percent gain for those in the middle three quintiles, and an 18 percent gain in the bottom quintile.
In short, no group lost ground.

Despite opportunity-restricting distortions, America has done a remarkable job at closing the personal well-being gap. Indeed, because of technology-driven productivity increases and lowered trade barriers, almost every American can afford bypass surgeries, laptops with Internet access, cars, TVs and occasional air travel.

America remains a highly income-mobile society and Americans might be able to scale the income-mobility ladder faster and higher if there were even more opportunities for education and entrepreneurship. As Grusky is right to point out, America's higher education industry is highly cartelized, creating an artificial scarcity of college slots.

ObamaCare Mandates Identified : Individual Freedom Crushed

If one had a question on just what ObamaCare will do to individual freedom and health care in general now and in the future, this short synopsis will clear the senses and bring clarity to the problem.

The Individual Mandate: Ineffective, Overreaching, Unsustainable, Unconstitutional and Unnecessary
Source: Tom Miller, "The Individual Mandate: Ineffective, Overreaching, Unsustainable, Unconstitutional and Unnecessary," American Enterprise Institute, March 23, 2012.

The U.S. Supreme Court will continue to debate the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) over the next several months, but a great deal can be said about the law that has nothing to do with its noncompliance with the Constitution. Rather, much focus can be placed on its costliness, ineffectiveness and burdensome regulatory scheme, says Tom Miller, a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.

In terms of paying for an overhauled health care system, the individual mandate represents a truly innovative mechanism for hoodwinking the American public by hiding the true cost of the program. The individual mandate attempts to drive down premiums by pulling more healthy consumers into insurance pools.

However, the same end could have been accomplished through a simple tax increase, the proceeds of which would be dedicated to subsidizing premiums for low-income individuals.
The fact that the Obama administration sought this roundabout means of financing nationalized health care underlines the lack of political support that the PPACA truly has.
Additionally, reform advocates suggest that the PPACA will drive down costs for all by streamlining the health care system. Economic theory regarding constricted supply and overstimulated demand tells us that this claim is blatantly false.

Furthermore, the complicated financial structure of the program will leave regulators and participants confused and unsure of their options. Years after the law was passed, a number of questions still have not been answered:

First, how to determine whether a person is exempt from "unaffordable" mandated coverage;

Second, if the person is not exempt, how to estimate whether he or she is eligible for various levels of premium subsidies through Medicaid or tax credits;

Third, how to settle up later in the following tax year the final amount of subsidies versus premium payments to account for differences in actual household income reported to the IRS.

Finally, the concern remains that this sweeping grant of control over citizens' private lives to the federal government will act as a "gateway drug" to further regulation. The individual mandate is unprecedented in its subjugation of the individual and sets a dangerous precedent for future government policies.

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Housing Market Headed Lower : Beware of Spin

Even if this article is a bit pessimistic, one can conclude that since it comes from a private enterprise it probably is more correct then what we get from the government.

Given then the housing market is probably headed downward for some time to come, the general public shouldn't be surprised, during this political summer, to hear government officals proclaim 'all is well'. All we have to do is believe.

No, This Is Not a Housing Recovery
Source: Anthony Randazzo, "No, This Is Not a Housing Recovery," Reason Magazine, March 23, 2012.

Many government officials claim that the country is nearing a gradual housing recovery, yet the facts do not support this claim. Concerns over future interest rates, a large cohort of phantom housing and troubling historical patterns suggest that housing prices are likely to continue to decline before a real recovery is realized, says Anthony Randazzo, director of economic research at the Reason Foundation.

First, mortgage rates have been artificially depressed by the Federal Reserve. Through several waves of quantitative easing, the Fed has pushed average rates to between 3 and 4 percent, but such pressures will eventually subside. When rates go back up, the cost of mortgages will rise and demand for housing will consequentially fall. This will add downward pressure on an already-fragile market.

Second, there is an enormous amount of phantom housing available, defined as houses that are in the process of being placed on the market but have not been put up for sale yet.
Those who argue that a housing recovery is on the horizon emphasize the fact that there are only 3 million homes on the market currently.

However, this ignores homes that are in serious delinquency, homes in the foreclosure process, and homes that banks have seized but not yet put on the market. When these homes (most of which will be put on the market in the near future) are included, the number of for-sale homes rises to 10 million.

Third, historical trends suggest the market will continue to worsen before it gets better. Many have emphasized that the downward spiral has finally hit the long-term trend line, and that this means a rebound is imminent, but previous bubbles have shown a different pattern. Housing bubble bursts in the past have almost always seen prices dip far below the long-term trend line, only to recover several years later.

The housing bubble that peaked in 1978 then burst crossed below the trend line in 1981, not to recover until 1986.

Similarly, the housing bubble that peaked in 1989 declined a bit faster and fell to the average trend line in 1991, failing to return to that level until 1998.

These three factors suggest that the housing market is much weaker than Americans are being led to believe, and is likely to get worse.

Postal Service On the Ropes : Change or Die

The US Postal Service is like a Model T in a race with a Ferrari - the service hasn't changed with the times, and so it's being left behind. The problem now, this is just another failed government program that the taxpayers have to support.

Someone has to step up and make the hard decisions to save or dump the postal service.

U.S. Postal Service Needs to Privatize in Order to Survive
Source: Adam Summers, "USPS Is $14 Billion In the Red This Year, So It Promotes Junk Mail," Reason Foundation, March 22, 2012.

The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) has been struggling financially for several years. Fighting technological innovations that have made many of its services obsolete, the enterprise faces persistent deficits and crippling long-term debt, says Adam Summers, a senior policy analyst with the Reason Foundation.

According to the USPS, first class mail volume has dropped by 25 percent since 2006, and even steeper declines are expected over the next decade. Last fiscal year, the USPS lost $5.1 billion, not including the required $5.5 billion health care prefunding payment.

It lost another $3.3 billion in its most recent quarter, and is expected to lose about $14.1 billion for the entire current fiscal year ending September 30.

Without reform, the agency estimates that annual losses will grow to $18.2 billion by 2015, with a total accumulated debt of $92 billion by 2016.

Congressional efforts to reform the service have largely fallen flat, stalled or trapped in political gridlock. This has left the agency to propose a number of business model reforms on its own that it will seek to implement:

Closing up to 3,800 post offices and 223 mail-processing centers.
Increasing first class mail postage from 45 cents to 50 cents -- an 11 percent increase.
Reducing the delivery schedule from six days a week to five (eliminating Saturday delivery).
Reducing overnight delivery to a two to three day delivery standard.
Eliminating annual retiree health care prepayments of approximately $5.5 billion.
Shifting from current federal health benefits programs to a more flexible, tiered program to be run directly by USPS.
Transitioning older employees to Medicare.

Though these efforts are admirable as the bloated service seeks to cut down on wasteful spending and return to profitability, they will almost certainly prove insufficient in the long run.
Rather than simple reforms, the USPS needs a full, privatizing restructuring in order to survive.

Competition in the postal system would help participants better assess optimal mailing rates and services, and would simultaneously allow the federal government to sever ties with an unprofitable enterprise.

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

School Choice Guide : 2012 Update

If you have had any questions about school choice, this guide will help answers those questions. This is an excellent publication.

2012 ABCs of School Choice
Source: "Foundation Releases 2012 ABCs of School Choice," Reuters, January 23, 2012. "2012 ABCs of School Choice," Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice, January 2012.

The Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice recently released the 2012 edition of its annual ABCs of School Choice, the comprehensive guide to school choice programs throughout the United States.

The publication, first released in 2003, provides in-depth profiles of each voucher, education savings account, tax-credit scholarship, and individual tax credit or tax deduction program in the United States.

These profiles include program summaries, information on scholarship values, student eligibility and participation, and the latest statistics and trends. The ABCs also includes new sections providing information on current program rules and regulations, an update on legal developments, a graphic digest of statistics, and a list of resources and contacts for school choice advocates in every state.

The ABCs of School Choice is designed to serve as both an introduction for those new to educational choice, and as a guide for those who have been working for decades to achieve universal school choice.

College Can't Be For Everyone

This is so true - most kids that go on to college have no idea what they are there for. It's just the thing to do after high school. But when the fun of getting there is over, and it's time to produce, they find they are mentally still in high school. They can't comprehend the fact that it's time to produce instead of just having fun.

Drop out rate is directly related to this collision of play time and having a developed work ethic. Most students today don't have a work ethic that will sustain them. They have never held a job of any kind where they had to discipline them selves to earn a wage.

And in the case of studying for good grades, they can't find any relationship between what is happening in the class room and what is waiting for them at the next party. Some students just want to go to work to start earning a living but find they were shoved into college against their wishes. These students find being tied down to a class room is a huge conflict of interests.

Why Do So Many Americans Drop Out of College?
Source: Jordan Weissmann, "Why Do So Many Americans Drop Out of College?" The Atlantic, March 29 2012.

The phrase "dropout factory" is ordinarily applied to America's failing high schools -- the ones where students are expected to fall through the cracks, where those who make it past graduation and on to college are considered the exceptions, the lucky survivors. But by that definition, another level of U.S. education counts as a "dropout factory" -- our entire higher education system, say The Atlantic.

Just 56 percent of students who embark on a bachelor's degree program finish within six years, according to a 2011 Harvard study titled Pathways to Prosperity.

Just 29 percent of those who seek an associate's degree obtain it within three years.

According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, just 46 percent of Americans complete college once they start, worst among the 18 countries it tracks.

Looking for an explanation, many focus largely on the cost of school, but there's another factor at play that has less to do with the cost of a degree and more to do with the changing nature of our job market, as well as the way our education system has failed to keep up with it.

Today, it's harder to earn a middle-class wage without a college degree. That demand for skills is causing more students to sign up for school than ever before. But once they get to class, not every student is prepared. Nor do they necessarily want to be at college, or have a clear notion of what they're doing there, making the system incredibly wasteful. This isn't how it works in the rest of the developed world.

When all is said and done, about 40 percent of Americans earn a college degree, roughly the same as European countries such as France, Finland and Sweden.
The difference? Young Europeans who opt out of college can take extensive vocational training during their equivalent of high school. Rather than spending money on community college courses or a bachelor's degree they aren't sure what to do with, they can learn hard skills that will prepare them for employment.

Europe's own youth unemployment problems are evidence that more vocational training won't be a panacea the problems facing young Americans. But they would be a first step towards a less expensive, less wasteful educational system geared more towards the realities of the economy.

Monday, April 02, 2012

Ryans Health Care Plan Workable : Dems Don't Have One

And what is the answer that the progressive liberal leftists have to Ryan's plan, according to the Treasury Sec. Tim Geithner, " we don't have a plan, we just know we don't like your plan".

This sums up the entire progressive agenda for America. They don't have a plan to help the country during this crisis, they only have a plan to take advantage of the crisis to benefit their own agenda which is getting and keeping power by any means necessary.

The Cliff's Notes Version of Republican Health Reform
Source: Joseph Antos, "The Ryan Plan: The Cliff's Notes Version of Republican Health Reform," American Enterprise Institute, March 21, 2012.

Representative Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) has once again proposed a budget plan that would seek to end the unsustainable growth of the federal government's entitlement programs. Restructuring Medicare and Medicaid, while stripping some of the provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), Ryan is attempting to alter policies and various incentives in the sector in order to optimize the programs, says Joseph Antos, the Wilson H. Taylor Scholar in Health Care and Retirement Policy at the American Enterprise Institute.

For the Medicare program, the most radical component of Ryan's plan would be to shift the organization from a defined benefit model to defined contribution. Beneficiaries would be given a subsidy for the purchase of private plans, rather than having unlimited services provided to them directly.

In order to qualify for the subsidy, private plans would have to supply defined benefits that would place a floor on the comprehensiveness of care. Total program spending would be limited to gross domestic product growth plus 0.5 percentage points.

A recent analysis shows that competition could reduce federal Medicare spending by 5.6 percent a year, maintaining basic benefits and without raising taxes. Similarly, the Ryan budget would reform the Medicaid program in order to streamline service and adapt structures to the needs of specific populations.

Medicaid reform under the Ryan plan would give greater control over the program to the states in exchange for a more predictable federal subsidy paid in the form of a block grant. The block grant would be indexed for inflation and population growth. The relatively fixed payment would give states a strong incentive to contract with more efficient health plans.

According to the Ryan plan, total Medicaid spending (including both the federal and state contributions) would decline by $810 billion over the next decade. Estimates from the Congressional Budget Office show that outlays for both of these programs are set to increase substantially, especially with health reform's expansion of Medicaid. The Ryan plan would finally place greater control on this unsustainable growth.

Insurance Costs Skyrocket : Future Recipient Increases

Little wonder insurance premiums are going up with the threat of Obamacare just around the corner and 28 million new health care recipients waiting to cash in. The next question is if ObamaCare is struck down by the Supreme court will the premiums go down? My first reaction is, no way.

The fight to bring health care under control will be much more difficult given the increases in the number of people expecting free care that is happening now. It's like anything that has increasing prices due to demand or liability, once they are up they never go down. One other thing that has the same characteristics, taxes!

Long-Term Care Insurance Policy Costs Rising
Source: Christine Dugas, "Long-Term Care Insurance Policy Costs Rising," USA Today, March 29, 2012.

Just as aging baby boomers are realizing they may need long-term care insurance, the marketplace is shrinking, the cost of premiums is soaring and providers are altering the policies they offer, says USA Today.

Long-term care insurance helps cover expenses that typical health insurance doesn't, such as nursing homes, in-home care and assisted living.
Insurance companies have been making major adjustments because the claims on long-term health care policies have exceeded their predictions. The reason: People are living longer and developing long-term illnesses, says Deb Newman of the Life Foundation. Meanwhile, near-record-low interest rates have depressed what the industry earns on the premiums it collects.

This month, Prudential Financial, one of the top five carriers of individual long-term care insurance, said it was exiting the market. Now, 10 of the top 20 individual long-term insurance carriers have bailed out in the past five years, according to LIMRA, an industry-sponsored group.

The remaining insurance carriers have raised premiums. Long-term care insurance policies are now 6 percent to 17 percent higher than in 2011, the American Association for Long-Term Insurance says. Existing policyholders also have been hard hit by rate increases.

Trying to address consumer complaints, the industry has created hybrid products that combine life insurance or annuities with long-term care. Hybrids are gaining traction. For example, New York Life Insurance says its hybrid is popular because it has an either/or benefit.

Consumers who can afford to put their savings into the hybrid, which requires a one-time payment, can use the money for long-term care if they ever need it, or they will have a life insurance benefit when they die.

Sunday, April 01, 2012

Buffett Rule 'Smoke & Mirrors' for Obama's Agenda

Why is the answer to all economic problems in this country, ruled by Mr Obama, to raise taxes and spend more? This new legislation will only drive the rich further into the shadows to hide their money and therefore yield less and less revenue to the treasury. Besides being a class warfare tool, the amount of money raised by the Buffett rule wouldn't run the government for more than a few days if that long.

Maybe it's not about solving America's problems for Mr Obama, maybe it's about a small group of individuals that have an agenda that doesn't include the country as a whole or the American people in particular.

"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.

Health Care Strength/Weaknesses Found Locally

Interesting 'scorecard' for health care in local areas. Weaknesses and strengths are pointed out by population size and economic viability as well as regional location.

Scorecard on Local Health System Performance
Source: David Radley, "Rising to the Challenge: Results from a Scorecard on Local Health System Performance, 2012," Commonwealth Fund, March 14, 2012.

The first-ever Scorecard on Local Health System Performance by the Commonwealth Fund allows Americans to assess the efficacy of their regions' health care quality on a number of criteria. The comprehensive report, which conducted its studies in all 50 states, assessed 306 local health care areas, known as hospital referral regions, on 43 health indicators that fall broadly into four categories: access, prevention and treatment, costs and potentially avoidable hospital use, and health outcomes.

Generally, the study found that regions that tend to perform above average in one area of health care tend to perform well in the others as well. Additionally, the variance between communities is substantial, with the best performers often enjoying a twofold to threefold advantage over the worst.

The rate of potentially preventable deaths before age 75 from causes amenable to health care ranged from a high of 169.0 deaths per 100,000 people (worst) to a low of 51.5 (best).
The proportion of older adults who received recommended preventive care was more than twice as high in the best-performing area than in the worst performing area (59 percent vs. 26 percent).

Nevertheless, even the best-performing areas failed to enact preventative care to a satisfactory degree, with a number of adults failing to follow standard practices such as cancer screenings.
The incidence of unsafe medication prescribing was also highly variable across local areas, with the rate among Medicare beneficiaries being four times higher in Alexandria, Louisiana (44 percent) than in the Bronx and White Plains, New York (11 percent).

Several broad patterns also emerged from the data:

The size of the population of the region in question was not a strong indicator of health outcomes.
The top-performing areas are concentrated in the Upper Midwest and Northeast, though each region generally lags behind in one of the four classifications.

Overall, communities with the highest rates of poverty scored among the lowest in more metrics, owing at least in part to the low rate of health insurance in those areas.