Thursday, May 31, 2012

Federal Deficit Much Worse Then Officals Say?

How can this go unnoticed by the general public given the amount of information that is available?

Real Federal Deficit Dwarfs Official Tally
Source: Dennis Cauchon, "Real Federal Deficit Dwarfs Official Tally," USA Today, May 24, 2012.

The typical American household would have paid nearly all of its income in taxes last year to balance the budget if the government used standard accounting rules to compute the deficit, according to a USA Today analysis.

•Under those accounting practices, the government ran red ink last year equal to $42,054 per household -- nearly four times the official number reported under unique rules set by Congress.
•A U.S. household's median income is $49,445, the Census reports.

The big difference between the official deficit and standard accounting: Congress exempts itself from including the cost of promised retirement benefits. Yet companies, states and local governments must include retirement commitments in financial statements, as required by federal law and private boards that set accounting rules.

•The deficit was $5 trillion last year under those rules.
•The official number was $1.3 trillion.
•Liabilities for Social Security, Medicare and other retirement programs rose by $3.7 trillion in 2011, according to government actuaries, but the amount was not registered on the government's books.

Other key findings include:

•Social Security had the biggest financial slide. The government would need $22.2 trillion today, set aside and earning interest, to cover benefits promised to current workers and retirees beyond what taxes will cover. That's $9.5 trillion more than was needed in 2004.
•Deficits from 2004 to 2011 would be six times the official total of $5.6 trillion reported.
•Federal debt and retiree commitments equal $561,254 per household. By contrast, an average household owes a combined $116,057 for mortgages, car loans and other debts.

Plastic Bag Ban A Bogus Agenda

Again, who are the people that started this campaign to get rid of plastic bags without good evidence of how we all can benefit? Why aren't they asked these questions and then demand answers made the front and center agenda of the 'news' media? Sure I know, they are progressives, liberal left socialists and all they want is what's best for all of us!

Guess what, as even the most unaware citizen will know if they given the chance to decide on what's best for themselves, they will say they can make those decisions, not someone who thinks they are the smartest person in the room.

Plastic Bag Ban Will Not Achieve Goals
Source: Jay Beeber, "Plastic Bag Ban Will Put Los Angeles In Landfill," Reason Magazine, May 23, 2012.

The city of Los Angeles is set to impose the nation's harshest regulation on disposable shopping bags. By prohibiting the distribution of both plastic and paper bags, the city council claims it will attain a number of benefits that are direly wanted by its citizens. However, careful analysis of each supposed benefit shows that the ban is unlikely to provide any such value, says Jay Beeber in Reason Magazine.

First, proponents of the ban claim that it will reduce the amount of waste produced by the city and therefore reduce the size of necessary local landfills.

•California's Statewide Waste Characterization Study shows that "Plastic Grocery and Other Merchandise Bags" consistently make up just 0.3 percent of the waste stream in the state.
•This compares strikingly with organic waste such as food and yard clippings (which make up 32 percent) and construction debris (30 percent).
•Therefore, the effect of eliminating free grocery bags on the amount of waste generated in the city would be insignificant.

Second, ban advocates argue that in addition to reducing aggregate waste, it will reduce the amount of waste that remains in public areas in the form of litter.

•However, litter studies from across the country demonstrate that, on average, plastic retail bags make up only about 1 percent to 2 percent of all litter.
•Furthermore, previous bans have not been shown to directly address this issue.
•In San Francisco, for example, plastic bags comprised 0.6 percent of litter before the city banned plastic bags and 0.64 percent a year after the ban took effect.

Third and finally, supporters of the ban contend that it will support air quality, citing the completely fallacious figure that 12 million barrels of oil are used annually in the manufacture of plastic bags.

•In reality, plastic bags made in the United States are not derived from oil; they're made from a byproduct of domestic natural gas refinement.
•Additionally, the reusable bags used as a substitute are usually imported from overseas -- a process that involves substantial emissions from cargo ships.
•This doesn't even account for the fact that the materials necessary to make reusable bags usually are not recyclable and require enormous energy inputs into agriculture (cotton).

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Education Still Abusing Taxpayers : Ghost Students

Education by the numbers alone shows just how the system can and is abused. And this can't be just in one state, this has to be practiced everywhere. The question now is who will move to correct this for the taxpayers?

Ghost Students
Source: Jonathan Butcher, "Ghost Busters: How to Save $125 Million a Year in Arizona's Education Budget," Goldwater Institute, May 21, 2012.

Around the country, school finance formulas and student accounting systems are notoriously complex. Arizona's system is no exception. In fact, for many years, Arizona's program was considered one of the nation's most difficult to understand. That complexity often masks disparities in spending as well as waste and over payments, says Jonathan Butcher, education director at the Goldwater Institute.

Enter the phenomenon of "ghost students."

•Generally speaking, schools calculate an average of student enrollment over the first 100 days in a school year and report that figure to the Arizona State Department of Education.
•The department then uses a formula including these enrollment numbers to equalize district payments and fund maintenance, operation and transportation costs.
•Funds are provided to districts, which then distribute the monies to schools.
•However, Arizona does not adjust funding for traditional public schools in the same year if a student transfers out after the first 100 days.
•Yet, for a district that sees an overall increase in enrollment during a school year, districts can apply for current-year funding increases as students enter the district.
•The end result, therefore, is that a student who transfers from one school to another after the first 100 days of classes is funded twice.

This may seem like nitpicking, yet in-depth study of Arizona students' movement patterns and education finance shows that addressing the problem could yield substantial savings for the cash-strapped state government.

•In 2009-2010, 40.3 percent of general fund appropriations were specifically directed to K-12 education expenditures.
•Additionally, funding from state and local sources totaled over $8 billion in Arizona in 2010 and is estimated to have reached $8.3 billion in 2011.
•In Arizona, over 25 percent of students experienced a non-promotional change of schools between 2004 and 2008.
•A substantial amount of this funding is allocated for the education of an estimated 13,500 ghost students.
•Researchers' calculations show that between the 2008-2009 and 2009-2010 school years, Arizona schools spent over $125 million on these students.

Welfare : Means Tested Outlays Huge and Rising

How does this effect the rest of the population when the number of those taking from the federal 'pot of plenty' out numbers the those that are putting into the pot?

The real conflict is now more and more people that work hard to make ends meet are more aware of how the system works and are not happy with the results. And here is the real fear of the progressive left socialists Democrats, an educated population. This spells disaster for progressives. It's the beginning of the end of progressive dominance. 

The progressives rely on ignorance of the citizenry, but once the population becomes aware of how they are being used and abused, and see who the socialists really are what they intend, the tide begins to flow the other way.

So beware - once the progressive left socialist 'play book' is used up and their collective backs are against the wall, and if history is a sign post, they will turn to violence. Occupy Wall Street and else where?

Examining the Means-Tested Welfare State
Source: Robert Rector, "Examining the Means-Tested Welfare State: 79 Programs and $927 Billion in Annual Spending," Heritage Foundation, May 3, 2012.

A significant portion of the government safety net consists of antipoverty or means-tested welfare programs. Seventy-nine federal programs provide cash, food, housing, medical care, social services, training and targeted education aid to poor and low-income Americans. These programs are unique in that they are not paid for by their recipients, says Robert Rector, a Heritage Foundation senior research fellow.

Most Americans are aware of the existence of these programs. They are, however, largely unaware of their financial scope and budgetary impact.

•In fiscal year 2011, federal spending on means-tested welfare came to $717 billion.
•With state contributions to federal programs adding another $201 billion and independent    state programs contributing around $9 billion, total welfare spending comes to $927 billion.
•Roughly half of means-tested spending is for medical care, another 40 percent goes to cash, food and housing aid, and the remaining 10 to 12 percent goes to what might be called "enabling" programs, which help low-income individuals become more self-sufficient.

On an individual basis, this funding is enormous in scale, and is technically more than enough to raise every impoverished American out of poverty.

•One way to think about the $927 billion figure is that it amounts to $19,082 for each American defined as "poor" by the Census Bureau.
•However, since some means-tested assistance goes to individuals who are low-income but not poor, a more meaningful figure is that total means-tested aid equals $9,040 for each lower-income American (in the lowest-income third of the population).
•With the income of low-income individuals, means-tested welfare spending is sufficient to bring the income of every lower-income American to 200 percent of the federal poverty level.

Despite their ineffectiveness at reducing poverty, these programs are the fastest growing portion of the federal government's budget.

•Adjusting for inflation and population growth, the country now spends 50 percent more on means-tested cash, food and housing than it did in 1991.
•Furthermore, President Obama's budgetary outlays will allow further unsustainable growth in these programs over the next decade.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

University Endowments Should be Taxed?

Interestingly enough, most of the money that the universities have in their endowments and what they get from students, which is increased every year due to more sweetheart loan deals from the federal government now, is looked at with increasingly envy and thoughts of getting some of that cash to help local communities is coming to a head.
U.S. Cities Wrestle with Universities for Cash
Source: Hilary Russ, "Analysis: U.S. Cities Wrestle with Universities for Cash," Reuters, May 18, 2012.

National attention to government debts is almost exclusively paid toward the federal government and its occasional budget showdowns. Beyond that, some still recognize the budget crunch faced by the 50 states as they attempt to cover deficits during the fragile recovery. This leaves few who recognize the enormous problems confronted by municipal governments nationwide on the same issue, says Reuters.

To this end, many local governments have found a helping hand in the non-profits in their jurisdictions. By requesting voluntary aid from these nonprofits, city governments are able to continue many services to them while receiving help, thereby maintaining a symbiotic relationship.

•Across the country, at least 154 municipalities in 27 states have persuaded nonprofits to make voluntary payments in lieu of taxes for the period from 2000 to 2011, according to researchers at the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
•In many such agreements (especially in the Northeast), nonprofits simply pay a portion of what they might otherwise owe in property taxes.
•This can allow nonprofits to pay mere millions in lieu of the tens of millions that they might otherwise owe in taxes.

One of the most common targets for these types of policies is elite universities. With substantial endowments and revenues that often exceed those of local governments, there institutions are often seen as a cash cow.

•Recently, Providence, Rhode Island, Mayor Angel Taveras struck a deal with Brown University, which doubled its annual voluntary contribution to nearly $8 million for five years.
•For 2012, Princeton University increased its payments to local governments to nearly $2.5 million, and paid $7.7 million in property taxes -- a third of which was tax-exempt.
•Similarly, in Ithaca, New York, Cornell University will increase its $1.19 million payment for 2012 to $1.23 million for 2013, according to John Gutenberger, Cornell's director of community relations.
•The city of Boston will also receive a handsome $10 million from its local universities for the first half of 2012 alone.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Public Sector Unions/Managements Can Switch to 401K

It appears much of the noise coming from unions and other public money grabbing organizations have to generate some new excuses for not switching to Defined contribution plans.

Public-Sector Pensions: The Transition Costs Myth
Source: Andrew G. Biggs, "Public-Sector Pensions: The Transition Costs Myth," The American, May 21, 2012.

In stewarding the retirement benefits of their extensive workforces, state and local governments face unprecedented levels of unfunded liabilities. These liabilities, which can essentially be seen as debts owed by governments determined by a financial timetable, threaten to overwhelm fragile governmental budgets, says Andrew G. Biggs, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute.

Pensions for state and local government employees are underfunded by between $700 billion and $4 trillion, depending on whose accounting you use (most economists subscribe to the latter). The need to address this issue has compelled several governments to gradually shift their workers from defined-benefit (DB) plans to defined contribution (DC) plans.

The essential difference between DB pensions and newer 401(k)-style DC plans is that DC plans can't generate unfunded liabilities.

•Under a DB plan, the employer promises employees a fixed retirement benefit regardless of how the plan's investments fare.
•In a DC plan, by contrast, employers promise employees a fixed contribution -- say, 5 percent of salary.

Public-sector employees and the pension industrial complex of plan managers, pension actuaries and investment advisors are pushing back, citing enormous "transition costs" as a fundamental reason to stick with DB systems.

•Pension advocates rely on financial disclosure rules generated by the Government Accounting Standards Board (GASB) regarding how quickly a DB plan must pay down its unfunded liabilities.
•A plan that is open to new employees may amortize its shortfalls over a longer period of around 30 years.
•But if a plan should close (as it usually does if it switches from DB to DC plans), it would have to pay down its liabilities on an accelerated timetable.
•This faster payoff means a temporary period of higher pension amortization costs, which is termed the "transition cost."

However, researchers have found arguments employing the enormous transition cost to be largely bunk and filled with fear-mongering. The GASB standards have little to do with mandating a specific level of funding for retirement accounts, and even so, states regularly defy the board's policies. Thus, the constant touting of transition costs should do little to deter movement to DC plans.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

PBS Is Unconstitutional : Shortcutting the First Amemdment

Public broad casting is not in this countries best interests - NPR and PBS is a holy functioning arm of the progressive left Democrats paid for by every taxpayer whether you like it of not.

The Problem with Public Broadcasting abridging amendment
Source: Trevor Burrus, "If You Love Something, Set It Free," Cato Institute, May 21, 2012.

Assailed from all sides with allegations of bias, charges of political influence and threats to defund their operations, public broadcasters have responded with everything from outright denial to personnel changes. Yet government-funded media companies are inherently problematic and impossible to reconcile with either the First Amendment or a government of constitutionally limited powers, says Trevor Burrus, a legal associate at the Cato Institute's Center for Constitutional Studies.

The inherent problems with public broadcasting stem first from the lack of need for such an entity.

•In principle, government funding should be used to provide necessary goods that cannot or will not be provided by the market.
•Public broadcasting's popular programming creates more of a paradox than a justification -- the more popular programming becomes, the less justified is its support by the taxpayers.
•Furthermore, while there was originally a dearth of programming like the product currently supplied by PBS and NPR, the new proliferation of media outlets seems ready and willing to respond to consumer demand.

Furthermore, public broadcasting is an imprudent notion and a poor use of government resources.

•As originally conceived, public broadcasting was meant to be free from direct government control.
•Understandably, that was a cornerstone recommendation of the Carnegie Commission, which produced the report that led to the modern public broadcasting system.
•But public broadcasting in America has never been divorced from government control.
•For example, although the Carnegie Commission report recommended a 12-person board, with six appointed by the president and six appointed by those appointees, President Johnson submitted a bill that had the president appointing every member of a 15-person board.
•Reliance upon government financial support adds further opportunity for political pressure to be exerted upon the component entities of public broadcasting.

Finally and most importantly, public broadcasting is constitutionally problematic.

•Nowhere in the Constitution is any power given to Congress to fund the production of media.
•Fundamentally, the existence of state-funded media companies cannot be squared with the First Amendment.
•Public broadcasting is forced into the inscrutable position of needing to appear fair and balanced while not being forced to abide by the government's assessment of what that is.

ObamaCare to Control All Our lives

More insight into ObamaCare and how it will touch every aspect of our lives. When one considers that the bill is 2700 pages long and even the Supreme Court makes fun of the size by stating they have no intention of reading it, has to give pause to it's authenticity.

National Center for Policy Analysis
Once again ObamaCare has taken on the role of Big Brother, this time by targeting hospitals with "worse than expected" 30-day readmission rates. ObamaCare expects these hospitals to devote valuable time and energy chasing down patients to ensure they are compliant with their doctors' orders after they are released from the hospital to avoid potential fines.

Unfortunately, research has found that only a small proportion of readmissions are preventable, mainly because the factors that cause readmissions are outside a hospital's control, like mental illness, poor social support and poverty.

In addition, hospitals may be forced to prioritize and may spend less time on factors within their control like improving patient safety. Read more here.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Energy Decisions Market Based Work

How can anything work properly if the government doesn't have their collective hand in the mix? To allow the market to determine what basic fuel we use to develop our industries and heat our homes makes no sense to the elites in Washington.

How is it possible that the average citizen, that doesn't have an ivy league education, know what good for them and what makes sense and what doesn't? The man in the street just doesn't have the mental tools to make these important decisions.

The Market-Driven Energy Revolution
Source: Joel Kurtzman, "The Market-Driven Energy Revolution," Wall Street Journal, May 21, 2012.

Four years ago, energy prices were breaking Americans' bank accounts in a major way. The high cost of commuting to and from work meant choosing between paying the mortgage and paying for gas, with the high price of oil undermining families' budget sanity. But eventually, the high prices prompted the development of new sources of oil as well as oil substitutes, says Joel Kurtzman, executive director of the Center for Accelerating Energy Solutions at the Milken Institute.

New sources of domestic oil have been found and exploited, both as demand has increased and technological advancements have enabled further development.

•Some companies began drilling new oil wells using new technology, including 3D seismic imaging and directional drilling.
•In 2002, when oil prices were in a trough, there were roughly 800 oil-drilling rigs operating in the United States, but this figure has since grown to roughly 2,000.
•In addition, energy companies went after -- and found -- more oil offshore and in shale, tar sands and long-abandoned wells.
•The result: since 2008, domestic oil production has increased 12 percent, while imported oil has fallen to 45 percent of total consumption from 61 percent.
•Four years ago, the United States was on track to spend nearly $1 trillion on imported oil each year, yet this figure has since fallen dramatically to $350 billion this year due to lower demand and prices.

In addition, the high price of oil that hurt American consumers so badly four years ago also spurred the development of alternative sources of energy, namely natural gas.

•In 2008, estimates were that the United States had just 12 years of natural gas reserves left.
•New technological innovations and deposit discoveries, however, have caused a revision of this estimate: analysts now argue we have at least 100 years of domestic natural gas deposits.
•In 2008, natural gas sold for about $12-$14 per thousand cubic feet, but this figure has since dropped to a mere $2 per thousand cubic feet due to great strides in production.
•Furthermore, this natural gas will likely be exported (denting America's trade imbalance) to Asia and Europe, where average futures prices are $16 and $9.50, respectively.

Legislative action on the federal level could ease the process of developing domestic energy by limiting regulatory red tape and subsidizing gasoline-to-natural gas transition costs.

Bald Eagles Killed by Obama's Green Energy: Who Cares?

A double standard? Who cares! It's about the ideology, the agenda and the means to accomplish it that's important. That it conflicts with common sense and what's right for all concerned only means, for most of us that complain, we aren't thinking straight and need a refresher in finding the proper balance between what the government wants and our ability to deliver to that need.

The environmental lobby finds the conflict here nonsense in that the greater need to crush fossil fuels and there by the economy and industry of this country more important then a few birds, and yet find an easy task to sue all those that even come close to breaking the law they so easily ignore. Double standard? Nah - not for the progressive liberal - remember, its all about the agenda and accomplishing those ends.

Also remember the slogan for the progressive left to accomplish their goals for a weaker and more subservient America, 'by any means necessary'.

Bald Eagles Fall to Green Energy
Source: Deroy Murdock, "Bald Eagles Fall to Green Energy," National Review, May 21, 2012.

The Obama administration has promoted "green" energy more than any of its predecessors, arguing that it is a vital next step in the country's energy future. And while the president's environmental team has painted its efforts in the best light possible, there remains a dirty little secret about wind energy specifically: it has a nasty tendency to kill birds, including bald eagles, says Deroy Murdock, a media fellow with the Hoover Institution.

All cleanliness and energy production aside, wind turbines are still essentially giant fans with blades that can move up to 200 miles per hour. The result is dozens if not hundreds of mutilated eagles.

•The current annual bird mortality rate due to wind turbines is approximately 440,000 birds, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS).
•This figure is estimated by the FWS to increase to more than a million by 2030, when the number of wind turbines will likely exceed 100,000 turbines.
•Eagles are killed regularly -- because they are birds of prey, they often glide while scanning the ground, failing to see wind turbines.
•The Altamont Pass wind farm in Northern California alone is estimated to kill 67 golden eagles annually.

Perhaps of greatest interest in this case is the double standard maintained by the Obama administration. While politically favored wind energy projects are allowed to go about their business despite these bloody consequences, the law is exacted harshly on all others.

•First-time violators of the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act of 1940 can receive $5,000 fines and one-year prison sentences.
•Second offenses double those punishments, and felony convictions can trigger $250,000 fines.
•Last August Obama-appointed U.S. attorney Timothy Purdon prosecuted seven petroleum producers for the 28 dead birds in or near their open waste pits (none of which were eagles), with maximum fines of $15,000 per bird and six months behind bars.
•Last July, FWS threatened to fine Alison Capo of Virginia $535 for illegally possessing a woodpecker that her daughter saved from a hungry cat and soon released.
•Three years ago, after FWS investigated, a utility called PacifiCorp paid $10.5 million in fines after accidentally electrocuting 232 golden eagles.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Progessive Liberal Left Agendas Fail Everytime

Socialism brought to light in economic class 101 - this has been around for a while but it still is the perfect vehicle to explain how progressive liberal left Democrat ideology works, or better, doesn't work.

And it's not just that we have a ton of proof from the last two centuries of the failures every time it's been tried, William Bradford back in 1492 demonstrated how socialism failed when the colonists land in the new world and nearly all perished because of liberal style socialism.

If you don't know the story of how Bradford saved the colony, take the time to find out how turning away from liberalism saved the colonists and has made our country the greatest that ever existed.

(author unknown)
I don’t think there has ever been a better explanation of the importance of incentive than this example.

An economics professor at a local college made a statement that he had never failed a single student before, but had recently failed an entire class. That class had insisted that
socialism worked and that no one would be poor and no one would be rich, a great equalizer.

The professor then said, "OK, we will have an experiment in this class on socialism".. All grades will be averaged and everyone will receive the same grade so no one will fail and no one will receive an A.... (substituting grades for dollars - something closer to home and more readily understood by all).

After the first test, the grades were averaged and everyone got a B. The students who studied 'hard' were upset and the students who studied 'little' were happy. As the second test
rolled around, the students who studied little had studied 'even less' and the ones who studied hard decided they wanted a free ride too so they studied 'little'.

The second test average was a 'D'. No one was happy. When the 3rd test rolled around, the average was an F.

As the tests proceeded, the scores never increased as bickering, blame and name-calling all resulted in hard feelings and no one would study for the benefit of anyone else.

To their great surprise, ALL FAILED and the professor told them that "socialism" would also ultimately 'fail' because when the reward is great, the effort to succeed is great, but when
government takes all the reward away, no one will try or want to succeed.

Could not be any simpler than that.

Remember, there IS a test coming up. " elections sometime soon – perhaps the sooner the better". Your chance to have YOUR say.

These are possibly the 5 best sentences you'll ever read and all applicable to this experiment:

1. You cannot legislate the poor into prosperity by legislating the wealthy 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.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Student Loans Crushing Education : Progressive Agenda?

The agenda behind this student loan take-over by the federal government from private institutions can not be lost on even the most dim witted among us.

The progressive liberal left, Obama and company, believe if the they can subsides enough of the young by loaning them money to obtain higher education, that they probably will never be able to pay back, they can control out comes in their future through programs that will allow them to forego some of the loan balance, that is, 'vote for us to make this happen and help us to make it happen'.

And what's really convoluted here is all this is by spending other peoples money. It's a win win situation for the progressive liberals.

Today's Student Loan Recipients Are Tomorrow's Economic Elite
Source: "Today's Student Loan Recipients Are Tomorrow's Economic Elite," Economic Policies for the 21st Century, May 10, 2012.

President Obama recently took to college universities and late night talk shows to tout his plan to keep student loan interest rates fixed at 3.4 percent. Since 2008, the federal government has effectively socialized the student loan market by enacting laws to eliminate private lender participation in administering federal loans, says Economic Policies for the 21st Century.

This has three sweeping impacts that must be noted.

First, by providing loans at below-market rates, the government leaves itself exposed to unacceptable losses on risky loans.

•Student loans owned by the federal government have grown from $111 billion at the end of 2008 to $425 billion as of December 31, 2011.
•This is equivalent to a compounded 56-percent annualized growth rate.
•With a 9 percent default rate among borrowers in the most recent cohort and no collateral to cushion default severities, the program's interest rate would be insufficient to cover expected credit losses at today's default rates.

Second, the president's advocacy for government subsidization of student loans is at odds with his position of taxation of the wealthy.

•The president would like to increases taxes on the wealthy, allowing for a portion of the government's augmented revenue to pay for the subsidized student loan program.
•This conveniently ignores the fact that this tax would fall on the very types of people it is meant to help, namely those who pursued higher education.
•Studies continue to show a strong correlation between educational attainment and income, with the median weekly earnings for college graduates in 2012 being 1.6-times that for workers whose highest degree was high school.
•This policy would create an unnecessary cycle of wealth redistribution -- students already have significant incentives to invest in higher education (even at private sector lending rates).

Third, the government's subsidies are partially to blame for skyrocketing tuition rates. By making loans amply available to potential students, the government incentivizes schools to raise prices in response to cohorts of students with easy money.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Medicare Advantage Attacked by ObamaCare

More intervention into our lives by ObamaCare - This must be stopped this November by getting rid of the progressives that demand power to control us all.

Medicare Advantage Star Ratings: Detaching Pay from Performance
Source: Douglas Holtz-Eakin, Robert A. Book and Michael Ramlet, "Medicare Advantage Star Ratings: Detaching Pay from Performance," American Action Forum, May 2012.

In 2008, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) established a rating system for Medicare Advantage (MA) plans on a one to five star scale to assist beneficiaries in the selection of an MA plan. Beneficiaries may, if they wish, use these ratings in conjunction with information about benefits, copays and available providers, to select the MA plan that best meets their needs, say Douglas Holtz-Eakin, Robert A. Book and Michael Ramlet of the American Action Forum.

Enter the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA): the PPACA included a provision to use the star rating system as a crude "pay for performance" system. Plans that manage a higher rating through the CMS-determined criteria will receive bonus payments from the government. However, despite its admirable goals, this policy can actually undermine MA plans and patient treatment.

First, the timetable under which MA plans will be evaluated will inhibit their ability to achieve CMS standards of performance.

•The criteria for evaluation are announced after the period for which they are applied, meaning that plans are graded based on standards that don't exist yet.
•Furthermore, payments are made based on enrollment in a future time period.
•Thus, the beneficiaries who experience the performance are not necessarily those whose payments will be affected by the ratings.

Second, because of the rebate structure, instead of giving higher ratings to plans with more benefits, benefits will be increased for higher‐rated plans.

•The government-provided financial incentive to high-rated plans is split into two components: a direct bonus payment to the plan operator and an increased rebate paid to plan subscribers.
•In this case, the reward for operating a quality MA plan would go not to the operator of the plan, but to those who enroll in the plan.
•The financial reward, then, simply becomes a bonus for patients who happen to enroll in a plan that the CMS believes is above average.

Third, the conformity that CMS standards will encourage undermines the very purpose for which MA plans were created. Meant to supplement standard Medicare with niche services for customers with unique needs, MA plans would be coerced into seeking financial bonuses by adopting uniformity.

Euro Collapsing? Europeans Divided on Cure

This crisis is much the same as the one we are facing in America - will the people decide that living in a dependent world where life is lived nearly hand to mouth, or one where they can accept pain now to save themselves and enjoy a renewed and rewarding life later?

Wisconsin is looking like the European model in that the people must decide this June whether they want to go back to a controlled progressive left and union dominated government of high debt and tax increases, or reelect a governor that eliminated the debt and did it without tax increases. Rocket science?

Now Ask yourself this question, why is there a recall to stop success? Who wants to stop prosperity from taking hold? Who would knowing want to bring back high taxes and more debt?

Europeans and citizens in America must decide and soon what they want.

The Euro End Game
Source: John H. Makin, "The Euro End Game," American Enterprise Institute, May 2012.

Europe has pursued repeated rounds of fiscal austerity and bank deleveraging in exchange for loans that were supposed to save the euro. The result has been a predictable recession with plummeting employment, incomes and prices, says John H. Makin, a resident scholar with the American Enterprise Institute.

The immediate result of this debt crisis is an increasingly radical political climate, pitting pro-euro politicians like Germany's Angela Merkel against anti-euro figures such as France's new president Francois Hollande and the current administration of Spain.

The backlash against euro-saving austerity measures isn't just political: it is manifesting itself in the economic policies of the heavily indebted countries.

•The Netherlands' conservative government has collapsed as austerity intensifies an already painful recession.
•The Spanish government has refused to impose the degree of fiscal austerity called for by the recent agreement to save the euro, recognizing that it cannot possibly reduce its deficits by the agreed amount.

Put simply, the primary measures that have been put into place to save the euro have intensified the pain of the recession, and have resulted in popular movements against the euro, manifesting in the elections of explicitly anti-euro politicians.

Looking forward, European leaders need to begin contemplating the long-term future of the euro and the European community at large. This entails a distinct decision: will Germany double down on European cooperation and save the community, or will it allow the eurozone to fall apart?

•Germany will have to allow debtor nations to borrow its credit-worthiness to preserve the euro.
•To this end, there will have to be greater movement toward a unified fiscal policy that is determined by the European community as a whole, allowing Germany to reign in the debt-tilted tendencies of Spain, Ireland and southern Europe.
•It would also require European bonds to replace the bonds currently issued by each separate government.

The pain involved in creating this sort of cohesion may be too much for the Germans to accept. Yet it is undeniable that the euro is coming to a crossroads soon, and a fundamental decision will have to be made.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Environomental Insanity : People Must Go

The insanity continues unabated from the progressive lift liberal Democrats that seek power and control by any means necessary.

Think about this, if the population is reduced from a 2.5 fertility rate to 2.1, in the future who will pay the huge salaries for these brilliant progressive that claim to be the smartest people in the room? Oh wait I know, it's 'take the money now and run', the country be dammed in the future.

Source: Kevin Mooney, "Sustainability," Capital Research Center, April 2012.

The idea that life on earth can be sustained by limiting the growth of the world's population has been around for a long time. "The power of population is indefinitely greater than the power in the earth to produce subsistence for man," wrote Thomas Malthus in his famous 1798 treatise, "An Essay on the Principle of Population," says Kevin Mooney, an investigative journalist for the Pelican Institute in Louisiana.

Malthus argued that population growth was harmful to the earth and a threat to human populations. His view continues to resonate today among the academics and political figures who are well-positioned to influence national and international public policies.

This movement formerly focused its efforts on demonizing the fossil fuels industry in the name of protecting the world from climate change. However, when it came to light that much of the scientific evidence for global warming was unreliable, the movement lost steam.

•A 2010 Gallup poll showed 48 percent of Americans believed the seriousness of global warming was exaggerated, up from 31 percent in 1997.
•Similarly, 42 percent of Germans feared catastrophic warming, down 20 points from 2006.
•Only 26 percent of Britons believed in manmade climate change.

Instead, the environmental lobby now focuses its efforts on a two-pronged strategy: lessening the impact of man's activities on the environment, and reducing the number of people who perform those activities. The prior is addressed by the everyday tactics of the Environmental Protection Agency, but the latter remains the business of well-funded non-governmental organizations.

•Population Connection is an organization based in Washington D.C. (claiming 140,000 members) that advocates that the global fertility rate of 2.5 must be reduced to a sustainable 2.1 via family planning education.
•The Worldwatch Institute, with partners in 40 countries and millions in revenue, dominates U.N. environmental conventions by arguing the accelerated population growth of the past decades drove a wedge between mankind's long-term sustainability and its present course of action.
•Perhaps most heinously, the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia in Great Britain manipulated data to justify global warming alarmism, helping to give rise to the entire movement.

The argument that the earth is incapable of providing for an expanding human population is without scientific basis, and falls under the lightest of scrutiny efforts. Governmental entities should be sure to protect themselves from the influence of such alarmists.

Government Overreach Even On Kids

Remember the riots at the capital in Wisconsin last year over Scott Walkers new bill limiting collective bargaining for public employees? The people that stormed and trashed the capital, the people's property, cost the taxpayers millions. The participants said 'this is what democracy looks like'.

Government intrusion into what we eat and or how we live is much the same thinking as those that demanded taxpayer money in Wisconsin. It's the 'tyranny of the few' rampaging through our Constitutional rights as free citizens.

Wisconsin will decide what is the best solution to bring back prosperity and freedom of choice this June 5th. If Gov Scott Walker is reelected, Wisconsin will set the standard for common sense and recovery from the domination of progressive liberal left corruption. Walker eliminated the 3.6 billion dollar debt and the state saw it's first non increase in state income tax in 12 years. This year, Wisconsin will see a 154 million dollar surplus as well.  And for this Walker is being recalled? 

If he loses, Wisconsin will still be the standard bearer in that the rest of the country will see ignorance has replaced common sense by voting to returning a failed agenda that will plunge the state, and perhaps the country, back to huge tax increases and catastrophic debt. Why would anyone do this on purpose?

When Cupcakes Are the Enemy of School Kids
Source: Stephanie Armour, "When Cupcakes Are the Enemy of Schoolkids," BusinessWeek, May 3, 2012.

With so many overweight kids, it's understandable why schools want to discourage high-calorie snacks. This has led to a series of regulations in states like California, Colorado, Hawaii, Mississippi, Nevada, New Mexico, New York and Texas, each of which, for example, limits the ability of students to have bake sales for foods deemed non-nutritious, says BusinessWeek.

But the regulations, which will likely be supplemented by a national standard in the near future, are becoming more extreme as time passes.

•Maryland's Montgomery County has prohibited bake sales entirely.
•Massachusetts will not only limit the bake sale capability of students -- it will also forbid students from handing out sweets such as cupcakes on their birthdays.
•New York City public schools prohibit students from selling unapproved home-baked goods, but still allow complying processed foods to be distributed (such as Kellogg's Pop Tarts).

The federal government is expected to weigh in with its own rules soon. The Agriculture Department says the new rules will allow infrequent bake sales during school hours, yet it fails to specify exactly what that means.

School officials and active parents are concerned about the issuance of federal rules and their overarching ability to dictate local rules. Some, for instance, are concerned that federal laws will limit concession stands at school sporting events -- a crucial source of revenue for students' recreational activities.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Oil And Gas Reserves 4X Saudi Arabia : Obama Lied

Why would Obama want to restrict oil and gas development in this country and proclaim we have only 2% of the world reserves and we use 20%? This is a no-brainer. He has several agendas that require him to put the brakes on this country moving forward, and the best way to do that is to stop the development of energy that is the driving force of prosperity.

The environmental, anti-war, open boarders groups, among others, has a grip on most of the progressive liberal left members of our government, and thus the force that drives Obama, along with his own agenda of socialism, to bring this country in line with other European counties that believe government is the leading force for good. That most of these countries are failing has no impact on Mr. Obama quest for "fundamentally" changing our way of life.

Oil Production: United States Is Capable of Out-Producing World
Source: "GAO to Obama: More Oil than Rest of the World," Investor's Business Daily, May 14, 2012. Anu K. Mittal, "Unconventional Oil and Gas Production: Opportunities and Challenges of Oil Shale Development," Government Accountability Office, May 10, 2012.

President Obama has repeatedly asserted that the United States cannot drill its way to energy independence. This claim has been used as justification for extensive and costly efforts to develop renewable energy sources, says Investor's Business Daily.

However, a new report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) undermines the president's assumption. Focusing on the Green River Formation in Wyoming, Utah and Colorado, GAO Director of Natural Resources and Environment Anu Mittal told Congress recently that just one small part of the United States is capable of out-producing the rest of the planet.

•The Green River Formation has been dubbed America's Persia on the Plains -- an area with recoverable oil in an amount estimated at four times the proven resources of Saudi Arabia.
•Given the current U.S. daily oil consumption of 19.5 million barrels, the staggering amount of Green River reserves would by itself supply domestic oil consumption for more than 200 years.
•The U.S. Geological Survey estimates that the Green River Formation contains about 3 trillion barrels of oil.
•The Rand Corporation estimates that 30 percent to 60 percent of this oil can be recovered.

This discovery undermines the president's oft-repeated claim that the United States contains only 2 percent of the world's proven reserves. Simultaneously, it begs the question as to why the federal government is doing its best to restrict the development of this government resource and create an artificial choke on fossil fuels.

Indeed, actions by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Environmental Protection Agency and President Obama himself seem bent on making domestic oil production as difficult as possible.

•Seventy-two percent of the oil shale within the Green River Formation lies beneath federal lands managed by BLM, meaning that the government holds the reins to the oil's extraction.
•Ninety-four percent of federal onshore lands and 97 percent of federal offshore lands are off-limits to oil and gas drilling.
•In fact, the Obama administration recently rescinded 77 oil and gas leases in Utah.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Oil & Gas Companies Owned by Shareholders!

Here again our government is lying to us about the operation and who is in control of the oil and gas industry. What is the purpose of this? What good does it do for the country to lie about who owns a company other then to have that company subjected to criticism and demonization? Class warfare? Hate for the rich (productive) people?

Given the past history of the Obama administration, the latter, divide the country into haves and have-nots, is clear enough to all who want to see the truth. Obama wants to kill fosial fuel production, pushing green energy which in turn will crush the economy of America, Obama's ultimate goal. 

Reducing Profitability of Oil Companies Would Harm Regular Americans
Source: Diana Furchtgott-Roth, "Who Really Owns the Oil Companies?" Manhattan Institute, April 2012.

The Obama administration proposed raising taxes on domestic oil and gas producers in its fiscal 2013 budget. Such taxes would, if approved by Congress, harm the economic performance of the industry and encourage investment overseas. Moreover, such new taxes would hurt American shareholders, the primary owners of these companies, says Diana Furchtgott-Roth, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute.

Looking first to the tax increases themselves, it can be seen that these fiscal efforts unfairly target the oil and gas industry, leaving similar industries untouched.

•President Obama suggested raising $5 billion in 2013 and $41 billion over the next decade from tax increases on oil and gas, more than on any other industry.
•In addition to specific taxes on oil companies, repeal of "last in, first out" accounting methods would cost the industry another $26 billion over 10 years.
•Furthermore, a substantial share of international tax increases and Superfund taxes would affect the oil industry, raising another $21 billion, for a total of about $88 billion over 10 years.

In assessing the impacts of these policies, it is also crucial to look past the effects on the corporations to understand what lost profits will do to oil and gas company owners. And while many Americans may think that these corporations are dominated by a small few mega-wealthy individuals, the truth is that their primary backers can be found in the nation's retirement funds.

•Data show that the officers and directors of oil companies hold an insignificant fraction of shares of the largest five oil companies, ranging from 0.11 percent for Exxon Mobil to 1.4 percent for Occidental Petroleum, undermining the depiction of mega-wealthy individual owners.
•Indeed, Occidental Petroleum is the only one of the firms where ownership by officers and firm directors exceed one percent of outstanding shares.
•Private and public pensions, on the other hand, own 31 percent of all U.S. oil and natural gas companies.
•Also, individual Americans own 3 percent of funds directly, and 28 percent through mutual funds.

Reducing the profitability of these companies will undermine their contributions to these pension and mutual funds, thereby harming regular Americans and robbing them of excellent investment returns provided by these companies over time.

Budget Defeated in Congress : 0-99, 0-414 Again

Spending is out of control - the average family in this country could not operate like this and survive. Why does congress do this? Why does the president think he can spend everyone else's money until it's completely gone and then demand more? Who is this guy that thinks he is some kind of all powerful ruler?

This November, turn this guy out or we are done for.

Budget, deficit and debt.
The President's budget proposal was brought up in the Senate this week where Senators voted 0-99, outright rejecting the President's budget proposal. If you recall, the House voted 0-414 last March on the President's proposal. If you need help with the math, that's exactly zero votes in Congress for the President's budget. Interestingly, that hasn't kept the President from criticizing Paul Ryan's budget, which passed the House.

Meanwhile, Speaker of the House John Boehner continued to press his position on what has become known as the Boehner Doctrine. In a nutshell, the Boehner Doctrine says that for every dollar we increase the debt limit, a corresponding amount of spending should be cut from the deficit. This came up during a lunch at the White House this week where Speaker Boehner reiterated his position. As expected, the hue and cry of a government shutdown and a threat to our credit rating spewed forth from Washington. "I don't understand it," said Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner. "It's deeply irresponsible. There's no basis for it," he said. Nancy Pelosi characterized it as a "line in the sand."

Agree or disagree with him, Speaker Boehner's position is very clear to everyone who reads it. Less clear is where the President stands. He says he supports a "clean debt ceiling bill." But when reporters pressed the White House press secretary on the details, it wasn't clear whether the President would support raising the debt ceiling without reducing spending, or how much deficit spending he would tolerate. The United States government is expected to reach the debt limit sometime later this year.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Sweden's Progressive Agenda A Totally Failure

Wonders of wonders - here is the poster child for the progressive left socialists Democrats in this country that believe the more the government takes control of lives, the more prosperity we all will experience.

It was false ever since the progressives have been in control for the past 60 years, and it is still false today as the Swedes are proof. Progressivism is a lie. Socialism is a lie. Progressive liberal socialist left Democrats are a lie.

But we don't have to go to Sweden to see the proof - just take a look at Wisconsin. Ten years of progressive liberal Democrats equals 3.6 billion in debt, huge tax increases every year, rising unemployment and economic growth nonexistent.

One year of Conservative rule the debt is gone, 154 million is surplus, local communities have saved nearly a billion dollars under Act 10 legislation, unemployment rate below the national average at 6.6%, income tax saw a decline, the first in 12 years and layoff for public employees was nearly nonexistent. Layoff only occurred where the unions were to strong for weak elected officials like Tom Barrett in Milwaukee and Soglin in Madison.

To the progressive liberal socialist left Democrat this is intolerable. This has to stop. Recall all those responsible so we can go back to the old days of huge debt and  collapsing economic growth. Does this make sense? Sure, if you are a progressive.

Sweden's Reputation As a Welfare State Is In Trouble
Source: "Sweden's Reputation as A Welfare State Is In Trouble," Investor's Business Daily, May 11, 2012.

Sweden has a reputation as the prototypical cradle-to-grave socialist European nation, and the political left has long yearned for America to be more like the Scandinavian nation. But it now seems that this depiction of the European nation is unfair and misleading, as the country has implemented a series of reforms that have moved it significantly toward the right, says Investor's Business Daily.

The turnaround has been driven in no small part by the election of Fredrik Reinfeldt as prime minister in 2006.

•Reinfeldt took office in October 2006, and by January of 2007 his government had begun tax-cutting.
•It also began cuts in welfare spending as part of a general move toward austerity, attempting to make cuts in its extensive government debt.
•Finally, it has made a concerted effort to deregulate the economy in order to encourage entrepreneurialism and business investment.

This move to the right has yielded significant benefits for a country that was once the quintessentially Left nation of Europe.

•Sweden fell into recession in 2008 and 2009, but it's pulled strongly out of the decline, posting gross domestic product (GDP) gains of 6.1 percent in 2010 and 3.9 percent last year, when it ranked at the top in Europe's list of fastest-growing economies.
•This compares to America's anemic growth over that same period -- 3 percent in 2010 and 1.7 percent in 2011.
•Additionally, while the United States continues to struggle with its jobs problem (unemployment currently sits at 8.1 percent), Sweden's jobless rate has fallen to 7.5 percent.
•Though still higher than the government would like, 7.5 percent is far below the euro zone average of 10.2 percent and significantly lower than the rates in Spain (21.7 percent), Portugal (12.9 percent) and the United Kingdom (8 percent).
•Furthermore, Sweden's government debt as a share of GDP has dipped below 45 percent for the first time in decades and now is situated at a much-preferable 38.4 percent.

Sweden's Finance Minister Anders Borg has emphasized that all of this was accomplished without the massive stimulus spending that was instituted in other countries. Rather, it was through measures of austerity that Sweden weathered much of the recessionary storm.

Education Depends on Taking an Interest

This is interesting in that in the old days bad test scores were found to be the problem of those that didn't study, not that they didn't get enough sleep.

It's amazing how back then we got anything done at all without some egg head telling us how our failures were due to circumstances other then our own. During the 'dark ages' we had to take responsibility for our own actions, if something had to get done or ' else', we did it, for the most part.

It never entered our collective small minds that our failures were the results of outside influences like not getting enough sleep. We just knew it was due to too much night life and or too much beer the night before a test. 

Do Schools Begin Too Early?
Source: Finley Edwards, "Do Schools Begin Too Early?" Education Next, Summer 2012.

School start times vary considerably, both across the nation and within individual communities, with some schools beginning earlier than 7:30 a.m. and others after 9:00 a.m. Though staggering start times can reduce bus transportation costs, a coinciding negative impact on academic performance may outweigh this benefit.

Proponents of later start times, who have received considerable media attention in recent years, argue that many students who have to wake up early for school do not get enough sleep, and that beginning the school day at a later time would boost their achievement. Finley Edwards of Colby College uses data from data from Wake County, North Carolina, to investigate this claim.

•Comparing students with similar characteristics who attend schools that are similar except for having different start times, Edwards found that a one-hour delay in start time increases standardized test scores on both math and reading tests by roughly 3 percentile points.
•Using an alternative method in which he followed the same schools over time as they change their start times, Edwards then measured a 2.2-percentile-point improvement in math scores and a 1.5-point improvement in reading scores associated with a one-hour change in start time.
•Finally, using only data from students who experience a change in start time while remaining in the same school, Edwards measured increases of 1.8 percentile points in math and 1.0 point in reading for a one-hour later start time.

This final finding is the most crucial, as it eliminates nearly all conceivable forms of bias. Furthermore, the increases were widespread enough that they are statistically significant increases, lending credence to proponents of later start times.

Furthermore, perhaps most crucial in this analysis is that disproportionate gains were seen among low-achieving students, suggesting that later start times would help close achievement gaps.

•While the effect of a one-hour later start time on math scores may seem small, it is roughly 14 percent of the black-white test score gap.
•Furthermore, it is 40 percent of the gap between those eligible and those not eligible for free or reduced-price lunch, and 85 percent of the gain associated with an additional year of parents' education.
•These benefits of a later start time in middle school appear to persist through at least the 10th grade.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Capital Flight : Renounce Citizenship

In the face of our country being brought to it's collective financial knees, the progressives liberal left Democrats among us are driving capital away faster then they can steal it from those of us that have to stay. Is this by accident or a purpose driven agenda?

You decide.

Facebook Cofounder Gives Up U.S. Citizenship before Company Goes Public
Source: Danielle Kucera, Sanat Vallikappen and Christine Harper, "Facebook Co-Founder Saverin Gives Up U.S. Citizenship before IPO," Bloomberg, May 11, 2012.

Eduardo Saverin, the billionaire cofounder of Facebook Inc., has renounced his U.S. citizenship. The move, which is almost certainly compelled by the company's upcoming initial public offering (IPO), places Saverin among a growing number of Americans who give up their passports each year, says Bloomberg.

In Saverin's case, giving up his citizenship is a sensible solution to a substantial tax liability.

•Because he already resides in Singapore and operates most of his current enterprises out of that country, Saverin will not want for a national home.
•Furthermore, Facebook's upcoming IPO, which values the social network at as much as $96 billion, will yield Saverin an enormous sum for his 4 percent stake in the company.
•By taking this action, Saverin will be able to substantially reduce his tax burden.

This is not to say that Saverin will avoid taxes entirely on his assets: Americans giving up their citizenship must pay an exit tax that essentially treats capital gains as if they are sold right then. However, by paying this tax before the IPO, Saverin will grant his financial advisers greater flexibility in valuing his assets and assessing his total tax burden.

In following this course of action, Saverin has become only the latest entrant into a pool of Americans all bent on reducing their tax outlays.

•A record 1,780 gave up their U.S. passports last year compared with 235 in 2008, according to government records.
•A partial explanation for this increase is that income tax rates for top U.S. earners will rise to 39.6 percent from 35 percent next year.
•Furthermore, rates on capital gains and dividends also are scheduled to rise.

This strategy of renunciation, though seemingly extreme, has also been compelled by action on the part of the federal government. The Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act, known as FACTA, seeks to track gains made by Americans' assets abroad so that they can be taxed. Facing such limitations on traditional forms of tax evasion, these Americans elect instead to give up their citizenship entirely.

Iacocca On Leadership In America : Where Are the Leaders?

Something to think about while we all enjoy what our country has provided for us, at least for now.

Remember Lee Iacocca, the man who rescued Chrysler Corporation from its death throes?
He's now 82 years old and has a new book, 'Where Have All The Leaders Gone?'.

Lee Iacocca Says:

'Am I the only guy in this country who's fed up with what's happening?
Where the hell is our outrage with this so called president?
We should be screaming bloody murder!
We've got a gang of tax cheating clueless leftists trying to steer our ship of state right over a cliff, we've got corporate gangsters stealing us blind, and we can't even run a ridiculous cash-for-clunkers program without losing $26 billion of the taxpayers' money, much less build a hybrid car.

But instead of getting mad, everyone sits around and nods their heads when the politicians say, 'trust me, the economy is getting better.' Better?

You've got to be kidding. This is America, not the damned 'Titanic'.

I'll give you a sound bite: 'Throw all the Democrats out, along with Obama!'
You might think I'm getting senile, that I've gone off my rocker, and maybe I have.
But someone has to speak up. I hardly recognize this country anymore..

The most famous business leaders are not the innovators but the guys in handcuffs.
While we're fiddling in Afghanistan, Iran is completing their nuclear bombs and missiles and nobody seems to know what to do.

And the liberal press is waving 'pom-poms' instead of asking hard questions.
That's not the promise of the 'America' my parents and yours traveled across the ocean for.
I've had enough. How about you?

I'll go a step further. You can't call yourself a patriot if you're not outraged. This is a fight I'm ready and willing to have.

The Biggest 'C' is Crisis! (Iacocca elaborates on nine C's of leadership, with crisis being the first.)

Leaders are made, not born.
Leadership is forged in times of crisis.

It's easy to sit there with thumb up your butt and talk theory. Or send someone else's kids off to war when you've never seen a battlefield yourself. It's another thing to lead when your world comes tumbling down.

On September 11, 2001, we needed a strong leader more than any other time in our history.
We needed a steady hand to guide us out of the ashes. A hell of a mess, so here's where we stand.

We're immersed in a bloody war now with no plan for winning and no plan for leaving. But our soldiers are dying daily.

We're running the biggest deficit in the history of the world, and it's getting worse every day!

We've lost the manufacturing edge to Asia, while our once-great companies are getting slaughtered by health care costs.

Gas prices are going to skyrocket again, and nobody in power has a lucid plan to open drilling to solve the problem.

This country has the largest oil reserves in the WORLD, and we cannot drill for it because the politicians have been bought by the flea-hugging environmentalists.

Our schools are in a complete disaster because of the teachers' union.

Our borders are like sieves and they want to give all illegal's amnesty and free healthcare.

The middle class is being squeezed to death every day.

These are times that cry out for leadership. But when you look around, you've got to ask: 'Where have all the leaders gone?' Where are the curious, creative communicators?
Where are the people of character, courage, conviction, omnipotence, and common sense?
I may be a sucker for alliteration, but I think you get the point.

Name me a leader who has a better idea for homeland security than making us take off our shoes in airports and throw away our shampoo?

We've spent billions of dollars building a huge new bureaucracy, and all we know how to do is react to things that have already happened. Everyone's hunkering down, fingers crossed, hoping the government will make it better for them. Now, that's just crazy. Deal with life.

Name me an industry leader who is thinking creatively about how we can restore our competitive edge in manufacturing. Who would have believed that there could ever be a time when 'The Big Three' referred to Japanese car companies? How did this happen, and more important, look what Obama did about it!

Name me a government leader who can articulate a plan for paying down the debt, or solving the energy crisis, or managing the health care problem. The silence is deafening. But these are the crises that are eating away at our country and milking the middle class dry.

I have news for the Chicago gangsters in Congress. We didn't elect you to turn this country into a losing European Socialist state. What is everybody so afraid of? That some bonehead on NBC or CNN news will call them a name? Give me a break.

Why don't you guys show some spine for a change?

Had Enough? Hey, I'm not trying to be the voice of gloom and doom here. I'm trying to light a fire. I'm speaking out because I have hope. I believe in America .

In my lifetime, I've had the privilege of living through some of America 's greatest moments.
I've also experienced some of our worst crises: The 'Great Depression,' 'World War II,' the 'Korean War,' the 'Kennedy Assassination,' the 'Vietnam War,' the 1970's oil crisis, and the struggles of recent years since 9/11.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Export/Import Bank A Progressive Political Tool

Again 'Who Knew"? Obama's finger prints are all over the failure of the financial institutions in this country. Rest assured, when ever a catastrophic failure is found, it is a good bet that the progressive liberal left Democrats will be close by.

Is the Export-Import Bank Another Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac?
Source: "Is Ex-Im Bank Another Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac?" Investor's Business Daily, May 10, 2012.

The Export-Import (Ex-Im) Bank was started in 1934 as a way to help U.S. companies sell to the Soviet Union, where getting paid was often a dicey proposition. In recent years, it has mostly financed and guaranteed loans on U.S. exports, says Investor's Business Daily.

Unfortunately, the political agenda regarding the bank has made it increasingly unaccountable while simultaneously expanding its mandate and resources. The end result, it seems, will be a large and powerful institution with little oversight that, among other things, will be able to choose corporate winners and losers at will.

•The House of Representatives recently voted to expand the bank's loan portfolio by 40 percent to $140 billion.
•Among the bank's pet projects that have received enormous amounts of assistance are Solyndra and Enron, signaling the lack of accountability its administration is subject to.
•Furthermore, it has often provided help to businesses that had no need of it; indeed, Boeing benefitted from bank-provided assistance to foreign buyers to purchase the company's planes.

In these ways and others, the bank has strayed away from its original mandate, electing instead to prop up politically favored companies at the expense of the taxpayer.

Furthermore, the new structure of the bank leaves it open to unfair treatment, political favors and corruption.

•Starting in 2009, President Obama ordered the Ex-Im Bank to favor green projects -- and to give no money to any energy project that involves fossil fuels.
•Additionally, women and racial minorities will also receive preference for loans.
•The president has even considered allowing the bank to grant loans to domestic firms that don't even do business overseas.

Finally, because of the bank's now-expansive mandate, it will be brought into competition with regular banks in the private sector. Undermining an important source of their revenue is ill conceived, and further provides reason to shrink or eliminate the role of the Ex-Im Bank.

Stimulus Spending Always Fails : History is Proof

The progressive liberal always has a fall back position when it comes to their agenda failures, 'we didn't have enough time to solve the problem' and ' the problem is worse then we thought' and 'ignorance on the part of the public to our policies'.

There are many more, of course, too many to list here but the porgressive always will find an excuse to blame others for their failures.

Stimulus Spending Keeps Failing
Source: Robert J. Barro, "Robert Barro: Stimulus Spending Keeps Failing," Wall Street Journal, May 9, 2012.

The weak economic recovery in the United States and the even weaker performance in much of Europe have renewed calls for ending budget austerity and returning to larger fiscal deficits. However, in the American context, no evidence is offered that past U.S. budget deficits helped to promote the economic recovery, says Robert J. Barro, a professor of economics at Harvard and a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution.

While it is easy to criticize the disappointing economic results of austerity in several beleaguered European countries, to do so ignores exemplary cases like those of Germany and Sweden.

•Both countries moved toward rough budget balance between 2009 and 2011 while sustaining comparatively strong growth.
•The average growth rate per year of real gross domestic product (GDP) for 2010 and 2011 was 3.6 percent for Germany and 4.9 percent for Sweden.
•These growth rates, which are atypically strong given the down economy, are almost certainly at least a partial function of sensible and efficient government budgetary decisions.

Advocates of gross increases in government spending look past the excellent performance of austerity-embracing nations, focusing instead on countries where the policy hasn't been a silver bullet for economic woes. Their natural response is a Keynesian approach to macroeconomics: spend your way out of a recession via large government deficits. However, this argument ignores evidence to the contrary.

•The OECD countries most clearly in or near renewed recession -- Greece, Portugal, Italy, Spain, and perhaps Ireland and the Netherlands -- are among those with relatively large fiscal deficits.
•The median of fiscal deficits for these six countries for 2010 and 2011 was 7.9 percent of GDP.
•Once a comparatively low public-debt nation, Japan opted for a Keynesian approach to spending years ago, resulting in a ratio of government debt to GDP around 210 percent (the largest in the world).

Unfortunately, Keynesians maintain an easily defended position: when budget deficits fail to skyrocket an economy out of recession, Leftists simply respond that the stimulus needed to be larger. This line of reasoning is unfailing in its circularity, yet it is the exact argument that the Democratic Party relies upon in prescribing solutions for the current economy.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Retirement Financial Education A Must for Success

How does the saying about how to fix poverty, ' rather then giving a man a fish to eat, teach the man how to fish' - makes a lot of sense. The same is true with financial decisions, teach the man to understand how the financial system works and he will control his own destiny.

What Will My Retirement Account Really Be Worth?

Source: Gopi Shah Goda, Colleen Flaherty Manchester and Aaron Sojourner, "What Will My
Account Really Be Worth? An Experiment on Exponential Growth Bias and Retirement Saving," National Bureau of Economic Research, Working Paper No. 17927, March 2012.

With the shift toward defined contribution retirement plans, Americans' retirement security increasingly requires individuals to make responsible, informed wealth accumulation decisions over their working years. Because individuals only have one shot at saving for retirement, the stakes are high and the consequences of suboptimal choices for financial wellbeing are potentially large, say researchers in a paper for the National Bureau of Economic Research.

•Among Americans with pensions, the share with only a traditional defined benefit pension fell from 60 percent to 10 percent between 1980 and 2003.
•Over the same period, the share with only a defined contribution plan rose from 17 percent to 62 percent.

Many factors affect how much people save, and can therefore cause them to save too much or too little. Furthermore, while some of these factors are objectively good sources of compulsion (financial literacy, personal responsibility, etc.), others present themselves as irrational biases that will distort savings decisions to save too much or too little.

One such bias, the exponential growth bias, is particularly pervasive. Essentially, exponential growth bias exists when an individual lacks the financial know-how to understand how savings multiply over time. If they overestimate this multiplication effect, they often save too little. If they underestimate it, they save too much.

The researchers sought to study this phenomenon by educating a sample of people making retirement savings decisions about finances and exponential growth. They measured the individuals' responses through savings behavior over a six-month period.

•Researchers found that providing income projections along with general plan information and materials assisting people through the steps of changing contribution rates resulted in a 29 percent higher probability of a change in contributions relative to a control group.
•Individuals sent this treatment increased their annual contributions by $85 more than the control group during the study period.
•Because only a small portion of the sample changed contribution levels, the magnitude of the increase among those who made a change was much larger, about $1,150 dollars per year.
•Finally, post-experiment surveying found that those who had received greater information about exponential growth felt more comfortable with their financial state.

Environmental Progressive Lawyers Laundry Money From Feds

What this sounds like is a money laundering systems similar to how the public sector unions take monies from their members provided by taxpayers, and then give it to Democrat legislators that support union agendas.

Here the environmental groups suing the federal government knowing that many judges and other federal progressive left leaning managers will not fight the good fight to win as they believe anything the enviros do is for the cause of saving the planet or what ever they deem as necessary to their agenda.

The result is trail lawyers take the huge fees and then give some it back to progressive left Democrats that will support the demands for more laws to protect the trail lawyers. Progressives protecting other progressives with taxpayer money. Money laundering - neat now this works, right? Do you care?

Environmental Groups Collecting Millions from Federal Agencies They Sue
Source: Joshua Rhett Miller, "Environmental Groups Collecting Millions from Federal Agencies They Sue, Studies Show," Fox News, May 8, 2012.

Deep-pocketed environmental groups are collecting millions of dollars from the federal agencies they regularly sue to enforce conservation measures. The payouts, which aggregate to tens of millions of dollars, even allow for reimbursement of legal fees, further encouraging enterprising environmentalists to take on the government in court, says Fox News.

The law that allows this to continue is the Equal Access to Justice Act, which was signed into law by President Carter in 1980 to help veterans, seniors and small business owners stand up to federal agencies. Unfortunately, it has now been hijacked by the environmental lobby.

•The General Accounting Office (GAO) tracked 525 legal fee reimbursements that totaled $44.4 million from 2001 through 2010.
•Conservation group lawyers have received reimbursement rates as high as $750 an hour.
•Additionally, the GAO found that many federal agencies have failed to adequately track their payouts in these lawsuits.
•It found that only 10 of 75 agencies within the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Department of Interior could provide data on cases and attorney fee reimbursements.

Environmental groups respond to criticism of the excessive payouts by emphasizing they only receive payments if they win, and that they only win if they can prove the government is breaking the law.

Nevertheless, the incredible reimbursement rates for litigation fees deserve greater attention. Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) and Rep. Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.) jointly introduced the Government Litigation Savings Act to reform the Equal Access to Justice Act.

•If passed, the bill would cap reimbursements at $200 per hour.
•It would also limit repetitive lawsuits and require full accounting of payments authorized by the Equal Access law.
•This would preserve much of the original function of the law while reforming those parts that have allowed environmentalists to take advantage of it.

Education With Federal Mandates : Problems for States

The push back here is the states that rushed to take the money from the feds are now seeing how the feds are taking control of the educational process away from the them. But they also see how this is just the beginning of more demands and control of other areas within the state.

Just wait for ObamaCare to come on board then watch the screaming!

School Standards Pushback
Source: Stephanie Banchero, "School-Standards Pushback," Wall Street Journal, May 8, 2012.

The Common Core national math and reading standards, adopted by 46 states and the District of Columbia two years ago, are coming under attack from some quarters as a federal intrusion into state education matters. The claim that the participating states' adoption of the curriculum was voluntary is misleading, says the Wall Street Journal.

•They were heavily promoted by the Obama administration through its $4.35 billion Race to the Top education grant competition.
•States that instituted changes such as common learning goals received bonus points in their applications.
•Specifically, states were encouraged to adapt curricula to standardized forms that were consistent with other states, and given that the Common Core was the only set of standards that fit this criterion, it is unsurprising that states rushed to sign on.

For lawmakers at the state level (many of whom serve in states that have already adopted the standards), one of the primary concerns is that the move represents an unprecedented federal takeover of state-provided education. Coercing states into prescribed curriculum, they argue, is just the tip of the iceberg.

Practical and empirical arguments against the Common Core have also been put forth.

•The new standards will by no means be an easy change for educators to swallow: they are more stringent than those currently in use in 39 states in math and 37 states in English.
•There are also substantial price tags associated with states coming into line with the new standards as new textbooks are purchased and teachers undergo new rounds of training.
•Finally, federal mandates are not amenable to the special interests of states -- this is of particular concern in the more controversial areas of education such as history and science.

Finally, there is an important question regarding the effectiveness of these new, expensive rules. A study released this year by a researcher at the Brookings Institution think tank projected Common Core will have no effect on student achievement. It went on to argue that low standard and high standard states have made similar gains in recent years.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Teachers With Good Skills Make A Difference

Here's some rocket science, teachers that have good teaching skills provide value to their students in the short run and in the long run. Who knew that teachers actually having teaching ability could make a difference in the lives of our kids.

Great Teaching
Source: Raj Chetty, John N. Friedman and Jonah E. Rockoff, "Great Teaching," Education Next, Summer 2012.

National dialogue regarding the reform of public education has often centered on the evaluation of teachers. But performance ratings based on students' test score gains, called value-added (VA) measures, have proved controversial, say Raj Chetty, professor of economics at Harvard University, John N. Friedman, assistant professor of public policy at Harvard Kennedy School, and Jonah E. Rockoff, associate professor of business at Columbia University's Graduate School of Business.

Critics contend that the measures are a poor indicator of teacher quality and should play little, if any, role in high-stakes decisions. However, Chetty, Friedman and Rockoff find that teachers with high VAs contribute enormously to students' educational outcomes, and that this translates into significant lifetime benefits.

•They found that a one-standard-deviation increase in teacher VA corresponds to increases in student math and English scores of 12 and 8 percent of a standard deviation, respectively.
•This corresponds, roughly, to three full months of additional instruction.
•One year of instruction with a teacher in the top 5 percent of VA ratings resulted in immediate end-of-year test scores gains of 4 percent of a standard deviation.

Perhaps more importantly, the researchers found that over their lifetimes, students benefitting from exposure to high-VA teachers saw substantial economic gains.

•A student assigned to a teacher with a VA one standard deviation higher is 0.5 percentage points more likely to attend college at age 20.
•Students of higher VA teachers also attend higher quality colleges, as measured by the average earnings of previous graduates of those colleges.
•A single year in the classroom of a teacher with value added that is one standard deviation higher increases earnings at age 28 by $182, or about 1 percent.
•If that 1 percent advantage were to remain stable throughout an individual's career, it would add up to about $25,000 in total earnings.

Non-economic social gains were also measured among students with high-VA teachers.

•Improvements in teacher value added significantly reduce the likelihood that female students will have a child during their teenage years.
•It increased the socioeconomic status of the neighborhoods in which students live in adulthood.
•It was also associated with higher 401(k) savings rates.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Green Jobs Fantasy : Bus Drivers - Trash Collection?

What nonsense - it seems when talking about how the government  uses facts and figures that are manufactured, it's told as disingenuous, misleading and unhelpful instead of out right lies to support an agenda designed to "fundamentally" change our way of life.

How does this happen? Why do we allow this to happen? This November, vote all these progressive liberals out of office, local, state and federal office holders, or you must believe we all will suffer the consequences.

Green Jobs Report: Less Than Meets the Eye
Source: David W. Kreutzer, "BLS Green Jobs Report: Less Than Meets the Eye," Heritage Foundation, April 26, 2012.

Cheerleaders of the president's green energy campaign emphasize a recent Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) report as evidence of the growth of green jobs. Indeed, the report counts 3.1 million green jobs, 2.2 million of which are in the private sector. However, the BLS study is disingenuous in its conclusions by taking advantage of an overly broad definition of "green jobs," says David Kreutzer, the research fellow in energy economics and climate change at the Heritage Foundation.

By defining "green goods and services" as those "produced by an establishment that benefit the environment or conserve natural resources," the 3.1-million figure is vague enough to include such occupations as trash collectors, bus drivers and Salvation Army employees.

Additionally, very few of those within this body of "green jobs" are engaged in the sector of power generation -- the quintessential green industry touted by the Obama administration that received enormous government subsidies and loans.

•The electric power generation industry has 44,152 green jobs.
•However, only 4,700 are in renewable power generation, including 2,200 in wind, 1,100 in biomass, 600 in geothermal and only 400 in solar.
•These figures pale in comparison to the 35,755 green jobs made available by nuclear power -- an industry that has suffered immensely from the president's lack of support for Yucca Mountain.

On a similar note, the BLS report includes vast populations of workers that fall outside the traditional definition of workers touted by President Obama.

•Steel mills, for example, were allowed to count some 43,658 jobs as "green" because the mills use scrap steel and are therefore classified as being active recyclers.
•Additionally, 27 percent of all paper mill jobs are counted as green (30,473 jobs); this is the result of the use of recycled paper as an input.
•Finally, merchandise stores, waste collection services, and school and employee bus transportation were each allowed to count 106,865, 116,293 and 160,896 jobs, respectively.

Thus, the BLS report has promulgated conclusions that are altogether misleading and unhelpful in attaining a true assessment of the president's push for green jobs. Its definition is overly broad, and this allows for the inclusion of hundreds of thousands of jobs that the average voter would never consider "green."

Europe's Progressives Fail : America's Progressives Fail

Again, where does the problem to recovery come from, from the hands and minds of progressives liberals. There can not be a recovery if we continue to turn a blind eye to what has made this country great and that is individual freedom to pursue prosperity in a free market.

Progressives believe prosperity comes from taking from others : taking from the productive and giving to the unproductive. Leveling the playing field. Income redistribution.

Europe's failure to recognize this simple rule for economic success for generations has brought it to this point in time where the next progressive liberal step will be it's last if hard decisions for recovery are ignored. And if Europe's history is any indicator of it's future, they are doomed.

If indeed all of Europe careens into economic collapse, America will not be far behind if we don't heed the signs that brings down our friends across the pond.

This November's election will be telling in it's totality for our country. If we reelect progressives for another four years, we will have learned nothing from the destruction of Europe and our fate will be set in stone.

Beyond Austerity
Source: Richard A. Epstein, "Beyond Austerity," Defining Ideas, May 1, 2012.

The struggling of EU nations as they attempt to swallow steep austerity measures is a subject of mixed amusement to liberal macroeconomic analysts. While the plummeting economic situation of that continent is indeed tragic, the continued economic woes of Spain, Greece, Italy and other countries suggests that Keynesians were correct to prescribe increased spending, not austerity, says Richard A. Epstein, the Peter and Kirsten Bedford Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution.

However, this conclusion (and its subsidiary prescription for greater government spending within the United States) takes aim at the wrong issue. Rather than artificially boosting aggregate demand (and accumulating massive government debt), policymakers should focus on freeing up labor markets.

•The massive increase in American public debt has not nudged unemployment rates down.
•The only workable solution is to stress job creation, not by misdirected subsidies, but by dismantling the government obstacles to market exchange.
•This solution requires reducing burdensome regulations on employers that increase the uncertainty in hiring workers, thereby decreasing employers' interest in expanding payrolls.

In this regard, European nations serve as a near-perfect model for how labor markets should not operate if an economy is to gain traction on the road to recovery.

•European law at the EU and national levels specialize in a set of "for cause" dismissal rules that make it virtually impossible for any employer to lay off any worker.
•These laws greatly limit the ability of an employer to dismiss workers, even for such sensible reasons as general incompetence.
•These laws also largely preclude the possibility of widespread layoffs -- actions that, while tragic, allow corporations to adequately adapt to adverse economic conditions.

Cousins of such laws should be struck down in the United States if it is to realize a strong economic recovery.

•The deeply protectionist National Labor Relations Act dictates that many employment contracts be governed by collective bargaining agreements.
•This sort of union activity grants disproportionate returns to employees and contributes to the rigidity of labor markets.
•Employers respond to such market incentives by refusing to hire or hiring only on a part-time basis -- behavior that undermines the labor market's recovery.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

License to Work Demands More Bureaucrats

This is a little strange when one stops to consider the circumstances of starting to work at a job of your choosing - if the employer wants to give you a try on the weight of your application then why not just start working? If it turns out you can't do the job, your fired. Whats the problem?

If you say you are an electrician and state on your application you have 5 years experience and you are hired on the basis of that experience but you lied, you're fired. There will always be someone to watch over your work when you start whether you have a license or not. So Whatz the need for a license?  Some jobs require schooling but most just need experience or just a chance to give it try at the entry level. So why the need for others to tell us if we are qualified? More revenue and more bureaucrats.

License to Work
Source: Dick M. Carpenter II, Lisa Knepper, Angela C. Erickson and John K. Ross, "License to Work," Institute for Justice, May 2012.

An occupational license is, put simply, government permission to work in a particular field. To earn the license, an aspiring worker must clear various hurdles, such as earning a certain amount of education or training or passing an exam. Of interest is the trend in increasing licensure: while only one in 20 workers in the 1950s required licensing, that figure has since risen to one in three.

The Institute for Justice, in assessing the economic impact of these licensing trends, documented the license requirements for 102 occupations nationwide. It noted in its study that these laws can pose substantial barriers for those seeking work.

•The 102 occupational licenses studied require of aspiring workers, on average, $209 in fees, one exam, and about nine months of education and training.
•Thirty-five occupations require more than a year of education and training, on average, and another 32 require three to nine months.
•At least one exam is required for 79 of the occupations.
•Sixty-six occupations have greater average licensure burdens than emergency medical technicians.

These requirements vary substantially from state to state.

•Louisiana licenses 71 of the 102 occupations -- more than any other state -- followed by Arizona (64), California (62), and Oregon (59).
•Wyoming, with a mere 24, licenses the fewest, followed by Vermont and Kentucky at 27.
•Arizona and California rank as the most widely and onerously licensed states, with a large number of licensed occupations and burdensome requirements.

Furthermore, the licensure requirements differ a great deal between jobs and states.

•Only 15 occupations are licensed in 40 states or more, with many having requirements in only a small number of states.
•Residential HVAC contractors, for example, are required to obtain licenses in only five states.
•Similarly, 10 states require four months or more of training for manicurists, while these workers need only have three days experience in Alaska and nine in Iowa.

As millions of Americans struggle to find productive work, one of the quickest ways legislators could help would be to reduce or remove needless licensure burdens.