Monday, March 31, 2014

School Choice A Win Win Situation : Public Schools Benefit As Well

Given the choice between what people can see as a failure and what they can see as a success, it makes sense they will pick the successful situation. This seem so to be a win win situation for the struggling students and parents. Why are so many politicians standing in the way of providing a good education for the population?

Can this be just politics? Even though they public seemed to be up in arms about Mr Obama closing down the charter schools in Washington DC soon after taking office, it seem to do any good as they were closed anyway casting thousands of struggle children back into the failed situation that is the public school system.

That Mr Obama sends his kids to private school to gain a good education was deemed okay, but for the poor to have a chance at a good education wasn't okay. Remember, it was the progressive democrats that sold everyone on their being the party of the people, right?

So what happened in 2012 when Mr Obama was elected again even though he and his party did nothing for the poor and struggling families? Why did they vote for him again?

Research Shows Benefits of School Choice
Source: Lindsey Burke, "The Value of Parental Choice in Education: A Look at the Research," Heritage Foundation, March 18, 2014.

March 31, 2014

A recent analysis of existing school choice research conducted by researcher Greg Forster found that school choice helps all students -- even those who remain in public schools, says Lindsey Burke, an education fellow at the Heritage Foundation.
  • Of 12 random assignment studies, 11 of them demonstrated that school choice improved student outcomes, and none of the studies showed a negative effect on student outcomes.
  • Moreover, of the 23 studies that have been conducted analyzing the impact of school choice on the students who remain in traditional public schools, 22 of them found that school choice improves those students' outcomes as well.
Research has found improvements across a number of variables:
  • Graduation rates: A study of the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program (DCOSP) -- which grants scholarships to students in low-income families to attend private schools -- found that the graduation rate for DCOSP students increased by 21 percentage points. Likewise, students in the similar Milwaukee Parental Choice Program increased their likelihood of graduating and then enrolling in college by 4 to 7 percentage points.
  • Public school improvements: When states implement choice programs allowing students to attend private schools, what happens to the test scores of students in public schools that are at risk of losing students? A study of Florida's Tax Credit Scholarship Program found that student test scores in those schools improved relative to test scores in the public schools less affected by the scholarship program. Milwaukee's voucher program demonstrated similar results due to the increased competition.
  • Special needs: Choice programs provide better access to services for students who have special needs. A study of a Florida scholarship program that provides private school vouchers to students with disabilities determined that students who remained in the public system saw statistically significant increases in their test scores, again suggesting that competition pushed the public schools to better serve those students.
  • Parental satisfaction: Studies repeatedly confirm that parents are very satisfied with school choice programs. For example, more than 70 percent of respondents in Arizona's education savings account program were "very satisfied" with their children's education.
Policymakers should look at this empirical evidence and make more efforts to give students and parents control over their education funding.

Unemployment A Fixture for Progressives : Increasing the Voter Base

Little wonder Mr Obama and his progressive socialists liberal party has pivoted away from the disaster that is ObamaCare and the economic prospects of prosperity for the nation, forcing this country into becoming a third world failed nation.

Employers have found ways to change how they do business rather then hiring. And on top of the economy being forced into long term recession by forcing the progressive democrat philosophy of income redistribution on the country, now comes the ObamaCare demands for small business to insure everyone no matter the circumstances the business find themselves in.

The prospects for a resurgence in employment for the near future is not good. As long as the progressive socialist believe the best way to increase employment is to create more government jobs, the private sector will continue to find ways to innovate their businesses to gain profits without expanding their labor force.

Bleak Prospects for Long-Term Unemployed
Source: Binyamin Appelbaum, "Unemployed? You Might Never Work Again," New York Times, March 20, 2014. Alan Krueger, Judd Cramer and David Cho, "Who Are the Long-Term Unemployed and What Happens to Them?" Brookings Institution, March 20, 2014.

March 31, 2014

A new study indicates that the long-term unemployed run the risk of never reentering the workforce, says the New York Times. Alan Krueger, Judd Cramer and David Cho, economists at Princeton University, show how the future job prospects of the unemployed deteriorate more rapidly the longer a person is out of the workforce.
  • Only 11 percent of the long-term unemployed in a given month return to full-time employment a year later.
  • The unemployed -- compared to the employed as a whole -- are younger, more likely to be single and less well-educated.
  • But comparing the long-term unemployed with the short-term unemployed, the long-term unemployed tend to be older and unmarried. Forty-four percent of the long-term unemployed were never married, while 20 percent are widowed, separated or divorced.
The long-term unemployed are only counted as "unemployed" if they are still looking for work (those who are no longer looking for work are not considered part of the labor force, and therefore are not included in unemployment figures). As such, why do those who do persist in looking for work become less and less successful in finding a job as time goes on?
  • The study provides two rationales. One is that workers become discouraged over time and search less intensively for a job.
  • The second is that employers discriminate against the long-term unemployed (expecting, whether valid or not, that there must be a reason that they have been unemployed for so long).
The paper also notes that the long-term unemployed tend to be older and more highly-educated than the short-term unemployed. This could mean that their labor is simply more expensive but that their prospects would improve with an improved economy.

The study also provides evidence that very few are able to find jobs in new industries -- that transitioning workers to growing industries such as the health care sector, for example, is a challenge.

Income Inequality A Socialist Strategy : Divide And Conquer

Income inequality is nothing more then the next talking points for the progressive socialist liberal democrats to use as a wedge to continue to divide the population, fostering class warfare to gain a political edge and increase the political base for the democrats. The greater the number of people that can be forced into poverty, the greater the number of people that will have to dependent on government for survival and then vote accordingly to stay alive. 

History is riff with examples of those that demonized the productive to gain leverage with the less productive classes and there by gain power and control of outcomes for everyone. The old Soviet Union is the best example were class warfare was used to change Russia for decades to come. History also shows this strategy has failed every time it has been tried.

The philosophy of the progressive socialists to "fundamentally" change the country from self reliance to gain prosperity and a future with free markets, to an America that is based on dependence and obedience to a ruling class, the progressive socialist liberal democrat believe, is a winning strategy that will carry them for decades, if not generations to come.

Unfortunately this seems to be a winning strategy as a majority in America voted twice to make sure it becomes a reality.

Thoughts on Income Inequality
Source: Kevin A. Hassett et al., "Opportunity for All: How to Think about Income Inequality," American Enterprise Institute, March 19, 2014.

March 31, 2014

With President Obama calling inequality "the defining challenge of our time," much of our political discourse of late has focused on income distribution in the United States. But what most Americans understand about inequality is based on three false assumptions: that inequality is inherently unjust, that it is bad for the economy and that government redistribution is the best remedy.

Based on these assumptions, advocates for greater equality push for tax increases and minimum wage hikes in order to narrow the gap between the wealthy and the working classes, say researchers with the American Enterprise Institute.
  • Research on income inequality often varies because there is no common definition of "income," says American Enterprise Institute Resident Scholar Aparna Mathur. Some researchers use pre-tax income data, for example, failing to account for transfer payments such as food stamps or Medicare. Instead, living standards is the better metric. Are people's lives today better than they were yesterday? Yes. Mathur says that Americans at all income levels have access to more material goods than in the 1980s, and the gap between high- and low-income earners in terms of the ownership of these possessions has shrunk.
  • American Enterprise Institute Fellow Jonah Goldberg explains that liberals, in general, view inequality as a systemic problem -- that income is a sort of common good that should be distributed evenly. If it is not, the government or the system messed up. The right, he says, tend to see inequality as a symptom: if the poor are falling behind, it could be the result of poor job creation or stagnating wages. But Goldberg notes that inequality can largely be driven by non-economic issues. Family structure and values, he says, are much more strongly correlated with economic mobility than is income inequality.
  • If Obama has called income inequality the "defining challenge" of our time, James Pethokoukis of the American Enterprise Institute says that it is instructive to look at all the things that President Obama sees as less important than income inequality: chronically weak economic growth, an employment rate that has barely moved from recession lows, and the breakdown of the traditional family unit (as research on both sides of the aisle confirms that the children of intact, nuclear families fare better educationally, emotionally and financially than others). There is little evidence that higher top-end inequality has slowed economic growth, hurt middle class incomes, or reduced mobility.
In fact, while income differences are inevitable, they are not a problem as long as the opportunity to succeed and move up the income ladder is available to everyone. The free market is not a zero-sum game.

Marketplace Fairness Act : Politicians Grab for Revenue

This is a little in the weeds on a Monday but still interesting as to how the internet is changing how we do business and how politicians are scrambling to collect as much tax revenue as possible to support all of their pet projects with tax dollars.

That the bill to rescue some of the lost tax revenue from internet sales is becoming more complicated is a good indication that when it finally passes, if it passes both house of congress, it probably will end up like most other 'bipartisan' bills, just a waste of time that nobody pays any attention to as it is too complicated and laborious to actually work in the real world. And besides with the word 'fairness' in the description it is sure to be a bust for the free market.

I will business as usual for our government.

Problems with the Marketplace Fairness Act
Source: Pamela Villarreal, "The Marketplace Fairness Act: Tilting the Playing Field," National Center for Policy Analysis, March 2014.
March 31, 2014

There is little evidence that states would collect the billions of dollars in revenue that proponents claim would come as a result of the Marketplace Fairness Act, says Pamela Villarreal, a senior fellow at the National Center for Policy Analysis.

In 1992, the Supreme Court ruled that a business could not be required to collect a state's sales tax unless that business had a physical presence in the state. With the growth of online sales, lawmakers in Washington, D.C., have turned to the issue. Last year, the Senate passed the Marketplace Fairness Act (MFA), which grants states the ability to collect and remit sales taxes for each buyer's state. The House of Representatives has yet to pass the bill.

Estimates of lost revenue vary, but many project that retailers could collect between $22 billion and $24 billion in sales taxes through the MFA measure. These figures are likely overstated, and the vast majority of e-commerce sales are actually business to business sales, not business to consumer transactions.

Currently, 45 states require citizens who purchase online or out-of-state products to report those purchases on their tax forms and pay a use tax. However, taxpayers rarely do this.
  • Many are not even aware that a use tax is due, and because use tax reporting is not required on federal tax returns, there are no IRS penalties for failing to report the tax.
  • On top of this, there are plenty of exceptions that vary state-to-state and make compliance confusing. For example, Connecticut exempts bicycle helmets, fluorescent bulbs and state flags from the use tax, while Mississippi exempts Girl Scout cookies and New York exempts weaving products.
  • Currently, $13 billion in revenue is lost from noncompliance, according to economist Art Laffer. He estimates that this figure will grow to somewhere between $27 billion and $33 billion by 2022.
Proponents say tax collection would be easy for vendors, but if that is the case, why does the MFA exempt small businesses with revenues below $1 million? The bill contains some protections for sellers, but they are worded vaguely and could be interpreted in various ways.

States that have use tax laws should use their own taxing authorities to enforce compliance, not burden private sector vendors with the task.

ObamaCare Sign-Ups Fall Short? : Numbers From HHS Managed

According to the Obama administration, 6 million have signed up for ObamaCare, only no one knows if this figure is accurate or how many have actually paid for their coverage, or if the insurance companies have notice of these payments.

ObamaCare is shrouded in smoke and mirrors. And believe, this is not by accident.

If past history of the Obama administration is any sign of how the future will look, we can be sure of one thing and that's the figures from HHS will always be false, managed to match preconceived outcomes.

In fact, there hasn't been any figures on any subject coming from this government that can be relied on as being useful or accurate.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Seniors income Declining : Low Interest Rates

This is not something new - the democrats have always thought the senior class citizen to be easy targets for cheap votes, all they have to do to get the senior vote is to lie to them about how they really, really care about the needs of seniors, and the senior fall all over themselves to believe everything that comes from Mr Obama and the progressive socialist democrats. Hey, it's always been this way, seniors always vote democrat. Democrat promise all kinds of free stuff but never deliver and the seniors don't seem to care, they still vote democrat.

The seniors voted twice for the boot of the democrats to apply more pressure on their collective necks. Are they stupid or just low information voters? Maybe they just don't care enough to understand that the democrats threaten their future with Medicare and Medicaid going broke unless something is done to fix the problem?

It seems the senior has forgotten, or maybe never knew that ObamaCare is taking more then $500 billion dollars from Medicaid over the next 10 years to pay for Obama's failed health care program. Apparently the seniors as a group don't care as they voted as a block twice for Mr Obama and his friends in the progressive socialists democrat party to bring more pain and failure their class.  Go figure!

Low Interest Rates Hurt Seniors
Source: Diana Furchtgott-Roth, "How the Fed Is Hurting Seniors," MarketWatch, March 21, 2014.

March 28, 2014

The Federal Reserve's low interest rate policy hurts older Americans, says Diana Furchtgott-Roth, director of Economics21 at the Manhattan Institute.

Federal Reserve Chairman Janet Yellen suggested that the Fed would begin raising interest rates when the taper is over. These rates need to rise. From the 1970s through the 1990s, Americans could expect a 5 percent interest rate, or even higher, to generate income from their savings for retirement. Today, that figure is not even 1 percent.
  • When the returns of saving are zero, would-be savers are instead encouraged to invest money in risky stocks and bonds. Mortgage rates are also at record lows, meaning that Americans can take on large amounts of debt.
  • Seniors are the ones disproportionately impacted by this situation. In 2012, seniors earned just under 10 percent of their income from interest, whereas Americans ages 25 to 64 earned less than 3 percent of income from interest.
  • According to a McKinsey study, households headed by Americans under the age of 45 are net debtors. These households have benefited from lower rates. Those with household heads ages 35 to 44 have gained $1,700 more in spending each year due to the rates. Those under age 35 have gained $1,500 per year.
  • Seniors, on the other hand, are losing money. Those with household heads ages 75 and above lost $2,700 per year in income, while those between ages 65 and 74 lost $1,900 per year.
A low interest rate policy also hurts the economy as a whole, discouraging lending to the United States on the global market. And when interest rates do rise, our financial system will have difficulty adjusting, as many businesses are based on these low interest rates. While abandoning a low interest rate policy will be tough at first, the entire U.S. economy will ultimately be better off.

Enviornmental Protection Agency (EPA) Regulates Obedience to It's Demands

With the new regulations on the environment from the EPA that will soon change the way we live and work as the new restriction on electoral power generation will be reduced around the country, it remains to be seen if the people will find this a good idea when their IPad and IPhone go dark after 8 pm due to the lack of electric power.

Oh but don't fret on this as those in Washington will have all the electrical power they need as we all have to understand, they are the ones that have to make the hard decisions that will be in all of our bests interests, so their need will be greater then ours. That makes good sense, right?

Doesn't this new edict from EPA and the progressive socialists give you a warm and fussy feeling that there are others looking out for you and your family? All that's required of you is do as you are told.

Regulating Our Way to Prosperity
Source: Roger Meiners, "Regulating Our Way to Prosperity," Reason Magazine, March 18, 2014.

March 28, 2014

If federal agencies' calculations of regulatory benefits are correct, the United States should be seeing great economic growth, says Roger Meiners, a senior fellow at the Property and Environment Research Center.

Federal agencies must perform cost-benefit analyses on regulations estimated to cost more than $100 million in order to be sure that the costs of a regulation do not outweigh its benefits. Pursuant to this, our agencies have been churning out regulations that project tremendous growth. Our economy may be sluggish now, but with central planners projecting such positive economic impacts from their regulations, surely that growth must be on its way.

How are these benefits calculated? Largely, they come from what is known as the social cost of carbon (SCC). Based on estimates of future carbon emissions from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, an interagency working group determined what they believed to be the price of carbon. Using that figure, agencies can justify nearly any environmental regulation, and they claim benefits will come in the form of increased gross domestic product (GDP).

The Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Utility Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS) rule was finalized in 2011 at an estimated cost of $10 billion annually. How did this pass the cost-benefit test?
  • The EPA determined that the rule would create $37 billion to $90 billion in benefits for the economy (though it does not explain exactly how the benefits are monetized) in the form of higher GDP.
  • If the EPA is right, MATS alone should add 0.5 percent of growth to the U.S. economy.
  • The cost of MATS, however, is overwhelmed by these projected benefits (23,000 megawatts lost in electricity production, 200,000 jobs lost by 2015).
  • Similarly, a new set of standards from the Department of Energy for residential furnace fans projects that the industry will lose 21 percent of its value. How is that justified? With energy savings billions of dollars in benefits.
Americans can sit back and relax -- our agencies are regulating our way to prosperity, and surely our economy will begin to turn around as these rules kick in and these projected benefits come to fruition, Meiners jokes.

White Privilege Conference Closes Doors to Public : Wisconsin Reported Denied Access

Witness the 'dismantling' of America by progressive socialist liberal democrats. I wonder if it ever occurred to the organizers of this blatant congregation of anarchists that the use of public funds to sponsor an event that attacks the taxpayers is not ethical or Constitutional?

Of course, if anyone wants to take the time to examine this hate infested gathering that closes it doors to public scrutiny must know they are proceeding against the will of the people. In fact also, the organizers know exactly what they doing and don't care, this is about them losing power as the general public is slowly understanding what the progressive socialist party, the new democrat party, is doing to the country and are moving in the direction to defund and extinguish it's authority by the possibility of voting them out of office. This is a move of desperation.

To the progressive, as witnessed by Scott Walker's Act 10 achievement to stem the power of the states unions and balance the budget, that thousands moved into the capital destroying the grounds and the interior costing taxpayers millions in repairs, which in turn making the past liberal nightmare of liberal control look bad to the extreme, only accelerated the fear of losing power.

This is death by the numbers. Once the progressive socialists lose control of the government's ability to control outcomes in all areas of endeavor, they have lost their ultimate hold on the people, and everyone must understand, this is the goal of socialism, the goal of the progressive democrats. To believe otherwise will be fatal.

Reporter Denied Access to White Privilege Conference

MADISON, Wis. — We are fully aware of who Wisconsin Reporter is.

Stephanie Puentes tried to keep the smile from stretching across her face as she made that comment Thursday after denying my request to cover the White Privilege Conference here in Madison.
When I came back Friday morning, Puentes, a conference media representative, clearly seemed agitated. Puentes told me she was quite familiar with the previous stories I had done leading up to the seminar, which concludes Saturday. And, again, she wouldn’t let me in.

Did it have anything to do with the story I wrote in early February, disclosing that taxpayers are underwriting at least $20,000 — and likely much more — of the cost of the forum at the Monona Terrace Community and Convention Center? Or maybe it was because of my other piece Wednesday quoting Niger Innis, national spokesman for the Congress of Racial Equality, who called the White Privilege Conference an irrelevant and frivolous waste of taxpayer money?
Puentes insisted I wasn’t allowed in because I had not registered online in advance or called the conference’s offices ahead of time to make arrangements.  It’s not as if I didn’t try.

White Privilege Conference officials have failed to make themselves available for comment when I’ve attempted to contact them for past stories. How was I supposed to make arrangements when nobody would return my calls and talk to me?

It also didn’t help the conference’s website doesn’t include a section for media registration.
I tried to register in person Wednesday afternoon but was told by Monona Terrace staff that convention officials were busy setting up at a different location and that I should return Thursday.
That’s what I did, but apparently I was too late. Onsite registration closed early Thursday morning because the conference was at full capacity, Puentes said.

No other media outlets signed up to cover the event, according to Puentes. After telling Puentes that I was more than willing to pay the full registration fee, I pleaded to be let in because taxpayers should be given the opportunity to know how their dollars are being spent. And as a Madison taxpayer myself, I want those answers, too.

Puentes responded that she considers the seminar to be private.

"This is a private conference, being run by the (White Privilege Conference), and it’s paid for through registration money … it’s not public money in the sense that we’ve received grants or we are being funded by the university or any public money like that," Puentes said.
Not so fast.

The White Privilege Conference is slated to get $18,375 from the Monona Terrace booking event assistance account, which is comprised of local hotel room tax revenue. The city of Madison, Janesville School District, UW-Madison, UW-Eau Claire, Madison Area Technical College and other publicly funded institutions also are spending tens of thousands of dollars in registration and sponsorship fees to send several hundred people to the convention.

The White Privilege Conference, now in its 15th year, is built on the premise the United States was started by white people for white people. It tries to attract teachers, university faculty, activists, government officials and students to "dismantle this system of white supremacy, white privilege and oppression."

Come to think of  it, maybe their unwillingness to grant me access was their way of dismantling my white privilege.

Contact Adam Tobias at or follow him on Twitter @Scoop_Tobias
Crossposted at Wisconsin Reporter

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Washington Post Reporters Admit Story False : Story Just for Chaos

Washington Post reporters admit the wrote a story on the Koch brothers and their supposed relationship to the Keystone XL pipeline, strictly to inflame the general public which they knew before they wrote the story that Koch industries would not benefit at all from the approval.

This apparently fits the agenda of the democrats in that their stories aren't about facts, but the seriousness of the charge. The charge doesn't have to have any truth to it at all.

The question now is why buy a newspaper that has nothing to do with the news? It appears that this newspaper is no more then a device to further the agenda of progressive democrats.

This is from Powerline's John Hinderaker on Fox TV.

Climate Changers Dig Deep : A Vortex of Misinformation

Just because it's hotter then usual or if it's colder then we can remember, it shouldn't be a reason for the nutjob warmers to demand billions of dollars to find out why, and then two years later want billions more to find out why not.

Do you think the general public, that foots the bill for these 'smarter then god' (scientists?) that find consensus better then fact, aren't really on board the train of public interest, but running along side looking for a way to get on without paying the price to ride?

I mean these guys in white lab coats should really having to prove what they say before reaching into all of our pockets to maintain a life style that we can't even recognize? Al Gore doesn't wear a white coat and yet he makes millions - why's that?

Megadams Lose Billions : Progerssive Projects (Solar, Wind) Launder Billions

Just like most military contracts that never seem to be on time or under contract estimates, it make sense the huge projects will be a waste of money as everyone wants a piece of the pie, and the bigger the pie the easier it is to get a piece without anyone noticing a chunk gone.

Mr Obama spent $7.4 trillion dollars without any appreciable effect on jobs or the economy. The only positive effect from spreading so much money around is to fatten the coffers of democrats candidates and the democrats nation committees bank account.

Democrats believe having huge projects that cost billions, like the twenty two solar projects that have gone bankrupt costing tens of billions of tax dollars, laundering the money back to headquarters in Washington is a lot easier, especially when the national press is on board for cover with the theft of public funds.

Megadam Projects Not Successful
Source: Bent Flyvbjerg and Atif Ansar, "Ending the Flood of Megadams," Wall Street Journal, March 18, 2014.

March 27, 2014

Massive hydroelectric dams have a poor track record and developing countries should reconsider pouring their funds into these projects, say Bent Flyvbjerg, professor at University of Oxford's Saïd Business School, and Atif Ansar, lecturer at University of Oxford's Blavatnik School of Government.
A new survey from Oxford University's Said Business School looked at 245 "megadam" projects built since 1934, finding that these projects are routinely over budget and rarely completed on time.
  • In the 1970s, Brazil built its Itaipu Dam at a cost of $20 billion -- 240 percent more than had been projected. The country's public finances suffered for 30 years as a result. While it has provided electricity, the dam is unlikely to pay back its capital and debt costs.
  • Ethiopia began construction on its $4.8 billion Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam in 2011. It is projected to finish in 2017 and will likely cost $10 billion. That is one quarter of Ethiopia's gross domestic product, and the single megadam project could overwhelm the nation's economy with debt.
  • On average, large dams nationwide come in at a cost 96 percent higher than budget.
Because these are lengthy projects (they take an average of 8.6 years to build), they do not solve short-term energy crises. At the same time, the projects are vulnerable to a number of factors that plague countries -- political tensions, electricity price swings, drops in water availability, currency volatility and inflation. Nigeria's Kainji Dam has fallen short of its hydroelectricity production goals by 70 percent due to volatile swings in water availability that have caused problems in times of flood and drought.

The Hoover Dam is an example of megadam success, but such success is rare. Smaller hydroelectric projects are a better solution, as they are more flexible, can be built more quickly and can be adapted more easily to emerging problems.
  • For example, Norway produces 99 percent of its electricity from water.
  • At the turn of the century, the government initiated a plan of small hydro development, a shift away from large dams.
  • Today, 1,000 of these plants exist in Norway.
Emerging economies need to rethink the megadam model and develop hydropower alternatives that are more flexible and less risky.

Government Secrecy Increase Unprecedented : Progressives Hide from the Light

Freedom of Information Act now is a thing of the past as the progressive socialist liberal democrats seek to hide their true intentions of total government control from the public. But wait, that's not entirely true, once a Republican gets into office then the act will be in full force again as the progressive socialist will demand full disclosure of all aspects of government activities.

It's the law, remember.

Government Secrecy Up
Source: "Open Government Study: Secrecy Up," Associated Press, March 16, 2014.

March 27, 2014

Last year, the Obama administration either censored government files or denied access to them altogether more than any other time in his administration, says the Associated Press.

President Obama vowed his administration to be the most transparent in history, but looking at six years of data from 99 federal agencies, there has been little improvement in the way that the government releases records. Evaluating Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests, the Associated Press found that transparency efforts last year were actually at their worst during Obama's time in office.
  • The government withheld information on the basis of national security 8,496 times -- that is a record, and it is a 57 percent increase over 2012. In Obama's first year, the administration cited national security only 3,658 times.
  • Almost all of these national security cites came from the Defense Department (which includes the NSA and CIA). The Department of Agriculture cited security six times, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) twice, and the National Park Service once.
  • Last year, citizens made 704,394 FOIA requests, up 8 percent from the year before. The government responded to 678,391 of them. In 36 percent of all requests, the government censored the materials or denied access to them entirely. Sometimes the censoring included only a few words or personal information -- other times, it blacked out entire pages.
Has the national security exception been abused? Because the records are not released, the AP could not determine whether holding the documents back was valid. The NSA said that its surge in records requests came from people wanting to know if the agency had collected their phone or email records. The NSA censored or denied requests 98 percent of the time.
  • In 196,034 cases, the government said that it could not find the records requested, or the requester refused to pay the price of copies, or the government deemed the request unreasonable or improper.
  • The government can only deny FOIA requests for national security violations if the information would violate personal privacy, or if it would reveal business secrets or confidential decision making. Last year, these exceptions were cited 546,574 times.
  • Expedited processing of records can be requested, but agencies can deny those requests as well. Last year, the government denied 6,689 out of 7,818 (86 percent) expedited requests. The EPA specifically denied 458 out of 468 expediting requests.

New York's Cigarette Taxe Up 190% : Black Market Fills Void

Sound familiar? In the 1920's it was alcohol and Prohibition - politicians never seem to learn. If there is a buck to be made, someone will find a away to do it.

Cigarette Taxes Lead to Smuggling
Source: Joseph Henchman and Scott Drenkard, "Cigarette Taxes and Cigarette Smuggling by State," Tax Foundation, March 19, 2014.

March 27, 2014

One of the unintended consequences of high cigarette tax rates is an increase in cigarette smuggling, say Joseph Henchman and Scott Drenkard of the Tax Foundation.

Thirty states and the District of Columbia increased their cigarette tax rates between 2006 and 2012. These tax differentials have created black market demand, and smugglers have begun procuring cigarettes from low-tax states to sell in high-tax areas. Data from the Mackinac Center for Public Policy demonstrate the rise and fall of smuggling rates as taxes change.
  • Smuggled cigarettes constitute a whopping 56.9 percent of the cigarette market in the state of New York. Not coincidentally, New York has the highest state cigarette tax (at $4.35 per pack; New York City charges an additional $1.50 per pack in local taxes).
  • As the cigarette tax rate in New York has risen 190 percent since 2006, the smuggling rate has increased 59 percent.
  • Behind New York, the states with the greatest cigarette smuggling activity were Arizona, New Mexico, Washington, Wisconsin, California, Rhode Island and Texas.
  • A study of five cities in the northeast found that 58.7 percent of cigarette packs being sold were not properly stamped, indicating that 30.5 percent to 42.1 percent of cigarette packs had been illegally smuggled.
Smuggling takes various forms, from counterfeit state tax stamps to counterfeit versions of legitimate brands to hijacked trucks. Sometimes, officials turn a blind eye to the illegality.
The high taxes amount to a "price prohibition" on cigarettes.

Public Pensions Best : Feeding the Good Life

Little wonder so much attention is been given to the state and municipal unions by the progressive socialist democrats, as anyone that understand who feeds them, the socialists make sure they will continue to vote accordingly.

Ever wonder where most of the 852 $billion dollars that Mr Obama said was to stimulate the economy went? Shovel ready jobs? Nah - It went to the unions in the states to keep them voting their life styles.

Public Pension Millionaires
Source: Andrew G. Biggs, "Not So Modest: Pension Benefits for Full-Career State Government Employees," American Enterprise Institute, March 2014.
March 27, 2014

Some state pension plans are creating retirement millionaires, says Andrew Biggs, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute.

Public pension plan advocates routinely refer to public pensions as "modest." This is entirely false. The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) claims that the average AFSCME member receives only $19,000 per year after a public service career, but that is simply not true. It is only by including short-term government employees that AFSCME can make such a claim.

Full-career public employees, on the other hand, receive incredibly generous pensions.
  • In Nevada, an average career retiree receives annual pension benefits up to $64,008. In Colorado that figure is $60,420 and in California, $61,560. Connecticut retirees receive $50,388. With the exception of Nevada and Colorado, these employees also receive Social Security benefits.
  • Some states are less generous -- Maine employees receive just $25,000 per year and Mississippi pensioners only $15,000.
  • The average state provides annual pension benefits for full-career retirees of $36,131.
But these figures only show so much, as states also have very different costs of living and some state employees do not receive Social Security benefits. To make a true comparison, Biggs took total retirement income (pension benefits as well as Social Security) for full-career state employees and compared it with the earnings of full-time employees in each state.
  • In the average state, the typical full-career government employee has a retirement income higher than 72 percent of full-time employees working in that state.
  • Oregon retirees topped the list, with the average retiree receiving benefits greater than the earnings of 90 percent of full-time employees in Oregon. West Virginia followed at 89 percent, and California and Nevada were both above 87 percent.
  • These figures may actually be conservative, as retirees may also be receiving interest or dividend income from personal savings. Additionally, most public retirees also receive health coverage.
  • Lastly, the cost of living for retirees tends to be lower than the cost of living for working age Americans.
Looking at the total benefits paid out to retirees over their retirement, many states actually create "pension millionaires" who earn over $1 million in retirement benefits. Alaska, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Nevada, Oregon, Pennsylvania and West Virginia do just that, and Rhode Island and Texas come close. The average career retiree receives a lifetime retirement benefit worth $768,940.

Opportunity Knocks : Hard Work Opens the Door

Brilliance can be displayed without grand applause, it just takes common sense to know what's important and what is non sense.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Putin Wonders Why It's Been So Easy : Democrats All

Beady-EyedI know this shows Putin to be some what of a rogue and not just a criminal, but non the less, it does have a certain ring to it showing how most of the world views America.

Under the control of progressive socialist liberal democrats, headed by the chief socialist, Barack Obama, we are the laughing stock of the world. Our enemies don't fears us and our friend don't trust us. Welcome to the new world of 'hope and change'.

'Fools are that fools do' - how did we come to this? Oh wait, election do have consequences!

Political Correctness is Destructive : Dr. Ben Carson

What is so frustrating is this seems so common sense but is lost on so many. A majority of the population become 'deer in the headlights' when the thought of taking a stand on a political issues that might allow them to be attacked for that stand.

The solution is called having 'courage under fire' - when all others are falling away, you will have the courage of conviction to stand against the horde. To do otherwise will result in a failure of conscience, and can there be any greater failure for a person of principle then this?

I know, it's easy to mouth the words to stand ones ground in the face of aggression, but given what we are facing today with the prospect of imminent economic collapse as well as a world that is totally out of control, it just seems that at some point in time it becomes impossible for people who actually understand the problem to do otherwise.

The Insidious Effect of Political Correctness
by Dr. Ben Carson – from Townhall -

When I was in high school in Detroit, there was a great deal of emphasis on clothing. As I became increasingly interested in fitting in with the “in crowd,” fashion supplanted academic achievement in my hierarchy of importance. My grades plummeted, and I became a person who was less pleasant and more self-absorbed.

My mother was disappointed because she thought I had enough insight and intelligence to avoid the flypaper trap of acting like everyone else. Fortunately, after wasting a year pursuing acceptance, I realized that my dreams went far beyond silk shirts and sharkskin pants. I decided to forsake the “in crowd” and redoubled my academic efforts in time to rescue my sinking grade-point average and gain admission to an Ivy League university.

To say that the “in crowd” was disgruntled when I abandoned their association would be a gross understatement. It eventually became clear to them that I would not rejoin their ranks under any circumstances, and they left me alone.

Despite the insults hurled at me, at the time of graduation, my classmates voted me “most likely to succeed.” This indicated that they knew the prerequisites for success but were unwilling to fulfill them, and they wanted others to remain shackled to their underachieving lifestyle.

Political correctness (PC) operates in much the same fashion. It is in place to ensure conformity to the prescribed expressions and lifestyles dictated by the elites.

There are rewards of acceptance and praise for members of the “in crowd” as they attempt to silence or destroy any who dare think for themselves or express opposing views. Similarly, the purveyors of PC seize upon a word or phrase, which they emphasize in an attempt to divert attention away from the actual issue that doesn’t fit their narrative.

I have stated in the past that Obamacare is the worst thing to occur in our country since slavery. Why did I make such a strong statement? Obviously, I recognize the horrors of slavery. My roots have been traced back to Africa, and I am aware of some horrendous deeds inflicted on my ancestors in this country.

The purpose of the statement was not to minimize the most evil institution in American history, but rather to draw attention to a profound shift of power from the people to the government.
I think this shift is beginning to wrench the nation from one centered on the rights of individual citizens to one that accepts the right of the government to control even the most essential parts of our lives. This strikes a serious blow to the concept of freedom that gave birth to this nation.

Some well-known radicals have publicly written and stated that in order for their idea of a utopian, egalitarian society to emerge in the United States, the government must control health care, which ensures the dependency of the populace on government. Historical analysis of many countries that have gone this route demonstrates the obliteration of the middle class and a massive expansion of the poor, dependent class with a relatively small number of elites in control.

This is sobering information, and those who want to fundamentally change America would much rather demonize someone who is exposing this agenda than engage in a conversation that they cannot win. Others join in the fray, happily marching in lockstep with those who are attempting to convert our nation to something we won’t recognize, having no idea that they are being used.
Vladimir Lenin is sometimes credited with coining the phrase “useful idiots” to describe such individuals.

It is time in America for the people to open their eyes to what is happening all around them as our nation undergoes radical changes without so much as a conversation out of fear of being called a name, of facing economically adverse actions or of enduring government harassment, characterized by the perpetrators as “phony scandals.”

Political correctness is antithetical to our founding principles of freedom of speech and freedom of expression. Its most powerful tool is intimidation. If it is not vigorously opposed, its proponents win by default, because the victims adopt a “go along to get along” attitude. Major allies in the imposition of PC are members of the media, some of whom thrive on controversy while others are true ideologues.

The true believers would be amusing if it were not so sad to behold them dissecting, distorting and repeating words in an attempt to divert attention from the rise of government control.

The American people must learn to identify and ignore political correctness if we are to escape the bitter ideological grenades that are destroying our unity and strength. Political correctness is impotent if we the people are fearless. Let us emphasize intelligent discussion of issues and leave the smear campaigns to those with no constructive ideas.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Obituary of Common Sense : Mourners Are Few

Author unknown but still brilliant -!
Today we mourn the passing of a beloved old friend,
Common Sense!  While he has been with us for many years.
No one knows for sure just how old he was, since his birth
records were lost long ago in bureaucratic red tape.
But he will be most remembered as having cultivated such
Valuable lessons as:
Knowing when to come in out of the rain!
Why the early bird gets the worm!
Life isn't always fair!
And maybe even…..It was my fault!
Common Sense always lived by simple, sound Financial
Policies like: Don't spend more than you can earn and
reliable strategies like: Adults, not children are in charge.
His health began to deteriorate rapidly when well-
intentioned but overbearing regulations were set
in place!  Like the report of a 6-year-old boy being charged
with sexual harassment for kissing a girl classmate;
teens suspended from school for using mouthwash
after lunch or a teacher being fired for reprimanding
an unruly student!  They only worsened poor
Common Sense’s rapidly deteriorating condition.

Common Sense lost yet more ground when parents
attacked teachers for doing the job that they themselves
had failed to do!  Like disciplining their unruly children!
And even further, when schools were required to get
parental consent to administer sun lotion, or even an aspirin,
to a student…and could not inform a parent if a student
became pregnant and wanted to have an abortion.

But Common Sense finally lost the will to live when
churches became businesses and criminals received
better treatment than their victims.
Common Sense finally gave up the will to live after a
woman said she failed to realize that a steaming cup of
coffee she got at the local McDonald’s was hot…and then
spilled a little in her lap was promptly awarded a
huge settlement.

Common Sense was preceded in death by his parents:
Truth and Trust, his wife: Discretion, his daughter:
Responsibility and by his son: Reason.
He is survived by his 5 stepbrothers:
“I Know My Rights!”
“I Want It Now!”
“Someone Else Is To Blame!”
“I'm The Victim!”
“You Must Pay Me for
Doing Nothing!”,
and “Hey, I Didn’t Do That!”

Sadly few attended his funeral, because it seems most
folks didn’t realized that he was gone!

Putin Reacts to Obama's Ultimate Threat : Double Super Blue Ribbon Panel

crimea.jpgI think this would be enough for Mr Obama to think twice about his last threat to stop Putin from advancing further into the Ukraine -

I believe that Mr Obama's ultimate threat of appointing his most powerful blue ribbon panel ever conceived by man kind would be enough to make Putin believe he will run into real trouble from the United States if he doesn't stop his aggression, but apparently it has had little effect.

Obama Suppositories Worked : Long and Threaded

If it's true that a picture is worth a thousand words, then this picture tell us just what has happen over the last six year just a well as a thousand words would have.

Obama's Agenda Examined : Jobs Created - Lobs Lost

What more do we need in the way of facts to make sure all progressive socialist liberal democrats are defeated this November?

Think about it, given all of the failures over the last six years with the democrats running the show from Washington, why would anyone vote for more failure?

Isn't living a failure enough to convince the voter to take another look?

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Federal Regulaions Cripples Individualism : A Tyranny of The Few

Regulations can be used as just another form of tyranny brought on by an over reaching government that means to do harm to it's citizens. With the explosion of regulations from the Obama administration, it is obvious he and they, the progressive democrats, believe the more they can cripple the freedom to pursue success, the more control they will have over the population, a stalwart plank in the political agenda of the progressive socialists.

Success and prosperity means freedom to think and act as individuals. Progressive socialism seeks dependency, a degrading independent thought and government control of all outcomes.

Code of Federal Regulations Expanding under Obama
 Source: Wayne Crews, "New Data: Code of Federal Regulations Expanding, Faster Pace under Obama," Competitive Enterprise Institute, March 17, 2014.

March 26, 2014

The Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) contains all of the permanent rules published by federal agencies in the Federal Register. Since 1975, the number of pages in the CFR has increased 146 percent, says Wayne Crews, vice president for policy and director of technology studies at the Competitive Enterprise Institute.

The CFR is different from the Federal Register, which contains material in addition to final rules (and contains more than 70,000 pages of material each year). There are 50 titles in the CFR, and its page count has only grown over the years, especially under President Obama.
  • In 1960, the CFR had 22,877 pages across 68 volumes. At the end of 1976, it consisted of 133 volumes and 71,224 pages.
  • At the end of President George W. Bush's second term in 2008, the number of pages in the CFR stood at 157,974.
  • But at the end of 2013, the CFR had 175,496 pages -- a 146 percent increase since 1975.
  • In his first five years in office, President Obama has added 17,522 pages of regulations -- that's an 11 percent increase in the size of the regulatory state and an average of 3,504 pages each year. President Bush's total eight years in office, on the other hand, resulted in a total of 2,490 pages each year.
While page counts are not a perfect way to gauge regulatory impact, it is clear that the greater government activity has hurt the private sector and employment.

Linkage of School Funding to Success Flawed : Study Shows No Linkiage

The big question then is what is causing education to fall behind other industries? What is the over riding factor or factors stifling success for our schools?

Easy, like all other industries that fail, it's self serving institutions that infest the work place, believing preservation is their most important function, and in the case of education it's the unions and government. Who knew?

No Link between Spending and Academic Performance
Source: Andrew J. Coulson, "State Education Trends," Cato Institute, March 18, 2014.
March 26, 2014

New data demonstrates that there is no link between state education spending and student outcomes, says Andrew Coulson, director of the Cato Institute's Center for Educational Freedom.

Comparing academic performance with state spending is an incredibly valuable way to measure the efficacy of education policies. Looking at academic performance on a national scale, the results are not good. Seventeen year olds' performance has been stagnant since 1970 across all subjects, despite K-12 education costs tripling.

Unfortunately, similar data at the state level has been very difficult to come by. Spending data exists for the last 50 years, but it is scattered across various publications. Academic data, on the other hand, is even more difficult to find, as it is either unavailable prior to 1990 or involves an unrepresentative sample.

To produce the type of data needed to evaluate education policies effectively, Coulson took state SAT score averages and adjusted them by participation rate and student demographics (factors known to affect outcomes). He then compared the results with recent state-level National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) scores, producing SAT score trends from 1972 to present day.
What did he find?
  • For all 50 states, the correlation between spending and academic performance was 0.075. Correlations are measured on a scale that reaches from 0 to 1 -- anything below 0.3 or 0.4 is considered a very weak correlation, and the closer the figure is to 1, the higher the correlation.
  • A correlation of 0.075 suggests that there is absolutely no link between education spending and student performance at the end of high school. While spending has exploded, performance has stagnated or simply declined.
  • And the states that did see substantial spending declines over certain periods saw no declines in SAT scores.
In short -- academic performance and test scores across the 50 states appear to have no connection whatsoever with the amount of state education funding.

In nearly every other field in the United States, productivity has risen between 1970 and present day, especially as a result of new technologies. It is time to ask what in our approach to education is preventing it from demonstrating a similar level of success and growth.


Prosperity For Everyone : Poor Not Getting Poorer?

Being poor is a state of mind - usually you are poor only when others have said you were, before that you didn't know what being poor looked like because you were too busy fighting to get  to the next level of your expertise. Everyone that I know started with little or nothing of substance but never accepted that would rule the day.

Each day brought new opportunity to do the right thing which eventually would bring new rewards and prosperity. It was a given, we all believed it, never doubted. All it would take was time and focus on the goal.

Success is not determined by what you accumulated, but your meeting set goals that brings personal satisfaction of achievement bought with hard work.

This is called the American Dream - the ability to move from one level of prosperity to another just by understanding you have that right. All it will take is the dream and focused hard work, never giving up the struggle for excellence. You are only limited by your own power of will to succeed.

The Poor Are Not Getting Poorer
Source: Ronald Bailey, "Obama: Wrong About Income Inequality," Reason Magazine, April 2014.

March 26, 2014

The rich may be getting richer, but the poor are definitely not getting poorer. In fact, most Americans got richer over the last 35 years. President Obama likes to stress that income inequality has increased in the United States, but it is hardly "the defining challenge of our time," as he has called it, says Ronald Bailey, a science correspondent for Reason Magazine.
  • Brookings Institution economist Gary Burtless used data from a December 2013 Congressional Budget Office (CBO) study to show that from 1979 to 2010 (this was the last year with available data) the bottom quintile's after-tax income in constant dollars rose by 49 percent. For the second lowest, middle and fourth quintile, those incomes increased by a respective 37 percent, 36 percent and 45 percent.
  • Looking at the top quintile, Burtless found that their income increased by even more -- increasing 54 percent for those in the 90th percentile and below, and increasing 202 percent for those in the top 1 percent.
  • Because of this, the share of pre-tax income to the top quintile has increased from 43 percent to more than 50 percent.
President Obama has suggested that rising inequality limits income mobility, leaving Americans stuck at the bottom. This is not supported by data.
  • In fact, a study by the U.S. Treasury looked at income mobility from 1987 to 1996 and from 1996 to 2005.
  • Over half of taxpayers moved to a different income quintile during that time. And half of taxpayers who started in the bottom quintile moved to a higher income group by the end of each time period.
  • Notably, taxpayers in the top 1 percent in 1996 were more likely to drop to a lower income group by 2005. More than half of households in the top 1 percent in 2005 had not been there in 1996.
  • As for children, the study found that 27 percent of 35 to 40 year olds whose parents had been in the bottom quintile in 1987 were also there in 2007, with 10 percent having made it into the top quintile.
  • Thirty-nine percent of the children whose parents had been in the top quintile in 1987 were still there in 2007, and 9 percent had fallen to the bottom. Children, the report said, were more likely to change their income status than their parents were, especially if they had been in a lower quintile.
Inequality is not the defining challenge of our time. That distinction belongs to persistent joblessness and weak economic growth, perpetuated by administration policies.

School Success Mixed : Charter School Laws Graded

Competition, it appears, in education is the key to success including for the public schools. Forcing failing schools to understand they will be closed if they can not find ways to meet the competition is a winning strategy.  To support failure is not an option any longer, education is in crisis. Something must be done to turn this around or the next generation will lost.

Accepting the status quo is so last week - this week demands we all, private, charter, public school official and parents, come out from behind the barricades and take up the fight for better schools standing shoulder to shoulder. United we stand but divided we will fall - All other options have failed.

Charter School Report Card
Source: "2014 Charter School Law Rankings & Scorecard," Center for Education Reform, March 17, 2014.

March 25, 2014

More than half of state charter school laws are weak, according to a new report from the Center for Education Reform.

For the last 15 years, the Center has produced a report card -- not grading the schools themselves, but grading the state laws that encourage (or discourage) charter school operations. What gets a state a good grade?
  • Strong -- and permanent -- authorizing structures, equitable funding and autonomy for the states to operate and educate children without being constricted by regulations.
  • These rules must be codified in law, or else resources and charter flexibility are subject to political whim.
  • Even the states that earn an A are not perfect, and most charter laws are average, earning a C. Most discouragingly, with one or two exceptions, states have not substantially improved their policies since last year.
The report gives a numerical value to the four major charter law components that have the biggest impact on the creation and development of charters: multiple authorizers (does the school board authorize charters, or does the state allow independent authorizers to create and manage charter schools?), number of schools allowed (are the number of schools capped, and do those caps hinder the growth of the charter movement?), operations (how much independence do the schools have?), and equity (do charters receive the same amount of money for each student, and do they receive funding from the same streams as other public schools?). States also earn and lose points based on accountability and how well they implement the law.

How did the scores shake out?
  • Five states (District of Columbia, Minnesota, Indiana, Michigan and Arizona) earned an A, nine states a B, and 18 states a C. Eight states received Ds, and three states earned Fs (Virginia, Iowa and Kansas).
  • Mississippi boosted its score from an F last year up to a C this year by implementing new legislation that increased autonomy.
  • Only two other states improved their letter grades -- Arizona going up from a B to an A, and Wisconsin from a C to a B.

States Taxing Billions OUT of the State : More Blue then Brains

Elections have consequences! But when the voter can not see how their vote effects them in their daily lives, then they, the voter, must live or parish with the consequences of their ignorance and incompetence.

It can not be the burden of everyone else that find ways to solve problems to support a state that is inhabited with mentally incompetent people. If you are incapable of understanding a problem that is forcing you to live a life that is not of your choosing, then accept the results of that ignorance.

You voted over and over again not knowing, apparently, why you are being crushed by high taxes, you only know that you have always voted democrat no matter what has transpired in your life to make it miserable, or in your state that is headed for economic collapse.

High Tax States Losing Billions
Source: Rob Garver, "High Tax States Are Losing Billions," Fiscal Times, March 17, 2014.
March 25, 2014

New research reveals the billions of dollars that high-tax states are losing as taxpayers move elsewhere, says the Fiscal Times.

How Money Walks, a new book by Travis H. Brown, reveals that states with high income taxes saw large amounts of money move to low-tax states.
  • Looking at 18 years of data, from 1992 to 2010, Brown found that $68.1 billion in income moved from New York, $19 billion of it moving to Florida, which has no state income tax.
  • In fact, New York was a net wealth recipient from only one state: Michigan.
  • California's top tax rate is 12.3 percent, and it also saw a net $45.3 billion leave its state. The top recipients of the California cash were Nevada and Arizona. Nevada has no income tax and Arizona's top rate is only 4.45 percent.
  • All nine of the states with no income tax or that tax only interest and dividend income saw net inflows. The states that received the most? Florida ($95.6 billion), Arizona ($28.3 billion), North Carolina ($25.2 billion) and Texas ($24.9 billion).
Clearly, taxpayers are aware of the tax burdens in these states and are taking their money elsewhere.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Government Ban on Crude Oil Exports : A National Security Risk

Government ban on crude oil exports is nonsense given that most countries that import oil into this country hate us and use our money to try and kill as many of us as they can.

To open federal lands now and approve the XL pipeline would be in our best interest for national security, and send a message to Putin, 'we will not only bury you in debt, but drown you in a lake of crude oil'.

The Case for Crude Oil Exports
Source: Merrill Matthews, "The Case for Permitting Crude Oil Exports," Institute for Policy Innovation, March 2014.

March 25, 2014

The United States' energy policy banning crude oil exports makes no sense today, says Merrill Matthews, a resident scholar with the Institute for Policy Innovation.

Crude oil export restrictions have been in place since the 1970s when the United States suffered gasoline shortages, but with the U.S. oil and gas boom due to new innovations in drilling there is no need for those restrictions anymore. Allowing oil and gas exports would lower the price of energy, increase supply and improve U.S. security.
  • The global oil and gas supply is subject to short-term disruptions. And while those were up one-third in 2013, world prices did not see a major negative impact. Why? Because of increased U.S. production. The U.S. Energy Information Administration attributed the relatively stable global oil prices to rising crude production in the United States.
  • Many of the top oil and gas producers are not friendly to the United States, and they threaten cutting off their energy supply to try to gain influence over other countries' policies. If these threats emerge, the United States needs to be able to fill those gaps with its own oil and gas. Allowing exports would lead to more production and would stabilize not just supply, but price.
  • North Dakota is at the center of the oil and gas boom. Not coincidentally, its unemployment rate is 2.7 percent, compared to the national 6.6 percent rate. And as for growth, the state grew five times faster than the national average in 2012.
  • The federal government owns 28 percent of U.S. land, including 62 percent of Alaska and 47 percent of 11 Western states. Companies would be willing to drill there, but the Obama administration has delayed and denied drilling permits. While production on private lands has shot up, production on federal lands has fallen 23 percent since 2007.
  • States and the federal government have received billions in revenue thanks to oil and gas production. Texas alone received $8.8 billion in royalties and taxes from oil and gas in 2013. And in 2010, the federal government received $8.5 billion in federal income taxes from the energy industry. Opening federal land up to drilling would create a massive stream of revenue.
  • In 2013, crude oil imports declined by 16 percent, from $310 billion to $268 billion, reducing the U.S. trade deficit by $22 billion every month. If the export ban were removed entirely, the United States could be a net exporter of oil in just five to seven years.
  • On top of these economic benefits, the United States would no longer have to worry about upsetting foreign oil producers, and our allies could turn to us for oil if their oil supplies are threatened by foreigners.
Because of the export ban, the United States has spent the last four decades having to "make nice with certain politically repressive, oil-producing countries." It is time for the federal government to get rid of the ban and become an exporter of crude oil and natural gas.

ObamaCare 4 Year Anniversary : A Legacy of Democrat Failed Ideology

This cannot be rocket science - when a bill of the magnitude, attacking one sixth of the economic viability of the country, is passed with only democrats voting for it, it has to be a catastrophic failure, just as nearly every other bill that a majority of democrats have voted for turns out to be huge failures.

It's unwritten law of nature. If democrats are for something, it's sure to be a failure and destructive to the nation but will benefit the progressive democrat party.

A Costly Failed Experiment
Source: John C. Goodman, "A Costly Failed Experiment," Wall Street Journal, March 21, 2014.

March 25, 2014

Sunday marked the four-year anniversary of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), but the administration has little to show for it. We are far from the main goal of the law -- universal coverage -- and the Congressional Budget Office has confirmed that many of the uninsured targeted by the law will remain uninsured, says John Goodman, president and CEO of the National Center for Policy Analysis.

Try as he might to convince the public that ObamaCare is working, there are three problems that are not going to go away:
  • An impossible mandate: Per capita health care spending has been growing at twice the rate of income for the last four decades and yet ObamaCare restricts the growth of Medicare spending, Medicaid hospital spending and tax subsidies in the exchanges. Basically, as health care costs rise -- becoming more of a burden for the average family -- people will get less and less help from the government to pay for the insurance that the government insists they purchase.
  • Unworkable subsidies: Not only does ObamaCare treat similarly-situated people differently in arbitrary ways, but these disparities in treatment will have a negative impact on the economy. Businesses will realize that nearly everyone who earns less than the average wage will get a better deal from the federal exchange or Medicaid, while those earning above the average wage will get a better deal if insurance is provided at work. Higher-income workers will congregate in the firms that provide insurance, while low-income workers will do the opposite. This is not efficient. Firm size and compositions should be determined by economic factors, not by health insurance subsidies.
  • Perverse exchange incentives: Because insurers are required to charge the same premiums to everyone and accept all comers, they must overcharge the healthy and undercharge the sick. Because insurers only make a profit on healthy enrollees, the law gives them strong incentives to attract the healthy and avoid the sick -- creating a race to the bottom. In order to keep premiums as low as possible, insurers are offering very narrow networks because only some providers are willing to accept such low fees. These narrow networks often leave out the best doctors and hospitals.
What's the solution to this mess? Goodman says that getting rid of mandates, allowing people to choose their own insurance benefits and offering universal tax credits to everyone is a start, as well as making health savings accounts more accessible. All of the provisions in ObamaCare that encourage employers not to hire people or to reduce their workers' hours should go, as should the provisions that prevent employers from providing their employees with insurance that would travel with them from job to job.

ObamaCare Enrollment Figures : "Suspension of Disbelief" Required

As always, the information that is coming from the Obama administration on just who has actually signed up for ObamaCare and who has actually paid are two different topics entirely.

To understand why this is confusing is that the Obama administration really doesn't want anyone to know how many individuals have actually signed up as this would point to its failure to do what the progressive socialists said it would do, and not explaining just who has paid for the services that they supposedly have signed for is they don't know who has paid for the new policies, and apparently to the latest reports, neither do the insurance companies.

Bottom line is believe anything that come out of the Obama administration is to ones mental health and personal safety at risk. In those immortal words of our past Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton when speaking to general Petrous on the surge in Iraq, '"I must be willing to have a suspension of disbelief". And so it goes for Mr Obama.

Latest ObamaCare Enrollment Report
Source: Peter Suderman, "ObamaCare's Enrollment Target Slips Away, and Other Takeaways From Today's Enrollment Report," Reason Magazine, March 11, 2014.

March 14, 2014

It looks impossible for the Obama administration to meet its insurance sign-up goal, says Peter Suderman, editor at Reason Magazine.
  • Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius told NBC News in September that "success" for ObamaCare "would look like at least 7 million people signing up for coverage by the end of March," when open enrollment ends.
  • Unfortunately for Sebelius, only 4.2 million people signed up for health coverage at the end of February, according to the administration, and getting to 7 million looks nearly impossible.
Suderman highlights some of the big takeaways from the latest HHS report:
  • December had the highest number of sign-ups at 1.78 million. To get to its goal, the administration would need a 63 percent increase from that month to March.
  • Additionally, these figures are solely "sign-ups" (that is, people who have just picked a plan online), not actual completed enrollments. The number of people who have actually paid their premiums is much lower. Insurers are reporting that one fifth of individuals who sign up are not paying their first month's premium, and some insurers are seeing further attrition in the second month.
  • Young adults aren't signing up at increasing rates. At the end of December, 24 percent of those signing up were between the ages of 18 and 34. Today, that figure is at 25 percent.
  • Of the 4.2 million sign-ups, 868,936 are from California. The next-highest number of sign-ups come from Florida (442,087), followed by Texas (295,025) and New York (244,618).
  • Eighty-three percent of those who have picked plans qualify for federal subsidies.
  • Fifty-five percent of those signing up are women, indicating that the risk pools will contain people who are usually more expensive to insure.
Whether you're tracking "sign-ups" or actual enrollments, neither of those actually indicates whether the uninsured have insurance under this law because the administration is not tracking that data.

Voting the Party Line : Democrats Can't Do Otherwise

Why is it that the voters can not see the abject failure in this picture. Nancy Pelosi and ObamaCare are both losers, perhaps the biggest losers in history of this country. According the latest Rasmussen poll out yesterday, the general public still sees Obama as 48% positive. Are we doomed to destruction?

In the face of this catastrophic failure that is ObamaCare that nearly 70% of the public hates, Nancy Pelosi stands strong in support. ObamaCare passed with only democrat votes, not one single Republican or Conservative vote for it.

What this points out is that leading democrats mental capabilities to lead have to be suspect. We have to know that the democrats will always be party members before they are American citizens. Voting the party line is genetic. They can't do other wise.

It's who they are and always will be.