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Thursday, June 28, 2012

Conservative Californians, you belong in Florida!

The projected electoral map for 2012 is shown above. I've put a drop shadow on the battleground states which are shown in beige. If you click on the picture, it will enlarge to show you clearly where focus should be placed. Florida is key, just as it was in 2000. The 500 pound gorilla is of course California. If you're reading this blog and you live in California, it means you're probably living in the wrong place. We could really use your vote in Florida. It's just as warm and sunny in Florida as it is in California, plus―and this is a real big plus―there's no state income tax! Florida is business friendly. It's one of the right to work states where public sector unions haven't completely co-opted the government. Seriously, if you live in a blue state, and you want your vote to be worth something, you should definitely consider moving to one of these battleground states, like Florida.

This election looks to be a close run thing and the state leaders are hoping to avoid another voter debacle like they had in 2000. Florida is right now trying to purge its voter rolls of illegal alien and felon voter registrations. The U.S. Justice Department has―so far unsuccessfully―tried to block this purge.
U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle ruled there was nothing in federal voting laws that prevent the state from identifying ineligible voters even if it is close to the upcoming Aug. 14 election.

The U.S. Department of Justice filed a lawsuit earlier this month to halt the purge, saying federal voting laws barred the effort since it was within 90 days of a federal election. U.S. officials also said the list used by Florida had "critical imperfections, which lead to errors that harm and confuse voters."
The campaigns on both sides are aware how critical Florida's 29 electoral votes are, and also of how close that vote in Florida is going to be. Obama's strategy in Florida will be two-fold:
  1. Get out the vote: which means felons, Hispanics, and illegal alien votes.
  2. Scare the vote: which means telling old people that Romney is going to take away their Social Security, and "end Medicare as we know it." 
Naturally, because Obama owns the Department of Justice, he's going to have his boys appeal Judge Hinkle's ruling. Obama leads in polls among Hispanics; therefore he can't let a single voter be purged from the rolls in Florida, no matter how illegal that vote happens to be. The Justice Department's claim is that this is a vast right-wing conspiracy in Florida to disenfranchise minority voters. Romney has definitely got his work cut-out for him here, because just like in 2000, if he wins by a close margin, law-suits will be filed by the bucketful, and this voter purge close before the election will only further complicate the already contentious issue. We can expect the appeals to continue concerning this issue, probably all the way to the Supreme Court.

Here's a funny perspective. One man stands at the center of this national fulcrum. We are balanced on a razor's edge. In the final analysis, there is only one vote they may end up deciding who our next president will be: Chief Justice John Roberts of the Supreme Court. Will he move left or right? I suspect today's ruling on Obama Care will provide an indicator.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Is healthcare a basic human right?

The question that faces the Supreme Court is this: Does Congress have the power to force people to engage in commerce? I know the answer to that and I hope the Supreme Court does as well, but that's not the question I want to explore today. I want to answer this question: Is healthcare a basic human right, or is it a privilege―something that should be earned? I found an article on New York magazine's web page that asks that question, and tells us the opinion of Jonathan Chait, the author of: Health Care as a Privilege: What the GOP Won't Admit
As we wait for a Supreme Court ruling on the Affordable Care Act this week, there is one urgent, overriding moral question at the heart of the health care fight. Paradoxically, and maddeningly, there has not been any open moral debate over it. That question is whether access to basic medical care ought to be considered a right or something that is earned.
I'm aware that many people think healthcare is a right. We have a right to "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness," yet how can we stay alive, much less be happy when we're ill, yet cannot receive healthcare unless we're one of those fortunate ones with health insurance? I'll add to that argument this paradoxical and maddening contradiction: How can we retain the liberty to pursue happiness, when the state enslaves us? Yes, Jonathan Chait, paradoxically and maddeningly, there has not been any open moral debate over whether slavery is moral and good if it turns out that it benefits society in some measure. Is slavery moral? Do the ends justify the means? Whether I am owned by an individual or by the collective, am I any less a slave?

This then is the existential question which defines whether we are now anymore a republic of free people, or whether we are now a socialist collective where the needs of the many so outweigh the needs of the few, that the many are thereby justified in enslaving the few.

The word: maddening is a good word to describe the way I feel when debating most liberals. It is maddening because liberals refuse to accept that goods and services which are provided by the state are not free. When for instance they talk about free contraceptives, they can't grasp that it's far from free. All of us paying taxes, all of us paying insurance premiums, have to pay for these so-called "free" products.
A man will watch the tumor in his leg grow to the size of a melon, and his wife will sew special pants to fit the growing bulge, because he has no insurance. A woman will hobble around for four years on an untreated broken ankle she can’t have repaired. People will line up in their cars and spend the night in a parking lot queuing for a rare free health clinic.

Maybe these stories sound like cheap emotional manipulation. They are actually a clarifying tool to cut through the rhetorical fog surrounding the health care debate and define the question in the most precise terms.
Cheap emotional manipulation...well if the shoe fits. Look here, Johnnyboy, it's unfortunate that some guy has a tumor he can't afford to get treated. It's also very unfortunate that a lady's broken ankle hasn't healed in four years. If you have the wherewithal to pay for the treatment of the two sad individuals you just tried to emotionally manipulate the American people with, then I suggest you get out your checkbook Jonathan! You have the savings in your bank account to pay for their treatment, I bet. If you don't you could still donate your time, your energy and even your forum as a writer for New York Magazine to solicit donations for these two worthy charities: Elephant Man Redux, and The Incredible Hobbling Woman.

Jonathan, if you solve these problems the way free people should solve these problems, by convincing others that they should volunteer their time or money to solve them, then you have not enslaved anyone. The volunteer donating his time and money gives of his own free will, and maybe this makes him feel good about himself, and he's happy. The healthcare problems are treated and that makes both the charity giver and the victims of the illness happy. Neither one was forced to do something that they otherwise would not have done.

That is the way free enterprise works. Both parties must be satisfied before a transaction is able to be concluded in the free market. If either party is not satisfied, the transaction cannot continue. However, when the state takes money and/or time from its citizens by force to solve these problems, then the state has enslaved its citizens. In socialist collectives, one party of the negotiation is not satisfied, but the state forces the unsatisfied party to nevertheless agree to the one-sided transaction. Socialism is the politics of slavery. And Obamacare is a conspicuously lengthy span on this slowly evolving bridge―under construction now for about sixty years―this bridge towards socialism...this bridge to nowhere.

Friday, June 22, 2012

When pride turns to guilt. If only I had a do-over.

I was a victim of bullying. It seems to be the topic these days. I was a military brat. To top it off, my mom divorced my dad when I was seven. I was living in New Mexico with my grandmother when they go divorced, because my Dad was in Korea, while my mom was attending the Medical College of Georgia. Our family didn't have enough money for babysitters and daycare to allow my late-studying mother to parent me and my brother while my dad was over-seas.

Thus, I spent a year in New Mexico with my "New Mexico Grandmother" while by brother did the same with his "Tennessee Grandmother." Dad has theories about why my mom wanted a divorce but my opinion is that his career just wasn't complimentary to hers. She wanted a stable life in one location and an Army officer was going to travel. So she divorced him. They both got joint custody. I spent one year living with dad, and the next living with mom. My brother went the opposite direction that I did.

Every year it was a new school, new teachers, and lost friends. The life of a military brat isn't easy, and that's especially true when you're bouncing back and forth between two sets of parents.

I guess I'm trying to excuse myself a little bit here. I didn't have the best life, but comparatively, it certainly wasn't the worst. Anyway, like I was saying I was the victim of bullying quite a bit. New schools new bullies. Same taunts, same challenges, same story. I took it, because I was small, not very muscular, not very aggressive, insecure...scared, in short terrified. I remember most how I didn't want to lose any teeth. I'd see people―on television and in movies fighting and casually spitting out teeth like it was fun, and then I'd see these bums with missing teeth and that would just horrify me. I looked at a fight situation as just an opportunity to lose some teeth. So I always backed down. I took the verbal abuse and the taunting at the bus stop and I just walked away. I walked away listening to the jeers of the laughing crowd. I'm still trying to excuse myself I guess.

Yes ... you guessed it. One day when I was twelve, I had finally had enough. Gordo had been throwing rocks at me while I walked home from the bus stop. He hit me in the head with one and something happened. It was like one of those Looney Toons cartoons, where the guy gets so mad he turns completely red from head to toe, and steam shoots out of his ears. That was me. Gordo and I had a fight that day. I won, but in winning I lost.

The next day I was called to the school office. Police were there and I was going to go to jail. Gordo was a hemophiliac and I had nearly killed him. I explained that Gordo started it. Gordo had thrown the first punch. They told me Gordo had a different story. Luckily for me, during the course of police questioning Gordo finally admitted that it was he who'd thrown the first punch. So I was off the hook. I felt triumphant. The kids respected me. I had stood up for myself. And I wasn't even in trouble. "Win Win" right?

I look back on those events thirty-five years ago, and I'm no-longer filled with triumph. No, I'm not so proud today. I think about Gordo from time-to-time. He was almost certainly a victim of the AIDS epidemic which decimated the innocent population suffering from Hemophilia.

I write this confession now because I understand Gordo is probably dead. I never even knew his real name, just Gordo. I regret that many thousands of hemophiliacs all died off in the 80s and 90s. I feel guilty about Gordo's loss of status at that bus-stop. I feel guilty that because of me he had to go to the hospital. I feel guilty because I never tried to understand who he was. I feel a little guilty because he's probably dead due to contraction of AIDS. I understand that this was not my fault. It was due to the refusal of the homosexual male population to just admit that it was their own promiscuous sexual lifestyles that were spreading the disease far and wide, and I wonder if any of them ever felt guilty, later?

I admit I never liked Gordo, but if I had a do-over... I guess I would have just kept walking home that day, sore-head, angry, not so scared anymore though.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

"What if I want fat people?" He asks.

Nobody's asking "YOU" to make people thinner. But the goal of a more fit populace is unarguably a laudable one. Consider:
  1. Fat people drive up the price of gasoline, because they're not going to wedge their porcine derrieres into a Honda Civic. No, no! They all drive roomy SUVs, and then weigh down the already oversize vehicle with their own monstrous carcass! Because they use so much gas they increase demand. The laws of supply and demand therefore show a concomitant increase in the price of gasoline.
  2. Fat people increase everyone's healthcare costs. Most people are insured through their employer. The cost of the insurance is calculated by all of the people in the group. If you have fat people in your group, they have more health problems (heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, joint problems, etc.) and therefore the cost of your plan even though you are fit and healthy nevertheless goes up.
  3. Fat people increase the cost of buffets. Nuff said.
  4. Fat people screw handicapped people over by using up all the motorized shopping carts. I don't think that's fair. Get out and walk; you could really use a little exercise it looks like to me!
  5. Fat people never put their shopping carts back into the shopping cart corral. There's always several prime parking spots being blocked by stray carts. This is just selfish and lazy. Oh wait I just described what we're talking about didn't I?
  6. Fat people cause higher airline ticket prices. This is related to the estimated fuel costs for the flights, as well as the fewer seats available, required by the necessary larger seat size.
  7. Fat people cause slower service at restaurants because the waiters are so busy taking bread and soda refills to certain tables...iykwimaityd.
  8. If you want to know why movie theaters are so cold that you have to wear a coat, yep, fat people need more air-conditioning. This is a science fact by the way. It's related to the lower surface area as a proportion of total mass.
  9. Fat people absolutely ruin the beauty of a summer beach view. Scantily clad beauties and one water buffalo. Uggh!
  10. Increased wait time in the drive-through. It's not like they're going to actually "walk" inside to order four big-macs each with extra special sauce, supersize fries with no salt, and an extra-large diet coke...oh yeah, and some onion rings...and an apple pie.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Combatting Obesity Logically

My philosophy about staying fit is that food is more expensive than most people think. I've realized that I pay for it twice, first with my wallet, then later with pounds of debt on my body requiring eventual miles on a treadmill to pay off. Since January 01, 2012, I've lost 40 pounds using this philosophy. That achievement was realized by Easter, and I've kept that weight off since. When I shop for groceries, my comparison shopping takes into account the true price of the product both in dollars and in calories. My diet will work for you too, if you are a conscientious cheapskate.

It's not cupsize that causes obesity, it's televisions and sofas, it's iPads and recliners. We have to get people off of their butts if we want thinner people. How is Bloomberg's idea going to accomplish that? I read today that Mayor Bloomberg's misguided plan to regulate soda cup sizes has spread to Massachusetts. This idea is foolish and will hurt the economy, especially if it spreads more widely than these two cities.
Taking a page out of Michael Bloomberg's playbook, one city in Massachusetts has announced its own plans to pursue a version of New York's controversial soft drink ban:

Cambridge Mayor Henrietta Davis proposed the idea at the City Council's meeting Monday night, saying she brought the idea forward because of the health risks posed by consuming too much soda.

Davis has ordered health officials to come up with recommendations on how such a ban might be implemented. For its part, New York's draft proposal prohibits most "food service establishments" from selling sugary sodas in quantities larger than 16 ounces, and some reports suggest Cambridge may toe the same line.
Cigarette smoking has declined considerably in the last decade. According to Mayor Bloomberg obesity is now killing more people than cigarettes, and he wants to do something about it. I agree, the government can do something about it, and they should. But piddling and petty little ordinances pertaining to container size are not the answer. If this idea spreads, how long before the government tries to control french-fry order size, candy-bar ounces, and burger bulk?

Just like we did with smokers, we start by hitting fatty in his wallet. Unlike tobacco, it's not fair to tax food directly. Everyone requires food, and trying to cherrypick which foods to tax by evaluating fat or sugar will just result in less satisfying products and higher costs for everyone. If you're fit and in shape and you want to enjoy a chocolate milk-shake, why should you have to pay extra for a little decadence? Similarly regulating container sizes will also result in higher prices and reduced satisfaction.

I think the fairest way the government can intervene in this area, is to put a tax burden squarely on those who are obese. We do this by elimination of tax-credits. Parents of obese children should not be allowed to claim the child tax credit if their child is obese. Implementing this measure would be fairly simple to do. Parents already have to get their kids checked out by a physician in the school required yearly physical, so why not attach a form to the tax return certifying that the child we're claiming is not obese?

All the extra money reaped from this measure could be further leveraged against obesity by subsidizing insurance companies to allow them to slash premiums for those individuals who're not overweight. Fit individuals would receive reduced insurance premiums, and people who allow junior to stuff himself would have to pay for it, twice.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

MSM waxes nostalgic over lost power to control Americans

Lost in the chatter about whether President Obama will win a second term in November is an even bigger — and perhaps even more important — question: Is it possible for a president — any president — to succeed in the modern world of politics?

Consider this: We are in the midst of more than a decade-long streak of pessimism about the state of the country, partisanship is at all-time highs and the media have splintered — Twitter, blogs, Facebook and so on and so forth — in a thousand directions all at once. — Chris Cillizza
Chris Cillizza, you go on at some length about the unparalleled partisanship which has divided the country like never before. You take this fact and make of it an excuse. You want to know why the country is divided like never before? Because you overplayed your hand in 2008. You mainstream media wizards of oz are still telling America to ignore the man behind the curtain, meanwhile we're standing here staring at you. We see you for what you are. The big channels like ABC NBC CBS, PBS, CNN, we trusted you for decades to tell us the unvarnished facts. And for decades you did so, albeit with a subtle spin.

In 2008 however you had your jumping the shark moment, and many people―people like me―had finally had enough. From a quiet man who liked to read and see movies, you created an enemy―an enemy who likes to write. I'm looking at you, Chris. I'm looking at what you say, at the way you say it, and I'm interpreting what it is that you want me to believe, and I'm doing so with the cynical distrust that you―and those like you―taught me, four years ago.

Why is it so hard for the President? Maybe it's because you―the MSM―promised us a hero, a legend, a god come down from mount Olympus, but what we got instead was a narcissist, much too proud of himself and certain of his own invincibility and omniscience to ever listen to the advice of those so much wiser than he.
News is being made — and covered — literally every minute of the day across the world and, as president, Obama is forced to read and react to virtually all of it. (One advantage for former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney in the presidential election: As a challenger candidate, he can pick and choose where he sounds off.)

Layer over the constant stream of news with the fact that Twitter, blogs and cable television turn every slip of the tongue, misstatements or gaffe into a mountain — “the private sector is doing fine” being a prime, recent example — and it’s clear that the idea that the president can drive the hourly, daily or weekly message of his choosing feels outdated. The bully pulpit may still exist, but it’s far less bully than it once was.

That’s especially true not only because the fracturing of the media makes it hard to push a clear message but also because roughly half of the American public doesn’t want to hear the message (whatever it is) because it is of the other party.
First of all, Mitt Romney doesn't have Air Force One and a compliant mainstream media. So, the advantage is clearly on Obama's side. Second, you are apparently bemoaning the fact that the mainstream media no longer holds a monopoly on the national narrative, and trying to make of this fact another excuse for the SCoaMF in Chief. I'll rephrase your argument in the way that best expresses the way I interpret it with my new found cynicism:
Obama has only failed because we―the mainstream media―could no longer keep people from learning the truth about what a miserable failure he has been. If you stupid Americans didn't know about his litany of failures then he wouldn't be a failure. See how it's supposed to work? The truth is not supposed to be what it actually is, it's supposed to be what we decide to tell you it is.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Toto, I have a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore.

The alarm clock buzzes and I wake instantly, asking the question: "Who am I?" I've always been the kind of person who's immediately alert and awake from the moment I open my eyes. I'll never understand people like my wife or my children, who must be nursed along and gently chided into wakefulness lest they lash out in some furious: Just let me wake up! tantrum. I sometimes think I awaken like this because of the memory of a long ago event during naptime at the daycare I attended. I witnessed a little girl wake up, lean over and―in my recollection intentionally―vomit into a little boy's open mouth. To this day I can still see him sitting up screaming, the victim of a nightmare from which no further awakening was possible.

I don't belong here. When I say that, it's more of a feeling than anything I can point out as specific evidence. I honestly feel like I was born in some other universe. How I arrived at this one is a mystery, although there are two months of my life missing. I was a passenger in a car wreck twenty-five years ago. Family and friends agree, as do news articles of that period, that my brother and I, along with two friends, were involved in a nearly fatal collision. I don't remember several weeks in critical condition, only the painful weeks afterwards. I don't remember the crash either.

More recently, twelve years ago, I woke up in a hospital one day and my father was there to tell me that I'd had an intracranial bleed. He told me it had affected my memory, and that I'd already been in the hospital for more than a month. I don't remember it.

After this more recent loss of another month of my life, I started asking this one strange question all the time: "Who am I?" I ask because, I just don't feel like myself. There is something different and I don't know whether that difference is me or everything else. Twelve years later I'm still asking: "Who am I?"

History is different. When I went to school, I learned that our founding fathers were wise, good, and patriotic. George Washington was a man who would not tell a lie. Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, Patrick Henry, an assorted list of heroes who helped build the most amazing and incredible nation in history, were all of them, wise, good, patriotic. None of them had feet of clay when I learned about them in history class.

In this subtly different universe, classrooms teach a different story. It's no longer a tale of wisdom, goodness, and courage. Far from it, nowadays it's a tale of cynicism, twisted evilness, debauchery, and self-centeredness. The founding fathers had their good points, but they're not looked upon as people worthy of emulation.

I remember learning in school that the neutrino was the only thing that was faster than light. Lately, that seems to have changed. In fact―in this universe―they've only recently even begun asking the question, and here I thought the science was settled thirty years ago. It turns out that Pluto isn't a planet. Apparently, there's no such thing as a brontosaurus either. Also, some guy from Norway discovered America? History is changing faster than they can write new books!

Our coach used to ask the team to bow their heads while he led prayers. He did this before every game. This was a public school and a public school teacher leading this prayer, mind you. Countless times I listened as teachers and administrators in auditoriums or classrooms, invoked God or led prayers to bless some pursuit, some person, some event, or some team. But in this universe school administrators ban patriotic songs like Lee Greenwood's Proud to be an American. Apparently because they're too patriotic and God, blessing the USA might offend illegal immigrants or people from other cultures.

You might be thinking that either I'm insane, or question whether I'm just being intentionally enigmatic. The one thing you don't believe is that I really am from some other universe. You don't believe in parallel universes. That's just science-fiction mumbo-jumbo; am I right?
Neutrons may be traveling from our universe into parallel worlds and back again, according to a new theory that explains a rather odd phenomenon.

Experiments at ultra-low temperatures carried out by Anatoly Serebrov at the Institut Laue-Langevin in France have revealed a phenomenon known as neutron loss, whereby neutrons appear to vanish for short periods.

Now, theoretical physicists Zurab Berezhiani and Fabrizio Nesti of Italy's University of l'Aquila, Italy, have reanalyzed the experimental data and come up with a possible explanation.

They've shown that the loss rate of very slow free neutrons appears to depend on the direction and strength of the magnetic field applied, an anomaly that can't be explained by known physics.

What could explain this finding, though, is a hypothetical parallel world consisting of 'mirror particles'. Each neutron would have the ability to transition into its invisible mirror twin and back, oscillating from one parallel universe to the other.
Now that I know it's possible that there are parallel universes, I just have to figure out how to get back to the one I grew up in, where patriotism was actually a virtue instead of being looked upon with distrust and even outright scorn. I want to go back to the universe where freedom of religion means you are allowed to pray, not forbidden from praying. I want to live where Americans―including those in kindergarten―are proud to be Americans.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Blue Privilege

The stereotype pictured above, while humorous, it indicative of a serious problem which I believe needs to be addressed. It's basically low-level corruption. A public official who receives goods or services for free, purely by virtue of their position in society, is essentially accepting bribery. These cops at this donut shop provide a kind of low-cost insurance that this particular donut shop is unlikely to be victimized by an armed robber.

Unfortunately, this donut shop―because it donates donuts and free coffee to police―also makes it more likely that some other store not offering free products to police, will be the victim instead. Because the police are not out randomly patrolling, but congregating at one particular locale, coverage is not equivalently distributed throughout the community.

This idea of privilege through police profession has now begun to be taken to extremes. I keep seeing these vanity plates on cars that are "Fraternal Order of Police." There's only one reason for a tag like that. It's a license to speed. Debate me however you will, I know of only one reason for an advertisement on your car that you are an off-duty cop.

It's not just donut shops though. Almost every fast-food chain in the country, along with the greasy spoons, diners, truck stops, etc., have a policy of offering free goodies to police in uniform. Maybe you think this is a harmless benefit that hurts no-one. Consider however that this privilege of tribute by position is a caste system. It's a lord and peasant system. It's completely un-American. We expect to be treated equally, and when we see some people treated more deferentially because of their uniform, it irks us. Why don't I get free coffee, donuts, pizza, burgers, etc?

Giving and accepting bribery is a corruption of the system as it's supposed to work, and it should be outlawed, pure and simple. If you as a business owner and citizen want to donate money, goods, or services to the police, you should be allowed to, but it should be done through proper channels that don't advance your own desire for security through unfair police presence at your shop.

When you represent the law, enforce the law, and are made responsible for seeing that everyone obeys the laws of the land, you can't be above the law yourself. Americans hate hypocrisy above all other things. What scene conveys hypocrisy more compellingly than watching a police car turn on its lights to go through a red light, then turn them off on the other side?

Accepting "payments in kind" as the IRS terms them, is a stepping stone path that inevitably leads to increased corruption. If you'll take free pizza, you'll take free movie tickets. When you start doing favors in return, like not giving a ticket to the donut shop owner, then you've advanced far along that dark path. From there, petty larceny and shaking down pushers for the day's take doesn't seem too far-fetched. An honest cop would insist on paying for those donuts.

It's probably a coincidence that "donate" sounds like the verbification of donut.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Empirical study proves Republicans are more honest than Democrats

About 68 percent of the more than 1,000 adults surveyed nationwide said Bush, who left office in January 2009, deserves a "moderate amount" or a "great deal" of the blame for the U.S. economic woes compared to 52 percent who pointed to his successor Obama, the poll found.

Poll respondents who identified themselves as Republicans were split, with 49 percent saying Bush deserved a moderate amount or great deal of the blame while 51 percent said Bush deserved not much of the blame or none at all. They expressed even more blame for Obama, however, with 83 percent holding him largely responsible for the state of the economy, the poll found.

Among Democrats, 90 percent blamed Bush for the weak economy and only 19 percent said Obama should carry much of the blame, according to the poll, conducted by telephone June 7 to 10.

"Republicans, in short, are significantly more willing to blame their most recent Republican president than are Democrats willing to blame Obama," Gallup said.
The mainstream media is touting this study as proof that two-thirds of Americans blame Bush for the economy, but of course this cynically engineered survey only proves one thing: Democrats are dishonest! Republicans put the blame on both Bush and Obama, both of whom were acting presidents while the economy suffered. But interestingly enough, the Democrats are completely unwilling to assign any blame to Obama who has been president during almost this entire recession.

This Gallop poll is the most conspicuously revealing evidence of the inherent dishonesty of Democrats that I've ever seen. Only 19% of Democrats were willing to place any blame on Obama, while nearly half of Republicans were willing to blame Bush. This is further proof that it's completely impossible to compromise with Democrats. They hold completely radical positions and categorically refuse to see the conservative's side of the argument, ever.

There were two main causes of the Great Recession: the housing bubble and the minimum wage increase. Bush increased the minimum wage and was president while the housing bubble expanded hugely. The deregulation of the banking industry was accomplished by the Gramm–Leach–Bliley Act. This act which repealed part of the Glass–Steagall Act of 1933, allowed the housing bubble to occur. The Gramm-Leach-Bliley bill was signed into law by President Clinton. The subsequent implosion of that housing bubble was a major contributor to this recession we're still suffering through.

George W. Bush was President when the housing bubble burst; he does share in the blame, but then so does Clinton. The fact that Clinton wasn't included in this Gallop Poll along with Bush and Obama is evidence of widespread ignorance. The causes of this ignorance are two-fold:
  1. Complacency by non-curious Americans who've never bothered to discover the underlying causes of the recession which were of course the minimum wage increase and the housing bubble made possible by the Gramm-Leach-Bliley act.
  2. Conspiracy by the main stream media to always ask the wrong questions. Conspiracy by the media to ignore history, to re-bury the truth wherever they accidentally uncover it, and to change the subject whenever they get the chance. When a Republican has done something wrong the media becomes obsessive compulsive in examining every facet of the error, under a microscope if need be. However, when a Democrat is to blame they suddenly acquire attention deficit disorder. The Media is complicit in your ignorance and they have no shame about this, because they believe, as did Stalin, as did Pol Pot, as did Castro, that the ends justify the means.
Meanwhile, everything Obama has done has failed. Obama relied on failed Keynesian economic theory and attempted to just spend our way out of this recession. The quantitative easing and the stimulus have only devalued the dollar and put us horribly deeper in debt. There is only one way out of a recession, and that is by restoring confidence: confidence in the American economy, confidence in American industry, confidence in America's fiscal soundness and her enduring and bright future.

Well, nobody is very confident these days. We haven't had that feeling since 2008. Entrepreneurs and business people know how bad this national debt problem really is. Business people are savvy when it comes to indicators like credit rating and outstanding debt. They know how to read a ledger sheet. They can evaluate the soundness of an enterprise, including the American enterprise, and when they look at America's financial picture...they're just not buying. Until we get our financial house in order, businesses are not going to expand or hire additional staff. Entrepreneurs not going to risk their cash; they're going to sit on the sidelines until they see a genuine attempt to―at long last―balance the American budget.

Unfortunately conservatives are caught-up in a catch-22 situation. Balancing the budget will require compromise. However, as we've already seen, it's impossible to compromise with the Democrats because they refuse to budge a single inch from their radical statist positions.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

A Fair Share Fairy Tale

Once Upon A Time: Three pioneer settlers journeyed to rugged and wild Baja California Territory. They brought with them everything they'd need to farm and raise cattle. They each staked off the land they planned to claim and farm. Some they used to grow crops and the rest was kept as grassland for their cattle to graze upon.

This story should sound familiar. It's essentially how the west was tamed, one, two, and three settlers at a time. These settlers had free spirits and a desire to breathe air untainted by the stink that great multitudes of people always seem to create. These old-time settlers had equality of opportunity. They certainly did not have equality of outcome however. This is the American Dream, not the American Promise.

Two of them worked hard and were well on their way to harvesting a generous bounty, when ill-fortune struck one of the two. This diligent hard working farmer lost most of his crop when lightning set fire to some nearby scrub. The final pioneer let his cattle range free. He didn't build fences. He didn't till soil. He didn't plant seed. He just sat in front of his fire drinking and playing his shiny new guitar.

Now, as you might expect, this being a fairy-tale and all, when harvest-time was done they each compared what they had accomplished. The first farmer named Jacob bragged: "I done harvested pert near a hunnert bushels of rye, and fifty of the wheat, and two acres of hops. I also traded old-man-Stuckey a new calf for thirty good barrels and by the spring I 'spect to have them thirty barrels full of fine beer to sell to the waggun trains acoming through."

The second farmer named Bernie smiled glumly. "You did a dang good job yer first season, Jacob. I was doing pretty good ma-self, but then that dern fire burnt up mosta the corn. I saved some, and my potatoes did just fine. I've still got my full head of cattle, and so I traded Old-Man-Stuckey two young calves for the new seed I'm agonna need next spring."

The last farmer named Michael laughed heartily at the two other fellows. "You two make me laugh! Jes' a-workin' yer fingers to the bones and for what? Bernie you watered them crops with ahunnert gallons of yer own sweat and then watched it all go up in flames. And Jacob, what are you gonna do when them injuns come and drink up all that fancy beer? As for me, I'm gonna sit by my fire and sing me some sad sad old songs."

Now friends, in your traditional three-little-pigs style fairy tale, we all know what happens to the improvident lazy pigs. But this particular tale I'm telling here is a "Fair Share" fairy tale. So we need a big old outside force of some kind to come in and shake everything up―you know, sort of spread the wealth around a little bit. This could be like a genie from a bottle, or maybe a sorcerer, but I'm keeping it real...IYKWIMAITYD

The three pioneers were surprised one day when they were each visited in turn by the town committee of Three-Forks Junction. This was the name of the new town that the pioneers each discovered they were now living in. Big doings in town they were told. A mayoral election would be held and they'd be expected to vote. The three went to town to learn more.

They listened to the stump speeches of the two candidates. Benny Oberon promised hope and change. He said that the wealthy should pay their fair share towards the upkeep of the town, towards schools for the town, towards roads and infrastructure, and help for the poor and the elderly. The other candidate a New-Englander named Wilber or something was promising that he'd mostly leave the citizens alone and let them pursue happiness as he knew they could.

The three friends talked it over and as you might expect, Jacob wanted to vote for Wilber and Michael wanted to vote for Oberon. They each looked expectantly at Bernie...

Michael asked: "Which candidate will do the most to help you?" Jacob asked: "Which candidate will least hinder your success?"

Bernie will have to answer these questions honestly, if he wants to take part in the American Dream. He realized that the answer to these questions determines not only the name of the new Mayor, but also the fate of this town. Will he live there happily-ever-after, or are the people of the town doomed to grinding poverty and the ignominious ghost-town ending so common in these parts? What does a "fair share?" even mean?

In the end, don't all three of these questions essentially ask the same question three different ways, and don't they each have essentially the same answer if you stand back and answer them honestly?

Monday, June 11, 2012

Raising the minimum wage in this economy...

Is it evil or just stupid? Huffington Post touts a survey that they claim proves most Americans favor the House bill that would increase the minimum wage to ten dollars per hour, and would forever after tie the minimum wage to inflation rates.
More than two-thirds of Americans say lawmakers should raise the national minimum wage to $10 per hour from its current $7.25, a survey from the Public Religion Research Institute finds. While Democrats were more likely to support a minimum wage boost, more than half of Republican respondents said they would like to see the minimum wage go up, according to the survey.
For those who are ignorant, allow me to briefly explain how a private sector business continues to stay in business...It brings in more dollars in sales than it spends in resources and labor costs. What most people don't understand is that the wage a worker receives is only a part of what he costs his employer. The additional costs run from twenty to as much as forty percent more for the related contributions, services, insurances, and fees required by the state.

For example, there is a burden on the employer to "match" the employee’s Social Security and Medicare "contributions." That amount comes to 7.65% of the total payroll. Additionally, employers must pay for workers compensation insurance. That's an additional 1.5% to 2% of total payroll. Employers must also pay for unemployment insurance which differs from state to state. It's at least 1.5% and in some locations and industries can run as high as 7%. When they tack on liability insurance and benefits like employer contributions towards employee health insurance, 401k and the like, it's not hard to see that at minimum employers pay 20% more for their employee's work than just in wages.

These costs are tied directly to wages, but there are of course many other expenses that an employer must also pay that tie directly into the price they charge for the good or service that they sell. These include taxes, rent, mortgages, transportation, distribution, utilities, business licensing, and assorted other fees. Many businesses employ ancillary staff. These include management, Information technology, and accounting professionals. If a company doesn't directly employ workers in these areas then they're outsourcing. Either way the business is paying to have work performed which does not directly generate income. These related costs, even though not specifically tied to minimum wage increases, will nevertheless also be increased by a similar amount.

It doesn't take a genius to understand that if you raise the minimum wage, three very negative consequences result. The first is unemployment, the second is inflation, and the third is an increase in America's overall trade deficit as jobs are shipped overseas.

The minimum wage is now at $7.25 per hour. This means that an employer's overall cost per hour is at least $8.70 once all Federal, state, and local obligations are factored in. At $10.00 per hour, the actual cost will jump up to $12.00 per hour. Employers will reduce staffing in an attempt to cut costs, and of course they will raise prices on what they sell.

Employers understand this, as do those in business administration. When you raise the minimum wage, those making more than minimum wage also want a concomitant increase as well. Unions love minimum wage increases, because they've long ago tied all member wages to the minimum wage. So when we increase the minimum wage by 38%, employers have to give their twenty-dollar per hour unionized steel-mill worker a $7.60 raise to $27.60 per hour. At some point it is impossible for the steel mill to sell its products at a competitive rate to what is being shipped in from China, and realizing that if they can't beat them, they can always join them, another steel mill simply moves to China. This results in even more unemployment, and another huge increase in America's trade deficit.

What benefit have we gained by an increase in the minimum wage? From the very rich to the very poor, everyone will have the unpleasant experience of watching the price of everything they buy jump by more than 38%. The labor force participation rate tells us what percentage of the population that is of working age and either working or looking for work. The unemployment rate is 8.2% Subtracting the unemployed from the labor participation rate of 63.8% gives us the figure actually working: 55.6%

The last time the minimum wage was increased was in 2007. In 2007 the Labor Participation Rate was 66%. Today it's at 63.8% The Unemployment Rate was 4.7%, and today it's at 8.2% In 2007 61% of working age adults were working. Today there are only 55.6% We seem to have permanently lost over five percent of our work force. If the results of this new increase are similar to the 9% reduction since 2008, then we can expect to see further reductions in America's work force. 47% of the half who're still working will pay taxes to a government that will owe 17 trillion when this new increase kicks in. Fewer workers, less tax revenue, more people on unemployment, more public debt. Stick a fork in it honey, I think this goose is cooked.

For those people who are aware of these subsequent negative consequences and yet still in favor of this minimum wage increase, I can only infer that they are evil. They will gain the benefit of a vote from a moron by it and don't seem to care that the overall standard of living―already drastically reduced for middleclass and poor during this never-ending recession―will be reduced even further.

That's quite a trade! Democrats want to lower America's standard of living and give the Chinese a slew of new jobs, and in return they get another term of office living high-on-the-hog in Washington DC.

Great deal for DC Democrats; terrible deal for America.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Another nail tapped into the AGW coffin.

Phytoplankton, are the base of the marine food chain, but were thought to grow in the Arctic Ocean only after sea ice had retreated for the summer. Scientists now think that the thinning Arctic ice is allowing sunlight to reach the waters under the sea ice, allowing the plants to bloom.

"If someone had asked me before the expedition whether we would see under-ice blooms, I would have told them it was impossible," says Kevin Arrigo of Stanford University.

The blooms extended an astonishing 72 miles into the ice pack. They were extremely active, doubling in number more than once a day - more than three times faster than blooms in open waters. Researchers estimate that phytoplankton production under the ice in parts of the Arctic could be up to 10 times higher than in the nearby open ocean.

And the discovery could be good news for the planet, as fast-growing phytoplankton consume large amounts of carbon dioxide.
This is yet another example of our marvelous self-regulating ecosphere. When the animal kingdom uses up too much oxygen, it simply stimulates the plant kingdom to grow until balance is regained. Pretty simple when you think about it.

It does however present a few questions. For instance, when―if ever―will the AGW crowd finally stop jetting around the world to lavish vacation getaways with luxurious accommodations, all at taxpayer expense? AGW is dead, embalmed, encoffined, and as yet still unburied. This is more ghastly than the way James Brown was left unburied for months while relatives fought over possession of the body. Another question that's got my leg all a-tingle is wondering what new raison d'être will the left dream up next to allow them to spend all my money?

I can picture Al Gore now, furiously dissenting with his detractors, like some ancient Roman Catholic Pope of bygone days when told the news that Christopher Columbus had brought back proof that the world was not in fact flat. This story is older than Gore. It's older than George Washington. It's older than Jesus or the Mayans. The end of the world story goes back to prehistoric times. It's a story told in Genesis, the same book that describes the creation of the universe.

Philosophically, I understand this need for some hypothetical end of the world. Every story needs an ending. Prophets have been predicting "The End," for thousands of years. From Noah to Harold Camping this story has a really long history.

No end-of-the-world hysteria has ever been as successful as Anthropogenic Global Warming, though. Not even close. These phony prophets always have a few followers, but mostly they're ignored and considered to be complete lunatics. If Harold Camping's followers had been PhDs, and if he'd been less specific about an actual date, who knows how many people would have started believing him?

The success of this end-of-the-world story required the collusion of a lot of scientists. This provides a glimpse of what the next story will be, since it will have to be based on "science." Harold Camping was wrong about the date of end of the world. When confronted with that fact, he just invented a new date. Al Gore and crowd, when confronted with irrefutable proof that AGW is bogus, are not going to quietly go home. They're going to dream up a new man-caused apocalyptic scenario. I wonder what it will be... OMG we're using up all the dirt!

Predatory Checking

Pew's study found that many financial institutions are failing to clearly disclose the costs associated with overdraft protection and that the fees are still unnecessarily high, especially when so-called extended overdraft penalty fees kick in.

Overdraft penalty fees, which are charged the first time you overdraft your account, came in at a median of $35 at banks and $25 at credit unions, unchanged from the previous year's survey, Pew found. But extended overdraft penalty fees, which are incurred if your account remains overdrawn for a certain period of time, have increased by 32% to a median fee of $33. About 99% of checking accounts charge an overdraft penalty fee, and 64% of those accounts also incur an extended overdraft fee -- up from 45% in 2010.
The only argument of those who feel that a bank's NSF fees are legitimate, is that overdrafts are irresponsible, and therefore they should be penalized, like speeders getting speeding tickets. If that is true, why do the banks get the penalty? If banks are allowed to assess fines, then why doesn't the state get that money? In no other case in any industry, can I find an example of a private sector industry that is allowed to essentially assess fines, and then just take them out of someones bank account, without involving police, prosecuter, judge, and perhaps even a jury.

It is in the interests of police to set up speeding traps, to lurk at stop signs, to lie in wait hoping for an infraction. This is their job; it's how they make money and without traffic citations, the police forces would be much smaller. Similarly banks would be in difficult financial straits without NSFs. So they lie in wait, lurking around that time of the month when the mortgage comes due. They hold transactions without clearing them for several days, and then they sort them in the order that will cost the customer the most. This is predatory and you know it!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

What is the ultimate goal of these liars?

If there is one skill that is uniquely human, it's deceit. As I drove to work this morning, Drake and Zeke, two of the most left-wing douche bags on Earth were talking about how independent they were. They told Memphis that they don't know which side is right, they don't know if Obama deserves another shot but if the choice is Mitt Romney, well...they just don't know.

I started laughing almost hysterically. My God! The lies drip from their tongues like turpentine. In the same conversation where these two radio DJs claimed to be independent, they quoted a New York Times article by Paul Krugman called: Our Failing Republican Economy. They followed this by mentioning a book: Do Not Ask What Good We Do, wherein they veer off into a left-wing screed lambasting "incompetent tea party hicks."

I provided the links to eliminate any possibility of confusion, not because I suggest reading the article or the book. Unfortunately, Drake and Zeke talk to about 100,000 people every morning. Many of those people, like me, listen because much of the time these two are witty and have intelligent things to say, plus they play interesting and unusual music instead of the same old top 40. But independent? It is to laugh.

The point here is not that Drake and Zeke are deceitful lying fabricators of dishonest falsity―although that is what they are―the point is that nothing any of us reads or hears is likely to be the truth. Now more than ever the lies fly thicker than flies around summer roadkill.

For those not yet aware, the new spin from the left―and by spin I mean outrageous dishonest pants on fire lie―is that Obama is a fiscal conservative. Yes, I kid you not. Paul Krugman, a Keynesian economist and New York Times columnist and dishonest lying piece of liberal excrement, informs us that under Obama spending is the lowest it’s been since the Korean War. All the economic trouble is all the fault of Republicans. Yes, you see it's the Republicans who'll have to own this economy, not Obama.

Here's my own theory on the imminent collapse of civilization: The longevity and health of any society can be determined by the innate truthfulness of its citizenry. Therefore, we are now standing at the edge of a cliff with a bottomless ravine below, and everyone is telling everyone else that we can all fly! If we just believe.

Drake and Zeke are egregious liars. They are the much more despicable example, simply because they lie to so many people. Paul Krugman and the New York Times are likewise, paragons of falsity. I they know they're all liars?

If they know they're lying then what is their ultimate desire? If they've fooled even themselves then they're nothing but fools, but if they know what terrible fabricating fraudsters they are then...what is it that they really want? I have the answer but you're not going to like it. I doubt you're going to believe it. After all, we're all such liars and fools that nothing anyone says can be believed.

Nevertheless, whether you believe me or not, I believe that if they know they're lying then that means that they're evil, and what they truly desire is the end of all things. Evil desires nothingness and silence for an eternity of darkness. Extinction is the ultimate goal.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Obama doesn't grok the economy

WASHINGTON -- Republicans are hoping the economy continues to struggle so they can win the White House in November and should put those political concerns aside and take steps to boost job creation, top Obama campaign officials said Sunday.

"They need to get off their hands and stop rooting for failure," Stephanie Cutter, Obama's deputy campaign manager, said on ABC's "This Week with George Stephanopoulos."

"These are the architects of obstruction and now they're complaining about the pace of the recovery," Axelrod said on CBS' "Face the Nation." "They should put down their political hats and join us and help solve these problems."
Saying that the economy is complex is like saying that the universe is big. While it's true, it's also a vast understatement. One person, or even a group of people, will not be able to completely fathom its intricate workings. Even though Obama possesses a Harvard law degree, he has very little intuitive understanding of economics. This is revealed time and time again by his class warfare rhetoric. Businessmen in private industry who are daily immersed in the wheel-and-deal world of finance are much more likely to understand the consequences of a government decision than is a career politician.

There is a word not found in the common vernacular that I wish to briefly explain. The word is Grok:
To grok (play /ˈɡrɒk/) is to intimately and completely share the same reality or line of thinking with another physical or conceptual entity. Author Robert A. Heinlein coined the term in his best-selling 1961 book Stranger in a Strange Land. In Heinlein's view, grokking is the intermingling of intelligence that necessarily affects both the observer and the observed. From the novel:
Grok means to understand so thoroughly that the observer becomes a part of the observed—to merge, blend, intermarry, lose identity in group experience. It means almost everything that we mean by religion, philosophy, and science—and it means as little to us (because of our Earthling assumptions) as color means to a blind man.
A person born in 1980 can watch endless black-and-white Hollywood films of the past, but he would still be unable to grok the Great Depression, because he was not alive while it was happening. Similarly, a Harvard law school graduate who never held a job in the private sector, who was never an entrepreneur or a trader, never in fact a capitalist of any kind, is completely incapable of grokking the economy. This in itself is not indicative of failure. A President could rely on advisers, and he could follow their advice, if he had virtually zero economic experience. However, as we've already seen, this President is not content to employ the kind of advisers who grok the economy, much less follow their advise. Take for example, Alan B. Krueger the chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, as a case in point.

Here, just like Obama, is a person who is not of the private sector. Krueger is an academician, a professor of economics at Princeton. We'd expect him to have a great deal of knowledge about the economy, and perhaps he does, but he doesn't grok it. He can't grok it at it's most basic level because―even with his ivy league pedigree―he's never lived it.
Krueger developed and applied the method of natural experiments to study the effect of education on earnings, the minimum wage on employment, and other issues. Krueger compared restaurant jobs in New Jersey, which raised its minimum wage, to restaurant jobs in Pennsylvania, which did not, and found that restaurant employment in New Jersey increased, while it decreased in Pennsylvania. The results were later disputed.
This experiment, where Krueger compared employment in restaurants in the two states of the study, proves the point. It is an economic rule that minimum wage laws cause unemployment. This is a fact, and only someone completely disconnected from the private sector and living in some Ivory Tower at Princeton would be capable of conducting such an asinine study, and moreover capable of cherry-picking the results of the study in order to advance a hypothesis rooted in liberal wishful thinking instead of iron-clad facts.

Obama is exactly like the proverbial government employee who can't fix something because it's not broken, but he's going to keep trying until it is. His lead economic advisor has already betrayed his ideological underpinnings with a deeply flawed experiment and is therefore also unlikely to be of any help to a struggling economy. Obama is standing athwart the tracks and puzzling over why the big economic train hasn't started rolling along yet.

Just get out of the way Obama! You're standing in the way, and you have been for more than three years. You don't know what you're doing, and everything you've tried has only made it worse. This is really the acme of irony, not to mention infuriating! The main obstacle for economic recovery is accusing the rest of us of "rooting for failure." Obama stands proudly in front of the train and accuses the passengers on the train of arranging to keep the train where Obama has stopped it.

I began this post with the unusual word "Grok," and I'll end it with another unusual but also highly relevant term: SCoaMF. As in: Obama is a SCoaMF and anybody who votes for him a second time is either a masochist or a moron.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Bloomberg to take away your soda today and your popcorn tomorrow.

When I heard about Michael Bloomberg's idea to ban drinks bigger than 16 ounces in restaurants, movie theaters, and sidewalk carts, I was instantly suspicious. Listening to him argue his case on MSNBC, I was struck by the fact that this was both a good idea on its face, and yet an awful idea at the same time. Yes, people do drink too much sugary soda and yes it's a leading contributor to obesity, and yes there are too many obese people in this country.
On Wednesday the famously public health-focused mayor proposed a ban on the sale of large-sized sugar-sweetened beverages — that includes sodas, sweetened teas and coffees, energy drinks and fruit drinks. If approved, the proposal, which is slated to take effect as early as next March, would prohibit restaurants, delis, sports arena vendors, movie theaters and food carts regulated by the city health department from selling sugary beverages in sizes larger than 16 oz.
Is this the right way to handle it though? I question whether this limit on container size would be of value. Too often, these nanny-state decrees come with all sorts of unpleasant unintended consequences.

Reducing the size of cups at theaters, sports stadiums, and sidewalk carts necessarily results in a similar reduction in profit to the concession owner. People will be unwilling to pay the same price for a now smaller product. Therefore to make up for this concessions shortfall the price of other products being offered, including ticket prices and food prices will be increased to compensate. When prices go up, customers shop elsewhere. This economic maxim is universally true. People will be more likely to just stay home with pay-per-view or Netflix, than pay for the much more expensive ticket prices. Therefore one unintended consequence of this idea would be the resulting damage to the entertainment industry in New York City.

What is much more troubling however is that this cup-size concept strikes at the very root of our freedom. If today we can legislate cup size, then tomorrow we can legislate calories. If tomorrow calories, then the day after it will be cholesterol, and saturated fat, and soon...we'll have just fallen off the cliff at that point. Everyone will all be munching on some variety of nutritious but unpalatable kibble that might as well have come from a dogfood factory.

How might we curb soda excess without trampling on freedom? The answer is very simple. Society has done an excellent job of reducing the incidence of smoking. Having a Surgeon General's style warning on soda containers, and beginning an obesity danger-awareness campaign would do more good than container gerrymandering.