Among the issues most commonly discussed are individuality, the rights of the individual, the limits of legitimate government, morality, history, economics, government policy, science, business, education, health care, energy, and man-made global warming evaluations. My posts are aimed at thinking, intelligent individuals, whose comments are very welcome.

28 September 2010

NOAA's U.S. Standard Atmosphere Tables of 1976: Who Needs Greenhouse Gas Warming?

An improved version of this post has been submitted for publication in a book, so this post had to be removed.  The book, soon to be published, is:

Chuck Roger - Government-run, taxpayer-funded, anti-poverty programs do not work

Chuck Roger, in his Clear Thinking, The Blog, has an interesting post on the ineffectiveness of government anti-poverty programs.  He notes that government anti-poverty spending has increased by 89% in the last decade, 2000 to 2010.  Looking at the graph of anti-poverty spending as a percent of GDP, back in 1962 it was 0.5% of GDP, but is now 4.4% of GDP, which is almost a 9 times increase in the redistribution of income from taxpayers to welfare recipients in that time.  The average American is giving up $4800 a year to fund these anti-poverty programs.  The spending on food stamps has increased by a factor of three in the last 10 years. 

Despite all of this effort, the number of those in "poverty" had not changed much over the years.  Recently, due to the mostly government-induced and the government-prolonged recession, the number of people in poverty has increased.  Of course, most of the people in poverty under normal circumstances are the young who are students or in their first jobs.  Many still live with their parents.  Until we get rid of the young, we will always have similar numbers of people in "poverty" as we do now.  The need for anti-poverty programs is mostly a fraud.  The idea that government should and can effectively provide anti-poverty help is entirely a fraud.

25 September 2010

Obama Justice Department Will Not Enforce Law with Racial Impartiality

Long ago, J. Christian Adams, left the Justice Department because his case to prosecute two New Black Panther Party members for voter intimidation in the 2010 elections was set aside by higher officials in the Obama administration Justice Department.  He has said over and over that this was because the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department will not enforce The Voter Rights Act in a racially neutral way.  They are only willing to prosecute white intimidators for interfering with the voting rights of black Americans.  According to the Obama Justice Department, white voters do not have an equal right to vote.  This last week, Christopher Coates, a senior attorney still with the Justice Department, testified that this was the case and added information on earlier cases against black intimidators the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department will not prosecute.  The Civil Rights Division is run and controlled by racists.  There is no other term for this.

Demorats Maximize Economic Uncertainty

By punting on passing legislation to extend the Bush tax cuts before the November election, the Democrats are once again proving themselves the masters of economic uncertainty.  As I have noted many times, economic uncertainty and the inability to calculate a probable return on investment due to hiring new employees or investing in plant and equipment, causes most businessmen to horde as much cash as possible.  According to Charles Krauthammer this now amounts to about $3 trillion.  The Federal Reserve says that non-financial corporations are reserving $1.845 trillion and financial institutions are clearly adding a lot to that.  It is also true that companies building their cash reserves has been a long on-going process since 1982, so it is not entirely due to the recession or the Obama administration. 



But, the reason for this has been an increasing sense of uncertainty throughout that period.  The socialist onslaught against businesses of the Obama administration did not come from nowhere, but has been building for a long time among the faculty of our colleges and universities and the college-educated elite of the Northeast, the Pacific Coast, and large parts of the Midwest.  Gore and Kerry came close to winning the presidency and in the 2006 elections, the control of Congress was passed to the socialist party.  Large companies with much to lose have become increasingly aware of their vulnerability to socialist redistributionist schemes, litigation, and extortion by Congress, Presidents, and state and local governments.  It is these large companies who are the ones most responsible for this increased cash hording.

Small business has long been the primary engine of growth and hiring.  The Bush tax cuts helped them, but the on-going growth of state and local governments, their regulations and taxes, and federal regulations and mandates substantially defeated the benefits of the Bush tax cuts for them.  The reduction of uncertainty due to the death tax, which wipes out many small businesses, was a Bush tax cut that was delayed in its start and had a brief duration of one year, 2010.  It expires at the end of this year and will return to a tax rate of 55% for any estate worth more than $1 million.  This is a huge business uncertainty for many small businesses.  In addition, these small businesses do not know what the tax rate on so-called profits will be in January, since those so-called profits are passed onto most small business owner's personal income taxes.  Those rates are going up, if the Bush tax cuts are not extended.  The Democrats are divided into those who want to extend the personal income tax part of the Bush tax cuts in total and the larger number who want the tax rates for the two highest tax brackets to go up.  Obama is a rather critical actor who wants those two tax bracket rate increases.  This will affect many small businesses.

Why did I say so-called business profits above?  Because the profit is often a fiction.  Suppose a company's income undergoes fluctuations through the year due to seasonal variations or due to more random fluctuations.  The end of the tax year comes along and a company has to pay taxes on that part of its income that exceeds its expenses to date.  Generally, it had better have some such income in excess of expenses, because it does not know whether income in the near future will be enough to cover expenses.  Nonetheless, it gets taxed on this essential reserve.  Suppose your company earns a lot of income in the Fall, but much less in the early part of the next year.  Every year you have to have some money to carry over to deal with the expenses of the early part of the next year.  This money is not really profit, since it may be barely adequate or inadequate to deal with the seasonal fall-off in income.  Nonetheless, the company is taxed on this. 

If the owner of the company makes enough to fall into one of the two higher tax brackets, his taxes may well be about to go up on this necessary reserve.  If he is in the highest tax bracket, the marginal tax rate will go up by 13.1%.  Because that may be the case, he may well decide to lay off some employees at the end of the year, since he probably has many fixed expenses such as rent and insurance he cannot do much to reduce.  He knows he will have less reserve money he can use to pay employee salaries early next year if Obama gets his way.  Of course, at this time, the small business owner in a lower tax bracket also cannot be sure the Bush tax cuts will be extended.  Uncertainty adds to firings and to less investment in equipment and plant to grow and to become more productive.  This uncertainty or an actual increase in taxes both have the effect of extending the pain of this recession.

It turns out that the Democrats have not even written a tax-cut extension bill yet.  If one is not passed, then the personal income tax marginal rates of 10%, 15%, 25%, 28%, 33% and 35% become 15%, 28%, 31%, 36%, and 39.6% brackets.  If Obama gets his way, the present 33% rate bracket is split, with the upper part of the bracket getting the higher tax rate of 36%.  The split would come at a married filing jointly income of $237,200, which is once again belies his pledge not to increase taxes on married people making less than $250,000 a year.  He would have the highest marginal rate tax increase from 35% to 39.6%.  This happens for married filers making more than $382,550.  The long term capital gains tax will also increase from 15% to 20% for upper income bracket filers and the present 0% rate for lower income brackets will increase to 10%.

In the second quarter of this year, net household wealth decreased by 2.7%, which hardly encourages the small businessman.  Net worth is down 19% since the second quarter of 2007.  The federal debt went up 24.4% in the second quarter this year, following a first quarter increase of 18%.  Apparently with the approach of the November elections, federal spending surged!  State and local government spending has long been going up, though it has slowed lately due to a loss of tax revenues caused by the recession.  The more governments spend, the more wealth is transferred from the private sector to the public sector.  More public sector spending creates more complex laws, regulations, subsidies, and mandates, which decrease American productivity and destroy jobs.  Overall, the spending of all U.S. governments (federal, state, and local)  is given in the chart below as a percentage of the GDP:


From a local maximum in 1991 of 37.22% of GDP, the spending burden slowly fell until it reached a local minimum in 2000 of 32.56%.  This had a lot to do with the relatively good employment numbers from 1998 to 2000.  Since 2000, total government spending has increased, though it was flat from 2002 to 2007, with spending in the range from 34.75% to 35.28% of GDP.  In 2008 it began surging upward to 36.94%, in 2009 it was 42.32%, and in 2010 it is expected to be 43.85% of GDP.  Noting the huge increase in total government spending since 1952 shown in this chart and understanding that the bureaucrats spending this money are creating new business regulations, mandates, and are picking winners and losers by industry, company, and location, this spending increase represents an ever greater burden on businesses.  The more governments spend, the greater the uncertainty for most businesses.

Now we should all be very reassured by the government's proclamation that the recession ended in June 2009.  Ha!!!  By the operational technical definition in use, it did end, because GDP has grown since then.  But, this really depends upon strict adherence to a definition that ties a recession only to GDP losses.  A recession would better be defined as any period of six months or more in which one or more of the following cases occurs:
  1. GDP has decreased.
  2. Personal net worth has decreased.
  3. Unemployment has exceeded 6%.
Real unemployment still exceeds 10% and net worth was down in the first two quarters of this year, so we are still deep in a recession.  It is true that GDP has increased of late, but the rate of increase in the last quarter was very low.  Overall, the suffering rate is very high.  The Democrat cure is to have the governments spend more money foolishly, to increase some taxes, to mandate increased energy costs, and to leave it unclear whether the largest tax increase in history will soon be knocking the legs out from under our staggering private sector.

24 September 2010

Recent Ocean Heat Content Trend Shows Lack of Heating

J. M. Lyman and colleagues earlier this year claimed the ocean heat content data of 1993 to 2008 showed a global warming trend of 0.63 +- 0.28 W/sq.m.  They allowed that the rise from 1993 to 2000 was followed by a flattening ocean temperature that started about 2001-2002.  Given a peak in land surface temperatures around 1998 and a subsequent flattening for a few years after that as solar irradiance and sunspot activity moved out of a warm cycle into what is looking more and more like a cooling cycle, it is to be expected that the ocean heat content would rise for a few years following the end of the solar irradiance increases.  As Roger Pielke Sr.has pointed out, the oceans hold 90% of the variable heat content of the Earth in the upper ocean water.  Thus, trends in the upper ocean temperatures and its heat content must be related to the solar radiance, though with a bit of lag and some averaging due to the huge heat capacity of the ocean.

With respect to longer term trends in the Earth's climate, the upper ocean temperatures are a much better measure than the flighty atmospheric temperatures on land, which are influenced much more by the time of day and the nearby human population.  We know the ground-based weather stations to have been badly biased upward by urban heat island effects (here, here, here, and here) and a long period of undocumented data manipulation (here and here and here).

R. S. Knox and D. H. Douglass of the Department of Physics and Astronomy of the University of Rochester have an in press publication in the International Journal of Geosciences, which uses data from the global array of Argo floats to calculate the ocean heat content (OHC) of the upper oceans.  The Argo floats were deployed in the early 2000s and are less prone to the biases and errors of the expendable bathythermographs used to obtain earlier ocean data.  The data is show in the graph below:


The green line shows the average annual ocean surface temperature provided by the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia.  That has been trending downward since 2003, with most of the drop since 2005.  The Argo data from the surface to a depth of 700 meters is plotted in blue.  The red data points are the 12-month moving average of the blue line data.  The dashed red line is the linear fit to the 12-month moving average data.  The energy flux to compare to the Lyman result of 0.63 +- 0.28 W/sq. meter increase is -0.161 +- 0.040 W/sq. meter.

The result does not indicate the expected large rate of increase in OHC due to a warming planet if the increasing concentration of CO2 in our atmosphere were the primary driving force in our climate and it acted as the climate models have generally claimed it does.  Given the short span of time and the strong annual variations of the OHC, this result does not clearly rule out a warming effect of CO2 upon the Earth's temperature.  But, it does suggest that the cooling expected by many solar scientists due to decreased sunspot activity, may have started.  It argues that it is foolish to believe that the warming trend of the 1980s and 1990s was the early part of a catastrophe, which was caused by increasing concentrations of atmospheric CO2.  It argues that we need to continue to carefully observe solar effects and the ocean heat content so that we can come to a real understanding of our climate and what causes longer term changes in it.

It also follows that forcing the world's peoples to do without energy or to pay skyrocketing costs for renewable energy or carbon sequestration on the basis of an ensuing catastrophe caused by man-made CO2 emissions is without justification.  It is terribly wrongheaded to use force to make people give up many of the comforts of their lives because some scientists and politicians have been claiming an unproved hypothesis is established fact.  Far from it, the strong global warming claim based on atmospheric CO2 has a trendline which indicates that it is not likely to make the transition from hypothesis to proven theory!

23 September 2010

A Medical Insurance Cost Increase

I have just received the renewal cost on the health insurance plan my materials analysis laboratory provides its employees.  The cost for individual coverage is going up 19.7%, which is at least twice the increase I usually see in it.  That more than doubled increase is due to ObamaCare mandates.

While the economy is no longer in recession by the official definition due to some growth in the GDP, large and medium sized companies are still hording their income and refusing to spend it.  There have been decreases in R&D and in quality control efforts as a result.  After a record year in 2008, my laboratory has seen a sizable drop in income in 2009 and so far in 2010 compared to 2008.  Meanwhile, our health insurance costs have continued to skyrocket.  Is it any wonder that companies are not hiring? 

European Discrimination Against Mid-19th Century Slave Peoples

A favorite pastime of Europeans is to criticize the United States for its discrimination against black Americans or more recently for some complaints by Americans about illegal immigrants.  Our homegrown Progressives commonly view Europe, especially Western Europe, as the land of Nirvana.  They only wish our governments were as socially responsible as they believe the more socialist governments of Europe are.  As a result, Obama and his like have recently complained to the U.N. Human Rights Council about how horribly America still discriminates against black Americans and illegal immigrants. Obama's Justice Department recently filed a lawsuit against the state of Arizona for alleged discrimination against illegal immigrants and a complaint with the same U. N. Human Rights Council.

But the European Union has a major discrimination problem of its own.  The 4-10 Sep 2010 and the 18-24 Sep 2010 issues of The Economist discuss this problem.  It is the Roma, or Romanies, or Gypsies as they are variously called who it is thought migrated from Rajastan in India at about 1000 AD.  The Romanies were slaves in Romania until about the mid-19th Century.  Then in WWII, the Nazis uprooted them, took their possessions, and killed about 500,000 of them in concentration camps.  When the Soviets controlled Eastern Europe, they provided jobs, housing, and reduced the discrimination.

Now that the Eastern European countries are in the European Union, there are anti-discrimination laws, but they are largely unenforced.  They are commonly discriminated against in jobs.  In Slovakia, they are 10% of the population, but are 60% of the special needs school population.  Many are in the special needs schools to escape the bullying in the regular schools.  Boys are often put to work at an early age, cutting any schooling they get short.  Girls are often married off as teenagers.  The conditions of Roma settlements are often as bad as those of poor areas of Africa and India.  Their incomes, health, illiteracy, criminality, and life expectancy are worse than any other group in Europe.  Since the population of many European countries is shrinking and the Roma have large families, these problems will have a growing impact on Europe if they are not addressed.

Spain and Macedonia treat them better than many countries, while Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania, and Slovakia treat them very poorly.  An MEP from Hungary called for the mass internment of the Roma.  Violent attacks are often made on them.  The entrance of the Eastern European countries into the EU with its freedom of movement rules has allowed some Romani to seek a better life in Western Europe.  However, the Western Europeans have become upset with the appearance of shanty towns, an increase in pickpocketing and begging by children, and an increase in rapes and fighting.  In Western Europe, Roma have been evicted forcibly in Greece, attacked by mobs in Belfast, Ireland, and firebombed in Italy.  The Italian government began deporting them.  The French government has deported 8,000 Romani this year, sending them back to Romania and Bulgaria.  In fact, French police were ordered to clear 300 camps, with priority being given to removing the Roma camps.  When the European Commission complained to Nicolas Sarkozy, he suggested that Luxembourg, where the EU's justice commission resides, should provide the displaced Romanies a home.

The population of Roma in a number of countries in Europe:

Romania, 1,850,000
Bulgaria, 750,000
Spain, 725,000
Hungary, 700,000
Slovakia, 500,000
France, 400,000
Czech Republic, 300,000
Great Britain, 265,000
Macedonia, 198,000
Italy, 145,000
Albania, 115,000
Moldova, 108,000
Germany, 105,000
Kosovo, 38,000
Croatia, 35,000
Montenegro, 20,000
Slovenia, 9,000

There is one country, according to The Economist, where the Romani are treated just like other immigrants and those immigrants are treated pretty well.  Of course, those of you who are not Progressives know the answer immediately.  The country that has welcomed them and allowed them to make a much better life for themselves is the United States of America.  Yes, that same country Obama and the Progressives so love to denigrate.

22 September 2010

Democrats Want to Pass DISCLOSE Act Again

Having failed once to pass the DISCLOSE Act, which is designed to suppress political ideas prior to elections and to intimidate Americans who oppose those in power, the Democrats in control of Congress are trying to revive this nefarious act.  It is designed to help incumbents, mostly Democrats, stay in office by preventing the opposition from revealing and discussing their voting record at election time.  It is designed to replace the McCain-Feingold Bipartisan Reform Act which the Supreme Court rightly found unconstitutional.

This act passed the House of Representatives in June, but it could not get enough votes in the Senate to bring it up for a vote at that time.  It is only the Senate which needs to act on it now.  Tomorrow, there is to be a provisional vote to end debate on the act.  If the Democrats succeed on that, they will vote it through, despite it obviously being unconstitutional.  It will take years to go to the Supreme Court for a decision, which the Democrats are counting on to help reduce their losses in the November election.  It might even reduce their losses in the 2012 election.

The DISCLOSE Act is also anti-business in that it puts all of its restrictions upon businesses and special purpose political corporate entities.  Labor unions, the NRA, the AARP, and the Humane Society are exempted.  Note that all of the exempted groups are long-time Democrat allies, except the NRA.

The NRA's opposition to the law was bought off with their exemption.  So, while the NRA has done good work in protecting our Second Amendment rights, it has proved a traitor on this fundamental issue of our freedom of speech.  The AARP has long supported ageist warfare and advocated the redistribution of wealth from the poorer young to older and wealthier Americans.  Of course, the labor unions, who spend incredible sums influencing elections in favor of the Democrats as their most-favored special interest group, are exempted.

On the other hand, the DISCLOSE Act discriminates against business and special purpose political groups that incorporate.  They have to spend valuable air time having their CEOs explain who funded the ad.  The CEO also has to invest valuable time in the making of the ad.  Some incorporated Tea Party or other political groups will have their freedom of speech suppressed.  The idea is clearly to make it harder for the opposition of those now in power, who are mostly Democrats, to effectively influence the People during the upcoming election in November.

The Progressives believe the People are stupid and foolish.  They need to be controlled by the college educated elite who are properly indoctrinated in their elite qualifications to choose the People's values and to micro-manage their lives in accordance with Progressive rules.  Sunstein, Obama and friends know how to nudge us in the right direction, but they need to cut us off from the opposing storyline.  We are so dumb, we might believe much of what the evil corporations or Tea Party groups tell us.  Yes, only the Progressive message of the labor unions, the AARP, and the Humane Society should be allowed to reach our so-susceptible ears.  This is the political correctness of the government-run schools written large across the entire country.  The People cannot be expected to evaluate information on their own.  No, only that information shifted and selected by the Progressives should be allowed to reach the ignorant and dumb People.

When the People are seen as ignorant and dumb, they are also seen as the servants of their masters.  The Democrat elitist Progressives are supposed to be our masters and they will not brook any opposition voices, such as businesses and Tea Party incorporated groups.

It is sweet to observe that one of the two Republicans who voted for this measure in the House was Mike Castle of Delaware.  Mike Castle expected to fill out the remaining four years on Joe Biden's Senate term, but was beaten by the Tea Party candidate, Christine O'Donnell.  That was a great act of justice, since Castle really is a Progressive control freak.

Meanwhile, O'Donnell is strongly opposed to ObamaCare, the financial control bill, the incredible deficit spending, labor union card check, renewable energy subsidies and mandates, and the nonsense that CO2 emissions are causing a global warming catastrophe.  She has some considerable conservative lifestyle and "family values" nonsensical baggage, but in the present context, it is important to get her into the Senate.  If she goes awry too much on promoting that "family value" nonsense, she can be replaced in 2014, after much of the Progressive program for governmental controls has been derailed.

20 September 2010

Congress Members in the Democratic Socialists of America Caucus

The American Socialist Voter, a publication of the Democratic Socialists of America, claims that the Democratic Socialists of America Caucus in the United States Congress has a membership of 70 Representatives and one Senator.  It also claims that 11 of these Democratic Socialists of America sit on the House Judiciary Committee.  The members of the caucus are:

Co-Chairs

Hon. Raúl M. Grijalva (AZ-07)

Hon. Lynn Woolsey (CA-06)

Vice Chairs

Hon. Diane Watson (CA-33)

Hon. Sheila Jackson-Lee (TX-18)

Hon. Mazie Hirono (HI-02)

Hon. Dennis Kucinich (OH-10)

Senate Members

Hon. Bernie Sanders (VT)

House Members

Hon. Neil Abercrombie (HI-01)

Hon. Tammy Baldwin (WI-02)

Hon. Xavier Becerra (CA-31)

Hon. Madeleine Bordallo (GU-AL)

Hon. Robert Brady (PA-01)

Hon. Corrine Brown (FL-03)

Hon. Michael Capuano (MA-08)

Hon. André Carson (IN-07)

Hon. Donna Christensen (VI-AL)

Hon. Yvette Clarke (NY-11)

Hon. William “Lacy” Clay (MO-01)

Hon. Emanuel Cleaver (MO-05)

Hon. Steve Cohen (TN-09)

Hon. John Conyers (MI-14)

Hon. Elijah Cummings (MD-07)

Hon. Danny Davis (IL-07)

Hon. Peter DeFazio (OR-04)

Hon. Rosa DeLauro (CT-03)

Rep. Donna F. Edwards (MD-04)

Hon. Keith Ellison (MN-05)

Hon. Sam Farr (CA-17)

Hon. Chaka Fattah (PA-02)

Hon. Bob Filner (CA-51)

Hon. Barney Frank (MA-04)

Hon. Marcia L. Fudge (OH-11)

Hon. Alan Grayson (FL-08)

Hon. Luis Gutierrez (IL-04)

Hon. John Hall (NY-19)

Hon. Phil Hare (IL-17)

Hon. Maurice Hinchey (NY-22)

Hon. Michael Honda (CA-15)

Hon. Jesse Jackson, Jr. (IL-02)

Hon. Eddie Bernice Johnson (TX-30)

Hon. Hank Johnson (GA-04)

Hon. Marcy Kaptur (OH-09)

Hon. Carolyn Kilpatrick (MI-13)

Hon. Barbara Lee (CA-09)

Hon. John Lewis (GA-05)

Hon. David Loebsack (IA-02)

Hon. Ben R. Lujan (NM-3)

Hon. Carolyn Maloney (NY-14)

Hon. Ed Markey (MA-07)

Hon. Jim McDermott (WA-07)

Hon. James McGovern (MA-03)

Hon. George Miller (CA-07)

Hon. Gwen Moore (WI-04)

Hon. Jerrold Nadler (NY-08)

Hon. Eleanor Holmes-Norton (DC-AL)

Hon. John Olver (MA-01)

Hon. Ed Pastor (AZ-04)

Hon. Donald Payne (NJ-10)

Hon. Chellie Pingree (ME-01)

Hon. Charles Rangel (NY-15)

Hon. Laura Richardson (CA-37)

Hon. Lucille Roybal-Allard (CA-34)

Hon. Bobby Rush (IL-01)

Hon. Linda Sánchez (CA-39, though incorrectly given as Loretta Sanchez' CA-47 in The American Socialist Voter)

Hon. Jan Schakowsky (IL-09)

Hon. José Serrano (NY-16)

Hon. Louise Slaughter (NY-28)

Hon. Pete Stark (CA-13)

Hon. Bennie Thompson (MS-02)

Hon. John Tierney (MA-06)

Hon. Nydia Velazquez (NY-12)

Hon. Maxine Waters (CA-35)

Hon. Mel Watt (NC-12)

Hon. Henry Waxman (CA-30)

Hon. Peter Welch (VT-AL)

Hon. Robert Wexler (FL-19)

Not surprisingly, my Representative, Donna Edwards, is one of these Democratic Socialists of America.  It is clear that there is a core group of Democrats who do not hesitate to proclaim themselves socialists in socialist circles, though I expect they are reluctant for the most part to tell their constituents of this.

YouCut: Vote for the Programs You Want Eliminated in our Bloated Government

Eric Cantor, the Republican Whip in the House of Representatives, has been operating an on-line program, called YouCut, which describes five government programs or expenditures each week and allows the People to vote for the one they most want to be cut.  Cantor then proposes the cut on the House floor and demands a vote.  Each week, the vast majority of Democrats oppose the cut, while the majority of Republicans vote for the cut.  Because the Republicans are so out-numbered, the Democrats are almost always able to keep the spending going.  But, it does put them on record for favoring a program or expenditure many voters and taxpayers oppose.  This provides election time ammunition for a canny Republican opponent, maybe even in a primary where the incumbent Republican voted to sustain the unpopular program.

This program is also valuable for the People, since it makes it easy for them to become familiar with many wasteful programs and identifies many special interest groups taking advantage of them.   YouCut should be maintained whether the Republicans gain control of the House in the November 2010 election or not.  Keeping it in place will help to keep the Republicans focused on making the cuts in government programs that are very badly needed.  The program is already rather popular, with 1.3 million votes cast.  Please add your own votes.

The programs which won the People's votes in previous weeks and were brought up for a vote in the House are listed below.  The votes are given as cast by each House member, but after week 3, the final tally is not given at Eric Cantor's YouCut website.  I was not willing to count the Yes and No votes to get the total, but look up the vote of your representative.  For the first 3 weeks, the vote on the cut is given as [Yes, No].

Week One: Cut the New Non-Reformed Welfare Program ($25 Billion Savings) [177-240]

Week Two: Eliminate Federal Employee Pay Raise ($30 Billion Savings) [183-227]

Week Three: Reform Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac ($30 Billion Savings) [180-230]

Week Four: Sell Excess Federal Property ($15 Billion Savings)

Week Five: Prohibit Hiring New IRS Agents to Enforce Health Care Law ($15 Billion Savings)

Week Six: Taxpayer Subsidized Union Activities ($1.2 Billion Savings)

Week Seven: Prohibit Stimulus Funding for Promotional Signage (Tens of Millions)

Week Eight: Prohibit Sleeper Car Subsidies on Amtrak ($1.2 billion Savings)

Week Nine: Bipartisan Proposal to Terminate AEITC ($1.1 billion Savings)

Week Ten: Require Collection of Unpaid Taxes From Federal Employees ($1 billion Savings)

The Democrats just voted against collecting unpaid taxes from Federal employees, thereby allowing federal employees to receive taxpayer money without paying their own taxes. I suppose that just warms your heart to know that the Democrats think so highly of "public service" and so little of the People who serve as hosts to many of the public servant parasites.

One might argue in this day of trillion dollar programs that cutting programs which are only a few million or tens of millions of dollars a year does not matter.  But, the accumulated effect of the cutting of such programs on a weekly basis over a few years time will be very significant.  It also sends a message in a clear way to our Congressmen to keep them focused on better and leaner government.  Finally, it puts a great many special interests on notice that their subsidies and special treatment are subject to being cut at any time because the People are finally paying attention to their games to take advantage of the People.  This is a step in the right direction toward getting Congress and the special interest groups to take the American People seriously.  We need to be on watch and make it known that we are watching and then acting to take our government back!

19 September 2010

Federal Circuit Judge Overturns Don't Ask, Don't Tell Act

Virginia A. Phillips, United States District Judge of the 9th Circuit, overturned the Don't Ask, Don't Tell (DADT) Act in a 9 September 2010 order.  The plaintiff is the Log Cabin Republicans.  I have read her memorandum opinion and it is sound and well-written.  It makes very interesting reading in fact, at least that part that follows the issues of the standing of the plaintiff and the members it represents.  One can readily understand why Admiral Mike Mullen, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said on 2 February 2010 that he would like to see this DADT policy changed.

The court decision should have been much simpler than it was because of the very convoluted reasoning that precedent and excessive governmental power has created over the last hundred years of U.S. court decisions.  This is also a result of the poor understanding that Americans have of their equal, sovereign individual rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.  That broad statement of our individual rights covers many more specific rights, many of which are not recognized explicitly in our Bill of Rights.  Our courts sometimes recognize these non-explicit rights, but they have to work very hard to do so.  There are also some special deferences given to the military which needed to be addressed in this ruling.

The DADT Act of 1993 requires the discharge of military personnel if any of the following applies:
  1. They have engaged in, or attempted to engage in, or solicited another to engage in a homosexual act or acts.
  2. They have stated they are a homosexual or bisexual, or words to that effect.
  3. They have married or attempted to marry a person of "the same biological sex."
 The Log Cabin Republicans challenged the constitutionality of this law on two grounds:
  1. It violates its members' substantive due process rights, which under the Supreme Court decision on Lawrence v. Texas includes rights associated with "autonomy of self, that includes freedom of thought, belief, expression, and certain intimate contact."
  2. It violates the First Amendment rights of freedom of speech, to peaceably assemble, and to petition the government with grievances.
Considering the plaintiff's first claim of a violation of due process rights, the judge noted that Witt v. Dept. of Air Force, a Ninth Circuit decision in 2008, ruled that DADT constitutes an intrusion "upon the personal and private lives of homosexuals, in a manner that implicates the rights identified in Lawrence [v. Texas], and is subject to heightened scrutiny."  Therefore, it must
  1. Advance an important governmental interest.
  2. The intrusion must significantly further that interest.
  3. The intrusion must be necessary to further that interest.
Witt v. Dept. of Air Force decided the DADT act did advance an important governmental interest.  This left it to Judge Phillips to decide if the intrusion significantly furthered that interest and if it was necessary.

One of the more interesting points the Log Cabin Republicans made was that the military "routinely delayed the discharge of servicemembers suspected of violating the Act's provisions until after they had completed their overseas deployments."  This even occurred when orders for deployment were received while an investigation was being considered.  This evidence "directly undermines any contention that the Act furthers the Government's purpose of military readiness."  "If the warrior's suspected violation of the Act created a threat to military readiness, to unit cohesion, or to any of the other important Government objectives, it follows that Defendants would not deploy him or her to combat before resolving the investigation."

The Judge noted that the Act:
  • Impeded efforts to recruit an all-volunteer force.
  • Caused the discharge of otherwise qualified servicemembers with critical skills.
  • Made it necessary to lower moral, educational, and fitness standards.
  • It hurt unit cohesion and morale by discharging well-trained and highly respected servicemembers.
  • Military housing provides sufficient privacy protection of servicemembers.
Consequently, Judge Phillips ruled that DADT did not significantly further the important government interest and that if was not necessary.  Thus, it did violate the due process rights of servicemembers.

On the issue of the First Amendment rights violation claim by the Log Cabin Republicans, the judge noted again that Lawrence v. Texas recognized the right of expression was violated by the Texas law on sodomy.  After allowing that the military does not have to meet the same level of concern for freedom of speech as has to be met for civilians, the judge concluded that the second reason for discharge, a statement that implies a servicemember is homosexual or bisexual or something similar, is an unnecessary violation of their freedom of expression and of the First Amendment rights as claimed by the Plaintiff.

It is about time a court has made a ruling to eliminate the egregiously wrong Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy.  One would have thought that it would long have been obvious to everyone that this policy was a terrible and unnecessary violation of our equal, sovereign individual rights. Judge Virginia Phillips has performed her country a valuable service.

17 September 2010

Partisan Immigration Law Enforcement and the Dream Act

As we know, the Obama administration has attacked the people of Arizona and of various communities for attempting to get federal authorities to identify illegal aliens and to turn those so identified over to federal authorities for possible deportation.  We know also that some such identified illegal aliens are being released back onto American streets rather than being deported by federal authorities.  The Obama gang in control of our federal government has been highly motivated to make claims that state and local government efforts to enlist federal authorities in doing what federal law requires is an usurpation of federal powers.

Compare the issues with the Arizona law to the issue of ten states clearly violating federal law by providing tuition preferences to illegal aliens in state colleges and universities.  This is happening in California, Texas, Oklahoma, New York, Kansas, Illinois, Nebraska, Utah, Washington, and New Mexico.  This is a clear violation of the 1996 Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IIRIRA).  That act states:
Notwithstanding any other provision of law, an alien who is not lawfully present in the United States shall not be eligible on the basis of residence within a State (or a political subdivision) for any postsecondary education benefit unless a citizen or national of the United States is eligible for such a benefit (in no less an amout, duration, and scope) without regard to whether the citizen or national is such a resident.

One of the chief ways in which these 10 states defy this federal law is by offering illegal aliens in-state tuition, while demanding that out-of-state citizens and nationals pay the much higher out-of-state tuition.  Where does the Obama gang of hoodlums stand on enforcing this immigration law violation by these ten states?  They are very silent, except that the Democrats have made repeated failed attempts to overturn this provision of federal immigration law.  The most recent attempt is the so-called DREAM Act.

Now, Senator Harry Reid has introduced the DREAM Act earlier this week as an attachment to the defense authorization bill.  It will:
  • Provide an estimated 2 million college age illegal aliens citizenship upon completing two years of college studies in the U.S.
  • Provide citizenship to illegal aliens who have served in the U.S. military.
Now, I am in favor of such provisions providing alien applicants a fast and assured legal path to residence as a national in the United States, provided they are not illegally in the U.S.  This application would be made from outside the U.S. or could be made by someone on a legal visa to visit or work in the U.S.  The applicant would need to show acceptance at a U.S. college and he would be given a legal student visa, which would be converted into a green card upon his graduation, combined with evidence of employment or an employment contract conditional upon the newly graduated student being given his green card.  Similarly, an alien might be given a one-year or two-year working permit as a visiting worker in the U.S. and if he applies for and is accepted by one of the armed services, he would be supplied a green card upon serving two years in the military.  Alternatively, the one-year or two-year working permit holder might enter college and obtain a green card upon graduation.  The one- and/or two-year working permit visas could be renewed as well, provided the applicant showed gainful employment and was not found guilty of any felonies.  But, all of these paths ought to be for those who are not illegal aliens.  The path to a green card should be a legal path.  Acceptance on a legal path to a green card should be quite generous.

The following Republican Senators are in favor of the easy paths to a green card for illegal aliens under the Democrat DREAM Act:

John McCain, Arizona
Richard Lugar, Indiana
Bob Bennett, Utah, an IIRIRA violating state
Sam Brownback, Kansas, an IIRIRA violating state

Kay Bailey Hutchison, Texas, an IIRIRA violating state

Susan Collins, Maine
Olympia Snowe, Maine

Harry Reid Complains About Slow Senate

Under Senator Harry Reid's term as Majority Leader this last couple of years, the Senate has buillt up a backlog of 400 items passed by the House of Representatives that the Senate has not taken up.  Despite the large Democrat majority, the Republicans have been able to keep the Senate from passing these 400 bills which are surely mostly further Progressive attempts to micro-manage the lives of the People.

In particular, Reid has recently complained about how Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Oklahoma, has kept the Senate from passing legislation to overhaul how the FDA controls our foods.  Reid claims to have spent the whole Congress on this FDA food control bill.  Senator Coburn thinks the Senate should say how it is going to pay for the new bill and that its merits should be discussed on the Senate floor.  Apparently, Reid believes a bill which some staffers have spent a whole session of Congress working up, which no Senators have read, and which has not been discussed on the Senate floor, is ready for passage.  He wants to use the Democrat's favorite trick of hurry up and pass this bill so we can find out what is in it.  Senator Coburn is a bad guy for standing in his way.

It is clear to me and I am sure to most Americans now, that Senator Coburn is protecting our individual freedoms and our General Welfare by opposing the tyrant Reid.  Can you even begin to imagine how much worse off we would be if the Senate had passed those 400 bills of new mischief and power aggrandizement that the huge Democrat majority in the House enabled them to pass.  The laundry list of socialist mandates and spending in those 400 bills is probably staggering.

Washington D.C. Licenses Tour Guides

Washington D.C. requires tour guides to pass a test and get a license.  Can you imagine why?  It cannot be because if an ill-informed tour guide were to say that the top of the Indian on top of the Capitol is 302 feet above the ground that this would cause great harm to the tourist.  It the tourist goes back to Indiana and tells his neighbor this incorrect fact, his neighbor will tell him, no, from the east side, at the bottom of the steps, to the top of the Indian is 288 feet.  The misinformed tourist would then have no choice but to commit suicide out of embarrassment, right?  Fortunately, in my hypothetical example, the tourist can simply point out that the Capitol was not built on level ground and there probably is a point on the ground above which the Indian does rise to a height of 302 feet.

But what really has me wondering is that there is a tour of sites haunted with ghosts.  Does the D.C. tour guide test check for guide knowledge of the ghosts of D.C.?

There must be tour guides who specialize in the Capitol, the White House, and the three main presidential memorials.  Then there must be some who specialize in the museums.  Do they all take the same tour guide test?

It turns out that the Institute for Justice has just taken the case of the tour company called Segs in the City to protect them from this licensing requirement.  I suppose the Segway tour guides will have to prove they can drive a bus and talk at the same time.  There are also walking tours.  I wonder if the walking guides also have to show they can drive a bus?

It is getting to be the case in many cities that if you want to earn a living doing anything, you must get a license. When the cities finally get all jobs covered, I expect they will begin issuing licenses for the right to breathe out CO2.  You will have to prove that you are worth the pollution you breathe out due to your social value.  If you cannot, then the politicians will be addressing the over-population problem, right?

16 September 2010

9/12 Demonstrators Strike Terror in Progressive Elitists

On Sunday, 12 September 2010, I and my wife Anna joined the 9/12 demonstrators before the Capitol to protest against big government, wild, insane spending, and massive violations of the rights of the individual.  The crowd, on a rainy, wet day, was large, but not so large as at the 9/12 demonstration of a one year ago.  I suspect that many people stayed home to work to get Tea Party candidates elected to office.  Others, most likely learned from their earlier attempts that the current politicians in Washington, few of whom were there due to the election coming up in November, are so contemptuous of the people they rule, that they have no interest in the people's thoughts and concerns.  Therefore, it is wisest simply to toss them out of office.  Still, the crowd was large and I observed it from about 1 PM to about 4:30 PM.  I took 246 photos of demonstrators and will present some of those here.

Of course, we have from the good authority of the socialist media that such people as these demonstrators are racists, ignorant rednecks, neo-Nazis, all radical, intolerant Christian bullies, homophobes, immigrant haters, and violent beyond belief.  Let us examine some pictures of these people who would strike terror in the hearts of any civilized human being:


"Our Founding Fathers Warned Against National Debt," hmmm.... is that a well-known Nazi saying or what?  "We Can't Afford You."  Perhaps being too poor to be a good Nazi socialist is just a redneck thing.  Notice the many military-like uniforms, the blackjacks, the hobnailed boots, and the raised arms.  We would see the fangs, except everyone is looking in the direction of a speaker, probably a Hitler-like harranger and demagogue.


This gray-haired woman under an umbrella looks mighty threatening.  Quite interesting that on a rainy day she had the creativity to use her umbrella as a protest sign.  If she gets her hands on the controls of government, we had better watch out.  She will be a formidable foe to the Progressive agenda.  ObamaCare = Slavery and Got Personal Responsibility?  How could you be more threatening?


This smiling lady did not look sufficiently threatening to be holding such a subversive sign.  Imagine someone sending the message that people should read Ayn Rand and Atlas Shrugged.  Imagine telling people it is OK to be concerned about their own self-interest and to act on it.  Then there is all that horrible stuff about legitimate government from the American Declaration of Independence and even a notion that people have rights not granted to them by a beneficent government in the Bill of Rights.  Imagine calling our Mommy Dearest government a tyranny and illegitimate!  That it spends 70% of its expenditures unconstitutionally.  So, I investigated and found that she was simply holding the sign for a husband who was running around the demonstration taking pictures.  He is, no doubt, the evil one.  Then note also that the umbrella lady has also enjoined you to Work Harder: Millions on Welfare are Depending on You.


Here we have someone scaring the children, babies even, with the idea that their debt is huge.  How much kinder it would be to leave the baby in innocence until it discovers how much debt it owes, say, after graduating from college.  At least we know the government-run schools and the progressive colleges will not scare them with such hoary facts!  They are so kind and thoughtful, but not these wicked people!


How uncouth to imply that a Congressional Democrat is a socialist?  How can anyone complain about the government pulling money out of their wallets when they are doing so much good with while paying off Obama's supporters and enlisting them as special interests so they will support socialist policies?  Oops, I meant to say so they would support forward-thinking Progressive policies with central planning by the Mommy State to take care of those many, many Americans who are so helpless and pitifully in need.


Oh, another Uncle Tom.  Ahh.... maybe not.  He is probably a poor homeless, uneducated man who can't even read the sign he is holding.  Those nasty protesters probably paid him so much to hold that sign that he just couldn't resist.  This just demonstrates once again how right the Progressives are in knowing very well that black Americans are incapable of choosing their own values and living their own lives.  Look how they are just so vulnerable to the manipulations of the worst elements in our society.  We elitists must remember it is not his fault.  This is why we have a very, very big government:  To take care of him and to manipulate his vote before the nasty people do.


The woman in the wheelchair stood up briefly.  This proves she is probably an assassin waiting for a black Congressman to pass by.  You have to watch carefully for these sleeper terrorists that fill the ranks of the right-wing wingnuts.


Note the women with a young girl in the lower left.  She is holding a baby.  Is she just really, really irresponsible bringing these vulnerable innocents into the midst of these raving lunatic neo-Nazis?  Or is she an even more cleverly disguised assassin?  Note the sign quotes John Adams, that regressive firebrand of old, that claims that the Constitution is inadequate to a People who are not moral and religious.  You know, he almost got that right.  If he had said it is inadequate to a people who not moral, as we Progressives know no one is, and had left out the religious characteristic, he would have been a Progressive!  Of course, we Progressive do welcome religious people if they subscribe to the Progressive social program and if they understand that the Constitution is inadequate.


"Stop Convolutin' our Constitution."  My, she is even trying to sound like a redneck.  Doesn't she understand even that the Constitution is a living instrument of the Progressive Program?  What kind of education did she have?  Surely, not one in a quality school such as all of our union and government controlled schools are!  "Clean out Congress."  That sounds as though she intends to attack Congress with an assault weapon!


Wow, these neo-Nazis sure are effective in recruiting women.  This one is quite good-looking too, but I am sure her heart is black with evil.  Because she hates her black heart, she probably hates her black President.  Yes, that sounds like the right Progressive spin to put on this.



"Oust the Marxist Usurper! ...His Czars and Thugs!  Honduras did it!"  Wow, how extreme can you get.  These people have probably been reading too much of the radical Charles Anderson!  Why can't they understand that socialism will make everyone equal and provide for all their wants?  Why can't they understand that the State has to use Force to Make People do the Right Thing?  Why can't they understand the collective love of taking your neighbor's income and property and of making him give his time to community service.  Sure, sometimes we have to send someone sort of rough around to take his income or his property.  Sometimes we have to haul his retrograde ass off to jail because he would not obey the great will of the collective.  Sometimes we have to shoot someone.  But, mostly they get with the program and it is so good for everyone to be equally poor, except the elite leaders, who of course need to have more goodies than the rest so they can comfortably lead.  The President should have fine suits, while the people are more moral if they wear rags.


Oh no.  Apparently these three wandered into the midst of this dangerous, black-hating crowd by horrible accident.  It is unlikely that they made it out alive.  The wolves surely devoured them.  Do you suppose that pink jug is full of acid?  Gee, their bodies were probably not even found.  Their bones were probably even dissolved.  The werewolves probably drank all of their blood first.  How awful.  See why you blacks must always vote Democrat?  We give you the best police protection and the best educations.  We really take care of you.  And you owe us.  Never forget how much you owe us, the white Progressive elitists who put Obama into the symbolic Presidency.  The real power is in Congress.

Well, enough of this Progressivist commentary.  I saw no acts of violence and no angry arguments.  There were a few sentiments that this is a Christian nation, one sign against abortion, but not really very much of that even.  Mostly, the signs wanted less government, a constitutional government.  I only saw one sign opposing the Victory Mosque at Ground Zero.  As usual, the police were not needed, but the Progressive DC government and the Democrat Congress needed to pretend that they were.  The people there were a cross-section of America with people of all races there.  Yes, black Americans are in such thralldom to the Democrats, that they are underrepresented.  But, I get the impression that more black Americans are beginning to think for themselves.  There were rich and poor people.  There were grandparents, parents, young adults, and children.  You know, just your everyday group of terrorists.  Well, actually that is what they are, because they are terrifying the Democrat, socialist Congress and their minion politicians all across America.  Good for them.  The People have Awakened and Risen.  They want to cast off tyrannical government and replace it with a more constitutional, limited-power government, which respects their individual rights.

12 September 2010

My 9/12 Protest Sign

My 9/12 Protest sign for the march from the Washington Monument to the Congress has two columns.  The first reads:

Read Ayn Rand!

Legitimate
Government:

•    Has Few Powers
•    Protects the Equal, Sovereign Rights of the Individual to Life, Liberty, Property, & the Pursuit of Happiness
•    Implied Individual Rights are Many

Individual Rights:
•    Constitutional Rights
•    Ownership of Body
•    Right to Earn a Living & Use Income
•    Freedom of Conscience
•    Freedom to be Left Alone & of Privacy
•    Freedom of Association
•    Individual Sexuality
•    Freedom to Trade
•    Freedom to Educate
•    Freedom to Hire



The second column reads:

Read Atlas Shrugged!

Illegitimate, Tyrannical Government:
•    Present Government
•    70% of Spending is Unconstitutional
•    Violates Individual Rights
•    Doesn’t Protect Rights Equally
•    ObamaCare Steals Your Body
•    Many Stimulus Plans Steal Your Income
•    Financial Controls Violate Freedoms of Trade, Contract, Hire
•    Coming CO2 Emissions Penalties are Pointless
•    Redistribution of Income is Immoral
•    Hates Enterprise & Self-Responsibility


Because there is a 60% chance of rain and it is raining now at 0430 hours, the sign is wrapped in thin clear plastic sheet.  It should hold up.  I hope many freedom-loving Americans will show up in a few hours, despite the rain!

10 September 2010

The Individual Capacity for Joy and Pleasure

A recurring theme for me is the importance, the complexity, and the individuality of the individual human being.  One of the more important ways individuals differentiate themselves from one another is in their capacity to experience joy and pleasure.  This capacity is different because we differ in many ways from one another.  Among these ways are:
  • Babies in their first days differ in their interest in the world.
  • Babies in their first days also respond emotionally to those things in the world in which they have taken an interest in different ways.  Our brains react differently to the chemicals produced in varying quantities as we experience pleasures, pain, fear, or anticipation.
  • The capacities of our senses differ.  Differences in our nervous system are very great.
  • Our intelligences are inherently different in many ways, with complex variations in how good it is in various modes of operation.
  • We develop our rational abilities further in many different ways.
  • Our emotional response to gaining understanding, solving problems, and other analytical thinking processes differs greatly.  Our minds are our greatest pleasure center.
  • To pursue our happiness, we must first successfully identify our values so that we can direct our actions rationally.
  • We apply our rational abilities to understanding, controlling, and reacting to our emotions in very different ways.  Some see their emotions as uncontrollable threats, others as in-control guides and pleasure enhancers.
  • To understand and control our emotions, we must be willing to take the risks of exploring our pleasures and developing them.  We must work to automate them in controlled ways so we can trust, rather than fear, them.  As we become able to trust them, our pleasure increases.
  • We differ greatly in the degree to which we allow the ideas of others to assist or harm our capacity for joy and pleasure.  Some people feel guilty for experiencing pleasure, since they think pleasure is reserved for heaven.  Others feel egalitarian guilt if they have more pleasure than others do.  Others experience greater joy due to the richness added to their lives by the ideas of others.
  • Our capacity for joy and pleasure is increased when we find others with whom we can trade and share mutually held values, joys, and pleasures.
  • Suitable others for such pleasure trading and sharing are usually matches in intelligence, rationality, creativity, shared values, and have similar capacities for joy and pleasure.  When one is an exceptionally good person, our suitable partners are the people one must love.
  • One of the most important capacities for pleasure is through the experience of sex and sexual attraction.  We again differ greatly in our capability to experience pleasure in sex due to the role of the mind, our nervous systems, the differences of our sex organs and tissues, the quality of our partners, our willingness to explore and develop our enjoyment of sex, and our ability to deny the many guilts and taboos created by societies and others to cripple mankind's ability to enjoy sex.
Many people experience a limited capacity for joy and pleasure because they have not thought about these many factors which affect that capacity.  The rational man manages his life so that he is likely to experience great joy and pleasure as a constant in his life.  The effort of living is hardly worth it if it is not to be rewarded with a great measure of joy and pleasure.  Indeed, they are the very fuel for that effort.  Do not shortchange your effort in understanding how to enhance your capacity for joy and pleasure.  It takes a never-ceasing effort to refill your tank to keep the engine of life performing, especially if you want to achieve top performance.

Reviewing the Cash for Clunkers Folly

Jeff Jacoby, a Boston Globe columnist, wrote a very interesting assessment of the Cash for Clunkers Program, or the Car Allowance Rebate System officially, in a column called 'Clunkers,' a classic government folly.  The Cash for Clunkers program was indeed a classic case of government simple-mindedness with consequent harm done to many Americans.

This Obama - Democrat program paid American consumers up to $4,500 for an old car that had low gas per mile ratings when they bought a new one with better gas mileage.  The "clunker" had to be in drivable condition and it was to be destroyed.  The engine was chemically destroyed and the car was  shredded or crushed.  This program cost taxpayers nearly $3 billion.

Let us examine the consequences of the Cash for Clunkers program:
  • Because mostly just the timing of car sales were affected, of the 700,000 cars sold during the clunkers sale frenzy, only 125,000 are believed to be sales that otherwise would not have happened.  Each of these additional car sales therefore cost taxpayers $24,000!
  • Researchers at the University of California - Davis figured that the reductions by the program of CO2 emissions cost $237 per ton.  Carbon emissions credits cost only about $20/ton.
  • The reduction in the emissions of CO2 is less than that Americans emit in one hour.  At least the plants that would have loved that extra CO2 were not seriously deprived of their food.
  • The reduction in gasoline use is equal to that Americans use in 4 hours.
  • During this recession, many people cannot afford new cars.  Unfortunately, the number of older, used cars on the market was decreased remarkably.  With more demand for less expensive cars and less used car supply, the cost of the average 3-year-old car is up more than 10% since last summer to nearly $20,000.  Some popular models are up more, with the Cadillac Escalade up 36% since last July to $35,000.
  • A great deal of American wealth was destroyed.
Jeff Jacoby concludes his commentary with this:
When all is said and done, Cash for Clunkers was a deplorable exercise in budgetary wastefulness, asset destruction, environmental irrelevance, and economic idiocy.  Other than that, it was a screaming success.
I wonder how many people who traded in a clunker for a new car and new car payments have regretted that decision as this recession goes on and on and on?  In some cases, the traded in clunker would have been worth more than $4500 by now, even if it was not then.  It is also worth noting that $3 billion spread over the 139,919,000 people employed in August 2010 means the average cost to each employed worker of the program is $21.44.  Paying that much for a destructive program makes me a bit angry.  I could have spent that money on paying down my debts or on one or two good books.  Of course, this foolhardy program is replicated by thousands of other foolhardy government programs, which have caused the federal budget deficits to soar since the Democrats took over control of Congress, and even more so since they usurped the presidency.  Thanks for taking that $21.44 multiplied many thousands of times away from me Obama and you socialist Democrats!  Payback time is coming neigh! If only we could force you guys to pay back all the deficit money you obligated the rest of us for.

09 September 2010

Schumpeter on College Problems

Schumpeter is a regular commentary in The Economist.  In the 4 - 10 September issue, Schumpeter takes up the status of the decline of colleges with many of the same concerns addressed in my post of a few days ago, The Soon-to-Burst Education Bubble.  He adds some interesting facts, which we will take note of here.

He notes that as the world was once in awe of GM, it remains in awe of U.S. universities.  The Shanghai Ranking Consultancy evaluates universities worldwide and claims 17 of the top 20 universities are in the U.S.  Of the top 50 universities, 35 are in the U.S.  70% of the living Nobel laureates in science and economics are teaching in U.S. universities.  A disproportionate number of academic journal article citations are those of American academics.  Despite this, there are signs of major problems.

These problems are seen in these facts:
  • While median U.S. household income has grown by a factor of 6.5 in the last 40 years, in-state costs to attend a state college have increased 15 times and the out-of-state costs have increased 24 times.  Private college costs are up by a factor greater than 13.
  • An Ivy League college costs $38,000 a year, excluding room and board.
  • Only 40% of students graduate in 4 years or less.
  • A professor's reputation is based on his research, not his teaching ability.  They are said to give students light workloads and inflated grades in a trade in which students are supposed to leave the professors alone.
  • Senior professors at Ivy League schools get sabbaticals every third year now, where it used to be every seventh year.  Of the 48 history professors at Harvard this year, 20 are on sabbatical!
  • The patents and licenses resulting from federal R&D funding have been decreasing in numbers for several years.  One reason is that legislators are directing funding largess away from centers of excellence.
  • A study of 198 top U.S. universities shows administrative spending is greatly outstripping spending on the teaching faculty.  This problem is even worse in elite private colleges than it is in state colleges.  Administrative spending per student at Harvard is up by 300%.  Almost half of Arizona State University employees are administrative staff.  College presidents are living regally.
  • Universities are ranked by the research prestige of their faculty, not by the quality of their teaching.  They are also generally subject to little scrutiny on costs.  In fact, some universities such as George Washington University compete by offering lavish facilities at a high cost.
Schumpter concludes:
This luxury model is unlikely to survive what is turning into a prolonged economic downturn. Parents are much less willing to take on debt than they were and much more willing to look abroad for better deals.  The internet also poses a growing threat to what Bill Gates calls "place-based colleges".  Online, you can listen to the world's best lecturers for next to nothing.
 America's universities lost their way badly in the era of easy money. If they do not find it again, they may go the way of GM.
The education bubble is due to a combination of government interference and self-indulgence at the universities.  The government with subsidized and guaranteed student loans and loans to student's parents have made it easy for the universities to pass on cost increases, which have gone up even more than medical costs.  Government R&D research grants have overly distracted faculty from teaching.  Administrators at universities have taxed those government research funds with higher and higher overhead charges over the years, which has allowed them to live higher on the hog.   This has decreased the fraction of the funds actually being used for research, so the efficiency of research has fallen.  Finally, many politically correct aims and government mandates such as affirmative action, diversity, social activism programs, and Title IX athletics requirements have all driven up university costs, particularly administrative costs.

The universities have been hotbeds of socialism and Progressivism.  As such, they require an environment from which reality is excluded.  The longer reality has been denied access to the universities, the more ravenous it has become.  Reality will not wait for these complacent and otherworldly universities to open their doors to it.  It will simply cave-in the walls and stomp through those hallowed halls all too soon.

07 September 2010

The August Jobs Story - Dismal, Very Dismal

The headline statistic on jobs in August 2010 is that the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate went up slightly to 9.6% from 9.5% in July and June.  However, in a long recession especially, the usual unemployment rate statistic may not be very useful because many people have given up on finding a job so long ago that the statistics do not reveal that in a better economy many of the unemployed would want a job.  Last year, I realized that it makes more sense to track the number of missing jobs by comparison to a time when people had plentiful and well-paying jobs.  The number of jobs wanted and needed might better be compared to the number needed to keep the same fraction of the population employed or actively looking for work as was the case in that good time.  Because the population is increasing, the number of needed and desired jobs should be increasing also.  The time I chose to compare to was January of 2000 when the workforce was at a high rate of 67.49% of the noninstitutional civilian work age population and the unemployment rate was 4.04%!  Times were good and many people wanted to work.

The updated table of job and unemployment statistics is given below.  The most important things to take note of are the fact that the work age population grew by 209,000 people in August, the number of employed people dropped by 215,000, and the number of missing jobs grew by 356,000 jobs relative to July!  This is an awful trend!  Yet the usual story using the unadjusted employment numbers actually would imply an improvement, since the seasonally unadjusted unemployment rate actually improved from July's 9.75% unemployment to August's 9.54% unemployment.  This happened because the number of people actively looking for work took a nosedive in August.  All that means is that those who would like to have a job became more discouraged in August than they already were in July!



For the third month in a row, the number of government jobs decreased.  114,000 census jobs died in August, causing a total loss of government jobs of 121,000 in August.  State and local government lost 10,000 jobs.  This is actually good news as the burden of paying for these jobs is lifted from the private sector.  The private sector added 67,000 jobs in August, which is fewer than it added in July, but more than in May and June.  So far this year, the private sector has added jobs each month.  August was the first month this year that manufacturing jobs decreased (by 27,000), after they had decreased every month in 2009 and after January of 2008.  Most of the private sector job increase was in services such as health care, leisure and hospitality, and professional and business services.  Construction had a small increase of 19,000 jobs.

The average work week for nonfarm private employees is only 34.2 hours.  The average hourly earnings are $22.66.  The number of full-time employed workers fell by 1,254,000 people from July to August, while the number of part-time employed workers increased by 1,039,000 workers!  This is another hidden measure of the July to August catastrophe.

Lawrence Katz, a Harvard University economics professor, says that about 300,000 jobs need to be added each month for 4 years to return the unemployment situation to where it was prior to the recession [Wall Street Journal, 4-5 September 2010].  By my missing job chart, just to get back the situation of December 2007, the economy has to create 9.75 million new jobs on top of the number needed to keep up with population growth.  Based on the growth of the noninstitutional civilian work age population growth from January 2000 to January 2010, the economy must produce about 158,000 jobs a month to keep up with the needed number of jobs due to the population increase, assuming that 67.49% of them want jobs as they did in January 2000.  To catch up to the "mere" 11,023,000 missing jobs of December 2007 in a four-year period, the replacement job rate is 203,000 jobs a month to be added to the population growth rate of 158,000 per month for a total job creation rate needed of 361,000 jobs per month!  The professor is coming in a bit low!  Any month in which 361,000 jobs are not created is a month of slow recovery from the recession, if not a month of deepened job recession.

We will need a much more business and wealth friendly environment than Obama will allow us to have if we are to create jobs over a four-year period at a rate of 361,000 per month.  That is simply not going to happen with the socialist redistributionist in chief at the helm.  Even should the Republicans capture the House and even the Senate, that is not going to happen.  We will need a committed return to a concept of much more limited government and a very renewed confidence in Capitalism and individual choice for that to happen.  So, we will be faced with a job insufficiency for a long time to come.  This weighs particularly heavily on those in their late 50s and in their 60s who lose jobs, on the young, and on those who are under-educated.  The young who do work will be much over-burdened by the ever-increasing numbers of people on social security and medicare, not to mention paying the huge benefit packages for government employees and government retirees.  There will be many sad stories for Americans for a long time to come.  The consequences of having chosen socialist principles of government for a long time have accumulated and have been wrecking havoc.  The drag on the economy has been evident in the missing job increase since the start of 2000 with the recession accelerating that trend.

Back to the month of August:  It fell short of the goal of adding 361,000 jobs by a mere 576,000 jobs.  This kick in the teeth just prior to the November election ought to be a kick in the teeth for the Party of Mass Job Destruction, the Democrats.  It is being hidden by the foolish method the Bureau of Labor Statistics uses to measure unemployment.  Nonetheless, the people know something is very wrong.

06 September 2010

The Soon-to-Burst Education Bubble

In early June, Glenn H. Reynolds, professor of law at the University of Tennessee and the Instapundit, wrote that the education bubble would burst soon.  He pointed out that Money magazine reported that "After adjusting for financial aid, the amount that families pay for college has skyrocketed 439 percent since 1982... Normal supply and demand can't begin to explain cost increases of this magnitude."

Reynolds notes that:
  • Just as with the housing bubble, "cheap and readily available credit has let people borrow to finance education."
  • The consumer ignorance of students and parents denies how tough it will be to repay the loans.  [ I'll attest to this, especially when the same government that makes the loans easy to get causes a massive recession that harms the parent's small business.]
  • There is "a belief that, whatever the cost, a college education is a necessary ticket to future prosperity."
  • Bubbles burst when ignorance and excessive optimism can no longer sustain them.
  • Student loan demand is decreasing and students are more willing already to go to less expensive colleges.
Reynolds says that colleges can provide a student prosperity in three ways:
  1. It may make them more economically productive by providing a skill of economic value in the marketplace.
  2. It provides a credential employers want for which they will not be accused of discrimination as they would if they required IQ tests and the degree suggests an ability to follow instructions and to show up.
  3. The degree may assist in forming a social network that may provide jobs and opportunities.
Reynolds adds that only the first path to student prosperity does much for society as a whole.  The others are only about who enjoys the distribution of wealth.  His own deadly evaluation of colleges is that they are better at providing for 2. and 3. than for 1.  He also says they offer the college experience, which is rich in the party experience!  He does not think the colleges will do a good job of reforming themselves.  He expects that after the bubble bursts, educations will more likely be obtained on-line as Anya Kamenetz has suggested in her book DIY U.

Michael Barone has picked up on this Reynolds prediction of the education bubble burst in the Sunday Washington Examiner of 5 September 2010 in an report entitled "Higher education bubble poised to burst."  He notes that the National Center for Education Statistics has found that most college graduates are insufficiently proficient in verbal and quantitative literacy.  Philip Babcock and Mindy Marks of the University of California found that the average time a college student studies now is 14 hours a week compared to 24 hours in 1961.

Frankly, I do not believe a student belongs in college if they are not studying 36 hours a week.  This number of 14 hours of study a week makes it very clear that the average college student has no business being in college, given the expense.  A college is a very expensive playground and people 18 through 21 years old have no business spending four years playing.  This is childish and irresponsible.

The American Council of Alumni and Trustees (ACTA) surveyed 714 colleges and came to the obvious conclusion that "by and large, higher education has abandoned a coherent content-rich general education curriculum."  Jay Leno on his many visits to college campuses has long made that very clear!!!  Well, ACTA notes that college students are not taught the basics of literature, history, math, or science.  Most colleges do not require economics, American history and government, or a foreign language.  You can examine the requirements of these colleges here.

It is being noted that college administrations are hugely bloated, just as governments are.  Meanwhile, their endowments have generally taken a beating with the recent collapse of the stock market and other investments.  State governments are cutting back on the tax monies passed on to colleges.  State-funded colleges have generally had to raise tuition and fee costs.  For-profit colleges are beginning to siphon students away with offers of economically valued training.  These are signs of the impending collapse.

Barone and Glenn Reynolds agree with me that college is not for many or even most of those going to college.  Barone notes that in 1910, about 2% of Americans graduated from college.  The number of graduates in 1910 was 39,755, which is fewer than are to be found on many single college campuses today.

He observes that:
Government's student loan subsidies have enabled institutions to grow faster over the last three decades than the economy on whose productivity they ultimately depend.  ...  The people running America's colleges and universities have long thought they were exempt from the laws of supply and demand and unaffected by the business cycle.  Turns out that's wrong.
Of course governments can do wonders to obscure the law of supply and demand, but in the end, even they cannot silence its demands. This seems to be a recurring theme in my own writings on many a subject here.  In the aftermath of the college education bubble bursting, one wonders if the remaining colleges might take economics more seriously and actually try to understand how the private sector produces the goods and services which support government and colleges.  In the long run, the colleges have done more to harm the business of America than to help it.  The colleges will one day find that they were actually poisoning themselves, albeit with a slow poison.

02 September 2010

September 2 is Atlas Shrugged Day!

On September 2, 1946, Ayn Rand began writing Atlas Shrugged and she finished her great novel in time for publication in 1957.  Throughout the novel, September 2 is the date of a number of events:
  • In the opening scene of the novel, a bum asking Eddie Willers for a handout, asks "Who is John Galt?"  This and the way it was asked bother Eddie.  As he walks through NYC he is also bothered by the gigantic calendar hanging from a public tower and announcing the date as September 2.    
  • On that date, Hank Readen and Dagny Taggart decide to take a vacation together.  On that vacation they discover an abandoned motor that should have revolutionized the use of energy in the world.
  •  Francisco D'Anconia makes his speech on money on September 2.  He proclaims money to be the tool of free trade and the result of noble effort, not the root of evil.  Those who call money evil choose to replace its use with the force of the gun.
  • D'Anconia Copper is nationalized on 2 September, but the date on the calendar is replaced by "Brother, you asked for it!"
So, on this day of 2 September 2010, let us give thanks to Ayn Rand for her incredibly dedicated effort in writing this path-breaking novel we are finding so important in our lives 53 years after its publication date and 64 years after she started it on 2 September 1946.  This should be a day celebrated much as Thanksgiving Day is celebrated, but without any religious overtones, as a day to respect the creativity and productivity of all the heroic men and women that Ayn Rand's heroic novel commemorates.  At the top of our list of respected heroes and heroines, we should recognize Ayn Rand herself.

01 September 2010

Arizona Community Colleges Sued for Asking to See Green Cards

We hear that the Obama administration has been promoting more vigorous crackdowns on employers who hire illegal immigrants.  One might expect that employers would want to respond to that by checking on prospective employees more carefully before hiring them.  Now when I hire someone, I have to see and copy at least two forms of identification for each hire and register them with the New Hire Registry within 10 days of their first day of work.  In every case, my employees have provided a driver's license and a social security card, though other documents can be accepted.  Now, as we have all read, there is a large market supplying illegal immigrants with driver's licenses and social security cards.  It would seem logical that an employer, not being an expert in detecting counterfeit documents, might ask a non-citizen he might wish to employ for a green card.

Big mistake.  The Maricopa Community Colleges in the Phoenix area are being sued by the Obama Justice Dept. for asking non-citizen hires to show their green cards.  The Justice Dept. says that requiring any document beyond those required of citizens is discriminatory.  The government is asking a judge of the Executive Office for Immigration Review in the Justice Dept. to order the Maricopa colleges to pay a civil penalty of $1,100 for each of 247 non-citizen job applicants who were required to provide additional documents.  The county taxpayers probably do not have anything more important to use their income for than to replace the lost $271,700 of education money in their community colleges during this government-induced and prolonged recession!

Government-induced recessions cause high unemployment rates.  The government believes that equality of outcome is the way to judge whether discrimination has occurred.  Since the Bureau of Labor Statistics report of 6 August 2010 for the unemployment rates in July tell us that the government-induced recession has caused 8.7% of white people to be unemployed and 16.6% of black Americans to be unemployed, the government is guilty of mass discrimination by putting so many more black Americans out of work than white Americans.   If black Americans had the same unemployment rate as white Americans, there would be 1,431,000 fewer unemployed black Americans.  Since putting someone out of a job is surely at least 100 times worse than asking them to provide a green card, the government should be fined about $110,000 per extra black American they have put out of a job.  This yields a total "fine" of $157.41 billion.  Now the only effective way to fine the government is to force it to reduce taxes.  So its penalty for discriminating against black Americans by inducing this recession should be a tax reduction of $157.41 billion.  There should be additional fines for the Latino unemployment excess and for all the business losses that have occurred as well!

But of course the government lives by a very different set of rules than it imposes on the People it rules.  You will not see the Justice Dept. suing the government for such a tax break due to its truly discriminatory practices, given its false definition of discrimination.  That very false idea of discrimination is also behind the absurd report to the United Nations Council on Human Rights that claims that a state of the United States, Arizona, is violating the human rights of Americans.  We the People are ruled by an absurd government, which with its many violations of our Constitution and our equal, sovereign individual rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness has established itself as an illegitimate government, as defined in our Declaration of Independence.