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.

18 November 2012

Secession and the Consent of the Governed

There are many people talking about secession of their states from the United States of America following the re-election of Obama to the presidency and renewed control of the Senate by the lawbreaking Democrat Socialist Party.  Though Obama won handily in the electoral vote and pretty handily in the popular vote, he did not carry a single county in the three states of Utah, Oklahoma, and West Virginia.  Romney won 72.8% of the vote in Utah, 69.3% in Wyoming, 66.8% in Oklahoma, and 64.5% in Idaho.  Obama failed to earn even 40% of the vote in 13 states: The five mentioned and Arkansas, Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota, North Dakota, Alabama, Tennessee, and Kentucky.  Many Americans believe that Obama and the Democrat Socialist Party are highly guilty of repeated constitutional violations of the limits of government power.  The manner in which the unpopular ObamaCare program was pushed through the Congress is still highly resented, though it was not much of a presidential election issue because of Romney's compromised position with the Massachusetts individual mandate health insurance law.

When the American colonies rebelled against King George III and the Parliament of Great Britain and seceded from their union with them, they had a real problem with replacing the once colonial governments with self-rule state governance.  They wanted representation in their own government, but they needed to establish legitimate governments to replace the governance of Great Britain, which the Declaration of Independence had declared illegitimate because it had violated the sovereign and equal rights of the individual to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.  The Americans needed to establish governments with the consent of the governed and which protected and did not violate individual rights.  They assigned an essential role in the process of doing this to the making and acceptance of constitutions.  They created constitutions at the state level and at the federal government level.  The constitutions were needed to provide for a limited scope of government to which the people would readily give their assent to be governed.  Only a fool would consent to be governed by a government claiming unlimited powers or even just powers that violated individual rights.  Early Americans were not inclined to be such fools.

Good government must be highly limited government, if the highly varied character and interests of the people are not to be damaged by government.  Good government protects the people's right not to be coerced, so that they have a rich choice of options in a robust and free private sector to pursue their self-chosen values.  It protects them from coercion by other individuals, by gangs, by associations, and by anything more than legitimate and essential coercion by government itself.  Of course, government is used solely for coercion, but that use of coercion must be strictly limited by well-agreed principles so that government is not worse than thugs operating on their own out of avarice.  In such a society with such a limited government, individuals are free to exercise the many opportunities presented by a broad freedom of association with other individuals of their choice in the pursuit of values of their own choosing in voluntary cooperation.  State and Federal government constitutions were used by Americans to provide this wonderful society maximizing voluntary cooperation.  To such constitutionally limited governments, nearly everyone gave their consent to be governed.  This was the American Principle of government and society.

When this American Principle of government is violated by the government, any individual and any combination of them, have the right to secede.  No one is morally obliged to give up their sovereign individual rights to an unconstitutional, power-lusting government.  In practice, an individual can as yet leave the country as a form of secession.  But, there is no moral reason why an individual wanting to be free of government coercion in violation of his individual rights must leave his family, friends, and property behind in order to have the freedom that is his by right.  There is no moral reason why any size territory in which most of the people want to secede in order to constitute a legitimate government, as defined in the Declaration of Independence, cannot do so.

The American Principle has long been violated and the extent of its violation has accelerated and been maximized under the Obama regime.  There has long been a failure to understand that democracy coupled with a government with few limits, is simply another form of tyranny and one which is inherently unstable.  For a time, the common sense of the people may keep a democracy from being as bad as an out and out dictatorship or totalitarian government, but the common sense of the people degrades with time and their understanding of what the government is doing does also.  Soon, big government is simply too big for the people to manage it or even for the politicians they choose to manage it competently.  Worse, special interests with time and money on their hands, take over the controls of the government.  Under the Obama regime, the federal government has reached an apogee of power-lust, pretentiousness of knowledge and morality, corruption, and incompetence.  The federal government is very tyrannical in its abuse of our equal, sovereign individual rights.  This Obama regime ignores the law, including the Supreme Law of the Land, the Constitution.  It is clearly a highly illegitimate government as defined by own Declaration of Independence.  It is certainly not a government that seeks the nearly uniform consent of the governed.  It is a government that is eager to do harm to many Americans so that it may steal their wealth and redistribute it to the poor and to the unethical such as labor unions and campaign contributors operating flimsy green energy companies with no real markets.

Even when operating within the limits of a constitutional and legitimate government, good government does not pass laws on which there is no widespread agreement.  The Obama government recognizes no such wise restraint.  This is not surprising.  Socialism is highly irrational at its core.  It pretends to be concerned and driven by the welfare of the greater number, but it ignores the essential fact of human nature that we are complex and highly differentiated individuals.  Our individual values have complex and highly differentiated hierarchies at any time and these hierarchies change considerably over time.  No government can adequately know and provide for our individual needs and dreams.  We must have the freedom to do so ourselves in a vibrant private sector.  The Obama regime has failed to provide for individual needs in the last four years and will continue to fail on an even grander scale over the next four years.  The long history of socialism has confirmed this inability of socialist government to substitute itself for the role of self-responsible and self-managing individuals operating freely ino the private sector.

Only fools can think that the Obama regime can provide a different outcome.  To date, it has stripped us of many of our liberties, most especially our economic and freedom of association liberties.  It has stripped us of our ownership of our very bodies and minds under ObamaCare.  It has diminished the private sector as the federal government has grown to take 25% of the entire economy in terms of its spending and far more with its regulations.  It is taking over control of huge sectors of the economy such as medical care, health insurance, financial, energy, and auto-making.  It has heavily beaten up employers and made it very difficult for them to generate profits and to hire employees.  This is especially true for many small businesses which do not have the resources to lobby power-hungry politicians and bureaucrats so they will to do them no harm.  As businesses throughout the nation are damaged and their costs of operation increased, consumers have to pay higher prices for the goods and services they want.  Excessive government coercion is lowering our standard of living as people are making less and having to pay more to meet their needs.

It is no surprise that many Americans are now so fed-up with governmental disregard for their individual rights, the limits of the Constitution, and for their General Welfare, that they are now talking about secession.  Much as the heroes of Atlas Shrugged left a socialist, unconstitutional, and unlimited government-dominated society to retire to Galt's Gulch until it collapsed, many now are talking about secession or about the revival of a legitimate government when the present Welfare State and Kleptomaniac Government falls.  Whether it was already too late in this last election to reverse the course of unsustainable government or not, I do not know.  I had hoped it was not.  I strongly suspect that if the American people manage to learn enough from the pain of the next four years added to that of the last four years, that their attempt to reform to prevent governmental collapse will either prove to be too late or little better than actual collapse.

There are well enough managed states that should they secede, they would be able to avoid much of the pain of the collapse of the federal government, not to mention the present harm it does to the People.  One might argue that if a state secedes, its people will lose Medicare and Social Security benefits they have paid for.  This is not a valid argument.  Their money has already been spent and those programs, contrary to a false claim a Democrat made today on Fox News, are already taking money from the general tax revenue bucket as the programs cost more than the payroll taxes dedicated to them provide.  The people of a seceding state with a more limited and more responsible government lose nothing, except a once proud tradition of the United States of America.  But that tradition has been betrayed by a long-time and growing lack of adherence to the American Principle.  That rule of legitimate and good government needs to be revived and if one no longer believes it can be revived throughout the entire nation at a reasonable cost, then secession is a rational choice of action.

Unfortunately, Obama admires Lincoln and it is clear that what he admires is his use of force in a fairly ruthless national purpose.  Obama would unleash the Dogs of War happily to create Civil War to prevent any state or area of the present nation from seceding.  Ayn Rand identified the most functional way to oppose such a tyrannical government: retire or slow down one's economic activity to speed up the collapse of government and await its fall.  That collapse is inevitable unless government undergoes a remarkable transformation toward a much more limited role of protecting individual rights and dismantles the Welfare State and the Kletocracy.

It will not do anything of the sort under Obama.  His call for much higher taxes and spending over the last few days is clear indication that he is true to form.  ObamaCare will speed the collapse greatly, as will Obama's war on fossil fuels, the financial industry, and his determination to suck the profits and cash flow out of companies so that they cannot invest in new equipment, new plants and facilities, the hiring and training of employees, product improvement, and R&D, quality control, and process improvements.  Not only will we see a failure of the economy to expand in the next four years, but we will see more periods of contraction.  The only way the nation was going to be able to sustain Medicare and Social Security programs back in 2008 was if the economy grew rapidly.  Its failure to grow well in the last four years will be added to another four years of no growth, leaving these programs, the added detritus due to ObamaCare, and the backbreaking interest on the national debt without the required funding to meet liabilities.  Obama is bringing his beloved socialist transformation of America to a more rapid failure.  He is quite analogous to President Thompson of Atlas Shrugged, but without even the minimal intelligence to ask John Galt to save the country.

09 November 2012

What Age Were the 10 Million Missing Voters

I noted in this earlier post that nearly 10 million white voters did not vote in the presidential election and that about a million black voters also did not, compared to their numbers in the 2008 election.  What were the ages of the missing voters?

From the CNN exit polls for each election:

2008:

18-29 years old, 18% of voters, 66% voted for Obama, 32% voted for McCain
30-44 years old, 29% of voters, 52% voted for Obama, 46% voted for McCain
45-64 years old, 37% of voters, 50% voted for Obama, 49% voted for McCain
>= 65 years old, 16% of voters, 45% voted for Obama, 53% voted for McCain

2012:


18-29 years old, 19% of voters, 60% voted for Obama, 37% voted for Romney
30-44 years old, 27% of voters, 52% voted for Obama, 45% voted for Romney
45-64 years old, 38% of voters, 47% voted for Obama, 51% voted for Romney
>= 65 years old, 16% of voters, 44% voted for Obama, 56% voted for Romney

So, the only major change in the percentage of voters by age was the decrease in the 30 - 44 year old group who favored Obama in both elections.  They favored Obama by 6% in the 2008 election and by 7% in 2012.  The 18 to 29 year olds increased from 18% to 19% of the voters, but their preference for Obama fell from a 34% differential to a 23% differential.  I expected a sizable decrease here due to the very high unemployment of young adults.  Overrall, the changes in these two age groups did not help Obama relative to 2008.

The 47 to 64 year olds increased in percentage of voters from 37 to 38%.  They had favored Obama by a 1% differential in 2008, but they favored Romney by a 4% differential in 2012.  Those 65 and older were 16% of the voters in both elections.  They had favored McCain by 8% in 2008 and they favored Romney by 12% in 2012.  The changes for both of these age groups helped Romney do better than McCain did.

It is clear though that there were large decreases in the number of voters in each of these age groups, with the biggest decrease among 30-44 year olds who supported Obama.  The relative decrease among 18 - 29 year olds and among 45-64 year olds was slightly less than that for those 65 and over.

There is no simple explanation for the Romney loss based on age.  The lower turnout in this election has a much greater racial make-up than it does an age make-up.  Insofar as it has an age based effect, the harm to Obama was greater than that to Romney.

By age considerations, the reason Romney lost is because he did not get a high enough percentage of the vote in any age group to win.  Yes, the older and wiser the voter, the better Romney did.   No question it would have helped him greatly if 18-29 year olds had massively failed to vote relative to older voters.  I had expected their percentage of all voters to drop in this election relative to 2008, but that sure did not happen.  Apparently, though their absolute numbers dropped greatly, so did those of all of the other three age groups.

As yet, Romney's failure to motivate white voters to vote is still looking like his main, but not his only, problem.  The explanation that many are offering that he simply did not seem to differ in policy enough from Obama for voters to get enthusiastic about him  and come out to vote for him makes a lot of sense.  They decided to stay with the guy they did not like or agree with very much instead of trying someone else they were not sure they liked or agreed with very much.

The Fed Projects 3% Growth in 2015, But Be Wary

Bill Wilson of Americans for Limited Government has written an interesting review of the predictions for GDP growth by the Federal Reserve through this never-ending Great Socialist Recession.  He notes that the Federal Reserve is now predicting 3% GDP growth in 2015.  Let me summarize the story of the Federal Reserve predictions for real GDP growth and the actual real GDP growth with the numbers he gives and those I have added:

2008:
January 2008:  Prediction of 1.3 to 2.0%
October 2008: Prediction of 0.0 to 0.3%

Actual 2008: -0.3%


2009:
January 2008:  Prediction of 2.1 to 2.7%
October 2008: Prediction of -0.2 to 1.1%
January 2009:  Prediction of -1.3 to -0.5%

Actual 2009:  -3.1%


2010:
January 2009:  Prediction of 2.5 to 3.3%
January 2010:  Prediction of 2.8 to 3.5%

Actual 2010: 2.4% 


2011:
January 2009:  Prediction of 3.8 to 5.0%
January 2010:  Prediction of 3.4 to 4.5%
January 2011:  Prediction of 3.4 to 3.9%
June 2011:  Prediction of 2.7 to 2.9%

 Actual 2011:  1.8%


2012:
January 2010:  Prediction of 3.5 to 4.5% 
January 2011:  Prediction of 3.5 to 4.4%
January 2012:  Prediction of 2.2 to 2.7%

Actual 2012 So Far:  1.76% 
 

2013:
January 2011:  Prediction of 3.7 to 4.6%
January 2012:  Prediction of 2.8 to 3.2%
September 2012:  Prediction of 2.5 to 3.0%

2014:
January 2012:  Prediction of 3.3 to 4.0%

September 2012:  Prediction of 3.0 to 3.8% 

2015:
September 2012:  Prediction of 3.0 to 3.8%

Clearly, the Federal Reserve does not understand how the economy and businesses work.   It clearly consistently underestimates how much growth control of the economy by the government and the Federal Reserve itself is destroyed by their actions.  The Federal Reserve has been the eternal optimist in its real GDP forecasts for years now.  The closer they get to a year or its completion, the lower their estimates become, but never as low as the actual result.

The Missing Voters, The Missing White Voters

In the 2008 Presidential election, the vote outcome was (ignoring minor parties):

Obama, 69,456,897
McCain, 59,934,814
Total, 129,391,711

In the 2012 Presidential election, the vote outcome was (ignoring minor parties):

Obama, 61,164,405
Romney, 58,159,408
Total, 119,323,813
Difference between the candidates, 3,004,997

There were 10,067,898 fewer votes cast for the two major party candidates in the 2012 election despite a growing population.  If the same proportion of the population had voted in 2012 as did in 2008, there should have been about 15.2 million more votes cast in 2012 than in 2008.

The difference in votes for the Democrat and Republican presidential candidates in 2012 compared to 2008 was:

Democrat, Obama, lost 8.29 million votes
Republican, lost 1.76 million votes
Total Lost Votes, 10.05 million votes

According to the CNN exit polls, the vote by race in 2012 was:

White, 72%, down from 74% in 2008
Black, 13%, same as in 2008
Latino, 10%, up from 9% in 2008
Asian, 3%, up from 2% in 2008

The number of white votes can be calculated for each year and we find that there were 9.84 million fewer white voters in 2012 than in 2008.

2008 White Vote:
Obama, 43%
McCain, 55%

2012 White Vote:
Obama, 39%
Romney, 59%

There was a 20% differential in this election of white voters for Romney.  If the 9.84 million white voters who stayed home had voted in the same percentages for Romney and Obama as those who voted did, then Romney would have had (0.20)(9.84 million) = 1.97 million more votes.  This would have only been two-thirds of the difference in the vote for Obama and Romney, but it would be very interesting to understand why nearly 10 million white voters stayed home.  In fact, while white voter numbers are not increasing as fast as are black and Latino numbers, they did increase somewhat, so this analysis understates the Republican problem with potential white voters.

Demographically, Republicans do have a serious need to win Latino votes.  But it is just as bad a problem that they could not motivate many white voters to come to the polls and vote and did even worse this time than they did with the very lackluster Senator John McCain.  Those who say that the Republican problem is simply that they only got 27% of the Latino vote are missing another critical part of the puzzle.  The 1% increase in the Latino voting percentage among about 10 million fewer voters, means there were only about 0.3 million more Latino votes.  Obama's 71% portion of that added vote gave him about 0.2 million more votes.  As a result, Obama's advantage due to more Latino voters was only about 0.1 times Romney's loss of votes due to not turning out white voters.

To have actually won the election, Romney would still have needed to get a significantly larger percentage of white and/or Latino votes.  The percentage of black voters stayed the same and given the lower number of total voters, the actual number of black voters decreased compared to their number in 2008.  The actual number was about 1.3 million fewer black voters.  Those black voters who voted, voted 91% for Obama.  Thus, a lower turnout of black voters may have cost him about 1.2 million votes.  So, Latino voters increased very slightly and white voters decreased hugely compared to 2008.

Summarizing the effects of voter turnout by race alone, and recognizing that using percentages only to the nearest 1% causes large errors, we have:

Obama's lost votes, 1.2 million black votes minus 0.2 million Latino votes = 1.0 million lost votes.

Romney's lost votes, 2.0 million white votes

So Romney nominally lost twice as many votes as Obama did due to the changes in numbers of voters choosing to vote, assuming each race voted in the same percentage as those of that race who turned up to vote.  Admittedly, that may very well not be a good assumption.  Nonetheless, it makes it clear that much more than just changing demographics is responsible for the sorry showing of Romney.

08 November 2012

German Manufacturing Threatened by Green Energy Costs

German energy costs have been considerably increased by the kind of green energy policies that Obama is so eager to follow.  Meanwhile, at least the cost of natural gas, which is often used in manufacturing heating applications, has come down greatly in the U.S. thanks to horizontal drilling coupled with hydraulic fracturing.  Obama is dying to regulate at the federal level rather than the state level where it is now regulated. He wants to reduce our natural gas output by hydraulic fracturing.

The much higher German manufacturing costs of energy in energy-intensive industries compared to the U.S. is causing executives at such German companies as Bayer and BASF to worry that little such future investment in plants and facilities can be made in Germany.  Manufacturing expansion will have to be in the U.S.

But wait, Obama may yet rescue German manufacturing from our competitive edge as he pursues his program to make our energy costs skyrocket.  Heaven forbid we should take advantage of an energy resource to create jobs in the U.S.!

07 November 2012

Economic Stagnation, Unsustainable Debt, Lawless Government Chosen

The majority of voters rejected the American Principle of limited, constitutional government whose purpose is the protection of our sovereign individual right to life, liberty, property, the ownership of our own bodies, minds, and labor, and the pursuit of personal happiness. Socialism and anti-human extreme environmentalism coupled with crony mercantilism and constant, blatant lying were chosen by the majority of voters within the boundaries of America.

I cannot say how unbelievably disappointed I am in half of the people of this country.  I cannot even think of them as Americans due to their failure to value the American Principle.  I cannot understand how so many could so radically embrace organized thievery, thinly veiled as redistribution in the interest of materialistic equality.

The voters have chosen four more years of such violations of economic rights that economic stagnation is assured.  We are assured four more years of very high unemployment and decreased full-time employment thanks to ObamaCare and a weak economy.  We are assured of the further destruction of whole industries, such as the coal, oil, and natural gas industries.  We can count on continued high gasoline prices.  We are assured of a government controlled medical system characterized by fleeing doctors, deteriorating medical service and expertise, aging medical equipment, lengthening waits for critical medical care, and of course much increased costs.  Government-run schools will become still greater propaganda factories deceiving the minds of our children and college students with tall tales of how government control will solve most any problem.  They will serve blue collar union teachers and not the children who will be deprived of real knowledge about American history and civics.  The cost of this hollow education will continue to skyrocket.  America's producers will be vilified for another four years and then taxed heavily, not to fill the gap between government spending and tax revenue, but to penalize the productive for being so productive.

Most voters say they want smaller government, but most voted for Obama.  This is a total disconnect.

Most voters say they want less national debt, but they chose the debt champion of all Presidents.

The voters also chose to return a Democrat Senate so they could continue the Obama-Reid regime record of no budget for a total of 8 years, in violation of law.

They chose Obama and a Democrat Senate so they would continue to have the unpopular ObamaCare, really ObamaUncaringTax, shoved down their throats by rationing bureaucrats and IRS thugs. 

Most voters cared not a wink about the cover-up of the New Black Panthers, Fast and Furious, and Benghazi.  Most care nothing that Obama flushed tens of billions of dollars down the toilet of hollow green energy companies with no possible market run by his campaign bundlers to fill their pockets in a race to the company bankruptcy.  Most voters did not mind the constant misrepresentations of the truth, the constant lies, and the fallacious arguments.  They embraced their celebrity con man.

This con man and the Democrat Senate will not address the fact that the U.S. government spending on ObamaCare, Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security, Food Stamps, and the interest on the debt are unsustainable.  We are hurtling down the road hacked out by Greece.  Collapse of the government is coming.  The only hope to avoid that was to free the economy and allow growth in it that exceeded that of the government.  Most voters never understood this simple fact.  Thanks to Obama and the Democrat Socialist Party and their most unworthy, unthinking supporters, collapsed government is our future.

06 November 2012

Vote No on Maryland Question 5 to Oppose Super Gerrymandering

Question 5
Referendum Petition
Congressional Districting Plan (Ch. 1 of the 2011 Special Session)


Establishes the boundaries for the State’s eight United States Congressional Districts based on recent census figures, as required by the United States Constitution.

For the Referred Law
Against the Referred Law
Phrased this way, this seems like a reasonable Question to approve, but it is actually the approval of a Congressional districting plan which is so insanely incompatible with representative government that it is an embarrassment to the state once known as the Free State and also known as the Old Line State due to fielding the best unit of the Continental Army in the American Revolution.  Even the Washington Post recommends voting against this extreme instance of Democrat Party redistricting.  Here is the unbelievable gerrymandered map of districts set by the Democrats for Maryland:


I have the displeasure of being in Congressional District 3, which is shown in brown in this map.  Democrat John Sarbanes of the infamous Sarbanes-Oxley Act is to be the Representative elected by Democrat design in this district weaving its flimsy tendrils through Montgomery, Howard, Anne Arundel, and Baltimore Counties, as well as Baltimore City.  My long-time socialist Representative, Donna Edwards, is in the new District 4 in violet in Prince Georges and Anne Arundel Counties.

Any serious concern for good representative government would understand that such districts should be kept in a minimum number of counties and should have relatively small circumferences relative to the area to make as compact a region as is reasonable.  This means the people in the district will have more in common and that they can get to a relatively central townhall meeting with their Congressman as easily as possible.

05 November 2012

Why Romney is Better for Small Businesses

Businesses that pay taxes at the individual income tax rate employ 54% of American workers.  Obama wants to raise the marginal income tax rate of business owners making more than $200,000 a year, while Romney wants to lower this marginal tax rate by 20%.  Obama will raise the marginal tax rate in the two highest income tax brackets from 35 to 39.6% and from 33 to 36%.  He will add a 0.9% increase in Medicare taxes to people in these brackets and will increase the tax rate on dividends, interest, and capital gains by 3.8% beginning in January.  He will reduce their deductions as well, which will make their marginal tax rate a real 44.8%.

As Obama says, these tax rates will not apply to 97% of small business owners, but they will apply to those who hire most of the new employees.  In 2008, there were 27.28 million companies and only 18,469 had more than 500 employees.  This means that about 27.26 million firms are small businesses or about 99.93% of all businesses are small businesses.  78.26% of all firms had no employees.  Those with 4 or fewer employees accounted for 91.6% of all small businesses.  The businesses that account for most of the new hiring employ from 20 to 499 employees and these are only about 2.3% of all businesses.  Most of the high income business owners Obama wants to tax at 44.8% marginal rates are owners of such businesses.  Such high marginal tax rates will serve as a strong disincentive to work so hard to grow a company.

Small businesses are the result of free associations of individuals in the private sector, not the government sector, or the falsely, but optimistically termed public sector.  The owner(s) of the small business voluntarily formed the business to supply services or goods to others in voluntary trade.  The owner(s) may hire employees, who voluntarily trade their labor for a wage or salary.  The only necessary role of government is to prevent others from using force to interfere with these voluntary trades and associations.  Small businesses are very much creatures of the private sector.

Large businesses are sometimes in a position to purchase politicians to bend the excessive powers of big government to provide them with special advantages, much as labor unions and trial lawyers do the same.  Among the favorite tactic of such nefarious big businesses is the use of excessive regulations to reduce the ability of otherwise lean and determined smaller businesses to compete with them.  The big business can readily hire several compliance lawyers and accountants, while hiring one of each is a huge expense for the competing small business.  Of course, under Obama, the big business just has legislation passed that directly gives it an advantage, such as a mandate that people must use their product or service.  The green energy companies and the Too-Big-To-Fail financial companies are the recipients of such advantages.  So are ethanol producers.  Almost any advantage an unethical big business gets with its political pull is harmful to most small businesses.

Small business owners tend to be more independent-minded and more individualistic than most people.  They are willing to take on a greater amount of self-responsibility and the risks that manifestly come with trying to build a small business.  They have to carefully identify their values and control their limited resources with wisdom and understanding.  These are not the traits of people who wish to be dependents of government in its Nanny State guise.  Small business owners tend to be willing to rise or fall based upon their own productivity.

Broadly speaking, the Democratic Party is more the champion of big government than is the Republican Party.  In particular, it tends to be anti-economic rights in its viewpoint.  Property rights, the right to earn a living, the right to hire employees exercising freedom of contract, the right to travel, the right to trade goods and services with others under the freedom of contract, and the right to create new ideas, goods, and services are all critical individual rights which small businesses require to flourish.  It is the maximization of these freedoms, not special interest favors, that small businesses need most to have the opportunity to succeed.

That the greatest need of small businesses is economic freedom is seen empirically by studies that rank nations and states (here, here, and here) by their economic freedom and examine their economic growth.  Generally, a small business does better when its customers are doing better, so targeted favors from government are of little use if your customer and suppliers are not doing equally well.  Bigger and growing markets also tend to bring down the costs of its business inputs more as more innovation occurs and businesses can take more advantage of scale or find more niche markets adequate to their growth.

Independent-minded small businessmen should want this open field of a healthy and robust private sector to operate in.  They are not equipped to field an army of lobbyists to protect themselves from politician's attempt to extort money from them.  They are not able to come up with the campaign donation bribes to pay the game of seeking special interest legislation or regulations.  The small business owner has his mind fully occupied by the business needs of his business and does not need a ton of government paperwork to do, hundreds of thousands of pages of government regulations to read and decipher, long discussions with politicians behind closed doors, and weeks of hearings and trials to attend.  Neither does he want subsidies, credits, and deductions which are supposed to reward him for obeying the wishes of politicians.  He is an independent businessman because he wants to do things his way, not as the manipulated serf of a politician.

Obama has been making the claim that he has lowered taxes for small businesses 18 times.  Yes, he has manipulated small businesses with a number of small or short term tax breaks.  My own small business has never benefited from any of these tax breaks.  In the Obama economy, I have not been able to hire an additional employee, so I have not received the benefit of paying only 90% of the taxes owed on quarterly tax payments, with the rest to be made up at the end of the year.  No, I have had no advantage from this also since my company pays payroll taxes every month in full.  Small business owners are not allowed to deduct the cost of their health insurance premiums, but for one year (2010) Obama allowed relief from this nasty ill-treatment of business owners.  In a couple of years, the amount of equipment one could deduct in the year of purchase was increased, but the usual lower amount is much more than most small businesses can purchase in a year anyway, so only a few small businesses can benefit from this tax break.  Start-up costs of up to $10,000 for a new business can now be deducted instead of a paltry $5,000, but that is worth little unless the start-up business makes money quickly.  And then it is still worth little.

Obama claims to have increased Small Business Administration loans.  They come with incredible paperwork, long wait times, and are for relatively small amounts.  It is easier to earn the money and pay for growth from earnings than to try to get money from the SBA.  Or, many small businesses used to finance growth by taking money from the refinance of the owner's home, but the policies of big government that led to the sub-prime mortgage bubble have killed that option for capital seed money.  Obama and the Democrats were especially prominent in support of the sub-prime loan bubble and its collapse.  The SBA programs for which Obama increased funding are directed at sub-prime loans to small businesses.  Many of them will fail when they cannot make their loan payments.

Obama's website for Small Business Owners claims that:
When President Obama took office, American small businesses were struggling under the devastating effects of the recession, runaway health care costs, and a credit freeze created by the Wall Street meltdown.
How interesting.  Small businesses, especially most of those serving mid- and large-size businesses are still feeling a recession due to the $2 trillion that these companies have been hording rather than using to buy the services of small businesses.  Our healthcare costs have only increased due to ObamaCare, or the ObamaUncaringTax according the Supreme Court Chief Justice Roberts.  The quote on our healthcare plan for my business went up 20% this year.  We had to drop the benefit as many other small and larger companies have also done.  Thanks to the Obama FDIC, the Federal Reserve, and the Dodd-Frank so-called financial reform law, it is still very hard for a small business to get a loan.  Of course, who wants a loan when the economy is so bad and so variable that one cannot be sure one can make the payments on it?

The SBA 7(a) Loan Program is ideal for businesses with less established credit histories looking to borrow up to $5,000,000.  Great, but what responsible small businessman will borrow anything like $5 million when his business is not well-established enough that he can be sure to pay back so much money?  I suppose the answer is a Democrat businessman, especially one who has bundled campaign contribution money for Obama.

The supposition of all of Obama's small business programs is that a small business wants to partner in some way with the government.  Well, no, most of us just do not want government to view us as a source of income for wasteful government spending, such as on green energy subsidies.  We do not want to pay higher taxes on our marginal income if we manage to generate a profit.  We really just want government to stay off our backs and out of our way as we exercise the economic rights which legitimate government is supposed to protect, not violate.

Last Electoral College Result Prediction on Presidential Election

I believe the most likely outcome of the Presidential election will be:

Of the generally recognized swing states, the only one that I believe is foolish enough to vote for Obama is Nevada.  Nevada showed its perfidy by voting for Senator Harry Reid, who has refused to allow the Senate to obey the law and produce a budget ever since Obama occupied the White House.  Harry Reid is wily, but a very wrongheaded man.  The state that could send him over and over to the Senate has the good judgment of a Las Vegas labor union.  In other words, Nevada is too much like California now, with which state it shares both an astronomical unemployment rate and home foreclosure rate.  Sometimes, no oftentimes, the people of a given area suffer mass delusions.  I know, I live in the Baltimore - Washington corridor, where mass delusion reigns supreme.  I do think there is about a 40% chance that Nevada will vote for the much superior candidate, Romney.

There is about a 20% likelihood that one of the three states, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Minnesota will vote for Romney.  I believe Romney will win the election with a differential in the percentage total vote of between 2 and 4%.  If I am wrong, I think a win by 5% is more likely than one by 1%.  A win by 5% will mean that Romney will likely carry at least two of the states Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Minnesota.  Both Pennsylvania and Michigan will be very hard hit by Obama's plans to shut down the coal-fired electric power plants and both will be hurt by his plans to discourage hydraulic fracturing to release shale oil and gas.

Most of the polls are underestimating the turnout of Republicans and those Independents who have had more than enough of Obama.  They are overestimating the turnout of Democrats.  This is even true of Rasmussen polls, which are among the best of the polls.  The fact that Romney has a normal Republican lead with men and Obama has much less than the normal Democrat lead with women figures very big in my understanding of how this election will turn out.  Another key factor is the fact that Independents are decidedly favoring Romney over Obama.  There will also be substantially more crossover Democrats voting for Romney than Republicans voting for Obama in this election.  These factors have to generally push all of the swing states, most of which are now mostly Republican at the state level, into the Romney column.  The work of the Tea Party Americans in ensuring this is also underestimated.  The Evangelicals have also become aroused.

Obama is left only with substantial majorities among young people, blacks, and Hispanic Americans.  Each of these groups has suffered just unbelievably high unemployment.  Falling incomes and rising prices, such as energy prices, have hit blacks and Hispanic Americans especially hard.  The fraction of young Americans who favor Obama is high, but usually these young Americans do not vote in large numbers.  We will see that many fewer of them will vote in this election than in 2008 and of those who vote, a very substantially larger fraction will vote Republican.  The turnout of black and Hispanic Americans will also be lower.  The decrease in the fraction who vote for Obama this time as compared to 2008 will be much smaller than that among the young, though it will be greater for Hispanics than blacks.

Now that Americans have had so much time to get to know Obama and to be angered so many times by his lies and deceptions, I am very disappointed that we are still in a situation in which nearly half of all Americans will vote for this con man and failed President.  How anyone could want four years of constant attacks on our individual rights and the resulting economic stagnation, is very much beyond my understanding.  Romney should have easily surpassed Obama with well over 300 electoral votes.  It appears more likely that there are too many very foolish Americans for that to happen.  At this point, it looks to me that Romney will get 295 electoral votes.

I will be heartened if Romney comes very close in Minnesota, my birth state, Michigan, and Pennsylvania, however.  Coupling that with wins in Iowa, Wisconsin, Indiana, and Ohio and the continued shift of the Midwest into the Republican column may be a good sign of things to come.  We have already seen these states send more Republicans to their state houses and to the House of Representatives.  They have been electing Republican governors as well.  The private sector unions have been losing power as they have lost membership.  More and more Mid-westerners are learning that if they are to have well-paying jobs, it is good that the governments not be anti-business.  As Mid-westerners show more respect for economic freedoms, they will align more with the more reality-interested Republican Party than with the socialist Democratic Party.  This re-alignment may take a couple more election cycles to be complete, but it sure is important to America's future freedom and prosperity.

04 November 2012

Allow Same-Sex Marriages as a Basic Individual Right

For centuries, most people of the Judeo-Christian tradition have believed that God frowns upon people of the same sex having sexual relationships.  Indeed, for centuries they often thought God demanded that they execute, often very gruesomely, men thought to be having sex with men.  This vision of morality has been transformed for the better, but translated into governments only recognizing opposite sex marriages.  In recent times, the Netherlands, Belgium, Ontario, British Columbia, Quebec, and then Massachusetts came to recognize same-sex marriages.  Today in the United States, the District of Columbia, Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, and Vermont recognize same-sex marriages.  In addition, California, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Nevada, New Jersey, Oregon, Rhode Island, Washington, and Wisconsin offer either civil unions or domestic partnerships to same-sex couples.  Forty-one states forbid same-sex marriages, including North Carolina which just passed a ban by referendum earlier this year.

The referendum ban of same-sex marriage in California was challenged in federal court and was declared unconstitutional.  This ruling is under appeal and is still working its way through the federal court system.  Washington passed a law authorizing same-sex marriage and Gov. Chris Gregoire signed it earlier this year.  The Maryland legislature also authorized same-sex marriage this year and Gov. Martin O'Malley has signed it into law.  But, referendums to ban same-sex marriage in Washington and Maryland will be on the ballot in November.  Maine, which presently bans same-sex marriages, has a referendum on the November ballot to allow them.  Minnesota, which presently bans same-sex marriage by statute, has a referendum on the November ballot to additionally forbid same-sex marriage in their state constitution.

How does one rationally analyze the role of governments with respect to marriage and with respect to same-sex marriages in particular?  We have to decide what marriage really is and why government has necessary and legitimate functions with respect to marriage.  In the oldest Judeo tradition, marriage was commonly not a domestic partnership between one man and one woman.  Each husband might have several wives.  This was surely not marriage of the nature of those recognized by government in America today.  Early Christians commonly did not marry, since many thought the end of the world was rapidly approaching with the return of Christ.  After that brief period, Christian marriage was often a means of cementing favorable relationships between families, clans, tribes, aristocrats, and even nations.  A young woman was pretty much the property of her father and the father eventually traded her to a man for a degree of allegiance and goodwill in many cases.  She was now her husband's property.  Marriage was not the spiritual union of two people in the way many think it is today.  It was a commercial and political act in many cases.  The church supported this viewpoint of marriage by providing a patina of spirituality, though spiritual connections between the husband and wife were very commonly missing.

Even today, the role of government is not to provide a spiritual content to marriage or even to assess whether such a spiritual basis for a marriage exists.  An honest evaluation of marriage as provided by government license and contract is that every marriage is a domestic partnership and any spiritual meaning to the union is provided by the married partners independent of government.  The domestic partnership that governments offer is a legal contract with legal implications for shared property, procreation and the raising of children, taxes, mandated time off work to care for one another, and permissions to make medical decisions for one another if one partner is unable to make such decisions.

The only case of such issues in which the sex of the partners may make any difference at all is with respect to procreation and the raising of children.  In the modern world, adoptions may easily take the place of procreation, but many married partners also have no children and there is no title of aristocracy demanding an heir.  Should children be adopted in the relatively rare case by two partners of the same sex, there is little reason for one having to be a high-earning man, since many women are now high-earners.  The domestic partnerships that are formed by government marriage licenses are just as appropriate today for partners of the same sex as they are for partners of opposite sexes.

Each and every American adult competent to care for himself has a very broad sovereign right to life, liberty, property, the ownership of his own body, mind, and labor, and the pursuit of his own happiness.  Legitimate government cannot violate that broad range of fundamental individual rights.  There must be a strong presumption against laws that limit the exercise of personal actions which do not do harm to others.  Legitimate government does not interfere with the association of one adult with other consenting adults, unless substantial harm is thereby done to others.  Legitimate and individual rights-protecting government is highly limited and minimal government.  If it acts to place limits on the relationships and associations of individuals, it must have a very substantial reason for such limits and a strong case for the harm those associations or relationships would do to others.  The only way such harm to others occurs is if the partnership uses force to harm others, but there is no new issue here since initiated harm done by force by any individual to others is already prohibited.  There is no more reason to prescribe the number and sex of domestic partners than there is to do so for a business partnership.  Indeed, a domestic partnership is very much like a business partnership in all respects relevant to the role of government.

Not only is there no reason to place a prohibition on same-sex domestic partnerships, but because our individual rights are equal, we cannot limit marriage contracts to only those who desire a single partner of the opposite sex.  While anyone may exercise their own freedom of conscience in the belief that same-sex domestic partnerships are immoral, abhorred by God, or simply biologically uninteresting to them, government and the People whose individual equal rights are to be protected by government cannot make such judgments in the political realm without violating the freedom of conscience of others with a differing viewpoint.  They cannot legitimately use force to prevent others from exercising control over their own bodies and minds, from evaluating and choosing whose most intimate company they desire, and from pursuing their most personal and individual happiness.

Individual human beings are complex and highly differentiated.  We are all different in the way our minds observe reality, analyze and evaluate it, and assess our own relationship to it and to others.  Our biochemistries differ, our senses operate at many different levels, our nervous systems feel differently, our bodies take very different forms, and we respond very differently to other individuals.  Among the most complex and highly differentiated aspects of an individual's nature is his or her sexuality.  We cannot be serious about the individual right to pursue happiness if we have government place obstacles and unequal treatment in the way of individuals whose sexuality is different than that endorsed by a religion or just recent and local tradition.

It is a basic violation of individual rights for government to discriminate against individuals based on their sexuality.  Legitimate government ought to provide same-sex marriage contracts which are equivalent to those it provides to couples of the opposite sex.  It should even provide a more enlarged concept of domestic partnership contracts as broad in terms of the combination of adult individuals bound in the contract as is the case in small business partnerships.  Government commonly interferes with our freedom of association in far too many ways.  It is time that it stop interfering with that broad freedom of association in our domestic partnerships which it is the right of each and every adult individual to claim.

Understanding this, one should vote for Question 6 in Maryland to allow same-sex couples to marry in Maryland.

Obama's New Normal Part-Time Economy

Average hours worked for all non-farm private employees has been stuck at 34.4 hours for 4 months now.  The average hours for non-farm private production and non-supervisory employees dropped 0.1 hours in October to 33.6 hours.

Real per capita GDP is $50,166 through the third quarter, but it would be $55,932 if long-term historical trends had not been replaced by the Obama "new normal."  This loss of $5,766 per person is sorely felt.  High unemployment and all-too-common part-time employment has kept the economy from expanding at historic rates.

As Mike Shedlock has noted, the recovery of hours worked following the period of nominal GDP contraction shown in the light blue region of the plot below has stalled out.  The earlier rate of increase was substandard following a recession.  For many months now, Obama's "new normal" has settled in.  The question is, are Americans ready to settle for the Obama "new normal."


There is no reason at all to do so.  The U.S. economy is more than ready to recover, if only Washington will stop doing everything it can to prevent business success.  One of the big factors is the pressure that ObamaCare, really ObamaUncaringTax, is putting on businesses to convert full-time positions into part-time positions.  ObamaCare defines full-time employment for the purposes of requiring health insurance coverage or the payment of a penalty by the business as a mere 30 hours of work a week.  As a result, many businesses are putting a limit of 25 to 28 hours a week on their employees.  The tax assessment on employees requires a look-back period of 3 months to a year, to be selected as an option by the employer.  Consequently, companies have had to ensure that at the latest, many of their employees had less than 30-hour workweeks for more than the last 3 months of this year.  The Obama "new normal" is a 25-hour workweek for many Americans.

The More Flexible Obama EPA Post-Election Ambush

Obama has had several of the new rules promulgated by his radical EPA put on hold until after the election.  Apparently, missile defense shields are not the only topic on which he will have more flexibility after the election.  He is well aware that these rulings will cause the loss of many jobs and he does not want those job holders and their families to know this before the election.  This is especially a dirty trick on the poor and those on fixed incomes that the Democrat Party used to pretend to champion.  They are already spending about 24% of their very limited incomes on energy largely due to the out-of-control efforts of the EPA to raise energy prices for fossil fuels and to mandate the increased use of very expensive alternative energy sources.  With friends like these, the poor need no enemies.

Senator Jim Inhofe has had a report written by the minority staff of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works which was published in October and documents the long list of new rulings that EPA is going to slam the American economy with after the election when Obama will be more flexible.  The results of the EPA rulings on hold will be the virtual elimination of the use of our huge coal reserves which have provided Americans with the least expensive electricity and energy in general in the world.

This Obama administration is also intending to limit the use of oil, not just foreign oil, but also U.S. oil.  This is the real reason that Obama prevented the building of the Keystone XL pipeline which would have brought a much needed supply of Canadian oil from Alberta and American oil from the shale oil deposits of North Dakota to Cushing, Oklahoma and to the Gulf of Mexico oil refineries which have been getting less and less oil from mismanaged nationalized oil companies in Venezuela and Mexico.  Killing the Keystone XL pipeline cost us 20,000 jobs immediately and about 465,000 jobs total by 2035.  That dependable supply of oil would have increased jobs in the Bakken shale oil formation of North Dakota, increased refinery jobs, increased other chemical industry jobs, and provided lower cost oil, gasoline, plastics, and fertilizer to all of the economic activities dependent upon them.  Our exports of products would have been increased.

The Obama administration is planning to replace state regulation of tight shale oil formation fracturing with federal regulations so that oil and gas from our huge shale oil and gas formations can be reduced and made more expensive.  Oil companies have been using hydraulic fracturing since 1949 when it was pioneered in Duncan, Oklahoma.  Since then it has been used 1.5 million times without any proven case of water contamination, which has even been admitted by the radical EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson.  Yet, it is in the name that such contamination might happen that very expensive regulations are to be slapped onto frakking operations.  The real reason is to prevent the use of fossil fuels because the Democrat Party has bought into the nonsensical hypothesis of catastrophic man-made global warming and has little care about how many jobs are eliminated and how much the cost of living rises as they chase that chimera. 

The Obama administration has succeeded in reducing the production of natural gas on federal lands and in federal waters by 11% in 2011 compared to 2010.  They decreased oil production from these areas by 14%.  But oil and gas production on private land is regulated by the states and such states as Pennsylvania, Arkansas, Oklahoma, North Dakota, Texas, Louisiana, West Virginia, Ohio, and Michigan have been allowing oil and natural gas production to boom.  This has created a shale gas industry with 600,000 jobs, which is expected to grow to 870,000 by 2015.  By 2035, there may be 1.6 million jobs in the industry.  In 2010, this nascent industry was already adding $76.9 billion to the U.S. GDP.  If re-elected, Obama and his many henchmen are determined to keep this wondrous development for jobs and our standard of living from happening.

According to an April study released by the U.S. Geological Survey, North America has 26% of the world's recoverable conventional oil resources.  This excludes our rich shale oil, tight oil, and heavy oil resources, which are gigantic.  We have 30% of the world's technically recoverable conventional natural gas resources.  We have the largest coal reserves in the world.  The oil and gas industries are already adding nearly a billion dollars a day to the economy and this is all that has keep us from falling back into a state of contracting GDP.  American households have saved about $566 million a day in natural gas expenses due to the drop in natural gas prices due to hydraulic fracturing.  All of this the Obama team wants to make useless and take away from Americans because they are foolish enough to buy into the unproven, and indeed failed, claim that CO2 emissions by man are catastrophically warming the planet.

What are the slew of new regulations intended to strangle Americans use of energy?

Greenhouse Gas Regulations:  Intended to be worse than the Cap and Trade legislation that could not make even through the totally Democrat House and Senate of 2009 and 2010.  The rules will cost $300 to $400 billion a year.  Gasoline and home energy bills will go up greatly.  Energy use in power plants, schools, restaurants, hospitals, churches, and farms will all be regulated, though they will be phased in so the frog will not jump out of the pot.  The first restrictions implemented will kill most coal-fired electric power plants in keeping with Obama's promise to do that.  At least 175 coal-fired power plants are on the chopping block.  At least 37,000 farms and ranches will require greenhouse gas permits at an average cost of $23,000 a year.  This will cause the cost of meat and dairy prices to rise.

Ozone Rule:  The EPA places a low-ball cost on this rule of $90 billion a year.  Others say it will cost $1 trillion a year and obliterate 7.4 million jobs.  Why so much destruction?  Because 650 additional counties will likely be placed in the non-attainment category for ozone limits.  These counties will be prohibited from further development, so no new jobs can be created in them and existing plants will be forced to close.

Hydraulic Fracturing Regulations:  14 Obama administration agencies are trying to wrest control of hydraulic fracturing regulations from the states.  These include the EPA, the Energy Dept., the Bureau of Land Management, the Center for Disease Control, the Dept. of Agriculture, and the Securities and Exchange Commission.  The cost for new permits and well workovers to bring them into compliance will cost from $1.50 to $1.62 billion.  Added costs per well of $253,800 are estimated and bringing a well back into use to re-stimulate fracture will cost $233,100.  Obama has efforts underway to apply the Safe Drinking Water Act, Toxic Substances Control Act, the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, the Clean Air Act, and the Effluent Limitations Guidelines to shale gas extraction and to coal-bed methane gas.

Florida Numeric Nutrient Criteria:  In 2009, the Obama EPA determined that it would set federal numeric nutrient water standards under the Clean Water Act for the state of Florida.  The standard the EPA said it was going to set in 2010 was widely criticized as infeasible both technologically and economically.  The state of Florida set its own standard and was upheld in doing so by a Florida administrative judge in June 2012.  The state submitted its standard to the EPA and the EPA had to approve it in 60 days or disapprove it in 90 days by law.  The EPA has done neither, once again demonstrating the lawlessness so common in the Obama administration.  It appears that the EPA is just waiting until after the election in the important state of Florida before asserting its arbitrary will.

EPA Control of Water Sites:  The EPA has proposed a new guidance document of April 2011 under the Clean Water Act that allows it to govern almost every body of water in the U.S., no matter how small.  This is based on their reinterpretation of recent Supreme Court decisions.  The EPA estimates that 17% of the non-jurisdictional determinations will be reversed under the new guidance.  This new guidance was unable to pass the heavily Democrat House and Senate when it came up for approval.  The new guidance would force state and local governments to perform many new duties many of them do not want to do.

Storm-Water Regulation:  As part of the Chesapeake Bay Settlement Agreement in 2009, the EPA announced setting new nationwide storm-water rules.  The proposed rule will establish a post-construction storm-water run-off standard and massive changes to storm-water systems.  Green infrastructure techniques such as green roofs, rain gardens, and permeable pavement will be required.  States, municipalities, and property owners will incur huge costs.  This may be the most expensive rule in the EPA's history.

Tier III Gasoline Regulations:  The current limit on sulfur in gasoline is 30 ppm and the new limit will become 10 ppm.  The initial cost to achieve this in refineries will be $10 billion and the annual cost thereafter will be $2.4 billion.  Gasoline cost may be increased by 9 cents a gallon.

Boiler Maximum Achievable Control Technology (MACT) Rule:  This rule would apply to about 200,000 boilers and their emissions of mercury, dioxin, particulate matter, hydrogen chloride, and carbon monoxide.  They burn natural gas, coal, fuel oil, biomass, refinery gas, or other gas to produce steam used to heat buildings, produce heat for manufacturing purposes, or to produce electricity.  The EPA claims the capital cost will be $9.5 billion, though IHS Global Insight did a study that concluded it will cost $20 billion.  The Small Business Administration says it will cause a major increase in regulatory costs for businesses, institutions, and municipalities.  The Department of Commerce says it would cause job losses of 40,000 to 60,000, which is much higher than EPA estimates.  The Senate Minority Report says it will reduce GDP by $1.2 billion and destroy nearly 800,000 jobs, but that combination of costs and jobs lost does not make sense to me.

The methodology for producing the requirements of this ruling is terrible.  The initial ruling had 5,800 comments citing technical and statutory errors.  21 governors and more than 100 Congressmen had objections.  EPA officials finally admitted they had failed to "calculate standards that fully reflected operational reality."  The most current version of the proposed standard says that a boiler already in existence must have an average emission limit achieved by the best performing 12% of boilers in the given boiler category.  A new boiler must have emissions equal to or better than the best existing boiler.  There is a terrible catch here as well.  The best is defined for each of the controlled substances.  The best fuel and design to reduce mercury emissions may be very different than the best to reduce particulate matter, for instance.  In fact, the best boiler for each of the six substances does not meet the new MACT standard for this reason.  The standard is not technologically and economically feasible.  What is more, four of the regulated substances meet the statutory requirements for health-based standards and were so treated in previous versions of boiler MACT rules.  The proposed rule now establishes no threshold beyond which the emissions are thought to have no significant consequences.  The EPA argues that they cannot set such a threshold, but this negates their argument that they can calculate the health benefits of their new proposed ruling.  Furthermore, the EPA misstated the health benefits by assuming that all particulates, no matter their composition, have the same harmful health consequences.  I have already discussed the issues relating to mercury emissions extensively here and here.

Cement MACT Rule:  This EPA rule is expected to shut down 18 cement plants and cost up to 80,000 jobs.  This will increase our importation of cement from China and increase the cement cost of construction of roads, bridges, and buildings by 22 to 36%.

316(b) Cooling Tower Rules:  Provides for stricter protection of fish in cooling tower reservoirs.  The costs are estimated to be between 384 and 460 million dollars a year.  The value of the benefit is thought to be $17 million.

Coal Ash Ruling:  The proposed EPA coal ash rule declaring coal ash a hazardous substance will cost from $79 to $110 billion over 20 years.  It will destroy between 184,000 and 316,000 jobs with especially bad consequences for Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio, and Missouri.

Farm Dust Regulations:  The EPA is considering tightening its controls on farm dust under the National Ambient Air Quality Standards for coarse particulate matter (PM10).  The new standard may require farmers and ranchers to stop many common practices and activities.  Many businesses may have to decrease their output drastically and many may go out of operation.

Spill Prevention Control and Countermeasures Rule:  Farmers and ranchers will be required to develop and implement costly oil and gasoline spill prevention plans.

The overall impact of these EPA rulings on the economy and on employment will be huge.  If implemented at all in their present proposed or EPA-favored form, the economy will go into a recession of the GDP reduction kind.  There is a pattern of EPA lack of concern for any rational weighing of the value of health or environmental consequences with economic and human consequences.  Whether people are allowed to earn a living is of little concern to the EPA under Obama.  Being responsive to radical environmental groups and to global warming alarmist groups is their top priority, aside from Obama's re-election.  Since Obama will have much more flexibility after his last election, as he famously told the Russian Medvedev, many of these rulings by the out-of-control and radical EPA will haunt American consumers, workers, and producers under a second Obama term.

02 November 2012

Historically Slow Jobs Recovery Trucks On Due to Determined Industry

The usually quoted unemployment rate went up from 7.8% to 7.9%, but this always quoted number is fairly meaningless in a very long recession, nearly never-ending recession. The unemployment rate went up because a few more people decided there might be hope of finding a job, so they renewed their effort to find a job.

American industry forced the economy slowly forward in October 2012 despite the full application of brakes by Obama and his henchmen.  Industry added 973,000 jobs in October, perhaps in anticipation of a win by Romney on 6 November.  If it was not that, then there are a lot of lunatics in American business, but history suggests otherwise.  Government added 20,000 jobs, despite all of Obama's moaning that government has been hurt most by the recession.  Government had hired madly in September.

Unincorporated self-employment in non-agricultural jobs fell by 172,000.  The decrease in unincorporated self-employed is almost certainly further indication that the huge rise in unincorporated self-employment over the last couple of years was an act of desperation on the part of Americans who could not find jobs otherwise.  Any self-respecting American creates his own job when he cannot get a job from someone else.  But in a bad, Obama economy with no capital to invest in your business, being self-employed is really rough.  Now that industry is hiring, these suffering Americans are shifting to the better jobs bigger companies can offer them.

Let us examine the household survey employment numbers:


The number of missing jobs is falling at a very slow rate.  In October 2010, the percentage of missing jobs was 13.73% and this October is down to 12.53%, or 1.20% over two years.  This is
an average rate of missing jobs recovery by the economy as abused by Obama of 0.60% a year.  At this rate, it will take us more than 14 more years to lower the missing job rate back to the 4.04% rate of January 2000.  Obama's new normal economy is one that takes a total of 18 years to recover from a recession.  His braked economy is actually mired in a GREAT DEPRESSION, that being the only historical precedent for an 18 year recovery period in American history.

One of Obama's favorite campaign claims is that he has created, note the hubris, 5,000,000 jobs.  Once again, employers did not do it.  No, the government did.  At least if it was good.  If it was bad, then businessmen did it.  This is a matter of big government definition.

Actually, there are 144,039,000 employed Americans now and there were 143,338,000 million employed in George W. Bush's last full month as President in December 2008.  So, there are only 701,000 more Americans employed now than at the start of the Obama presidency. This is only 14% of Obama's claim, but as he says, he cannot do 7th grade math.

Meanwhile there are 8,948,000 more working age civilians available for work now than there were in Bush's last month.  The added 701,000 jobs distributed among the 8,948,000 new potential workers is enough to provide a job for 7.83% of them.  Pathetic.  That is an employment rate which is lower even than Obama's super-high unemployment rate overall is.  But this is the new Obama Normal.