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 intelligent and rational individuals, whose comments are very welcome.

"No matter how vast your knowledge or how modest, it is your own mind that has to acquire it." Ayn Rand

"Observe that the 'haves' are those who have freedom, and that it is freedom that the 'have-nots' have not." Ayn Rand

"The virtue involved in helping those one loves is not 'selflessness' or 'sacrifice', but integrity." Ayn Rand

For "a human being, the question 'to be or not to be,' is the question 'to think or not to think.'" Ayn Rand

31 July 2009

The Green Jobs Commissar

Van Jones is the Green Jobs Commissar in the Obama administration. He is an advocate of creating jobs for the poor by having them perform insulation improvements on homes and buildings. That is fine, at least before we find the government suggesting subsidies to have people make such insulation improvements. This guy has his roots deep in socialism, however, and has even described himself as a communist and a friend of anarchists. He worked for years to be a revolutionary and is a founder of the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, which was connected with the STORM collective (Standing Together to Organize a Revolutionary Movement) with Marxist influences. Kathy Shaidle has written about this here.

That Obama sure can pick them, can't he? Over and over again we find the strongest evidence that Obama's worldview is completely socialist. He is a thoroughly committed enemy of the free market system and capitalism, though he is frequently a corporate socialist.

30 July 2009

The Unpredictable, Undependable Sotomayor

Tim Phillips and Phil Kerpen of the Americans for Prosperity Foundation have written a great review of Sonia Sotomayer's judicial record with respect to decisions affecting businesses and property rights. They called it Sotomayor's unpredictability is bad news for struggling economy. Sotomayor has embraced unpredictability in the law in theory. Phillips and Kerpen say:

The most disturbing statement of Sotomayor's judicial philosophy comes from her 1996 article in the Suffolk University Law Review. In it she defended this statement from legal theorist Jerome Frank: "Law must be more or less impermanent, experimental, and not nicely calculable."

Any businessman will tell you that there is more than enough unpredictability to deal with in the economy without having an overlay of legal uncertainty. Our free-market system depends, in fact, on the stability and calculability of the rule of law.

The basic rules of the road should be as stable and predictable as possible. And during a time of wildly unpredictable swings in economic policy from Congress and the administration, the last thing we need is an experimentally-inclined judiciary.

The need for predictability and to calculate risks and benefits into the future are critical for all aspects of managing one's life. There is no exception to this in business or in investing. I have made this point many times. Phillips and Kerpen then go on and provide a discussion of a number of her specific decisions, which is very enlightening. It is clear that Sonia Sotomayor is a very inappropriate pick for the Supreme Court. But, there is a reason for her being picked, aside from trying to win the Hispanic vote. She will do great damage to hardworking and achievement oriented Americans. Obama and crew truly hate such people.

Let's Review Federal Deficits Briefly

It is common to hold the President accountable for everything the federal government does. He plays a role, but Congress holds the greater power in setting policy, making laws, spending money, and laying taxes. Let us consider the size of the deficit over the last 21 years and who held control of the presidency and of each house of Congress.

From 1989 through 1992 the deficit was increasing. During these years of President George Herbert Walker Bush, the Democrats controlled both houses of Congress. From 1993 through 1997, the deficit was decreasing, with Clinton president and the Democrats controlling both houses in 1993 and 1994, but the Republicans controlling both houses in 1995 through 2000. From 1998 through 2001, the government ran a rare surplus and actually was paying down the debt. In 2001 and 2oo2, the Democrats had control of the Senate, having achieved that in late May 2001 and George W. Bush was president. From 2002 through 2004, the deficit increased, when the Republicans held both houses and the presidency, except in the first year when the Democrats still held the Senate. In 2006 through 2007, the deficit decreased, with the Republicans fully responsible, except in 2007 when the Democrats controlled both houses of Congress. In 2008, the deficit soared with the Democrats still in control of both houses and Bush still president. In 2009, the deficit grew all the way down to China under Obama and with the Democrats in complete control of both houses of Congress.

Of the 21 years, there were 12 years in which the deficit was either decreasing or there was a surplus. In two of those years, 1993 and 1994, the Democrats can claim all the credit. In another set of two years (2005 and 2006), the Republicans can claim all of the credit. In 6 of the years (1995 - 2000) there was a Democrat President and a Republican Congress. In two of the years (2001, 2007) there was a Republican President and the Democrats held one or two houses of Congress. The most effective combination seems to be to have a Democrat President and a Republican Congress when it comes to minimizing deficit spending.

Why is this? It is because spending is more likely to be controlled when power is split between the parties and each has some ability to stop the other from spending. It is also because the Republicans are a bit less inclined to spend money than are the Democrats, so it is best to put them in control of the spending authorizations, which are done in Congress. It is also best if when power is split between the Congress and the President, that the Senate not have as many as 58 Senators from one party. That way, the majority party, even with a couple of defectors from the minority party, cannot prevent filabusters. It is also good if no party has as many as two-thirds of the seats in the House of Representatives, so they cannot override vetoes.

Balance of power is a very good thing. We do not have that now and we are paying the price with a trillion dollar plus deficit.

High School Trash

A local Silver Spring High School, John F. Kennedy High School, very recently brought an 80-year-old woman to court because she left a bag of trash in the high school lobby. Well, actually she did it twice and they took her to court the second time because she left a note on the bag with her name. The trash was left by high school students throughout her neighborhood when they walked through on their way back from local fast food restaurants where they bought their lunches or on their way back to school for after-school activities. Adlyn Cook had asked the school to address the problem a number of times prior to leaving a bag of trash in the school lobby the first time and the school had ignored her.

Montgomery County schools are very much creatures of the progressive left. They have a strong environmental bias, including such nonsense as a belief in man-made global warming. But, they apparently do not mind if their students trash nearby neighborhoods. If the school principal were a responsible person and if he actually believed in what they teach, then he should have issued a rebuke to his students and called our heroine, Adlyn Cook, and thanked her for taking the time to pick up the garbage. Basically, he should have shamed the students for making an 80-year-old woman pick up their garbage. Then, he should see to it that the students are allowed to leave the school for lunch only if they do not leave their garbage behind and he should have provided adequate trash cans for the garbage they would carry back to school with them. He might organize an after-school service group to check the neighborhood and pick up after the, hopefully, few bad eggs. But, no, in a fit of government official arrogance, the school filed criminal charges of unlawful dumping of garbage against Adlyn Cook. She was issued an order to show up in court, which was delivered to her home by three officers.

In the end, the criminal charge was set aside and Adlyn Cook had to perform service work in the high school cafeteria as a result of a mediation procedure. The school principal has now agreed to meet with her in September and discuss the trash issue. I wish her good luck. I know from personal experience that high school principals in Montgomery County do not care much of a fig for the students or parents of students, let alone their neighbors.

There is even more to the story. After the principal, one Thomas Anderson, had her name from the trash bag, he had a "no trespassing" order issued against Cook. This prevented her from serving as an election judge during a special election. She has been an election judge for 20 years. Also, the results of the mediation of 29 June were not passed on to the court by a scheduled court date of 14 July. Cook, thinking the matter was over, went on a vacation trip and when she came back, she found that there was an arrest warrant on her for failure to show up in court. She turned herself in the police and they checked up on her story and withdrew the warrant.

Anderson says she handled it wrongly, but admits that sometimes things have to be done in an extreme way to get attention. He says the school also wants there to be no trash in the neighborhood. Too bad that was not his focus when Adlyn Cook called the school numerous times before leaving the trash in the school lobby. Too bad he was not thinking about that when he had no trespassing orders and complaints of criminal trash dumping issued.

This account is based on the story in the Burtonsville Gazette of 29 July 2009 written by C. Benjamin Ford.

29 July 2009

Tully -- 5 Freedoms You'd Lose in Health Care Reform

Shawn Tully, Fortune, wrote an excellent article on the two main Democrat health care "reform" bills of the House and the Senate. Unlike our Congressmen and Senators, he has actually read the two bills despite each being about 1,000 pages long. His article is excellent and you can read it here.

Broadly, he says that we will lose the freedom to:
  • Choose what is in our health care insurance plan.
  • Be rewarded for healthy living, or pay our real costs.
  • Choose high deductible plans.
  • Keep our existing plan.
  • Choose our own doctors.
As you surely recall, Obama promised us that we could keep our present plan. For some people this is a flat out lie, while for others it is the act of a magician and a tightrope walker. It is a lie to those who are covered by health care plans commonly offered by large companies under the Employee Retirement Security Act of 1974 or ERISA. Large companies offer these in good part because they are not restricted by the state by state health plan requirements that drive up the costs of the health plans available to most Americans personally or to most small businesses. For 5 years, employees covered by ERISA plans can keep their coverage if their employer allows them to, but then they are all dumped into the government run exchange of government approved health insurance plans. They lose the plan they were promised they could keep.

How about those for whom Obama is walking the tightrope of truth? Yes, if you have a plan now and you want to keep it, you can, if there is no change, no matter how insignificant in your plan. If your plan changes any of the following, you lose it and are thrown into the government-run health insurance exchange as the Christians were thrown to the lions:
  • A deductible change
  • A co-pay change and remember plans often have many different co-pays for different purposes
  • a change of coverage for any drug, even the addition of a new drug not previously available
Clearly, no plan can stay static in this way for long. Indeed, almost all plans change on a yearly basis. So, when Obama says you can keep the plan you have and like, he means this only for those plans frozen in time. No plan of any quality at all can be so frozen, so you lose your plan of choice. It is only the ultimate quibble to claim that Obama did not lie to the entire set of people with health care plans they like and want to keep.

So, we are all soon destined to be thrown into the lions den of the government-run health insurance exchanges for each state which will only offer government qualified plans. There, just as with many present state requirements, we will have very limited choices for the health insurance plan with which to cover ourselves. First, the Senate bill bars insurers from charging more than twice as much for any person's coverage as that charged for another with the same coverage. This ensures that the young will have to pay much more than they will use to help cover the costs of the older workers. This feature of many state requirements already is the reason that many young people choose to be uninsured. The plans will also not allow premium differentials based on the health of the insured person. There will be no discounts for non-smokers, for those who exercise, or for those who are not obese.

The Senate bill requires coverage for prescription drugs, substance abuse programs, mental health benefits, and that parents provide coverage for their "children" until they are 26 years old. The Dept. of Health and Human Services is authorized to add to this list of requirements. We can be sure they will add significant requirements. Connecticut requires reimbursement for hair transplants, hearing aids, and in vitro fertilization, so we can be sure that lobbyists for many health service providers will be working hard to get the DHHS to add requirements for their services to the qualified plans. This will ensure that the cost of coverage will go up even further with time, just as most states have already managed to push health insurance plan costs up.

Many people now have high deductible health insurance plans. They can readily pay for normal expenses and only have a need to cover major expenses. Or they have a Health Savings Account (HSA) of tax-deductible money to cover the expenses up to the high deductible limit. This will be lost. Unfortunately, these are the people who exercise some personal concern about health care costs and have put at least part of the health care industry under some pressure to insure that costs are not greater than is justified by the benefits bestowed. 5 million people now have HSAs. Gone they are, for the Democrat clique never thought they were cool.

Tully also points out:
The Senate bill requires that Americans buying through the exchanges -- and as we've seen, that will soon be most Americans -- must get their care through something called "medical home." Medical home is similar to an HMO. You're assigned a primary care doctor, and the doctor controls your access to specialists. The primary care physicians will decide which services, like MRIs and other diagnostic scans, are best for you, and will decide when you really need to see a cardiologists or orthopedists.
This control of tests, procedures, and access to specialists will a the primary means of controlling expenses to the government qualified plans, after they have been loaded up with as many bells and whistles as possible in their requirements for qualification. You might have a very wide range of possible choices if only your unchosen primary care physician who works for the government, not you, allows you access to them. One of his primary duties will be to ration the health care you receive.

Now, it is not looking highly probable that these drastic socialist plans will be passed as written. But, we must do more than stop them in their present form. The compromise bills that will be passed down the road in the House and Senate will still be disasters in their own right. At the least, they will cost the taxpayer a fortune, will continue to transfer large sums of money from the better-off to the less well-off, and will continue to underpay and over-control doctors working with the new federal plans, causing them to charge patients on private plans still more. More people will be put on Medicaid, making it still more of a drain on taxpayers than it already is. Congress is determined to increase the federal debt for health care, even though huge, unfunded liabilities already exist for Medicaid and Medicare. These, they will not address. Indeed, they are apparently planning to raid the Medicare system for some of the money to fund their so-called "reform" health plan.

I wish to thank Paul Cohen for directing my attention to this article by Shawn Tully.

27 July 2009

Dog-Eat-Dog Socialism

Over and over again, we have heard socialists describe capitalism and the free market as dog-eat-dog capitalism. This is a case of socialists anticipating how others should describe socialism and heading them off at the pass by using the phrase first to defame capitalism.

The socialist claims the Capitalist system of free markets is all about dogs eating one another, because, horror of horrors, it rewards hard work, competence, and the willingness to provide others with something that they actually want as an individual choice. Not everyone is as accomplished at doing this. This, the socialist thinks, is intolerable and they would like everyone else to buy into this idea also.

But think about it. If you want to write the deep and tragic novel that no one else wants to read, well would you want to be forced to read the novels that others thought were deep, but that you found boring? Or, if you can get the services of one doctor who has developed an efficient and safe surgical procedure that can be done in an out-patient hospital for thousands of dollars less than the old procedure done in a fully equipped hospital which will force you to stay in the hospital of 5 days, which service are you going to choose, whether you are one of society's more competent carpenters or one of its less competent carpenters? No, this is not about dogs eating other dogs. It is about human beings being allowed to make individual thinking, or maybe not thinking, choices. But the opportunity to exercise your own mind in making a choice is not a very canine characteristic. It is a human characteristic.

The free market gives those with great intelligence and those with less intelligence the opportunity to use their own mind, or to seek the counsel of those whose minds they think are better, to make decisions and choices. The free market ensures that many people are allowed the opportunity to offer others choices by making their ideas, goods, and services available and by advertising them to others. These days, with the use of the internet to enhance our ability to find these ideas, goods, and services, we are provided with an incredible wealth of such choices.

The socialist does not like the fact that there are so many choices. He does not like the fact that people advertise the choices they are offering you. He does not like the fact that some people may make more money from the ideas, goods, and services they offer others than will some other people. He believes that any discrepancy in the wealth earned in the free market is some instance of "social injustice", or as a child would put it, "that's not fair."

The socialist always wants us to forget that we are on both sides of the transactions we enter into in a free market. In some cases, we are the more or less competent and responsive provider and in other cases we are the more or less wise consumer. If we are not always the most competent or popular seller, we can at least have the chance to be a competent consumer of worthy ideas, goods, and services. We may make modest money as a worker and yet enjoy great home values, good mystery novels, the occasional good movie, the Redskins game, the medical treatments for cancer that save our lives, the car that lasts 13 years and 300,000 miles, and the fertilizer that both makes our grass turn greener and kills the weeds. You may not be top dog, but neither are you bottom dog. You have it pretty good because a lot of people, probably including you, are doing their best to make things available to others that they think they want.

What does the socialist offer instead of the free market? Generally he offers a law which reduces competition and the number of available options and choices. Each time he does so, if the socialism has yet to slide into dictatorship or rule by oligarchy, he replaces myriad individual choices and offerings with some common denominator offering of choices approved by a purality of voters. Thus, on a given issue, 49.9% of the voters may be left without the offerings and choices they want. Given that socialist government believes in passing as many laws as they can, if you consider that 60% of the voters favor each law on average and 40% oppose it, it is not long before most people are chained by numerous laws they do not like. In the free market, if they do not like what 50.1% of the vendors offer, they still have a rich selection of choices among the remaining 49.9% of the offerings. Instead of having no viable or satisfactory choice in anything, they most likely will have choices offered by someone which have some appeal. Under unlimited government, the government of the socialist, the average voter will soon find himself with no suitable choices for 40 or 45% of the offerings he would seek and find in the free market.

Democratic socialism is a return to high school clique society. There is the popular clique, which arbitrarily is favored, and there are those who just have no place at the cafeteria table with them. In fact, they see to that all tables that they do not occupy are removed from the cafeteria. In the free market, the popular clique may not want you at their table, but no one acts to prevent you from finding a table occupied by similarly rejected people. Of course, you do not reject one another. You are free to welcome one another and sit down and have a good time. But in the democratic socialist society, if you are not of the popular lowest common denominator group, you have no place anywhere. Government is all about the monopoly use of power and it will not tolerate competition or alternatives. Too bad, but you lost the election or your interests lost out when bill A was passed. That's it. That's final. You have no place at this or any other table.

The socialist enjoys forcibly transferring money from one group to another. The socialist commonly hates those who make the most money, unless of course, that group of moneymakers can be cultivated as campaign contributors to the socialist politicians or turned into a reason to hurt another group, the process of which provides the socialist with more power. So, wind mill power generators may be darlings for awhile, because they provide an excuse to go after the richer and bigger oil companies, coal mining companies, coal-fired power plants, the coal-hauling railroads, the coal carrying ship companies, the oil pipeline companies, the oil refiners, and much more. The socialist backs energy reduction schemes giving him the choices that would otherwise be exercised by individuals in the free market. The socialist gets to choose what power all individuals will have in their available choice set and acquires huge power for himself in the process.

The socialist reduces choice by saying that consumers must buy goods and services from companies to be taken over by labor unions who will provide their members with higher paying jobs. This is done by contributing large sums of union dues to socialist politicians who then protect the bloated and expensive companies from competition with various regulations. Or, the government provides laws that make people use the services of trial lawyers and accountants in many more cases than would otherwise make sense, resulting in a huge transfer of money from the average taxpayer to trial lawyers and accountants. The lawyers and accountants then become prime supporters of the socialist politicians, but the consumer is bled dry and cannot use his money for the things he really wants. The socialist reduces consumer choice by requiring him to buy health insurance and even setting up a limited number of approved health insurance plans, which some insurance companies will undoubtedly make major campaign fund contributions to get. Again, there will be a huge transfer of wealth to some favored insurance companies from others and from the wealthy in general.

The power the socialist wants is always gained by his taking control of our choices and by limiting the options we can exercise as individuals. The socialist puts each of us on chains and treats us like dogs. He gets us to let him do this commonly by turning us against one another. He turns the less well-off against the rich. He turns the females against the males. He turns the city people against the rural people, or the coastal people against the fly-over people, he turns the blue states against the red states, he turns the trial lawyers and the teachers unions against the people, he turns the blacks against the whites, he turns the young against the old, he turns debtors against creditors, he turns citizens against illegal immigrants by giving tax money to the illegal immigrants, he turns pro-abortion vs. anti-abortion people by having the government fund abortions, he turns employees against employers, he creates licensing requirements to limit entry for taxi-drivers, hairdressers, and interior decorators, and much, much more to limit and constrain our available choices. In the process, he sets us against one another in myriad ways, as dogs against dogs.

So, it is socialism which is the system of dog-eat-dog, not capitalism. Or viewed from the viewpoint of the socialist politician, his system is one of Master-Chains-Dogs-Who-Fight-Among-Themselves as he trains them to do so.

Why do we pay so much for health care?

"Because we like to survive heart attacks.", says Hugh Hewitt at

He then directs his readers to an interesting article on the treatment of heart attacks and the great improvements in survivability that have resulted, albeit, with rising medical costs. The article is by David Brown and called

A Case of Getting What You Pay For
With Heart Attack Treatments, as Quality Rises, So Does Cost

and was published on 26 July 2009 in the Washington Post. It is a fascinating story, for which it says there is an analogue for each of the following medical problems: cancer, premature births, arthritis, HIV, mental illness, and many more diseases and problems.

The Children's Scholarship Fund Baltimore

This post follows up on my comments on a commentary by Marta Mossburg on 25 July 2009 about improvements underway in the Baltimore City public school system. She told the story of how the CEO of Baltimore City Schools, Andres Alonso, has battled the teachers union to make improvements, which have now started to yield student test score improvements. Marta was kind enough to respond to my comments on her commentary with an e-mail note. She told me that she does not think Baltimore City students should have to wait for a quality education some time in the future, so she has joined the board of The Children's Scholarship Fund Baltimore.

I checked out their website and concluded that this is a very worthy cause and made a contribution. What do they do?
  • They provided scholarships to over 500 Baltimore City students in the spring of 2009 to attend a private or parochial school of their parent's choice.
  • The average scholarship is $1,798.
  • The average tuition is $5,839/year with the parents paying the difference between the scholarship amount and the school tuition.
  • Recipient families are selected at random from a waiting list.
  • Children start in the program in grades K-3 and then continue on. Their younger siblings are eligible for the program when they start kindergarten.
  • Donations are matched dollar for dollar by the Children's Scholarship Fund and the Harry and Jeannette Weinberg Foundation.
I have often commented on the poor quality of public school education, especially in major cities. I have also frequently pointed out that public schools have a major conflict-of-interest problem. One of the principal reasons a free people need an education is to provide them with the mental tools they need to remain a free people. Government-run schools always have reasons to plant the propaganda among their students that government powers must be great to protect the people from various evils. They are inventive in manufacturing these evils and they distort the history they teach to support that propaganda. They push students into identity groups and then tell many of them that they are victims and others that they are oppressors. The victim groups become obsessed with the helplessness of forever being a victim to apparently very powerful victimizing forces, while the oppressor groups come to be overcome with guilt and are taught that anything in their interest, even as individuals, is somehow evil.

Meanwhile, the government will take charge of the social justice problem between the oppressors and the victims. To do so, the federal government must ignore the restrictions the Constitution puts on its powers and claim it is empowered to do anything in the interest of the General Welfare.

Government schools are also crippled in the critical area of teaching morals. Due to religious freedom and due to political pressures from various blocks of voters, they simply cannot discuss many moral issues and many historical issues also.

Some of my readers, like me, are not believers in gods or a god. Many of the children receiving scholarships are using them to attend parochial schools. Because the public school system has largely destroyed private education in America, these are about the only schools available in many big cities that will at least teach children reading and writing, math, science, history, and literature. Might the students be taught some religious ideas also that I might not agree with? Yes, I am sure they will. But, if they have some mental thinking skills as a result of going to a parochial school, then at least they can use those skills to examine the religious ideas they were taught for validity as they grow up and become accustomed to be able to manage their own lives. The dangerous people are those who feel incompetent to live their own lives or those who will not do so because they feel guilty for something their ancestors did or that the ancestors of others of their broad identity group may have done.

An average parochial school does a much better job of preparing a child for life than does the average inner city public school. It may not be the ideal education, but it is an education and that sure beats the alternatives available to most rather poor city families.

Is a Government Take-Over of Pension Plans Coming?

Single-employer defined benefit company pension plans are covered in many cases by the Pension Protection Act (PPA). The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) is tasked with the responsibility to take-over the covered pension plans if they fall into default. This is a government corporation with some similarities to Fanny Mae and Freddy Mac. 80% of the pension plans covered by the PPA in 2008 were considered to be reasonably well-funded. But, financial investment losses in late 2008 and early 2009, have left only 20% of these single-employee pension plans well-funded.

Meanwhile, outside of the PPA are some multi-employer pension plans. Among these is the Teamsters Central States Fund. This fund has three retirees for every active worker! There are now calls for the government to have the PBGC take over failing multi-employer pension funds, including the very troubled Teamsters Central States Fund. This will require an infusion of taxpayer bailout money.

The Teamsters claim the problem with their Central States Fund is that deregulation of the trucking industry decades ago caused a significant loss in trucking jobs when companies went out of business. Gee, have you seen a great decrease in the number of trucks on the road? No? Well neither have I. Teamsters leadership is heavily committed to the Democrat Party, so they are not well-inclined toward the truth.

Let us check up on the facts a bit here. In 1970 there were 18,000,000 trucks on the road. The Motor Carrier Act of 1980 brought about a partial deregulation of the industry. There was a dramatic increase in the number of trucking companies as a result. There were other consequences:
  • Driver wages dropped.
  • Consumer costs went down as trucking costs went down.
  • There was a great increase in the number of truck drivers.
  • There was drastic de-unionization!
  • In 2006, there were 26,000,000 trucks on the road, none of which are driven by robots.
So, contrary to the implication that de-regulation brought about a loss of companies and truckers, it only brought about a loss of those companies who could not compete in a less regulated environment. A very disproportionate number of the companies unable to compete were unionized. Is this a surprise to anyone?

Democrats are always complaining about de-regulation. They are always unhappy with the idea of competition. They are always eager to be lazy. They are always eager to have the world owe them a living. How disgusting. How absolutely and utterly disgusting!!!!! Yet, we are all supposed to provide pensions to union workers whose unions kept their trucking companies from being able to compete. Does this sound familiar? Can anyone remember Government Motors and Chrysler? Is providing pensions for non-competing labor unions among our next bailouts?

26 July 2009

Health Care Reform Effects on Small Businesses

The Council of Economic Advisors released a report entitled "The Economic Effects of Health Care Reform on Small Businesses and Their Employees" on 25 July 2009. This report is an effort to enlist support from small businesses for the Obama - Democrat Congress health insurance reform plans.

Much of the report is about how many people are employed by small businesses and that a smaller fraction of small business employees are covered by company provided health insurance plans than are by bigger companies. It says that the "U.S. health care system imposes a heavy 'tax' on small businesses and their employees." What does it mean by this? Well only that small businesses pay up to 18% more per worker than large firms do for the same health insurance coverage. First, I wonder what the average % additional cost is. This up to 18% more is meaningless. In fact, I am sure there are small companies paying much more than 18% more, just as there are apparently small companies paying a smaller than 18% differential with respect to large companies. If my house costs more because I live in the Washington, D.C. area than it would if I lived in Tulsa, Oklahoma, should I run around saying I am paying a home tax because of that? Well, maybe I should since so much of the cost differential is due to government restrictions on housing in the Washington area. As we will see, small business is to be offered a subsidy for providing health insurance to its lower paid employees to offset this so-called 'tax.'

It turns out, that in order to get the nationalization of our health insurance system done, the initial offering from the Obama crew is a bribe to small businesses. The 'vast majority' of small businesses will not be subjected to the 8% payroll tax if they do not offer employee health benefit plans. But, if they do, they will be given a 'tax credit' which is a higher percentage of their health benefit costs the lower the average pay of their employees. Hmmm.... seems like a good reason to hold down your employees pay, well except that market supply and demand do not really allow that. This brings up some interesting questions.

You see, Washington always thinks of every business as being a corporation. Corporations pay taxes on their net income. But, almost all small businesses report their income on the owners' personal tax returns. Does this mean that each business partner or stockholder must submit all the proof of payouts on employee health plans and on their average compensation to the IRS? How does the IRS then pay out the tax credit? If the company has no net income, as many small businesses do not, is the tax credit paid out? Is it paid out proportionately to each business owner as a check to them personally? Or, will there now be a whole new tax filing system for small businesses under which the money will be sent to the business directly? No matter what, this will be another government nightmare of paperwork for small businesses. This alone will be good reason to drop health insurance coverage for employees. Governments will never understand how heavy the hand of their paperwork lies on the head of the small businessman.

Now, there will be many small business owners naive enough to buy into this bribe, but in time this system will surely be changed and it will be changed to be more and more burdensome to small businesses. Just as the carbon cap and trade bill proposes expense offsets to many and attempts the really big energy reductions only after 2020 in order to get that program established, we can be sure the deal on health insurance will become more bitter with time.

There is no mention of reforming one of the big problems that small businesses have today with respect to offering health insurance to their owners, who are a substantial part of the workforce of small businesses. If an owner owns more than 2% of the stock of his company organized as a S-corporation, he is not allowed to treat company payments for his health insurance as a tax deductible expense of the company, though he does so for his employees. Many small business owners have no health insurance for this reason. And many have none because the small business cannot afford the expense. But, of course, the government hates business owners, so this may well not be changed.

The report talks about how various levels of reduced health insurance costs will help small businesses to become more profitable and to offer their employees more pay. They pick percentages of reduction out of the hat and calculate savings. But, there is no reason to think that health insurance costs will actually go down given that the government is going to dictate added benefits be added to the insurance coverage. I suppose, as long as the subsidies are offered, companies with many low-paid employees may save money if they are among those few companies with low-paid employees who already offer health insurance. The report notes that the lower the average pay of a small company's employees, the less likely that the company offers health insurance benefits. Most small companies may simply be tempted to stop offering health insurance and tell their employees to turn to the government health insurance exchange.

Under the House bill, a worker with a spouse and two children whose family income is $40,000 per year would pay approximately $1,700 for a policy that in a non-group market would cost $12,000 or more. This will be a huge government subsidy. Of course the government is figuring some reduction in cost because the insurance companies entering the plan are supposed to give up their profit! Ha!!! Perhaps they think the policies will be sold for less than what insurers would charge large companies. Let us use this 18% differential to calculate that part of the savings, though that figure may not have any validity. So 18% of $12,000 is $2,160. This means that the government subsidy for this family will be $12,000 - $1,700 - $2,160 = $8,140. Note that this is a huge transfer of wealth from some Americans to other Americans for no reason but that they are less productive individuals! This is the core of Obama's share the wealth philosophy.

This exchange plan is a lot better in some ways than most company offered plans. The family will have to make no more than $850 or less in out-of-pocket expenses. A family of four making less than 133% of the poverty level income of $22,050 will be put on Medicaid. Above this 133% level, they will go into this government exchange. At the starting income for the exchange of $29,300, this family of four will pay about $400 (approximately, estimated from the graph in Fig. 8 in the report) for the $12,000 insurance plan. Wow, what a transfer of wealth!!! The family of four making up to 400% of the poverty level will also receive a subsidy. This is an income of $88,200 and the subsidy will be about $2,200, again estimated from a graph.

As I see this, it would appear that most small businesses, except those with average employee compensation well above the average, will be better off ending their employee health benefit if they now offer one and letting their employees go into the government exchange. This frees them of the headache of doing a lot of paperwork, and many of their employees will be eligible for very large subsidies.

Of course, those subsidies come from taxes levied in some way upon the economy. It is clear that Obama and the Democrat Congress will levy those taxes on the most productive people in America and then transfer that money through these massive subsidies to those who are much less productive. The same is to be done in the carbon cap and trade scheme where the government will give subsidies to lower income families to offset their higher energy bills, while more productive people will pay the full cost of their skyrocketing energy bills.

Frankly, if the health insurance redistribution bill and the energy use tax redistribution bill are passed into law, there is no reason for productive people to bother being productive. They should go on strike. Going Galt is the only answer. It will be time to do some reading, go fishing, go hiking, and sleep in late, but there will be no point in working for money. Perhaps we should all retire to Galt's Gulch and prepare for the collapse of this socialist monstrosity that Obama and his fiendish Democrat Congress are fashioning. There we might create our own money with no convertibility into U.S. dollars and claim we have no income and hence should pay no taxes to the Socialist Republic of the United States.

Rush Limbaugh Believes Obama Intentionally Hurts the Economy

I heard the first part of Greta Van Susteren's interview with Rush Limbaugh Saturday evening. Like me, he thinks that Obama and the Democratic leadership in the House and Senate are consistently wrongheaded. He believes they are clearly more committed to socialism and increasing government power than they are to actually solving the problems they claim to be trying to solve.

Specifically, he referred to the health care insurance plans said to be for the purpose of covering all Americans with health insurance and to control costs as actually being all about control over the lives of Americans. If Obama and his allies were serious about wanting coverage for all, there are much better and cheaper ways to do it, which will also not compromise the quality of health care as badly as the current plan will. It is very obvious that Obama's and the Democrat's motivation is not what they say it is. A nationalized health care system has always been the dream of the socialists and they are not about to not fight hard to get it now that they have unprecedented power in the federal government for the first time in decades. I have made it clear in my posts here that this is my view as well.

Rush also pointed out that the carbon cap and trade bill is mostly just another vehicle for redistributing wealth and income from the wealthy to those who are not wealthy. He pointed out that Obama has a deep-seated dislike for the wealthy. Again, my posts have made it clear that this is my viewpoint also. The man-made global warming rationale for the carbon cap and trade is just a cover, which they cannot defend scientifically, so they defend it on a religious basis as the necessary justification for the usurpation of power from the people to control the people in many new ways. The socialists always dream of power over the people and they keep searching reasons to make our Constitution subservient to international ruling bodies. Anthropogenic global warming (AGW) seemed just the tool for these purposes and it is most unfortunate that the science backing AGW is now clearly evaluated as bad.

Rush, as I have done, pointed out that the way to create jobs is to reduce taxes and government regulations. This is clearly the only way to stimulate the economy and it has been proven to work time and time again. It also begins working the moment the taxes are cut, or even the moment it is clear that the taxes will be cut. I have gone further and pointed out that even during the presidential campaign and before when the Democrats looked likely to take over the government, their threat to increase taxes was already slowing down the economy. Rush said he believes that Obama and the Democrats are trying to kill employment, since that will make people worry more about health insurance and make them favor his nationalization plan for medical care. He may be right about this. I do believe that it is quite likely that some dyed-in-the-wool Democrat socialists would not hesitate to break some eggs (encourage high unemployment) to get what they consider sush a gem of the socialist dream. In particular, Obama is clearly such a committed socialist, as is Nancy Pelosi also.

So, I am giving Rush Limbaugh three cheers!

Good for Rush. I am glad to have him on the same page with me. The Democrat leadership in the White House and the Congress is not just wrong, it is not just wrongheaded, but it is frankly the heart of evil. At every opportunity, it is adamant that it will quash the rights of the individual in the name of collective socialism. There is no hesitancy on their part and we must have no hesitancy in realizing that we are up against a highly motivated and committed foe who want to wrest control of our lives from us. Hold on to your life with two hands and never let go!

25 July 2009

Story of the Baltimore Teachers Union Fighting Education

Marta Mossburg has written another good and interesting column in the Washington Examiner. First, it is a story of remarkable improvement in the testing outcomes for Baltimore students. Unfortunately, it is also a story about how the Baltimore Teachers Union believes its function is to treat teachers like semi-skilled laborers, rather than as professional educators. This opposition of the teachers union to teaching professionalism is paralleled by that in Washington, D.C. which I wrote about in an earlier post on 24 November 2008.

But please take a moment and read her column called Must Unions Always Block Innovation in Public Schools?

Sen. Ben Cardin's Reply to My Protest Against the Waxman-Markey Carbon Cap and Trade Bill

Last Friday I sent an e-mail note protesting the Waxman-Markey Carbon Cap and Trade bill passed by the House of Representatives to my Senators in the so-call Free State of Maryland. Sen. Ben Cardin replied as follows, with my comments added in "Investments in clean energy will generate approximately 3 times as many jobs as the equivalent amount spent on carbon-based fuel."[comment] form.

Thank you for sharing your thoughts about a clean energy and climate bill. I understand and share your concerns about the impact such legislation will have on Americans. Legislation addressing this issue must be mindful of costs to consumers. At the same time, I believe that global warming is real and needs to be addressed. The good news is that a well designed climate and energy bill can be a cost effective way to address this threat and help us develop a clean and sustainable economy.

[The bad news is that an effort and a cost is affordable only if something is accomplished that is worthwhile. Since global warming has not been caused by man, is currently not even happening, and since the natural forces of long-term climate cannot be controlled by man, all of the expense and effort of the carbon cap and trade is a waste. There is no point in applying any level of hardship on anyone for such a purpose and it is not the function of Congress to do such tyrannical and evil deeds. Furthermore, CO2 is a benefit for plant growth and therefore for man. Issues of cleanliness have already been well-addressed for most of the country and adding restrictions on energy use is a poor way to address any remaining issues. As for sustainability, the economics of supply and demand does a very good job of addressing such issues, while political power does a very poor job. Finally, there is no enumerated power in the Constitution giving Congress the power to regulate energy use.]

The House of Representatives passed the American Clean Energy and Security Act (H.R. 2454) on June 26, 2009. In addition to addressing greenhouse gases and energy use, legislators worked hard to address many of the concerns that you raised, including costs to consumers. The bill includes provisions to provide reimbursements to households, particularly low-income ones, for possible higher energy costs. As a result of these efforts, recent analysis from the Congressional Budget Office estimates that the legislation will cost each household less than 50 cents per day in 2020. I am now working with my colleagues Senator Baucus (D-MO) and Senator Merkley (D-OR) in a special group to contain costs in climate legislation as it moves through the Senate. I look forward to passing legislation that curbs global warming and protects consumers.

[We should be immensely grateful that you are concerned to protect consumers by merely confiscating $0.50 of our hard-earned income a day, but for the fact that you are taking that money only for the purpose of giving it to special interests and some of us will be taxed far more than $0.50 per day. In fact, the CBO has a habit of greatly underestimating the cost of government bills, often by factors of 3 and 4. In this case the way they estimated the costs of this particular bill left out many costs, because no one yet knows what they will be. Of course, it is hard to estimate costs for any bill that affects so much of our complex society in many ways. This bill is a huge experiment which lacks any valid purpose. What is more, the restrictions on energy use are ramped up dramatically after 2020, so the costs after that time will be much worse. Meanwhile, another complicating factor will be added to our already absurdly complicated tax code. Already the Treasury Secretary cannot figure out how to do his taxes, but Congress in its infinite wisdom wants to add more complexity in the name of income redistribution through the carbon tax and trade bill. Incidentally, perhaps your response should also address all the energy using industries given temporary dispensation, while the politically naive and powerless are forced to carry the added burden the expenses of this bill.]

I believe that if this bill is done right, it will help America rebuild its economy by providing incentives for businesses to invest, create new, good paying jobs, and save Americans billions of dollars in the long run. Investments in clean energy will generate approximately 3 times as many jobs as the equivalent amount spent on carbon-based fuel. A recent report released by the Union of Concerned Scientists found that if emissions are reduced by 56 percent by 2030, the resulting savings on energy bills from reductions in electricity and fuel would produce net annual savings for households, vehicle owners, businesses, and industries of $255 billion. New incentives will lead to fruitful innovations, and help the United States become a world leader in a new manufacturing sector, allowing us to export our expertise, intellectual property, and products worldwide. The Political Economy Research Institute estimates that the passage of a climate and energy bill would produce 1.7 million new jobs - 26,605 in Maryland alone. These jobs will be permanent, good paying, and will help rebuild our manufacturing sector.

[After all the bad-mouthing of American businessmen during the Presidential campaign and from the start of this administration caused so much uncertainty for business planning, followed by the bailout bill debt hanging over us all with its threat of more taxes and inflation, followed by the dismemberment of the American system of bondholder security, the looting of GM and Chrysler by labor unions, the proposed takeover of the health care industry, and the energy restrictions and costs of the carbon tax and trade bill, there is no way rational thinkers can be convinced that any bill passed by Congress will produce more net jobs. Yes, Congress can create jobs, but only at the cost of killing other jobs and always at a poor ratio of jobs created to jobs killed. The free market forces of supply and demand will always create more jobs than will Congressional fiat. "Investments in clean energy will generate approximately 3 times as many jobs as the equivalent amount spent on carbon-based fuel." I am particularly fond of this statement. Yes, so-called clean energy is very expensive and not at all cost competitive. It is not surprising that it takes three times as many people to create energy in that sector as in the carbon-based fuel sector. This is why we are better off using carbon-based fuels for quite a while into the future. What you are proposing doing is the same as the Luddite idea that if we eliminate tractors, we can create many more farm jobs with people using hand shovels and hoes. Then there is the claim that if we use 56% less energy by 2030, we will spend $255 billion less on energy. Partly, this just means that as energy becomes more and more limited in supply and more expensive, people will not be able to do many of the things they would have chosen to do. Of course we may have to tear down many a building and replace it with one with better insulation, so we may spend much more on housing and insulation. This may not be a bad thing to do in some cases, but I prefer to allow the market forces of supply and demand determine when this makes sense, rather than to leave that decision to Ben Cardin, who is not all-knowing or even very intelligent, as this response letter documents. As for the 1.7 million new jobs created by this bill, the stimulus bill did not create the jobs claimed for it, which was no surprise to anyone but the most gullible. And, there is no mention of the many jobs to be lost at coal-fired power plants, in transporting coal and oil, refining oil, cleaning coal and smokestack emissions, among trucking companies who use large amounts of diesel and gasoline, in oil exploration and oil field development, in coal mining, in high energy use industries, in the travel and resort business, and the increased energy bills for every small business in America. Did you count the added traffic deaths as people are forced into smaller and lighter vehicles? Some of the jobs to be lost are in Maryland, Senator Cardin. Did you count how many of them? Perhaps you should send letters to each person to lose his job and explain that it is because you believe in anthropogenic global warming and that energy use anyway is a bad thing.]

Many of America's leading companies, including major manufacturers and utilities support a new approach to energy and regulation. The United States Climate Action Partnership is an alliance of major businesses that have come together to call on the Federal Government to quickly enact strong national legislation to require significant reductions of greenhouse gas emissions. They believe this step is necessary for our future economic prosperity even in our current economic circumstances. This partnership includes major companies such as General Electric, Ford Motor Company, Shell, John Deere, DuPont, and PepsiCo.

[So, basically you hold a gun to man's head and say "your money or your life" and when he hands you his money, you claim that you did not rob him, because he gave you the money. I understand. Many of these companies opposed the AGW agenda, extreme environmental restrictions on energy exploration and development, and restrictions on energy use until the Federal Government fell into the hands of the so-called Progressive (the Luddite Socialist) wing of the Democrat Party. They then had to pretend to go along. Of course, in doing so, some or all of these big companies are also seeking to minimize competition from smaller companies with less political pull. Many are stalling for time, knowing that the AGW theory is falling apart and the people will soon understand that the Democrat Party pulled the wool over their eyes. I will also point out that the fascists and Nazis of Italy and Germany were also very good at beating up industry and forcing them to go along with their programs. This does not make these regimes seem any more moral to us now, though maybe it fooled some Italians and Germans at the time.]

If left unchecked, the impacts of global warming - increased hurricane damage, real estate losses, energy and water expenses - could cost our economy an estimated $1.9 trillion annually by the end of the century. The stakes are particularly high for Maryland. Scientists predict that warming will cause sea level in Maryland to rise by as much as three feet before the century's end. Warmer seas will produce more severe tropical storms and hurricanes-causing damage to towns along the Chesapeake Bay and more floods throughout the state. The short and long term threats global warming poses to our economy and standard of living must be taken very seriously.
[There are nothing but false claims made here. The number and severity of hurricanes goes through cycles, but there has been no long-term increase in either. The real-estate losses are known to be due to more building along the seacoasts. The Chesapeake Bay is a beautiful place to have a home and it is great to have a dock and a boat. So the affluent have built homes all along it and, yes, damage is high in bad storms. The 3 foot sea-level rising prediction by the end of the century even exceeds the wild-eyed 2007 UN IPCC governmental union prediction that it will rise by 18 to 59 cm. Oh, sorry, I had better do the conversion for you. That is 7 to 23 inches. The upper end number is less than 2 feet. Mid-range is a mere 15 inches and each UN IPCC prediction has been less than the previous one. Each has been recognized as an exaggeration. Of course, land masses will rise in some areas and sink in others and the total amount of liquid water may increase or decrease somewhat, as they always have due to natural causes beyond your control.]

A central element of H.R. 2454 is a cap and trade program to control harmful carbon dioxide emissions and lower costs of the overall bill. Unlike a carbon tax, the cap and trade model provides businesses and corporations with the most flexibility, enabling market-driven forces to minimize overall costs and achieve maximum efficiency in reducing emissions. This model has been successful in curbing other pollutants in the past. The Acid Rain Program, established under Title IV of the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments, utilized a cap-and-trade program and dramatically reduced sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions at a cost far less than estimated. The Environmental Protection Agency under President George W. Bush estimated the benefit-to-cost ratio of the sulfur dioxide cap-and-trade program at 40-1. Praised by businesses and environmental groups alike, cap-and-trade programs offer a pragmatic approach that meets both our economic and environmental goals.

[It makes sense to reduce real pollutants that cause health problems, enhanced corrosion, and visibility problems. Those programs bear no resemblance to the issue of CO2 emissions, which is not a pollutant, is emitted by all of us as we breathe, and is plant food which provides us with more food and more oxygen.]

Frankly, I am appalled by the ignorance of the counter argument offered up by Senator Ben Cardin. This man is simply not up to the task of being a Senator in a Congress whose powers are highly limited by the Constitution, where he might focus his attention on a much smaller number of issues and actually have a chance to learn something about them. As a member of a Congress which ignores all of the limits to its power placed upon it by the Constitution he has placed a much, much greater burden of understanding upon himself than he is up to. This man has abrogated the powers of a God unto himself and his oligarchical partners in power, but he is not even a man of remarkable wisdom and knowledge. This is a tragic situation for the sovereign people of these United States of America.

The Framers of the Constitution, being much better men than Ben Cardin, had a wise understanding of their limits and the limits that could be expected of our federal legislature and, for that matter, the presidency in the future. They would not give themselves anywhere near the amount of power that Ben Cardin and his like have taken upon themselves. They knew that Ben Cardin was a problem and they did their best to give us a Constitution which would prevent his rise to power. Americans have failed those wise men who gave us this great gift by refusing to understand this relatively easily understood document and by refusing to live by its principles of good government. A democracy of ignorant, unprincipled people will always fall into a state of tyranny, ruled by the likes of Ben Cardin and then later by the likes of even worse men.

23 July 2009

Employers Required to Pay 8% of Payroll as New Health Insurance Tax

The Obama and Democrat health insurance bills being considered in the Congress will put a new 8% payroll tax on companies which do not provide a health insurance plan meeting the as yet unannounced requirements of the federal government. There is good reason to believe that lobbyists for acupuncture, psychiatric, marriage counseling, vision and dental care, and many other services not always covered by health insurance policies will be added as requirements. The plan my company presently offers costs us $379 per employee per month or $4,548 per year. To meet the government requirements, which I am sure will escalate in time as the lobbyists work on the politicians with offers of campaign support, the cost of the company health insurance benefit will surely go up.

But, let us do a simple calculation to determine what average annual salary offered by a company will cause it to cost less to pay the 8% tax penalty than to offer a health insurance plan costing $379 per month. We simply divide $4,548 by 0.08 and get $56,850/yr. So, already, even before the cost of a reasonable private health insurance plan is increased by new government requirements, any company with an average employee salary of less than $56,850/yr. is better off dropping the company insurance plan and paying the penalty tax. Since the median male full-time employee income is well under this figure and the workers of many industries will be well below the median salary, there are clearly many companies which will choose to drop their health insurance plans for employees.

Note something else here. The rationale offered by the government for a government-run health insurance option and for forcing employers to either provide health insurance coverage themselves or pay a new anti-employment tax, was to help poor Americans who cannot afford health insurance. Remember that mythical figure of 47 million uninsured Americans, at least 10.2 million of whom are illegal aliens and 17.8 million of whom had family incomes greater than $50,000 per year, so they could afford health insurance if it were among their priorities. Then about one-third of those eligible for Medicaid have never applied for it and many others eligible for VA medical benefits have never applied for those benefits. But anyway, it is precisely those businesses and industries whose employees are compensated mostly at median and below wages and salaries that will stop offering health insurance for their employees!

So, the plan is to siphon off lower paid workers rapidly into the government health insurance option plan. These plans will save costs by underpaying doctors and hospitals just as Medicare and Medicaid presently do. The amount of underpayment will increase in time as the costs of subsidizing the government health insurance plan will increase and taxpayers rebel more and more against further tax increases. The doctors and hospitals will pass off more and more of the costs under the government health insurance plans to the smaller and smaller number of people covered by private health insurance. Early on, these plans will be offered more and more only to higher earners due to the 8% calculation effect, but then the costs of these private plans will skyrocket as doctors and hospitals turn to a smaller pool of people in private plans to cover their deficits. Soon, all such private plans will be abandoned.

At some point, the wealthy people left in them will realize that they are better off going on the government plan and then flying to an off-shore medical services haven when they need real medical care. Much as tax havens exist today in such places as small island nations, there will be Mayo Clinics and Cleveland Clinics in such Caribbean islands for the medical needs of the wealthy and the desperate.

But, most Americans will be stuck with a government run communist socialist medical system. I wish you all the best of luck on your health, because should it come into jeopardy down the road, many more of you will be goners. And do not forget that men and women of intelligence and good judgment are rarely going to want to work in a field in which they are micromanaged by government bureaucrats and smothered in very boring paperwork. The people who will stay in the health care industry and those who will go into it in the future will be difficult to differentiate from Soviet and Cuban doctors. Yes, we will all be playing Russian roulette on a regular basis. Every time the trigger is squeezed, give up your thanks to Obama and the Democrats.

22 July 2009

Some Perspective on the Last Few Decades of Temperature Change

The very interesting graph of temperature over the last couple hundred years at the Watts Up With That? website is shown above. There is a gradual, approximately linear temperature increase since the end of the Little Ice Age and there are multi-decadal oscillations in temperature about that. It is not well-understood why the linear increase since the end of the Little Ice Age, but there is no particular reason to believe that it has anything to do with man-made CO2 emissions. The alarmists have taken the rise in temperature since the last negative deviation from the linear increasing baseline at its lowest point and screamed that the rate of temperature increase is without precedent. Meanwhile we are now at the red dot which is pointed out with the green arrow. It appears that we have started the downward swing on the multi-decadal positive side of the normal oscillation and are in the process of returning to the slowly increasing baseline.

The box is from 1880 to 2000, and the total temperature change in that time was less than 0.5 degrees C. But, the UN IPCC projections of temperature change are implying a 2 to 6 degrees C increase by 2100, which is only 93 years after the release of the 2007 report, as shown in the graph in the pink area indicating the range of its projections. Already, the earth's global temperature lies well below the bottom edge of those projections despite rising CO2 in the atmosphere in the meantime. Comments by Dr. Syun Akasofu of the International Arctic Research Center at the University of Alaska Fairbanks accompanying the graph above at Watts Up With That? add that the high IPCC temperature predictions for 2100
are simply an extension of the observed increase from 1975 to 2000, which was caused by the multi-decadal oscillation. The Global Climate Models (GCMs) are programmed to reproduce the observed increase from 1975 to 2000 in terms of CO2 effect and to extend the reproduced curve to 2100.
In other words, the normal multi-decadal oscillation effect caused by natural forces has been attributed instead to an increasing concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere, making that seem to be a very much more powerful effect than it actually is. As I have noted in earlier blog entries, the actual increase in temperature due to increasing concentrations of CO2 by 2100 is unlikely to be as much as 0.5 degrees C.

Akasofu also says:
The IPCC seems to imply that the halting is a temporary one. However, they cannot give the reason. Several recent trends, including the phase of the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO), the halting of sea level increase, and the cooling of the Arctic Ocean, indicate that the halting is likely to be due to the multi-decadal change.
In addition, the sun has entered a period of low sunspot activity, which surely is also causing some cooling. It is clear that the temperature is in the process of returning to the long-term slowing rising linear trendline and that it is likely to cross it once again to the negative side of that line. You might note that only the low end of the U.N. IPCC predicted temperature increase is a linear projection of the 1975 to 2000 temperature increase. The range above that is all predicated on a non-linear greater rate of temperature increase over time, despite the fact that more and more CO2 in the atmosphere has less and less effect in absorbing emitted infra-red radiation! But, they imagine that other effects will amplify the CO2 greenhouse gas effect. More recent research, however, actually shows that counterbalancing effects come into play to decrease, rather than increase, the warming effect of CO2 as a greenhouse gas.

So, meanwhile, we have a President and a Democrat Congress who are eager to put major restrictions on energy use and to increase taxes on its use in the name of preventing the global temperature increases predicted by the UN IPCC analysis. The G8 nations are also lined up to do the same thing. The U.N. is pushing all the countries of the world to get on board and take orders from the U.N. to solve this looming catastrophe. Of course, it wants the developed countries to feel most of the pain from the imposed restrictions on human lifestyles.

All of this is clearly a play for power based upon amateurish science. Some much better science has been done in the last decade and it is way past time for the federal government and many academics to understand that it is clearly the case that natural forces still dominate the climate and will still be the dominant cause of global temperatures in 2100 in all likelihood.

It is a measure of the strength of the lust for power that so much effort is made to manufacture a human catastrophe which might be averted by human action, if only directed by much more powerful governments, and that this scientifically slovenly work of the UN IPCC is still taken seriously by many. They just cannot give up the justification for their power grab, no matter how badly flawed and nonsensical it is.

This failure to correct actions based on arguments found to be wrong is characteristic of most politicians and of those of their backers who favor ever-expanding government. The health insurance and health care takeover, the ethanol subsidies, the financial bailout and controls, the takeover of GM and Chrysler, the increase in the minimum wage, the move to hand more businesses over to unions, the increased taxes on businesses under the guise of health insurance reform, the mandates and subsidies for alternative energy industries, and much more are cases of the desire for power motivating a pretense that the offered arguments are valid, even when those arguments are well-known to be false. The political animal is a very devious animal and has always succeeded in leading democracies into tyranny despite their very poor arguments for their acquisition of ever more power. This is why the Framers of the Constitution did what they could to minimize democratic elements in the form of our government. At our peril, we have undone much of what they wisely did.

Ann Coulter on Obama Health Care Plan

Ann Coulter has written a well-thought out and well-written put-down on the Obama health care plan here.

21 July 2009

Who Is Shirking Their CO2 Emissions Responsibilities?

Secretary of State Hilary Clinton has just been in India trying to get India to sign on to a commitment to reduce their CO2 emissions. She apologized for the high CO2 emissions of the United States. Indian officials made it clear that India would not make a pledge to reduce its emissions, but joined in the criticism of the U.S. for its high emissions. India maintains that because the per capita CO2 emissions of the Indian population are very low, there is no reason to criticize India.

While I applaud India for not pledging CO2 emission reductions, they are terribly wrong that there is no reason to criticize India. Here is why:
  • Global warming is no longer occurring.
  • It was not primarily due to CO2 emissions when it was occurring.
  • CO2, far from being a problem, is a great boon to mankind by virtue of its role in greatly enhancing plant growth.
  • Increased plant growth means increased food and oxygen production.
Thus, Americans are valiantly producing large amounts of wonderful CO2 on a per capita basis, while Indians are sadly failing to do their fair share. We Americans are increasing their per capita food production far more than they are increasing ours. We Americans are increasing their per capital oxygen supply far more than they are increasing ours. Americans are giving the world a great gift which is not adequately reciprocated by most of the people of the world!

So which country's people are doing the most yeoman work in producing this great gift of CO2? Using the estimates for each country for the year 2004, they are (in metric tons per person)

1 Qatar 69.2
2 Kuwait 38.0
3 United Arab Emirates 37.8
4 Luxembourg 24.9
5 Trinidad and Tobago 24.7
6 Brunei 24.1
7 Bahrain 23.9
8 Netherlands Antilles 22.2
9 Aruba 21.3
10 United States 20.4
11 Canada 20.0
12 Norway 19.01
13 Australia 16.3
14 Falkland Islands 14.8
15 Nauru 14.2
16 Estonia 14.1
17 Faroe Islands 13.8
18 Saudi Arabia 13.4
19 Kazakhstan 13.3
20 Gibraltar 13.0

29 Israel 10.8
30 Russia 10.5
34 Japan 9.84
37 United Kingdom 9.79
38 Germany 9.79
39 South Korea 9.77
43 Netherlands 8.74
52 Italy 7.69
59 Venezuela 6.57
61 Iran 6.31
63 France 6.2
66 Sweden 5.89
69 Switzerland 5.47
82 Mexico 4.24
91 China 3.84
120 Brazil 1.80
123 Indonesia 1.69
133 India 1.20

As we can see, no people compare to those of Qatar in producing huge quantities of the beneficent CO2 at 69.2 metric tons of CO2 per person! Then Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates are by far the next best performers. Then there are the people of such countries as Luxembourg, the United States, and Canada who produce very healthy amounts of CO2 per person in the range from 25 to 20 metic tons per person. Now note that the people of Japan, the United Kingdom and Germany do not even contribute as half-way decent an amount as 10 metric tons per person! The ever-critical French are miserable CO2 producers at a miserly 6.2 metric tons/person. The Chinese cannot even manage a contribution of 4 metric tons per person. Brazil cannot manage a contribution of 2 metric tons per person, while India proves that its people are absolutely incompetent in producing CO2 emissions at a minuscule production of 1.2 tons per person.

So, how did Hilary Clinton get all of this backwards? I cannot imagine, but it sure is entirely consistent with the persistent wrongheadedness of the Democrat Party and the Obama administration. They get everything backwards.

So hooray for the many wonderful producers in the United States and Canada who are contributing so much to world plant growth! Boo those people in Japan, Britain, Germany, and France who cannot contribute even half as much. Then I really do not know what to say to those people of the undeveloped world such as China, Brazil, and India who cannot contribute as much as a fifth as much as Americans and Canadians. They are pathetic CO2 producers.

20 July 2009

Sotomayer the Unjust, the Oppressor

I have earlier noted that Judge Sonia Sotomayor has severe shortcomings as a federal judge and would be unsuitable as a Justice of the Supreme Court. I discussed her faults with respect to group identity biases and with respect to her lack of respect for private property rights in posts on 27 May and 3 June of 2009. Today I will discuss another huge problem affecting our individual rights.

This problem is revealed by her decision in the case of Maloney v. Cuomo, which considered whether the recent Supreme Court decision that the people of the District of Columbia have a right to own and bear arms applies to citizens who live in states. Remarkably, Judge Sotomayor found that states have the power to deny their citizens the right to own and bear arms even if they are law-abiding citizens. She held that the Second Amendment does not recognize an individual right which no government in the United States of America was empowered to violate.

It is very clear that the Framer's of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights intended to protect just such an individual right from all levels of government with the Second Amendment, just as they were doing the same to protect individual rights to freedom of speech and a free press in the First Amendment. Indeed, it has been well-established law that the protections of the First Amendment do apply to all Americans, just as freedom from illegal search and seizure guaranteed by the Fourth Amendment does. Sonia Sotomayor thinks otherwise with respect to the Second Amendment.

Given this viewpoint that the amendments to the Constitution may or may not, upon her whim, actually serve as protections of the individual and his sovereign rights from the worst predators extant, namely our governments, it is clear that Sotomayor is even more ready than most progressives to eviscerate the Constitution. She is determined that it will not stand in her way when she personally decides that she likes something or she does not. She has already made it clear that it will not stand in her way when it comes to the law being blind with respect to a person's race or ethnic background. She has made it clear that she recognizes little to no personal property rights, if a government body lusts after an individual's property. She has also made it clear that even a right to which an entire original amendment in the Bill of Rights was devoted, earns no respect from her.

We must rationally conclude that not a single right guaranteed to Americans in the Constitution is safe from her predations. She is clearly such a believer in all-powerful governments that no individual right has any real standing with her. If a government wants it, that government gets it. We, as individuals, have no protection from governments based upon our rights, whether to be judged only on the basis of our character, to own property, or to own and bear arms today; but tomorrow we may just as well have no freedom of speech, no freedom to assemble, to freedom to petition government, no freedom of the press or Internet, and no freedom from unreasonable search and seizure. It seems clear that she, as with Joe Biden, believes that individuals only have those "rights" which government chooses to give them. What government gives at one time, it can take away at another and Sotomayor is prepared to help with the taking.

19 July 2009

Red States, Blue States

Did you ever wonder how the Main Stream Media came to choose these colors for the states based on their voting records?

I expect it went this way:

"Well we do not want people to realize the Democrat, Progressive, Liberal states are Socialist, so we must not make them the Red States. We also do not want these states to be associated with the blood bathes which have occurred in so many socialist countries."

"So, the Red States will have to be those which vote Republican or Conservative. After all, most of the people in those states are just ignorant, racist REDnecks."

18 July 2009

The Federal Minimum Wage Increase

In the midst of the worst recession in several decades, the federal government is about to carry out the third stage of a federal minimum wage increase from $5.15/hour to $7.25/hour on 24 July. In July 2007, it was increased to $5.85 and in July 2008 it was increased to $6.55. These minimum wage increases will contribute further to the unemployment which in June rose to 9.5% of the workforce. Why does the federal government interfere with the employment contract between a worker and an employer in such a manner? For that matter, why do many states also establish minimum wage rates by law?

Nannies argue such things as: A family of four cannot possibly be supported by a single wage earner being paid $5.15/hour so government must step in and force the employer to pay its workers more. Implicit in this argument, there is an assessment of the cost-of-living according to some standard held by the nanny and there is a failure to note the individual nature of the employee and the job in which he is employed. The employee may not have graduated from high school and if he did, he still may not know how to read or add and subtract numbers. The employee may not have an IQ of 100 or more, so his abilities may not be those that most voters imagine the employee may have. And, of course, the employee may have other means of support and just wants a few more spending dollars, or he may be looking for a good job, but needs whatever supplemental income he can get in the interim.

Then again, the employee may live in a community where the cost-of-living is very much lower than it is where the plurality of voters who favor a given minimum wage come from. Or, frankly, someone who wants a particular job in a particular industry may simply have to take what that industry can afford to pay in that area of the country. A lemonaide stand operated in New York City may be able to generate much more income per hour than one operated in Lance Creek, Wyoming. The lemonade stand in NYC may be able to pay $7.25/hour to the lemonade dispenser, while this may be a hopeless prospect in Lance Creek.

If there were a valid justification for government to interfere with the freedom of employment, it is clear that any minimum wage laws that might be justified should be established on as local a level as possible. Even when these are established at the state level, there will be huge cost-of-living differences across many states and great differences in the kinds of jobs available and the customers who will provide the income to the company providing the jobs. Lemonade stands in Cheyenne, Casper, and Yellowstone National Park may be able to generate much more income and pay higher wages than can one in Lance Creek. This is no reason to deny the people of Lance Creek jobs at a lemonade stand and lemonade as well! Yet, the many states with minimum wage laws do just such nonsensical things. Then we compound this extreme nonsense with the still more ridiculous nonsense of a national minimum wage law.

Why do we do this? Well, it clearly is not to address any actual concern for fairness to employees, since if such arguments as that they were unfairly treated by the free market forces of supply and demand were actually true, then these issues would have to be addressed by very local governments which could more nearly deal with the many different local conditions. I maintain that they should not attempt to do this because it violates the rights of both the employer and the employee, but even for those who have no concern for rights and moral behavior, but who do pretend to be pragmatic, the argument for a national minimum wage rests on quicksand.

The real reason for a national minimum wage law, and in many cases for state minimum wage laws, is so local governments can minimize the tendency of some businesses to locate in areas where the cost of living is lower. The high-cost-of-living states and locales are commonly suffering an out-migration of people and businesses to lower cost-of-living areas or at least they have slower growth rates. The governments have a particular interest in stopping this out-migration because in many cases they have had a major hand in increasing the cost-of-living in their areas. The areas with the higher cost-of-living, higher taxes, greater restrictions on business operations and new home building, tend to be dominated by the Democrat Party. These areas also tend to have higher population densities, which make it easier to pay service workers more than they can make in lower population density areas of the country. So, establishing a federal minimum wage requirement which is higher than the level at which some people in some parts of the country are willing to work in certain jobs, kills the competitive industries or retards their competition in those areas of the country.

In practical terms, the recent increases in the minimum wage retard the growth of companies in the South and in the Plains States and outside many metropolitan areas of the remaining states, in addition to eliminating jobs for many of the least skilled, commonly very young, workers in the many metropolitan areas where the city public school systems are a horrifying joke. This is an act of unbridled cruelty, dressed up as nanny compassion. This is the wolf under a sheep hide.

Once again, the progressive agenda is simply a transfer of wealth, jobs, and dreams from those with less political power to those with more political power. The big push for these federal minimum wage increases came from Pelosi (D, CA), House Education and Labor Committee Chairman George Miller (D, CA), and Kennedy (D, MA). In this case, it is clear that the Blue States are taking advantage of the Red States in an effort to keep the Red States from taking advantage of their lower cost-of-living, lower taxes, and better business climates. It is also clear that despite the great pretense, the Progressives do not care a fig for those they have not bothered to educate decently in their public schools in the many major cities controlled by the Democrats or for jobs lost to people who are less likely to vote for them. Furthermore, it is clear that whether people actually have jobs or not is much less important to the Progressives than is their quest for the power to control all of our lives from cradle to grave.

Let us all give a great big hand to the fascist Democrat Party which once again is destroying American jobs and hurting those with minimal jobs skills or opportunities, even as they continue the pretense of caring for the Little Guy, the Common Man, and the Disadvantaged. Once again, it is revealed that the Party of Mass Destruction is primarily motivated by a lust for power rather than a caring heart.