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

30 October 2012

Romney is Going to Win the Election

The outcome of the 2012 Presidential election will be decided in the six swing states in light gray in the electoral map below.  It is interesting that four of them are in the Midwest.

Romney only needs 8 more electoral votes to win, since a tie of 269 votes each will be decided by the Republican House of Representatives.  I believe that Romney will win at least four of these six swing states.  If so, Romney will add between 38 and 64 electoral votes depending on which combination of four states he wins.  But Romney needs to win only one of Ohio, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Michigan or both Iowa and Nevada to win the election.  There is even a possibility that Minnesota is in play with its 10 electoral votes enough for Romney to win.

If Romney sweeps all of these swing states, which is not highly likely, but is also not out of reach, the situation would be:

This would be a most wonderful reassurance that the American People might occasionally lose their marbles, but they have a tendency to relocate them eventually.  The amount of red in the county by county results will then be startling.

As I have noted before, the polls have weighted their results much too heavily toward Democrats by assuming there are either many more of them than Republicans or by assuming they are more likely to go to the polls to vote.  I believe that the Rasmussen and more recent Gallup attempts to identify the relative numbers of Democrats, Republicans, and Independent voters are very close to the actual case and the 2008 breakdown of voter affiliations are not applicable.  There are more Republicans than Democrats now and they will go to the polls in larger numbers than the Democrats will.

Romney still has a large, typical Republican advantage with male voters and Obama's 2008 advantage with female voters has almost disappeared.  Romney has a large advantage with Independent voters.  Obama is hoping for more black and Hispanic voters in this election than in 2008.  This is not going to happen.  In fact, there will be fewer black and Hispanic voters in this election.  They have been hit much harder by unemployment and some are concerned with Obama's stances on issues of religious belief.  His percentage of black voters voting will be lower.  Also, more Democrats than last time and more than usual will crossover and vote for Romney.  Republicans have a tradition of less crossover voting for Democrats and fewer than usual will do so this time.  18 - 29 year olds still favor Obama heavily by 55% to 36% of likely voters, but 9% of likely voters in that group are undecided.  Only 48% of these young voters say they will definitely vote and those voting for Romney are more likely to vote.

While the economy, ObamaCare, energy policies, the level of government spending, and the deficit will all cost Obama most heavily, the last of the undecided voters are being well pushed toward Romney by the Obama disgrace in failing to protect the Ambassador and others in the Benghazi consulate and then lying about the situation.  Those still undecided will almost all vote for Romney.  Consequently, it now appears that Romney will win 4 to 6% more of the popular vote than Obama.  That will translate into a substantial win in the Electoral College vote.

The Election Choice: Is Another Human Being a Burden?

If, as the Progressive Elitists say, we are all our brother's, neighbors, and unknown countryman's keeper and that keeping is to be performed by government using mandatory taxation and forced labor, then every newborn baby is an added burden to everyone.  In this view, the needs and the wishes of each new person become the command that forces each of us to act to satisfy those needs and wishes.  With no regulating principle to limit which needs and wishes will be satisfied, these needs and wishes will make very heavy demands on limited resources.  This perhaps heightens the tendency of Progressive Elitists to see each new human as a threat to the Earth, to nature, and to the environment.

Indeed, instead of the effort required by a man to produce what he needs and wants in voluntary cooperation with others in the free market being the limit on the use of resources, the Progressive Elitist is required to find other means to place limits on both the requirements for action on the part of others and upon the use of resources.  There are two major such limits:

1)  Political power and the jockeying of factions for control of government, whose monopoly on the use of force to compel action by others to satisfy the needs and wants of controlling factions is fought for with warlike intent and ferocity.  This vicious fight for power to control always limited resources is rarely acknowledged by more gentle supporters.

2)  Claims, commonly exaggerated, that the resources of the Earth are limited justifies limits on demands on the government to compel too much effort from others to satisfy greedy demands.  Protection of the Earth, nature, and the environment are to become regulators of greed which the Progressive Elitists refuse to allow free associations for purposes of cooperation in the pursuit of values in the private sector to pursue.  This is also used to argue against the efficiency of the private sector and Capitalism in providing for individual needs and wants with the claim that the private sector uses too many of the Earth's resources and violates nature.  Nature is seen as excluding mankind.  These limits seem more amenable to gentler souls than do those of the raw exercise of government power for special interests or factions, yet these limits become added tools for warlike factions in control of government.

Whatever the limits on efforts to satisfy the needs and wants of each of our countrymen by these two Progressive Elitist principles, each person is an added burden.  Each newborn child has a long future of educational expenses from Kindergarten through the 12th grade and then perhaps in college.  Any sickness or genetic defect is a burden on everyone else.  If the adult does not prove ready to be productive enough to produce a large stream of tax revenues for the governments, then the adult is a burden on all.  Inevitably, no matter what, each person is a strain on the Earth and Mother Nature.  Each person presents complex needs and wants, with critical differences in the timing of these needs and wants, which lawmakers and bureaucrats cannot understand and provide for.  The individuality of each person must be suppressed and modeled out of existence for such a state to function.  The problems that result make each individual a sore spot to be resented by the lawmakers, bureaucrats, and voting Progressive Elitists.

In a rich and vibrant private sector with a highly limited government only protecting individual rights, individuals choose their own values based on their own assessments of their needs and wants.  They then arrange their voluntary associations with others to make trades of time, effort, money, and favors to pursue their values.  These trades are made only as each participant sees some kind of advantage in cooperation for himself.  All such relationships contribute to the value we see in one another.  Aside from a few murderers and street thieves, everyone has at least some positive value to us as an actual trader, a potential trader, or just someone in the incredibly complex hierarchies of trades and interactions that infuse our society who is almost certainly productive at some level.  In such a society, we come to see everyone as a value to us.  Those few worthy people down on their luck for a time or really, really unfortunate in the chance of genetic problems or disease, we want to help care for voluntarily because they are still a part of our society of valued individuals.

Not so in the society of the Progressive Elitist.  The characteristic ObamaCare program is already rationing medical care in Medicaid and Medicare by refusing operations and expensive drugs to those over 70, who are seen as an excessive burden to society.  After all, not only do such people burden society with their medical costs, but they also take Social Security money.  They produce little in the way of a tax revenue stream now.  Similarly, newborn babies with severe problems are to receive less care in the frank acknowledgment that they will burden society with many years of education expenses before they will be generators of a tax revenue stream.  Progressive Elitism robs us of our joy in the lives of others.  It rubs the fact of our being forced to serve them in our faces.  It forces us to become sullen slaves to their needs and wants.  It forces us to become angry combatants for our own needs and wants.  Among our own needs and wants is the avoidance of having to provide for the needs or wants of others if only because the hours of our own days and lives are limited.  The Progressive Elitist society is suffused with stress and resentment.  Everyone else becomes a burden upon us.

In the election on 6 November, we will be faced with many choices to either choose to enthusiastically embrace the Progressive Elitist viewpoint of society as Obama and Biden do, or to make a choice that recognizes at least a substantial part of the value of a limited government and private sector society more consistent with the American Principle put forth in our Declaration of Independence and our Constitution as Romney and Ryan do.  We all need to decide whether we want to live in a society that makes nearly everyone else a value to us or one which makes nearly everyone else a burden to us.  We need to decide whether we want to cooperate with others or whether we want to fight others for government power or for the limited resources of the Earth.  This is the nature of the conflict between government limited to protecting our rights and socialist government which is supposed to provide for everyone's needs and wants.  This is the nature of the rich and vibrant private sector choice and the big government choice.  We must choose to recognize the fact of a complex and highly differentiated individuality or to refuse to see it.  We have to decide whether we are pro-human or anti-human.

29 October 2012

Denying Islamic Terrorism and the Death of Americans in Benghazi

Obama has a long-standing inability to acknowledge Islamic terrorism and consequently has severe weaknesses in dealing with it.  That he has a wrongheaded determination to refuse to identify it was long ago made clear by the failure to designate the attack on the military recruiting station near Little Rock, Arkansas as a terrorist attack, despite the knowledge that the attacker was trained by jihadists in Somalia and claimed that he performed the attack and murders as a jihadist act.  This was followed by the designation of Major Hassan's terrible attack at Ft. Hood as an instance of workplace violence.  Obama claims that no Islamic terrorism has occurred on American soil under his watch!

Obama's inability to recognize and deal with the reality is a result both of Progressive Elitist political correctness and his own upbringing as a Muslim.  Obama clearly has a strong allegiance to that faith, though his viewpoint is a hybrid of Islam and many western influences, so let me make it clear that I am not saying that he is essentially and at his core a believer in Islam.  There is, however, much about Islam that he does admire and even seems to long for.  I do not share his admiration or his longing, either for Islam or for Progressive Elitism.

Obama refuses to see that violence as a means to spread Islam and to cower those who are unbelievers is central to Islam.  Muhammad made it a central policy of Islam as soon as he and his followers were powerful enough to overcome those around him in the primitive Saudi pennisula of the 7th Century.  Before that time of strength, he often spoke of peaceful coexistence, but that was clearly just a strategy to bide his time until he was strong enough to take what he wanted by force.  Islam is perhaps the religion most compatible with a vision of strong and relatively unlimited government.  One can well imagine how this religious viewpoint meshes with Obama's Progressive Elitism to make him a largely lawless President by the standards of American law and our American Principle of legitimate government limited to the protection of our equal, sovereign individual rights to life, liberty, property, the ownership of our own minds, bodies, and labor, and to the pursuit of our personal happiness.

Despite months of general chaos followed by months of mounting attacks focused on western groups in Benghazi, the Obama administration so badly wanted to pretend that his policies in this Muslim area were a success, that only we Americans officially ignored the reality on the ground.  Other western groups pulled out, including the British after an attack upon their ambassador in Benghazi.  The commander of an American security force asked for reinforcements and was denied them.  The Ambassador to Libya repeatedly noted the lack of sufficient security forces.  The Obama State Department then actually pulled out a large part of the American security force and left the Embassy and Consulate staffs much weaker yet.  A couple of attempts to bomb the Benghazi American Consulate were ignored.  The Ambassador was nearly frantic in his pleas for more security, yet bravely determined to complete his mission, which was apparently largely to get the many weapons left by the fall of Gaddafi under responsible control.

The attack on the American Consulate began about 9:40 PM and fighting continued either there or in a CIA Annex about 1 mile away until at least 4 AM.  [Update 3 Nov:  It is now known they were under attack until 5:26 AM.]  Throughout this time, Americans under attack or nearby were in communication with Washington.  A drone was quickly dispatched to fly overhead and watch the fighting.  The Obama administration will not say whether the drone and its replacement were armed or not.  [Update: The drone was unarmed and arrived at 11:11 PM.]  After a long period in which Obama would say nothing about what he knew, he now claims that he pledged whatever assistance was needed for the defense of the Americans under fire.  Only a small security group at the Embassy at Tripoli was flown into the Benghazi airport and they were kept waiting for Libyan transportation for 45 minutes after arrival.  [Update:  The flight was 45 minutes long.  They arrived at the airport in Benghazi at 11:15 PM and cannot leave the airport there until 4:30 AM.]  A major security force in Sicily, Italy that could have been brought in was never moved in.  They perhaps might not have been able to arrive fast enough to save the American Ambassador Chris Stevens and Sean Smith who died at the Consulate, but they surely could have been brought in to eliminate the mortar that killed Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty at 4 AM.  [Update:  The time of their death was incorrectly reported.  The mortar attack did not begin until 5:15 AM.  The first two mortars missed the target and the next three hit the roof, killing Woods and Doherty.  The attack was over by 5:26 AM.]  They had previously marked the mortar with laser only needed a gunship, aircraft, or maybe an armed drone to take it out.  [This was also an error of earlier reports.  They had marked some groups of attackers earlier, but had not marked the mortar.  Libyan relief forces finally arrived at 6:00 AM.]

Their requests for support were denied, yet CIA spokeswoman Jennifer Youngblood claims no requests were denied.  Then Secretary of Defense Leon Panneta told us that the situation on the ground in Benghazi was too unknown to send in help!  Yet, Obama claims to have pledged whatever help was needed.  Indeed.  What were the caveats he attached to that pledge which he is not telling us?  It is clear that neither he nor Panneta nor Clinton will tell us how he pretended to provide the support which he did not provide until after the 6 November election.

The initial Obama plan to cover up his ignoring the security needs of the Ambassador and his American staff in Libya so that he could pass Libya off as a success of his policies and keep evidence of a resurgence of al Qaeda and affiliated terrorist organizations out of the news was to pretend that a spontaneous street protest against a video made in American which was unfavorable to Muhammad was the cause of an attack, which the administration could not have had any warning about.  There was no such demonstration and Washington knew before midnight that an al Qaeda affiliated organization had launched a coordinated and powerful attack against our Consulate and Annex.  The story about the street demonstration and the video protest was entirely a cover-up and an effort to mislead the American People prior to the election.  Obama long kept it hidden that he had even been informed about the attack and had issued some kind of order to have security forces provided for the protection of our Americans at the Consulate and Annex in Benghazi.  We would all like to read that supposed order.

I expect the State Department and the administration had been unhappy with Ambassador Stevens as the nagging messenger that all was not well in Libya and that American security there for the Benghazi Consulate and for the Tripoli Embassy was inadequate.  I would not be surprised given the childish nature of the Obama administration that they wanted to shoot the messenger themselves.  In that light, these childish bureaucrats and politicians may well have made the decision not only to deny the Ambassador more security forces when he had earlier requested them, but to also remove a large part of the force he had had there.

As for the Panetta excuse that the situation was too unknown to send in the highly trained Special Operations forces, that excuse makes sense when you have time available.  If the Ambassador had been captured and was being held for ransom, or some such case, taking more time to understand all you could about the forces holding him and the lay of the land might well make sense.  This however was an active firefight.  Time was not available.  A force had invaded the United States of America by overrunning our Consulate.  They had killed Americans or were clearly trying to, depending upon which moment for decision we are talking about.  The fact that the fighting lasted 6:20 [7:46] hours, says that the forces arrayed against us were not insurmountable.  A gunship alone would have made all the difference.  The two Special Operations Forces that could have been brought in would have made a world of difference.

Obama believes that America should basically turn the other cheek to Islamic terrorists.  Muslims have a huge disdain for such weakness.  They have a macho culture, altough it is a weak macho culture when actually challenged by determined and rational Americans.  The way to control their violent impulses against Americans is to embarrass them when they make their weak pretenses of being manly men with violence.  The few Americans present in Benghazi fought bravely and several died as real men would.  Their President did not prove a worthy Commander-in-Chief however.  Obama was a shrinking violet who let these brave Americans down.  He will do all he can to delay that investigation into what happened that he promised when he seemed not to even know what part he had played in our ineffectual response to this terrorist attack on the United States of America.  We need a firmer man in the position of Commander-in-Chief.  We need someone who can see things as they are, rather than as he wishes they were.

28 October 2012

American Thinker Article Quoting Me on Principled vs. Pragmatic Government

While this is not new news, I just became aware of an American Thinker article called Government of the Elites, by the Elites and for the Elites by Monty Pelerin with a significant quote from my post entitled Principled Versus Pragmatic Government.  I recommend that you read the Monty Pelerin article and re-read my article and think about them prior to this election.

I am not quite convinced that a collapse of government is required to re-set government as principled, limited government as Monty Pelerin concludes, but given the bias toward pragmatic government and against principled government now thoroughly imbuing our education system and most of the media, the road back to principled government is a very difficult and perhaps even an unlikely one.  Aspects of the Tea Party Movement and the increased awareness of the thinking of Ayn Rand offer us some hope that a revival of demand for principled and limited government might be eventually embraced by the majority of the People.  I hope we can avoid that very painful collapse of government yet, but we very well may not.

27 October 2012

Obama Calls for More Spending on Education, But Does More Spending Improve Education?

In the last debate, Obama said that a cornerstone to recovery from the never-ending Great Socialist Recession was an increase in federal spending on education.  This he says is critical to improving the economy.

Now, we can all agree that an American population of thinking individuals with a broad and accurate knowledge base and excellent problem-solving skills would be a major economic factor.  One can even imagine an education system based on sound principles which might do a better job of educating the People if it had more money.  However, the present American education system gives no evidence that spending more money on education has any beneficial effect upon the knowledge base of Americans and on their development of critical thinking skills.  Let us examine the recent history of total spending on education:

Since 1981 there has been an almost 6-fold increase in education spending in the U.S.  To be sure, if we believe that education spending should be proportional to the GDP, then this is only a 23% increase in spending as a proportion of GDP.  In 1981, education spending was about 6.4% of GDP and in 2010 it was 7.9% of GDP.  However, the student population has not grown at anything like the rate of the growth in GDP, so one should be able to expect an equal level of educational results with a decreasing fraction of the GDP being devoted to education.  The trend is clearly in the wrong direction.

There are very fundamental reasons why the massively increased spending on education and on a per pupil basis has not resulted in any significant increase in student knowledge and thinking skills.  In almost every community, the local school labor unions assemble a slate of Board of Education members who appear to have good education credentials and their election is backed by lots of union money.  This slate wins almost every position on the school boards.  Because of this and the power of the teachers unions in also greatly influencing the election of city and county officials, the schools are managed for the benefit of the teachers labor unions, not for the education of the children.  Increasing the pay and  benefits of teachers who are blue-collar union members unable to even negotiate their own pay and benefits with their employer, guarantees that few of them will have the teaching skills, knowledge, self-confidence, and managerial skills needed by a professional educator.  Union members are not picked and not rewarded for their teaching professionalism.  Of course, as so often happens when a con is being performed, teachers present bogus certifications proclaiming them experts in teaching.

We have government-run schools specifically because Progressives saw them as a means to indoctrinate children to believe that big and socialist government was needed and moral.  Of course a government-run school could be counted upon to advance the never-ending quest of governments for power.  Such government schools could be counted upon to subvert the American Principle that government should be highly limited and only act to protect the equal, sovereign rights of the individual to life, liberty, property, the ownership of one's own mind, body, and labor, and to the pursuit of personal happiness.  Thus, government-run schools have become increasingly anti-American even as they became the dominant force in the education of American children.  The general viewpoint of American government-run school teachers is well-aligned with the socialist and extreme environmentalist viewpoints of Obama.  It is opposed to a healthy and robust private sector in which Americans should be free to exercise their freedom of association to cooperate with others to achieve their self-chosen goals.  The government-run schools are generally bastions of Progressivism and opponents of Capitalism.

Despite the large increases in education spending, we have not seen an increased ability of American young people to perceive reality and understand it.  In fact, they are more and more removed from reality and less and less capable of performing real productive work in the private sector without more and more massive training efforts by private businesses.  Few students graduate with a proper respect for those with the skills and motivation to produce in our society.  Few are able to communicate well and solve problems well.  Despite our spending more and more and spending far more of our GDP on education than does almost any other country, we keep losing ground to other countries in rankings of educational attainment.  It could not be more clear that we are throwing our education dollars into a black hole.

Marcos Cordero in an article called The Link Between Unemployment Rates and the Lack of Qualified Professionals in America notes that
The Defense Department found that 75 percent of Americans age 17 to 24 are not qualified to serve in the armed forces. In fact, 30 percent of the high school graduates who take the Armed Forces Qualification Test, a test of basic reading and math skills, fail it.

A very fundamental reform of American education is desperately needed and it will not come from government.  Governments are only eager to increase their power and politicians are easily bought by the massive teachers union money accumulated as the government automatically deducts union dues from teachers paychecks.  Labor unions and government increasingly see their interests to be largely in common and the interests of students and good governance are not now able to compete with them.  Only when the People understand these problems and massively rebel will there be any real hope of fixing this problem.

But most of the American People are largely in a feel good mode on education.  Because labor union members provide children with inflated grades, most parents think their child is doing well in school and they are inclined to assume that that means that they are actually learning.  The labor union policy of easy grading and of placing few demands on students lulls the parents and students to sleep.  Until parents and students wake up to the fact that they are being poorly educated and heavily indoctrinated in socialism and extreme environmentalism, America will continue to go downhill.  Obama is happy to push us down that hill.

26 October 2012

The 1920s Whose Economic Policies Obama Dislikes

In the last debate with Mitt Romney, Obama said, "When it comes to our foreign policy, you seem to want to import the foreign policies of the 1980s, just like the social policies of the 1950s and the economic policies of the 1920s."  Let us review the economic policies of the 1920s a bit.  We will learn some very important lessons.

Amity Shlaes called Obama out on this.  She notes that real GDP grew by an average of 4% a year in the 1920s.  High unemployment in 1921 at 11.7% was brought down to 2.4% in 1923 while cutting federal spending.  In time, government spending as a percentage of real GDP was cut in half.  80,000 patents a year were being issued on average in the 1920s, which was not again matched until the 1960s.  The 1920s were a decade of growth in technology and for the economy generally.

Now, Obama can not abide by cuts in federal spending.  President Harding cut tax rates as advised by Andrew Mellon, and we know that Obama greatly dislikes that idea.  The income tax marginal rate under the bloated government of Woodrow Wilson for those with an income of $100,000 or more was 60% when Harding took office in 1921.  Under Wilson, those with an income of $1 million or more had paid a marginal tax rate of 77%.  The marginal tax rate for those with income over $100,000 was lowered in 1922, 1923, 1924, and then again in 1925 under President Coolidge, with a final marginal rate of 25%, until 1929 when it was dropped to 24%.  Not only did the economy grow well as noted, but the share of income taxes paid by those with incomes of $100,000 or more steadily and rapidly increased from 1923 to the end of the decade.  The total amount of income tax paid by these higher income taxpayers increased rapidly also.  In 1920, those making over $100,000 a year paid 29.9% of all income taxes.  In 1928, they paid 61.3% of all income tax collected.

Income tax revenues from those making $10,000 or less decreased greatly and stayed much lower throughout the decade.  For those making $25,000 to $100,000, very wealthy people then, the collected tax revenues went down considerably before rising later in the decade to about the level at the start of the decade.  See Tax Rates and Tax Revenue: The Mellon Income Tax Cuts of the 1920s by Veronique de Rugy of the Cato Institute.  The fact that total income taxes decreased somewhat for several years before growing back to levels exceeding that of the start of the decade was fine because the Republican Presidents Harding and Coolidge reduced the size of the government considerably.

Arthur Laffer and other supply side economists have often said that the Mellon tax cuts resulted in both economic growth and an increase in tax revenues. Actually, with such severe tax cuts for all income tax brackets, this is not a sufficiently accurate portrayal of what happened.  However, the income tax revenue collected from those with incomes over $100,000 more than doubled!  Large tax cuts for higher earners result in large tax revenue increases because these taxpayers are much more likely to devote great effort to avoiding paying high income tax rates, including exercising their greater ability to retire early or simply to work fewer hours.  They are also more likely to invest their money in businesses when taxed at lower rates, causing the economy to grow more rapidly, which also adds more to both income tax total revenues in time, but also to other types of taxes as people generally earn and spend more.

It is an interesting fact that if high earners were taxed at lower marginal tax rates than lower earners are, total revenues collected by the government by the income tax would increase and increase specifically from the higher earners.  There is even a very good moral argument that this is the way things should be.  Government legitimately serves only to protect our equal, sovereign individual rights from those who would initiate the use of force to deprive people of their rights.  If one man earns 10 times what another man earns, does it really cost government 10 times as much to protect the rights of the bigger earner?  I do not think so.  Some legitimate costs of government overall scale with the population, some with the area of the country, and some with its GDP.  The area of the U.S. is not changing and the population is growing at a rate of only about 1% a year.  Only a fraction of the legitimate costs of government are left as proportional to the GDP.  Total government spending should increase at a rate greater than that of population growth, but less than that of the GDP.  For both moral reasons and for the purpose of maximizing tax revenues, marginal tax rates should decrease with higher income rather than increase.  Such a tax scheme would guarantee that everyone's effective and marginal tax rates could be reduced with time.

Thus we see that the current highly progressive income tax scheme serves only an ideological purpose of egalitarianism.  It makes the primary purpose of the income tax code that of punishing higher income earners, rather than maximizing the income of the government with a minimum of harm to the People.  It sacrifices economic growth.  It sacrifices maximizing income tax revenues at minimal pain.  It means that those many tax revenues that grow with the economy will increase more slowly.  But this highly irrational progressive income tax system is much beloved by Obama.  Therefore, it should be no surprise that Obama hates the tax and economic policies of the 1920s.  Rational Americans should learn from that period of history and at the least greatly reduce the progressive marginal tax rates of the present insane system.  If we had the wisdom to go further and adopt an income tax code that is regressive, we would all benefit greatly in relatively short order.

24 October 2012

Obama's Glass House: His Investments Abroad

Obama and Biden like to claim that Bain Capital had the companies it invested in make investments abroad, especially in China or Mexico.  It turns out that they count heavily on the main stream leftist media to protect their glass house from stone throwers.

Thanks to Obama's insistence that the government take a big stake in the bankrupt GM after its restructuring as a government and union owned company, it is fully fair to look at its investments abroad if one is going to cast aspersions on those of Bain Capital abroad.

According to China Daily, GM is expanding its investment in China from its current $1 billion a year to $1.5 billion a year to make a total investment in China's 12th Five-Year Plan (2011-2015) of $7 billion.  GM hopes to increase its sales in China from 2.35 million vehicles in 2010 to 5 million by 2015.  To do this, it is designing and developing new models in China.  GM production plants in China are joint ventures with the Chinese Communist Government.

GM announced in 2011 the investment of $540 million in a plant in Mexico to make engines.  In July of this year, it announced the planned investment of $420 million in two factories to make the Chevrolet Trax and full-sized trucks.

How about Obama's promise to create American jobs of the future in green energy?  This effort was promoted by Section 48C Advanced Energy Manufacturing Tax Credits.  41% of its awards went to foreign-based companies who were awarded an average of $20 million compared to an average of $11 million for U.S.-based companies!  17 of the 25 foreign-based companies receiving Obama awards are or have plans to set up wind or solar manufacturing facilities in low-wage countries.  Those 17 foreign-based companies manufacturing in low-wage countries accounted for $406 million, so a super premium award averaging $23.9 million goes to those manufacturing in low-wage countries.  Six of the U.S.-based companies with awards are also planning to manufacture their products in low-wage countries.

As almost everyone now knows, Obama only picks the loser green energy companies for awards.  As these companies have gone bankrupt, their assets are often picked up on the cheap by foreign investors or companies.

Miasole, a U.S. solar energy company, received $101.8 million in tax credits.  In October 2012, it was sold to China's Hanergy Holding Company for a mere $30 million.

Ener1 was approved for $118.5 million of 48C tax credits in 2009 for its batteries.  Biden toured its plant in Indiana just after Obama announced his plan to have 1 million electric vehicles operating by 2015.  In January 2011, the same month as the Biden tour, Ener1 entered into a joint venture with Wanxiang Electric Vehicle Co. to make lithium-ion batteries for Chinese cars.  Ener1 moved some of its engineers to China along with some of its manufacturing equipment to ramp up the Chinese production.  In 2010, Ener1 lost $165 million.  In January 2012, Ener1 declared bankruptcy.  Its remains were bought by a Russian businessman with close ties to the Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, who Obama patted on the knee and told he would be more flexible after the election.  Perhaps in addition to giving the Russians what they want on missile defense, he also plans to give them more American green energy businesses nurtured on 48C tax credits.

Smith Electric Vehicles was awarded $32 million of American Recovery and Reinvestment Act money.  Its losses since 2009 have been $128 million.  In February 2011, it teamed with Wanxiang Electric Vehicle Co. to make school buses.  Their agreement had Wanxiang make a $25 million equity investment in Smith Electric Vehicles and an investment of $75 million to develop and manufacture school buses and other electric vehicles in China.

Cardinal Fastener received $480,000 from Obama's 48C tax credit program to make fasteners for wind energy generators.  Obama visited their factory in Bedford Heights, Ohio and promised American green energy jobs, as he always does.  Soon afterward, Cardinal Fastener released 12% of its workforce.  In June 2011, it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.  Germany's Wurth Group acquired it in January 2012 for a mere $3.9 million.

Remembering Obama's not so ready shovel-ready infrastructure projects, some wound up being  managed and supplied by foreign companies.  ABC News highlighted a $400 million bridge renovation project in New York, the new $7.2 billion Bay Bridge from San Francisco to Oakland, and a $190 million project in Alaska which were to be managed by foreign firms.  Parts of the San Francisco - Oakland bridge were manufactured in China.  The state of California had to reject some of the federal money so they could keep their Chinese contractor.

Finally, if you want to encourage American companies to invest in plants and facilities abroad and to train workers there rather than in the U.S., leave the developed world's highest corporate tax rate where it is as the trend in the rest of the developed world is to decrease corporation taxes.  You can export even more jobs by raising the long-term capital gains tax from an already high 20.0% to 23.8% as required by ObamaUncaringTax in 2013.  Add a 4.7% tax increase for Medicare to high paid managers so small and medium businesses will be discouraged from expanding operations in the U.S.  Follow this up with another 80,000 pages of new business regulations and add the regulations of ObamaCare and Dodd-Frank Too-Big-to-Fail to that.  Then throw in a slew of EPA rulings to take effect after the election, several of which are designed to keep us from using coal for anything, thus driving up our electricity costs and making vital electricity less dependable.  Export American jobs so they can use cheap coal-fired power plants abroad.

To top this all off, the gift for a 10-year veteran of the Obama Veterans Administration is a pen set made in China.

Obama's complaints about Bain Capital foreign investments are a case of incredible hypocrisy.  Obama is a con man, but how he can even dream that this level of hypocrisy will go undetected by Americans is beyond me.  Or maybe not.  He does think we are incredibly, stone-like stupid.  For that reason alone, we should vote him out of office.

Why Obama Did Not Answer Romney's Oil Drilling Permits on Federal Land Question

When Obama claimed that oil production was up due to his policies, Romney pointed out that the Obama administration has been approving many fewer permits than Bush had.  Obama evaded a direct response to the number of oil drilling permits he was approving.  He was really doing a most obvious bit of squirming to avoid answering the issue.  Romney correctly pointed out that oil production was up only because it had gone up greatly on private land while going down on federal land and offshore. 

Update of Chart originally posted, since the original chart not only was not plotted with a zero baseline, but also had proportionality problems with the length of the bars.  In other words, it was incompetently plotted.  This chart, provided by Dr. Francisco Santiago, is accurate:

[The original bad plot of the permit situation from a CFACT report is shown below:

Note that the baseline in this graph is not zero.]

The failure of the Obama administration to approve more oil drilling permits will cause increasing decreases in oil production from federal lands for some time after permits approved rises under Romney.  It will take awhile for production to catch up with an increase in permits, so this problem will be with us for awhile.  This was a missed opportunity to provide Americans lower gasoline prices, which we know is contrary to the Obama policy that high gasoline prices are desired.

22 October 2012

Viewers of An Objectivist Individualist by Nation

Having just discussed who does the most searches on Ayn Rand related topics and who visited the website of the Ayn Rand Institute the most in my previous post, I thought it might be interesting to share where the readers of this blog come from.  Of course, this blog is not primarily about Ayn Rand.  It is about many topics of interest to me, which I discuss in a manner consistent with my own commitment to reason and to morality.  I believe my values are very consistent with those of Ayn Rand, but I do not claim they are identical.  And it must be said that my selection of topics is quite different than was Ayn Rand's.

The pageviews of the last month have been by:

United States, 7002
Russia, 941
United Kingdom, 699
Canada, 221
France, 177
Germany, 155
India, 126
Australia, 98
Spain, 62
Netherlands, 48

The pageviews history for all time have been by:

United States, 86,960
Russia, 8252
United Kingdom, 7455
Canada, 5486
Germany, 2989
India, 2985
Australia, 2822
South Korea, 2272
France, 939
Slovenia, 777

It would be of great interest to me to know who my readers are and why they read this blog.  I wish to invite my readers to either make comments or to tell me why they read this blog in e-mails sent to

It is a rather curious thing to me that I have had so many readers in Russia, for instance.  If readers there would be kind enough to shed light on that, I would be most appreciative.  I suspect that part of the reason is that I discuss man-made global warming and energy issues with some frequency and Russia is a giant energy producer and many Russians are rather skeptical about catastrophic man-made global warming.  Either personal reasons for being a reader or general insight into why Russians might read this blog would be welcome information.

While Scandinavians may be big readers of the Ayn Rand Institute website, they are not such big readers of this blog.  Sweden, Denmark, Norway, and Finland do pop up on the list occasionally when I look at the statistics of pageviews for a given week, but this is not a regular thing.  I see South Africa fairly often in such shorter timescales also.  Spain and the Netherlands are also frequently on the list for shorter timescales.

Article on Ayn Rand in the Economist

The Economist of 20 - 26 October 2012 has an article called Ayn Rand: Who's shrugging now? Sub-headed: The individualist philosopher has fans in some unlikely countries

The article reports that the movie Atlas Shrugged Part I cost $8 million and earned less than $5 million.  Atlas Shrugged Part II was funded with $20 million and it is hoped it will earn $10 million.

Ed Hudgins of the Atlas Society says they have 11,000 non-American monthly visits to the Atlas Society website now, which is up from 7,000 two years ago.  Yaron Brook of the Ayn Rand Institute says their website's visitors are mostly from Britain, Canada, India, and Scandinavia.

Excluding English speakers, Swedes are the leading "Ayn Rand" searchers on Google.  A free-market think-tank in Stockholm named Timbro has sold 30,000 copies of Ayn Rand's books since 2005, which compares very well to sales of 90,000 copies in Britain with six times the population.  Despite this, when Annie Loof, the enterprise minister called Rand "one of the greatest thinkers of the 20th century", she was given a very hard time about it.

After the U.S. and Canada, India leads the world in English-language searches on topics relating to Ayn Rand.  There is a massive market in pirated copies of her books in India, according to Barun Mitra of the Liberty Institute, an Indian think-tank.

The article closes by noting that Ayn Rand's books outsell those of Karl Marx by a factor of 16.

21 October 2012

Misdirection on Medicare by Obama Ad

Obama is running an ad now that claims that Romney is going to cut $6000 from seniors Medicare benefits and shows various seniors in the ad.  First of all, Romney is not proposing any cut for anyone 55 years or older.  Second, in the future for those less than 55 years old, should legislation be passed to make Medicare sustainable, it is by no means clear that seniors will lose $6,000 of benefits many years from now.  That number has little credibility.  It is simply pulled from a hat.  But it works to scare people. 

It works to create a division between the young and the elderly. The AARP is quoted by Obama's ad, but this group specializes in inter-generational warfare.  It is at war with the children of the elderly.  The young cannot possibly be taxed heavily enough to continue to pay the costs of Medicare given the demographics of the huge Baby Boomer generation and the too small generations following them, unless changes are made.  The best way to control medical costs is to give individuals a stake in how much those services cost.  Vouchers are the means to do this critical task.  You need them to decide that pointless visits to the doctor are expendable.  You need them to put pressure on medical service providers not to overcharge them.  When government says it will control costs, we know that to be nonsense.

The Democrats refuse to deal with the reality that Medicare is not sustainable, much as they refuse to deal with Social Security's problems or to recognize that several terrorist attacks were just that.  The Republicans are manning up and are willing to make the changes needed to make these programs sustainable.  The pretense-given Democrats are standing by as both Medicare and Social Security are spending more money than they are taking in.  We have switched from a situation in which excess Medicare and Social Security tax revenues were used to fund irresponsible general government spending to one in which general income tax income has to be used to make up the shortfall in Medicare and Social Security expenditures.

Misleading Obama Claims About Romney's Effective Tax

Obama keeps claiming that most people pay more taxes than Romney does.  Actually, Romney's 14.1% effective tax rate is higher than that of 97% of Americans.  It is probably very similar to Obama's own effective tax rate, so Obama is being quite the hypocrite.  But Obama will make any claim if he thinks he can take advantage of people not thinking things through.

When pressed, Obama will claim that he is right because he will say the average person pays Social Security and Medicare taxes at such a high rate that their effective tax rate is higher than Romney's is.  This is perhaps true, since most of Romney's income exceeds the upper limit on income taxed by these payroll taxes.  But, these taxes are supposed to be rather like insurance premiums, or at least that is what Democrats have always told us.  It is not clear that they should be compared to income taxes.

If you insist on counting the Social Security and Medicare taxes, not reported on any 1040 tax forms, one might just as well include real estate taxes also.  I am sure that very few of Obama's average tax payers pay anywhere near as much real estate tax as Romney does.  In any case, Obama's claims that it is unfair that Romney does not pay a higher effective tax rate also ignores the fact that most of Romney's income is due to dividends and capital gains.  Consequently, this form of income is what is left after a corporation pays corporate income taxes.

You really have to hunt for a very peculiar viewpoint to make the claim that Romney does not pay his fair share of taxes. 

Appendicitis in Nova Scotia and Single-Payer Medicine

A materials physicist friend of mine told me how his socialist sister lost her desire for a single-payer nationalized medical system.  She was on temporary business assignment in Nova Scotia, Canada and a neighbor began having severe pains.  She took her neighbor to the hospital and they entered the emergency room, where concern was expressed that her pain was caused by appendicitis.  The woman was screaming with pain.  She was told to wait for Triage and after a long wait, the examiner declared that yes, the pain was due to appendicitis.  My friend's sister assumed they would rush her to surgery.  But no, the doctor announced that she was not yet close enough to death to warrant surgery.

For 36 hours the woman screamed and writhed in pain.  My friend's sister stayed with her and helplessly listened to her screams for 36 hours.  Finally, the doctors decided she was close enough to death that they were willing to operate on her, and presumably to shove aside the many patients who had been waiting months for operations.  She did survive the operation, but my friend's sister's desire for a nationalized single-payer medical system did not.  She is now a furious opponent of single-payer nationalized health care systems.

Obama and many of his friends who want ObamaCare, really ObamaUncaringTax, to fail so it can be replaced with a fully nationalized single-payer system should have been with her.  Yes, I do understand that some of his friends are so callous that such an event would not have changed their minds, but no one can listen to a woman scream for 36 hours without at least being miserable.  At least, I cannot imagine that they would not be miserable.  But, that may be a failure of imagination on my part, because after all, they are Obama's friends.

The story above is anecdotal and scary.  Studies of larger populations are certainly useful in testing whether such stories are consistent with the Big Picture.  So, here is a Daily Mail report on the National Health Service in Great Britain:
Patients having major surgery in NHS hospitals face a much higher risk of dying than those in America, research has revealed.
Doctors found that people who have treatment here are four times more likely to die than US citizens undergoing similar operations.
The most seriously ill NHS patients were seven times more likely to die than their American counterparts.
Experts blame the British fatality figures on a shortage of specialists and lack of intensive care beds for post-operative recovery.
They also suggest that long waiting lists mean diseases are more advanced before they are treated.
Researchers from University College London and Columbia University, in New York, studied 1,000 surgery patients at the Mount Sinai Hospital, Manhattan, and compared them to nearly 1,100 people who had similar operations at the Queen Alexandra Hospital, in Portsmouth.
The results showed that just under ten per cent of British patients died in hospital afterwards compared to 2.5 per cent in America. Among the most seriously ill cases there was a seven-fold difference in the death rates.
The New York patients had paid for treatment through private medical insurance and were therefore likely to be "wealthier and healthier", whereas the NHS patients were from all social classes.
However, the study aimed to "iron out" these differences by rating each patient on their clinical status.
We Americans really must get rid of ObamaCare before it collapses and we get the almost inevitable rush by the Democrats to replace it with a fully nationalized single-payer system similar to that of Great Britain or Canada.

19 October 2012

Creating a Republican Senate

As a libertarian, albeit one often in disagreement with the defense policy of the Libertarian Party, I am well aware that the best check on the growth of the federal government has been to have a Republican President and a Congress with one house in the control of each party.  In the upcoming election, the House of Representatives will remain solidly Republican.  My prediction that Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan will replace Obama and Biden because the American people would finally get over the celebrity status of Obama and see him and Biden as the empty socialist suits they are is finally clearly happening.  In ordinary times, it might be best that the Democrats retain a narrow control of the Senate, but this is not an ordinary time.

It is absolutely essential that ObamaCare, really the ObamaUncaringTax, be repealed.  It is also very important to repeal the Dodd-Frank Too-Big-to-Fail Crony Mercantilism Act.  It is essential to reform and control the EPA and finally kill the myth of catastrophic man-made global warming.  We must free business to develop our huge oil and gas deposits and to make use of our rich supply of coal.  We must end the waste of taxpayer dollars fed into uneconomic green energy companies with no viable markets and the electricity mandates for green energy that are driving up our electric bills and making our electricity supply unreliable.  We also need to push back the government employee unions, the abuses of the Obama National Labor Relations Board (NRLB), and try to provide national Right to Work legislation.  We need the opportunity to replace one or more of the five Supreme Court Justices who so falsely read the Constitution that they could vote to uphold ObamaCare.  To accomplish this critical mission, we have to have a Republican Senate for the next two years.

According to the present Rasmussen Reports on the state of the Senate contests in the November 2012 election, the situation is:

Held by Republicans, not up for re-election, 37
Safe Republicans, up for election, 6
Leaning Republican, 4
Toss-ups, 5
Leaning Democrat, 6
Safe Democrat, 12
Held by Democrats, not up for re-election, 30

If all of the safe and leaning Senate races go as Rasmussen predicts, then the Republicans will have 47 seats and the Democrats will have 48 seats in the Senate.  Consequently, the Republicans have to win 3 of the 5 toss-up seats for there to be a 50-50 split of the Senate, with tie votes to be decided by Paul Ryan.  Of course, it would be much better for the Republicans to win at least four of the five toss-up races.  These toss-up races are:

Massachusetts, Scott Brown (R) v. Elizabeth Warren (D)

Montana, Denny Rehberg (R) v. Jon Tester (D)

Ohio, Josh Mandel (R) v. Sherrod Brown (D)

Virginia, George Allen (R) v. Tim Kaine (D)

Wisconsin, Tommy Thompson (R) v. Tammy Baldwin (D)

Scott Brown (R) and Elizabeth Warren (D) have generally been running a very close race for the Massachusetts Senate seat for a long time.  She is an ultra-socialist who likes to say to small business owners that they did not create and build their businesses, the government and maybe the community did.  She is mad to redistribute as much income as she can.  Of course, she is determined to keep Americans from developing the new riches in oil and gas deposits that fracking has opened up.  She is also aligned with Obama in determination to kill the coal industry.  If she wins, she will be developed as a likely 2016 presidential candidate.  So, though Scott Brown is a moderate Republican who is often a friend of big government, she is a much greater danger as a friend of huge government.  This is an election contest which the Republicans can win.  Please support Scott Brown with a strategic contribution.

The Montana Senate seat race has incumbent Jon Tester (D) against Denny Rehberg (R), with the momentum in Rehberg's favor.  Rehberg is a rancher and small businessman who has long served as Montana's soul member of the House of Representatives.  In the 2011 Club for Growth Ratings of the financial responsibility of House members, Rehberg's rating was a rather low one for Republicans at 58%.  However, almost no Democrats scored more than 20% and not one came close to getting a 58% rating.  In the Club for Growth Senate Ratings, Jon Tester had a 17% score.  Denny Rehberg would be a decided upgrade and he is needed badly to repeal ObamaCare, Dodd-Frank, and to reset the EPA and the NRLB.  A donation to his campaign would be a wise and strategic investment in America.

The Ohio Senate race features Josh Mandel (R)  running against incumbent Sherrod Brown (D), who is commonly called the most socialist Senator, now that Obama is no longer the most socialist Senator.  Supporting Josh Mandel has the effect of also adding to ads and get out the vote efforts that will help push Romney over the top in this critical swing state.  Josh is all about good government.  Please read his bio, which is a hard-nosed description of what he has done as Treasurer of the state of Ohio and when he was in the Ohio House.  This is not a fluff politician.  He won his election as Treasurer as the biggest vote-getter in the state, winning 80 of 88 counties in Ohio.  Standard and Poor rated his $4 billion government investment fund with its highest rating.  His General Obligation bond fund has Fitch's highest rating.  He expanded the Ohio liquidity portfolio by $2.3 billion since he took office.  Josh is pro-free enterprise and a strong supporter of the Constitution.  He has the strongest possible endorsement from the Club for Growth.  Josh Mandel will be a super good Senator.  In comparison, Sherrod Brown had a 2011 Senate Club for Growth rating of 0%.  Donating to the campaign of Josh Mandel is a super strategic investment in good government!

In Virginia, George Allen (R) is pitted against Tim Kaine (D), a former spend-thrift governor who left the finances of the state of Virginia in disarray.  Virginia is a swing state, so supporting Allen will tend to also support Romney.  George Allen is not the strongest Republican candidate, but the election is starting to swing in his direction.  The people of the state of Virginia are beginning to wake up to the sad state of the Obama economy, though their very highly populated northern Virginia Washington suburbs have benefited greatly from the mindless federal government spending under Obama.  They are beginning to also learn that the Defense sequestration of budgeted funds to run DoD and the armed forces looming to take effect in January is going to shatter defense contractors and leave DoD employees without pay for about two months.  Government spending reductions by all other government agencies are being spread out over a period of time to minimize the impact of the upcoming spending reductions, but DoD has been told by Obama that it has to continue spending its allocations of funding at the originally specified rate and take all of the hit in January on the sequestration.  In other words, DoD is to take a nose-dive over the cliff onto the rocks below at Obama's command.  Since deployed armed forces cannot be stood down, this means that incredibly drastic cuts in money going out to contractors and to civilian DoD employees has to occur.  This will shatter the economies of Northern Virginia, Norfolk, Virginia Beach, and Hampton Roads.  In addition, Obama has ordered the defense contractors, who are required by law to notify employees 60 days prior to termination, to ignore the law.  The termination notices are due the week before the election.  The government has promised to pay the fines that the companies will be subjected to for ignoring the law.  This is completely lawless behavior by Obama to help his re-election chances.  Tim Kaine is very supportive of Obama in this dastardly and destructive plan.  George Allen, for all his limitations, will be much the better Senator and he is critically needed to repeal ObamaCare and the other accumulated mischief of the Democrats over the four years from 2007 through 2010 when they controlled both houses of Congress.  Again, please make a strategic donation to George Allen.

The Wisconsin Senate race features Tommy Thompson (R) against Tammy Baldwin (D).  Tommy Thompson was a former Wisconsin governor and cut income and property taxes and eliminated the inheritance tax.  Tammy Baldwin is a Madison liberal who serves in the House of Representatives.  Her Club for Growth rating in 2011 was a miserable 9%.  Giving Tammy Baldwin one of the contested Senate seats would be an unmitigated disaster.  Making a donation to Tommy Thompson is another strategic investment toward turning the ship of state enough to avoid an imminent crash upon the socialist rocks.

Despite my materials analysis laboratory small business being in the fourth year of greatly reduced company earnings due to the never-ending Great Socialist Recession, I have just made donations to each of the Republican Senate candidates above in these toss-up races.  I hope that the recent rise in the polls of Romney and the rise of a number of these Republican candidates in their states, will result in the combination of Senate control with a Republican President needed to undo most of the damage done by a Democrat Congress for four years, followed by a Democrat Senate with four years of a Democrat President.  May the healing begin.

16 October 2012

Germans Face Skyrocketing Electricity Bills

Let us recall that Obama has promised us skyrocketing electricity bills.  He wants to do to us what is already happening to the German people.  Electricity costs are even worse in Denmark.

The German government is aiming to have 80% of German energy produced by renewable sources by 2050.  It has also decided to close down all nuclear power plants by 2022.  Older fossil fuel plants are being shut down already.  Solar, wind, and biomass energy now are a quarter of the country's electricity supply.  The levy subsidizing the green energy electricity sources instituted with the Renewable Energy Sources Act (EEG), has caused electricity costs to skyrocket.  Electricity now costs about 85% more than in 2000, when EEG was passed.  The EEG is to be increased by 47% next year to a toll of 5.3 cents per kilowatt hour.  Already, electricity is less expensive in many European and Asian countries by 30%.  It is 50% less expensive in the U.S. and Russia.  This will cost Germany jobs.

The subsidy next year for renewable energy to be paid by German consumers is about 20 billion Euros.  The Technical University of Berlin just issued a study that predicts that the subsidies crushing German consumers will be more than 300 billion Euros by 2030, which is unsustainable.  Already, as many as 800,000 German households are unable to pay their electric bills.  In 2009, German households spent an average of 2,500 Euros a year for energy.  At the 2009 average monthly exchange rate to dollars, this was the equivalent of $3,474 a year.  German households are now paying about 41% of their total bills for heating and hot water costs.  After the electricity rate increases already scheduled for next year, further increases from 30 to 50% are expected over the next ten years.

Costs are not the only major problem.  A very cold period in February 2011, was more than the electric grid could handle.  A number of heavy industry plants in the Hamburg area were forced to shut-down.  There is reason for concern that further shut-downs will be needed this winter and next winter.

The story for investors has been bleak.  Wind and solar power system manufacturers are among the worst -performing stocks in the last few years.  Vestas, the Danish wind turbine manufacturer, had a fantastic 20 times increase in stock value from 2003 to 2008.  The value of the stock has now returned to the 2003 value.  In 2012, Vestas is losing money and has had to reduce its workforce around the world by 3,735.  Vestas America has cut jobs this year, hurting Obama's claim of creating many green jobs.

Solar panel makers have had a similarly hard time.  SunTech of China is the largest photovoltaic panel manufacturer.  Its private equity investors, including Goldman Sachs, made 10 times their original investment.  When SunTech shares were initially launched on the stock market, they went from $20 to $79 in late 2007.  The stock has crashed since to $0.92!  Similarly, First Solar was at $308 in April 2008 and now is about $23.  Falling prices due to a surplus of manufacturing capacity and sinking government subsidies have caused the solar industry to become unprofitable.

Yet, Obama still thinks he is going to create millions of green jobs in America.  If he uses subsidies to do so, they will have to be huge.  Huge subsidies will kill other jobs in greater numbers than those created in the green industries.  The green industries have very brown thumbs.

14 October 2012

Jack Rakove: Revolutionaries - A New History of the Invention of America

One of my greatest concerns is that few Americans know very much about American history.  Most are especially ignorant of American history covering the period of the 1700s, when Americans generally came to believe in the American Principle of highly limited government devoted only to the protection of the equal, sovereign rights of the individual to life, liberty, property, the ownership of one's own mind, body, and labor, and to the pursuit of happiness.  Few Americans today seem to understand that my explanation of individual rights is especially redundant, because at that time most Americans would have expressed the same idea as the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness or as life, liberty, and property.

I am finding considerable pleasure in reading Revolutionaries: A New History of the Invention of America by Jack Rakove, the William Robertson Coe Professor of History and American Studies and a professor of political science at Stanford University.  This will not be a general effort to review the book, since I am still in the process of reading it.  Instead, I am going to offer an interesting quote from the book.

Professor Rakove discusses the role of the moderates in the period leading up to the Declaration of Independence.  The men he focuses on in this group are from the Middle Atlantic colonies of New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Maryland who were especially interested in the constructive economic development of America as entrepreneurs.  He names the business partners Robert Morris and Thomas Willing of Pennsylvania and the lawyer they sometimes hired, James Wilson; John Jay, James Duane, Robert Livingston, and Gouverneur Morris of New York; William Livingston of New Jersey; and Thomas Johnson and Charles Carroll of Carrollton of Maryland as belonging to this group.  He points out that moderate did not mean that they were just relatively undecided between the more radical patriots such as Samuel Adams, John Adams, and Richard Henry Lee and the Loyalists, but that they had their own very definite viewpoint.  They were men of property, from that part of America with the most diverse population which might be torn apart in war, they understood that the colonies had much to benefit from the use of British capital, and they were appalled by Britain's rejection of their efforts to promote accommodation with an "obstinate commitment to repression and force."
This strong commitment to the productive development and improvement of property helped distinguish the moderate political leaders of the middle colonies from their counterparts from other regions.  Yet there was a deeper sense in which their attachment to the rights of property identified a value that all Americans shared.  For property was one of the strongest words of the Anglo-American political vocabulary.  Its security from unlawful taxation had been a dominant value of their common constitutional culture since the previous century.  John Locke had grounded an entire theory of government -- and the right to resist tyranny -- on the concept of property in his Second Treatise of Government.  But Locke only gave philosophical rigor to a belief that already permeated Anglo-American law and politics.
For Locke, as for his American readers, the concept of property encompassed not only the objects a person owned but also the ability, indeed the right, to acquire them.  Just as men had a right to their property, so they held a property in their rights.  Men did not merely claim their rights, but also owned them, and their title to their liberty was as sound as their title to the land or to the tools with which they earned their livelihood.  Furthermore, Americans believed that they truly owned these rights because their ancestors had fairly purchased them through the arduous work of colonization.  Just as Locke had grounded his theory of property on the labor through which men expropriate the fruits of nature for their personal use, making the earth more productive and thus fulfilling the divine injunction to preserve mankind, so the colonists looked back to their ancestor's pioneering and saw that it was good -- and legal too.  Property was a birthright, a legal entitlement and material legacy that one industrious generation transmitted to another. ... Property, defined in this way, was the vital right that Parliament would infringe upon, even destroy, if it made good its claim to legislate for Americans "in all cases whatsoever."
I have quoted this because modern Americans do not understand that our most fundamental property is in the ownership of our rights, our bodies, our minds, and our labor and the fruits of that labor.  The concept of such property was and is central to the understanding of the American Principle.  If we do not understand this, then we will surely be ruled by tyrannical government and be reduced to serfs.

We must understand that the General Welfare of our Constitution was not a fulfillment of the wishes of some fraction, possibly occasionally a majority, of Americans to take the property of others for their benefit, but an assertion that government was to secure the property each of us has in our individual rights and all that implies.  The General Welfare therefore does not imply and require that the People go to war with some among them, but implies quite the opposite.  We the People and our government must respect the property right that each and every American has in his individual rights.  Only then is the General Welfare secured.

An outline of my approach to reviving the economy

In mentioning that the Obama economy made it much more difficult for small businesses such as my materials analysis laboratory to continue to operate, a scientist with whom I had been corresponding about his analytical needs claimed that no one could do the job of reviving the economy better than Obama.  He then asked what I would do.  Here is my 13-point reply with minor embellishments:

1)  Kill ObamaUncaringTax, too nicely called ObamaCare.

2)  Kill the Dodd-Frank Too-Big-to-Fail Act which is stultifying the loan markets and setting up the next colossal financial bubble.

3)  Enforce the work requirement on government charity programs and begin rapidly phasing them out.  The private sector can pick up whatever programs it wants to.

4)  Stop the EPA's vendetta against the use of coal.  The mercury and other pollution arguments are greatly exaggerated and really mostly an excuse to act on the failed hypothesis that man's CO2 emissions are causing a catastrophic global warming.

5)  Recognizing that the catastrophic man-made global warming hypothesis is wrong, stop discouraging other fossil fuel use and freely allow the development of new sources of oil and gas. Open up leases on federal land and offshore for development.  End federal subsidies and mandates for green energy development. 

6) Kill the federal CAFE requirement for 54.5 mpg by 2025 or any other date.

7)  Authorize the building of the Keystone XL pipeline so the Gulf of Mexico refineries are fed plenty of Bakken shale oil and Albertan tar sands oil.

8)  Increase the retirement age for Social Security and the coverage age for Medicare.

9)  Eliminate the Dept. of Education, the Dept. of Energy, the Dept. of Housing and Urban Development, the Labor Dept., most of the functions of the Dept. of Health and Human Services, the Agriculture Dept., reduce the Dept. of the Interior, eliminate the Transportation Dept., and reduce the Dept. of Homeland Security.  Fold the legitimate functions of the Labor, Agriculture, and Transportation Departments into the Commerce Dept.  Eliminate corporate welfare programs in the Commerce Dept., as well as the labor union welfare programs now in the Labor Dept.  Kill the Davis-Bacon Act and federal requirements that union wages be paid on federal contracts.

10)  Convert the Medicare program into a defined benefits program so that Medicare patients care about how much they spend and will not allow overcharging.  All government fraud, waste, and abuse programs are a pretense and are only used selectively to occasionally prosecute someone who is not playing the game to the liking of the powers that be in government.

11)  Sell most of the federal lands with mineral rights and use payments to pay down the debt.  The main purpose of this is to see that the land will be used more productively.

12)  Convert the Social Security program over time from a Ponzi scheme to a tax-deferred personal investment program with the investment truly held by the investing individual.

13) Reduce tax revenues as drastic spending cuts are enacted and simplify the tax laws and codes.  Preferably move to consumption taxes as opposed to taxes that inhibit production.  Consumption taxes will eliminate almost all reporting of financial information to the government.  Eliminate Sarbanes-Oxley.  Government spending will be quickly reduced to 18% or less of GDP and then cuts will continue until it is no more than 10% of GDP.  The economy will grow by leaps and bounds as the cost of government is kept growing somewhere between the rate of population increase and the rate of GDP increase, but definitely significantly less than the rate of GDP increase.

That is the gist of my program to transform the American economy consistent with the American Principle of government limited to the protection of our equal, sovereign individual rights to life, liberty, property, the ownership of our minds, bodies, and labor, and the pursuit of happiness.  The key to the preservation of our rights is a rich and vibrant private sector where we are free to pursue our own values, to trade goods, services, and ideas, and to associate with others of our choice for the purposes of our choice.

There are many other reforms needed to fully protect all of the rights of the individual.  Some of these will have major economic implications as well.  For instance, all education should become private education.  It is not the business of the government to educate the people, since that would be an infringement of the rights of many and government has a very serious conflict-of-interest problem with respect to teaching about its legitimate functions, about ethical matters that must enter into issues affecting the freedom of conscience of the People, and about the history of failure of big government and the success of highly limited government.  Much more needs to be done to protect privacy, the freedom of movement, freedom of speech and the written word whether in press or on the Internet, freedom of assembly, freedom of association, freedom of contract, freedom of trade and the ownership of one's own labor and its fruits, the freedom to create a domestic partnership contract with any consenting adults of one's choice, and the freedom of property ownership, including that in one's mind and body.

12 October 2012

The Movie Atlas Shrugged, Part II, Either-Or

The movie Atlas Shrugged, Part II on the second of three sections of the great novel by Ayn Rand is opening in theaters today.  The second section of the novel, Either-Or, is full of action and crises brought on by big government and the irrational and immoral ideas that support it.  It also features important developments in the lives of many of the principle characters who have long been taken advantage of and for granted.  The task of a movie to develop the ideas, the evolutions of character and understanding, and the mystery plot is beyond the reasonably possible in a movie format.  But, a movie should be able to achieve an interesting and enjoyable experience in its own terms.  I am expecting that from this movie, especially since my friends David Kelley and Laurie Rice of the Atlas Society helped to advise the producers, writers, director, and actors in this production.

Anna and I will be going to see it this weekend.  It would have been nice to have gone out to see it tonight, but I am incredibly busy in my laboratory and have worked stretches of 29 and 19 continuous hours straight this week as a result.  Postings due to the critical need to thwart the re-election of the damaging socialist Obama and a remodeling of our laboratory website have been poured on top of a surge in laboratory projects.  Tonight, I had a visitor who was interested in filming an advertisement for a university pushing its program in forensic sciences.  He concluded that the Anderson Materials Evaluation laboratory would be a perfect location for this project, which may be scheduled for next week.  Movie cameras and actors may be invading my lab next week!

Anna also falls short on sleep during the week, so Friday night is her catch-up night.  Tomorrow we will see Atlas Shrugged, Part II in a refreshed mode.  I will comment on it here afterwards.

10 October 2012

Explanation for the Huge Surge in Part-Time Jobs in September

It has been pointed out that in years past, employment of 18 to 25 year olds has fallen drastically in September as students returned to college and gave up their summer jobs.  Not this September.  Also not last September.

I suspect three things are going on here.  One is that these last two summers, many fewer students were able to find jobs in the summer, so the student drop in employment in September was much less due to them returning to college.  Another effect is that with college expenses having increased much more than family incomes have for many years and the actual loss of real family incomes over the last few years, many more students may have very part-time work-aid assignments at their colleges as part of their student-aid package.  Finally, in the past, the BLS was inclined to ignore these very part-time college jobs and not count these students as employed while in college.  What if they are now very assiduously counting these work aid students as part-time employed in the household survey?  This would account for the strange increase in employment of 18 - 25 year olds these last two Septembers and for the huge increase in part-time jobs precisely in the month of September.

This is a very natural way for the Obama administration to make use of the students to help save his re-election chances.  The Democrats have been very assiduous in courting students by forcing their parent's health insurance to allow them to be kept on their parent's policies until they are 26, by ever more heavily subsidizing their student loans, and by carefully indoctrinating them in the beliefs of the Progressive Elitists in dominant control of virtually every college campus.  These students are in turn generally very enthusiastic supporters.  The Democrats are child molesters, though in this case molesters of their underdeveloped minds.  They give a great deal of thought of how to take advantage of them, so it is a natural thing that they thought of using their work-aid as a means to bolster the employment numbers just prior to the election.

Update, Afternoon of 10 October 2012:

That was an interesting idea, but on looking deeper into the BLS numbers in Table A-8 and Table A-9 in the September employment report, it does not hold water.  Instead, we find something very different and still disturbing.  First let us look at the change in employed by age from Table A-9 in September compared to August using the Not Seasonally Adjusted Numbers:

16-17 years, -130,000
18-19 years, -455,000
20-24 years, +101,000
25-34 years, +291,000
35-44 years, +249,000
45-54 years, +238,000
55 & older, +483,000

College students are mostly 18 - 21, so it is fairly clear that there is a net decrease in employment in those ages, so the work-study part-time work is not the explanation.  The explanation is found in Table A-8, where we find that the major change in employment was in government workers.  Government workers increased by 934,000!!!!!  The more complete story in the Not Seasonally Adjusted numbers is:

Government workers, +934,000
Self-employed workers, unincorporated, +90,000
Agriculture and related industries, -53,000
Private households, +15,000
Other Industries, -221,000

So much as one would expect given the general sorry state of the economy, industry is shedding employees in large numbers and some of the unemployed are setting up their own micro-businesses.  What on Earth is going on with this massive hiring of government workers though?

Teachers are mostly government workers and they do massively become employed again in September after being off for the summer.  However, any seasonal adjustment should eliminate the annual effect of re-hiring teachers in September.  So, we can examine the seasonally adjusted number of government employees and should see this number wiped out to the degree that it is teachers.  It turns out that the seasonally adjusted number is only 106,000 lower!  Now this makes no sense, since there are clearly many times 106,000 teachers who go back to public school jobs in September.  Maybe if the adjustment was formulated over many years, the fact that more teachers may have found summer jobs in the past than could now might make for a smaller adjustment projected from the past onto the present.

The federal government has not been hiring massive numbers of new employees and the state and local governments are having trouble paying the employees they already have.  It would appear that there was no adequate seasonal adjustment for the annual return of government-employed teachers to public schools!  Whatever the case of the surge in the numbers of government workers, this is not an indication of any sort of recovery in the economy.  On the contrary, the numbers indicate a worsening of the economy with the loss of 221,000 more jobs in industry.  A gain of 934,000 government workers, even if actual, would not be indicative of an improving economy.

How could the BLS fail to make a seasonal adjustment on teachers that would not make their annual return to school look like a boom in hiring?  How convenient for Obama that in the last employment report prior to the election they did not make this annual correction?  All of those claims that the BLS is staffed with professional and incorruptible people are hard to support now.

07 October 2012

Making Sense of the Rasmussen Presidential Tracking Poll

According to a three-day average over 3 - 5 October, the daily Rasmussen Presidential Poll reports that Romney was leading by 49% to 47%.  However, Rasmussen also says that Romney has the vote of 89% of Republicans and Obama has the vote of 88% of Democrats, while Romney is up 16% on Obama among those not affiliated with the Republican or Democrat Parties.  The report I have seen does not say how many Republicans are planning to vote for Obama or how many Democrats plan to vote for Romney.  The report also does not say what percentage of Republicans, Democrats, and unaffiliated voters were sampled.

The Rasmussen party affiliation survey for September is now available.  According to it party affiliation is as follows:

Republicans, 36.8%
Democrats, 34.2%
Other, 29.0%

Democrats have increased by 0.9% since August, Republicans have decreased by 0.6%, and Others have decreased by 0.2%.  I expect the media claims that the Romney campaign was losing and Romney did nothing but make gaffes had pushed down the Republican affiliations and boosted the Democrat affiliation.  Romney's debate performance may reverse that trend in October.

I will assume that 4% of the 29.0% may vote for the micro-parties such as Libertarian, Green, Constitution, and Socialist Workers.  This leaves 25.0% of non-affiliated voters to pick either Romney or Obama and Romney is up by +16, so this implies that 58% will vote for Romney and 42% will vote for Obama.  The last two Washington Post/ABC News polls I adjusted for party affiliation had about 7% of each party voting for the candidate of the other party, so I will assume that here, to the advantage of Obama.  So, how does the adjusted vote turn out then:

Romney:  (0.89)(36.8%) + (0.07)(34.2%) + (0.58)(25.0%) = 49.6%

Obama:   (0.07)(36.8%) + (0.88)(34.2%) + (0.42)(25.0%) = 43.2%

Thus, Romney had a 6.4% advantage in a poll including the day of the debate and the two days after the debate.  How on Earth Rasmussen manages to reduce this to a 2% Romney advantage, I have no idea.

If the pollsters are thinking that Republicans and anti-Obama unaffiliated voters are not going to vote in this election, I think they are out of their minds.  What is more, Rasmussen reported that this poll gave Romney a double-digit advantage with voters over 40 years of age and these voters do turn up at the polls.  Obama on the other hand had a double-digit advantage with voters under 40.  That part of his pool under 25 are represented among the unemployed in large numbers.  Many of them cannot afford the high Obama gasoline costs to fuel their overly expensive clunkers (thanks to the Cash for Clunkers Obama program that made old cars scarce) to get to the polling places.  In general, the younger voters do not vote in the same percentages as older voters, so my adjusted results probably understate the extent of the Romney advantage.

In my lifetime, no presidential candidate has won the electoral vote when behind in the popular vote by more than a few tenths of a percent.  Even before the debate, there was considerable evidence that the polls of the swing states were heavily over-sampling Democrats and the reported leads by Obama in many of those states were fallacious.  An evaluation of polls for the states of Florida, Ohio, and Virginia made before the debate indicated that they were highly misleading and that Romney was really ahead in each of them.  I think Romney is going to win the election despite the best efforts of most of the media to throw the election to Obama.

I am quite disappointed in Scott Rasmussen and his polls.  I thought he usually did a good job polling, but the evidence here is that he is not doing so now.

Further Comments on the Dismal September Jobs Report

Here are some further comments on the September jobs report we should all be aware of:

  • The increased employment of Americans only affected white Americans.  The employment rates for blacks, Hispanics, and teenagers were unchanged at their much higher rates.
  • The long-term unemployed number changed little.  40.1% of the unemployed have been unemployed for more than 27 weeks.
  • The number of people employed part-time for economic reasons increased by 600,000, which is equal to most of the 775,000 new jobs that were supposed to have been created in September according to the household survey!
  • The establishment survey total non-farm payroll employment was up by only 114,000 in September, which is way below the anemic 2012 average of 146,000 per month and still more below the pitiful average per month in 2011 of 153,000.  It is important to note that 114,000 establishment jobs is far, far less than the household survey number of 775,000.
  • Employment rose in health care, transportation, and warehousing.  The increase in transportation and warehousing at this time of year may be in anticipation of Christmas.
  • Manufacturing employment dropped by 16,000 jobs.
There was a 206,000 person increase in the working age population available for work in September according to the household survey.  If the same fraction of these people were to become employed as were in January 2000, when jobs were plentiful, then 133,426 of them would have needed jobs in September.  Even to hold the sorry ground now in which a smaller fraction of the population is employed, 121,128 would have needed jobs.  Established non-farm businesses only provided 114,000 jobs, so this population growth was not even accommodated.

On the other hand, the household survey data says many more new jobs were created, so most of those additional jobs are self-employed or in the farm sector.  We also know most of those jobs are part-time jobs due to that 600,000 increase in part-time jobs.  My expectation is that many of these jobs are due to people who have been long out of work setting up their own business at home.  We know this to have been the case for a very large fraction of the new jobs created since the depths of the recession.  Desperate families may also have wives who are raising children setting up more businesses to earn a few dollars to pay for the rising cost of living and to supplement the falling incomes of husbands.  We know that women have been setting up their own small businesses in record numbers.

Median household income adjusted for the official, understated cost-of-living was down to $50,054 in 2011, or 8% less than in 2007.  Properly adjusted, household incomes were even more degraded.  This should drive people into the part-time workforce who would not normally be there.  So, while capitalized start-up businesses have been way down, home businesses with no real capital have been growing in numbers.  Unfortunately, most of them generate considerably less income than would a job at an established business.

It has been pointed out that in years past, employment of 18 to 25 year olds has fallen drastically in September as students returned to college and gave up their summer jobs.  Not this September.  Also not last September.  I suspect two things are going on here.  One is that these last two summers, many fewer students were able to find jobs in the summer, so the student drop in employment in September was much less due to them returning to college.  The other effect is that with college expenses having increased much more than family incomes have for many years and the actual loss of real family incomes over the last few years, many more students may have very part-time work-aid assignments at their colleges as part of their student-aid package.  In the past, the BLS was inclined to ignore these very part-time college jobs and not count these students as employed while in college.  What if they are now very assiduously counting these work aid students as part-time employed in the household survey?  This would account for the strange increase in employment of 18 - 25 year olds these last two Septembers and for the huge increase in part-time jobs precisely in the month of September.  [Update on morning of 10 October 2012.]

We are also hearing more and more reports that many businesses such as restaurants and other service businesses are more and more reluctant to hire full-time employees with the onset of the ObamaUncaringTax program, sympathetically called ObamaCare.  There is already a switch to hiring part-time workers.  Restaurants are adopting the policy of mostly hiring people for 28 hours a week.  An employer needs to hire about 43% more people at 28 hours a week compared to at 40 hours a week.  That is good for a major surge in hiring which Obama is happy to claim is all his doing.  In a way it is, since he gave us ObamaUncaringTax.  Of course that program will ultimately also cost Americans not just full-time jobs, but it will also decrease the total number of hours for which people are hired across the nation.

Overall economic activity will slow as a result of ObamaUncaringTax.  In addition to discouraging the optimal use of employees, it will also be adding to the corporation tax and making us still less competitive with the corporations of other countries.  It adds to our medical care and insurance costs, redirecting the additional money we are forced to spend on overburdened doctors and hospitals from other parts of the economy.  There was already going to be considerable redirection of money into the medical sector due to the aging of the Baby Boomers.  That was already going to cause many problems in our society, including people losing jobs in other industries as a result.

Now Obama and the Democrats have decided to make that problem and the wrenching effects much worse by adding many more medical service demands from younger, more healthy Americans.  After all, if you have to pay for a government approved plan with a low deduction and with many services most Americans have not previously thought were worth paying for, you are going to use more medical services.  Doctor visits for reasons of low importance will go way up.  Pity the frazzled doctors, except those with enough intelligence to refuse to take time for such patients.  In practice, that will mean that more doctors will be refusing to take Medicaid patients and those on ObamaCare insurance that pays them less than the free market would under their still more over-worked conditions.