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

29 January 2015

Employment Growth or Contraction By State Since December 2007

It is very interesting that if one plots the number of jobs created in Texas since 2008 against the change in the number of jobs in all other states combined, one gets an astounding story of job creation in one state that does little to prevent the creation of jobs:

There is no contest.  Texas added jobs without ever dropping below the number of jobs in December 2007 despite the Great Recession.  It has now added 1.44 million jobs, while the remainder of the nation has yet to recover all the jobs lost since December 2007!

[The oil and gas industry in Texas, which Obama has fought and tried to suppress, is responsible for a large part of the Texas jobs creation success.]  

But some of those other states did add jobs and some lost a particularly large fraction of the jobs they had in December 2007.  Let us see which states are relative winners and which are relative losers.  I will use BLS seasonally adjusted Establishment Data on non-farm payrolls which excludes public administration.  I am going to break the states into three groups.  The first group is the one that created more jobs over the 7 year period than would be needed to keep up with the average population growth of the country over the 10-year period of the last census.  That population growth rate was about 0.9%, so 7 x 0.9% = 6.3%.  The next group of states managed some kind of job growth, though as we will see that job growth was most commonly pathetic.  The final group of states are those which still have fewer jobs now than they had in December 2007.  I have simply taken the non-farm non-public administration jobs in December 2014 and divided by the number of such jobs in December 2007.  Thus, North Dakota had 32.24% more such jobs in 2014 than in 2007.

The heroic states with more created jobs than average population growth from Dec 2007 to Dec 2014:

North Dakota, Texas, and Oklahoma certainly benefited from both business-friendly state governments and the shale oil boom.  Alaska benefited from high oil prices.  Obama did nothing but hurt the jobs creation in these states.  The District of Columbia benefited from the inexorable growth of the federal government and the many well-paid lobbyists located there.  Gov. Rick Parry of Texas has some real bragging rights in his bid for the Republican presidential nomination due to the record of Texas during his long term as governor.  Of the five states and DC which created jobs in excess of population growth, only those jobs in DC were created by Obama and his socialist cronies.

The states that could not keep up with population growth, but at least did not actually lose jobs:

Massachusetts, New York, and California on this list certainly benefited from the huge out-pouring of Federal Reserve money propping up the largest financial institutions largely located in these states.  Note that the bottom 12 states in this group did not even manage a 1% growth of jobs in 7 years!  Both Virginia and Maryland, despite being benefited by the growth of the federal government by their proximity to DC, managed virtually zero private job growth at 0.6% and 0.15%, respectively.  Six of the bottom 9 states in this group voted for Obama twice, so they deserved no better.  Scott Walker, Republican governor of Wisconsin has little to brag about in terms of job creation in his state in his presidential bid.  Democrat Gov. Martin O'Malley of Maryland has still less to brag about.

Finally, we have the states that actually lost such jobs in the 7-year period of the Great Recession and its supposed recovery:

Of these 17 job losing states, 11 of them voted for Obama twice.  That is certainly a fair indicator of an anti-business mentality in those states.  Only Idaho, Florida, Arizona, and Nevada on this list appear in many lists of business-friendly states.  Republican Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey has only a 3.06% job loss in seven years to talk about.

It is very clear that the federal government and very many of the state and local governments need very badly to become more business-friendly if Americans are ever going to be able to enjoy plentiful and good jobs again.  This does not mean doing things to favor businesses.  It just means they need to get out of the way and let free Americans in the private sector create jobs and provide great products and services.

27 January 2015

CBO Cost Estimate for ObamaCare Implies Cost of $12,780 per Year per Person Insured

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) is now estimating the 10-year cost of ObamaCare at $1.993 trillion.  This is $1.093 trillion more than Obama told us it would cost over ten years.  The CBO estimates that ObamaCare will provide health insurance coverage for about 25.5 million by 2025.  It is providing insurance now for about 7.5 million people.  If the growth in the number covered is linear over the next ten years then the average number covered per year is 16.5 million people.  Some of those people will be covered for 10 years, and some for 1 year.  So for $1.993 trillion, ObamaCare provides 156 million person years of coverage.  This comes to a cost per year of coverage of $12,780 per person, all at taxpayers expense.

Given that many of the people covered will be making large contributions to paying for their insurance themselves and given that $12,776 for a private insurance plan for one person should be a Cadillac health insurance plan, which ObamaCare plans are not, one has to wonder at the ability of government to waste our money in such titanic proportions.

And remember that some of the people forced onto ObamaCare plans could perfectly well afford to be self-insured, while others were perfectly happy with plans they completely paid for themselves until ObamaCare forced insurers to cancel the plans they could not keep.

Yes, ObamaCare is a massive train-wreck.  Most of us want to get off that train, but our brutal government is forcing us to stay on it.

21 January 2015

Private Sector? Obama The Great Don't Need No Stinking Private Sector

Obama claimed that the American economy was surging into the future.  He said that 11 million jobs had been created since he became president and that the unemployment rate was the lowest in a very long time.  So how many Americans are employed full-time after six years of his regime?

Is Obama for real?  Is this the record he is claiming is so great and has established a record employment condition in America?  And surely by now most Americans know that the unemployment number is hardly meaningful, given that it is low because so many Americans have given up on finding a job.  The percentage of Americans working full-time is at a record low of 47.7%.  Median household income has fallen in each and every year of the Obama presidency from 2009 - 2012.  There was a small increase in median household income in 2013, but median income is still well below what it was prior to the Obama regime.  As of 2013, median household wealth was only 60% of what it had been in 2007.  This is the Obama legacy.

Obama claimed that energy independence is near.  He deserves credit for this in that he did not succeed in applying the brakes on fossil fuel energy development enough to prevent the private sector from this great achievement.  He did his best to prevent it, but he failed.  We are supposed to give him credit for this failure.

Obama said, "Let's put more money back in the pockets of the middle class."  I say let us leave more money in everyone's pockets and not take it in the first place!  Sending our money to Washington and allowing politicians and bureaucrats to decide who will get a fraction of that money back is hardly the way to improve the lives of most Americans.  It sure does improve the life of politicians and bureaucrats though.  It improves the lives of some special interests who have great influence in Washington also, but this is at the expense of most Americans.

Obama called for equal pay for equal work.  We really need to have government bureaucrats examining every business and determining what the work that contributes to the bottom line is and who is contributing what to that.  I can only imagine such a bureaucrat coming to my laboratory and trying to make this assessment in a rational way.  One brief visit and he will know exactly what each of my employees is worth.  Hot diggity damn.  It is so easy.  Bureaucrats must be the best managers anywhere.  They are truly a miracle.  Oh, and if women are to be paid equally to men, are short people to be paid equally to tall people also?  Are unpleasant people to be paid equally to pleasant people?  Are good analytical report writers to be paid as little as bad report writers?  Is the bureaucrat to make an accurate assessment of each employee's ability to sell our analytical services to a potential client when they call?  Mind you, this bureaucrat is probably not going to take up residence for weeks as required to do this, assuming he has the business and scientific background to do this in any amount of time.  Well, the fact that he works for government probably precludes any likelihood that he has such abilities.

Obama says that employees should have fair wages and be paid well for overtime work.  Somehow he forgot to mention that employers should have fair income and overtime.  Employees should have  paid days off he says, but he says nothing about paid days off for those who risk their investments to create jobs for those employees.  Somehow it is simply assumed that employers can both provide jobs and take on almost any costs related to employing people.  The politician decrees that which will provide him more votes and the employer must deliver.  Or, the employer shuts down his business, which is exactly why every year for the last six years more businesses have gone out of business than were started up.  Not so many people want to start businesses in this environment either.  This is a very important part of Obama's record on the state of the economy.

Obama wants to provide daycare tax credits.  Never mind the national debt and the deficit.  Never mind the fact that with so few people working full-time, many parents are home and able to care for their own children, except they have little income.  Never mind that the burden of paying for the costs of this "free" daycare benefit will fall upon the record small fraction of the people who are employed full-time.  Never mind that once government pays for daycare, it will likely want to regulate and control it even more.  Of course Obama wants to move daycare services out of the private sector into the government sector.  And we can be sure he wants it unionized.

Obama wants more Americans in unions.  Of course, union leaders provide the Democrat Socialist Party with a very large fraction of their campaign contributions.  Americans have plenty of opportunity to choose to be union members now, but in the private sector they have chosen to leave the unions in droves over the years.  But, that free vote by Americans must be overcome by the Great Socialist Leader.

Obama wants to upgrade skills with 2 years of free community college.  Community colleges are nearly free now.  They are also very much like grades 13 and 14 in a government-run education system which is not providing a very good education.  The inflow of money from the federal government for this additional subsidy will surely mean more control of education by the federal government.  This is what we need, more government indoctrination of youth about how many victims we have in our society and how big government is the means to the end of their victimization as it attacks any group that is perceived as better off than some other group.

As tradition demands, the socialist called for more job training on top of the many tens of largely spectacularly unsuccessful training programs created over the years.  Obama wants companies to train employees more and to offer paid apprenticeships at the higher minimum wage he is advocating.  Obama has no concerns whatsoever for the cost of labor to businesses.  In his world, organizations just naturally operate at a deficit forever.  Never mind that the businesses in the private sector cannot do that.

Obama claimed great success in helping veterans get jobs.  The fact that veteran unemployment is much higher than the general unemployment rate was not noted.

Obama does not want a single pipeline, but he wants more infrastructure spending.  How about allowing many pipelines to be built, not just one?  Obama and the Democrats generally have been slowing down pipelines all over the country.  The Bakken shale oil and the Marcellus Shale Oil and Gas formations are supplying more fuel than they are able to transport out through pipelines.

Obama wants more trade authority, but his own party is the primary opposition to new trade agreements.

Obama wants a Precision Medicine Initiative, but I thought he would have already eliminated disease all around the world as he pledged to do in his acceptance speech of the first Democrat Party nomination to run for the presidency.  Apparently, Obama the Great Healer has not yet carried out this pledge.

Obama claimed we are a nation of laws.  He said there is one set of rules for all.  Somehow, he is not one of "the all," given his obvious violations of the ObamaCare and immigration laws.  He is an exempted individual.  The rest of us must surrender our individuality and be blanketed with smothering laws and regulations in his worldview.  But he is the exception, because he swore he do his best to improve America when he became President.  I thought he swore to uphold and defend the Constitution, which is the People's mandate for a very limited government that implicitly recognizes that there are only a few things government can do without infringing upon our individual rights and those individual goals for our personal happiness.  But no, Obama thinks that it is best for America that he ignore the Constitution's limits on his power, on the scope of government power generally, and on the separation of powers.

He claims he wants a free and open Internet, despite his Federal Communications Commission making untiring efforts to gain more control over the Internet.

Obama say that Americans do not mind paying our fair share of taxes.  We need to eliminate loopholes by keeping companies from investing abroad and rewarding those investing here he says.  Well, yes more government control over businesses and their foreign investments is really likely to simplify the tax laws and make them more friendly to business prosperity!  Never mind that much of the increased company investment in overseas operations is due to lower taxes there, less smothering regulations in many cases, no ObamaCare there, and the uncertainties to business investors of the arbitrary and capricious actions of a mad socialist in the White House.

Obama wants to tax accumulated wealth.  So, we are to increase the death tax.  Yes, no one should be able to pass the fruits of a lifetime of productive labor on to his children and grandchildren.  That is just too awful to imagine.  No, such successful businessmen should give up their wealth to politicians and bureaucrats who will, of course, spend that money more wisely than will the progeny of the wealth producer.  Obama is sure of this.  We are not to question this.  We are not to think that many a businessman not able to pass on his wealth will stop creating wealth at an earlier age.  We are not to understand that the individual right to the pursuit of happiness surely includes the right to the happiness of knowing that one has helped ease life for one's children and grandchildren.  Socialists cannot understand this.

Obama wants to eliminate worldwide poverty.  The only way we can help to do that is by creating the example of a nation that lives by the American Principle of limited government dedicated only to protecting the equal, sovereign individual rights to life, liberty, property (wealth), self-ownership (denied by ObamaCare), and the pursuit of personal happiness.  To the degree that nations do this, they prosper.

Obama claimed 14 of the 15 hottest years were in this century.  He had his NOAA and NASA GISS manufacture this data.  Even the manipulated and forged data does not show anything like the increase predicted by the climate computer models that are supposed to be the basis for the claim that mankind is threatened by catastrophic man-made global warming.  In fact, while the temperature is supposed to be rising rapidly, it is stagnant.  Flat.  Going nowhere.  Proving that the computer models based on what Obama has called the "settled science" are simply wrong.  So, the "settled science," we must conclude, is wrong.  So, the rational man does not have the concern Obama does about an impending climate catastrophe.  Unlike Obama, the rational man will not take harmful actions against fossil fuels, those same fuels that have brought us close to the energy independence that Obama claimed was a strong point in our economy in this very speech.

Obama will responsibly shut down Gitmo by sending more of the detainees back to Yemen, whose capital has just fallen to violent, Islam-spreading terrorists.

Similarly, the rest of Obama's claims of success in foreign policy and defense are just too ridiculously inflated to spend further time pricking them with needles.

Obama wants a nation with a hugely dominant and controlling government sector and a weak, groveling private sector.  He wants a nation in which no one has an individual nature.  He does not want individuals choosing their own values.  He does not want lone wolf individuals managing their own lives and pursuing their own happiness.  No, he wants politicians and bureaucrats to tell us what our values must be and to micromanage our lives.  He is sure that self-management is beyond our competence.  He is sure that he and his allied Progressive Elitists will do a better job of managing our lives than we ourselves will.  He is religiously sure of this, even though he does not know any of us.  Can you imagine the unreality that soaks the mind of someone who is sure he is smarter than anyone else and so smart that he can manage the lives of 312 million or so Americans, none of whom he even knows?

19 January 2015

School Choice Programs Produce Better Education Results than More Dollars

Vicki E. Alger of the Independent Institute has a very interesting, article on the lack of correlation of spending with educational results and the scramble to seek more tax money for education.  She points out that school choice programs seem to be a more important factor in improving the education of children in the school lunch program.  Because the most interesting results in her article are buried deep into it, I will quote them here:

Based on public-school results from the 2011 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), the average nationwide reading and math performance among low-income eighth grade students was pitiful, with a 48% proficiency rate in both subjects.
The big spenders paid more for worse results. In Nebraska, which spent nearly $8,000 per student, a mere 39% of disadvantaged eighth-graders scored proficient or better in reading and math. For the approximately $7,000 a year Illinois spent on instruction, its low-income eighth-graders did no better than the national averages in reading and math.
States that spent less per pupil tended to have better educational outcomes. More than 45% of low-income students in Idaho—with its relatively puny $4,100 per pupil spending—tested proficient in reading and math. Low-income students in stingy Arizona, which spent $4,200 per pupil on instruction, had 51% proficiency rates in both subjects. And students in penny-pinching Oklahoma, which spent around $4,300 per pupil, achieved a 53% proficiency rate in reading and 52% in math.
 One of the most striking differences between these two sets of states is the availability of parental-choice programs. Unlike Nebraska or Illinois, both higher-scoring Arizona and Oklahoma have parental-choice scholarship programs that enable parents of disadvantaged students to choose the schools they think are best, including private schools. Schools have to compete for students, which forces them to improve their performance.
Congratulations are due to my home state of Oklahoma!  To be sure, it is one of many of my home states, but it is the one where I graduated from high school in a two-year period between moving there and leaving the state for college.  Nonetheless, I have considerable family there.

Nonetheless, I am sure that the educational bar for proficiency is much too low and that in general it is likely to be too generously assessed.  Even so, the results are clearly terrible.  Government-run schools are a disgrace for the most part.  Even when they are good at the basics, they tend to be awful Big Government indoctrination centers.

17 January 2015

Summarizing a Few Spending and Deficit Comparisons for Obama to Bush

The Tuesday, 20 January 2015 issue of Investor's Business Daily offered a few comparisons of George W. Bush's budgets compared to those of Obama in its Issues and Insights Section.  These observations are timely given that Obama's budget for 2016 would increase spending by $68 billion.  Every single year Obama's budget request exceeded that which was approved by Congress, while all but one year under Bush, Congress insisted on spending more than he requested.  Every one of Obama's budgets called for a higher deficit than wound up being approved by Congress.  This spendthrift Democrat Socialist posed as a much more fiscally responsible man than Bush in his first presidential campaign, consistent with his unsurpassed proclivity for the Big Lie.

If Obama's budgets had been approved by Congress, the USA would have a gross national debt $1.8 trillion greater than it is now.  If Congress had only spent as much as Bush requested, the increase in the national debt under Bush would have been $800 billion less.

Under Obama, the gross national debt has grown by $7.5 trillion already and it has nearly two years more to go up, compared to its growth under Bush of $4.9 trillion.  So if Obama had had his way, the national debt would have been $9.3 trillion greater in 6 years, while if Bush had had his way, it would have gone up $4.1 trillion on his 8-year watch.

Yes, the spending, the deficits, and the debt were all handled poorly in Bush's budgets, but they were handled even more recklessly under Obama's budgets.

14 January 2015

The Pre-Conditions for Religious Freedom Unmet by Islam

Religious freedom is a result of the individual right to freedom of conscience and thought.  Religious freedom is a subset of these broader freedoms.  Since religion usually calls on individuals to join with other individuals in activities including joint worship, it is also a result of freedom of association.  Religion commonly calls on people to act in prescribed ways, which they are allowed to do because individuals have a broad freedom of action, including freedom of speech, freedom of the press, the freedom to assemble, and the freedom to contribute one's time, effort, and wealth to a religious cause.

Note that freedom of religion exists in the context of broad individual rights.  These individual rights enable individuals to survive and flourish in life while preventing others from threatening them with violence and force.  Every individual has equal, sovereign individual rights based on his nature as a rational being who must use his mind and take action to sustain and maintain his life.  Man institutes government for the sole, legitimate function of protecting his and everyone else' individual rights, as properly stated in our Declaration of Independence.  When a highly limited government well-instituted, as by our Constitution, provides this protection, a very robust and choice-rich private sector results in which individuals can revel in their full individual complexity and differentiation, while cooperating for their mutual benefit with others for purposes of their choosing.  Thus men commonly live creative and productive lives in harmony and prosperity.

This understanding of the nature of man and his individual rights was unknown until the Enlightenment developed in Europe.  It mostly developed in England, Scotland, France, and the Netherlands.  These were generally Christian countries.  Christianity, as practiced for at least 1000 years prior to this, had been deeply entwined with government, actively invoking the force of governments to force the people of each country to believe in the religion, or at least to pretend to believe in it and to be constrained in their actions by its tenets.  Christianity during this period was guilty of many terrible acts of evil.  But, Christianity had a key individual at its root, Jesus Christ, who had not advocated the use of force to impose his religious ideas.  He had pointedly refused to interfere with the rule of Rome, admittedly maybe only because that would have been a pretty futile effort at the time.  The fact that Jesus Christ had not preached that Christians take control of government and use it to force people to practice his religious ideas made it feasible to reform Christianity after the Enlightenment to a sufficient degree that religious freedom became broadly possible to extend to the various forms of religions in the Enlightened countries.  The people who were brought up in this tradition came to believe that all religions should be granted freedom of religion.

Unfortunately, few people have a clear understanding of the conditions which must exist for it to be possible to have a broad freedom of religion without undermining the many individual rights that make freedom of religion possible.  It simply is not possible to offer freedom of religion to a religion which embraces the use of force to spread the religion and to subjugate those people who refuse to adopt it.

Islam became known to man through Mohammed in 610 AD in the Arabic peninsula.  The land was very primitive with many contending tribes, some of which were polytheistic and some of which were Jewish.  When Mohammed had few followers, he formed alliances of convenience with Jewish tribes and often proclaimed his desire for peace with at least some other tribal groups.  However, as he became more and more powerful, he became much more ready to use force to suppress any peoples who did not join him as followers and believe in his teachings.  He taught that Islam required Jihad, which generally was implemented by using force to conquer other people.  He developed Islam as an integrated set of religious and political beliefs in which Islam was established by the state through the Sharia Law.  Government was to advance Islam, to suppress non-believers often to the point of killing them, to collect tribute from those who submitted but did not believe, and to conquer new lands and people.  It was also to punish any Muslim who became a non-believer with death.  Basically, the integrated religion and tyrannical government model is not compatible with individual rights.

It will not be possible to extend religious freedom to Islam until and unless it reforms itself to eliminate its political component that uses force to limit greatly many individual rights.  The integrated rights of the individual cannot be in conflict with one another.  Whenever someone proposes a conflict of rights, that person has failed to correctly identify the rights of the individual.  It is very common that people do this and then they commonly say that rights bring with them responsibilities.  Meeting those responsibilities is supposed to reduce the friction, nay the conflict, of one person's rights with those of others.  Those responsibilities commonly include obligations of service to others and out and out self-sacrifice.  This is all nonsense.  Properly identified individual rights allow men to live in harmony, not conflict.

Because those who practice Islam are required to emulate Mohammed, they are essentially required to emulate his use of force to spread and maintain its integrated religious and political system.  Some may choose to emulate his earlier stage of operations when his forces were weak and he was less aggressive.  Others will follow his later actions when his forces were strong and quite ruthless in their conquering sweep across the Arabic peninsula.  People most often acquire their religious and political beliefs from their family and the society into which they are born.  They come to see their realistic choices as limited by their culture and will mostly allow their developed beliefs to vary but little from those common in their culture.  The Muslim cultures strongly discourage a wide range of beliefs within Islam itself in given areas.  Some more substantial variations do exist among Muslims as a whole, such as those between the Sunnis and the Shiites, who often have very nasty wars with each other.  We should realize that some Muslims do try hard to be decent people despite the limitations of Islam.  While we must work and fight to maintain an Enlightenment culture that honors and preserves individual rights, we do not want to be at war with all Muslims.

It is not an abberation when an Islamist uses force to advance Islam, however.  It cannot truthfully be said that the use of force means someone is not practicing Islam.  I understand this representation to be an attempt to discredit such Islamists and to limit the number of followers of Islam with which we have to contend in violent confrontations.  However, this is an attempt to deny the truth.  Islam is not so easily reformed to separate the control of government and the use of force from the religion as was the case with Christianity.  Mohammed was not Jesus Christ.  The brutal Arabic peninsula of 610 AD was not the somewhat civilized Roman Empire of Jesus' time.  The reformation of Islam may well take hundreds of years, given that the easier case of Christianity took hundreds of years.  Violence in the name of Islam may well continue for that entire time.  That violence may be extreme or radical in our Western Civilization context, but it is manifestly not extreme or radical in the context of Islam. 

There are many non-violent Islamists and many who are nice people when we interact with them on a personal basis.  We need not be at war with everyone who believes in Islam.  But, many of the personally peaceful Muslims do believe it is their religious duty to support and contribute to those who use violence to advance their religion.  Many believe that when it becomes possible for them to make Sharia Law the law of the land, they should do so.  This would trample individual rights and with the loss of those rights, a complete loss of freedom of conscience and its subset freedom of religion will result.  Understanding what is at stake in refusing to have our own society taken over by Islam is necessary if we are to maintain our precious individual rights.

It is vital that we also understand that the use of force is a true emulation of Mohammed's acts by present day Islamists and not an abberation despite Obama's and other Progressives' adamant claims that it is.  We must not lose focus on the fact that Islam is an integrated system of religion and government, not just another religion.  Islam is not compatible with individual rights and in its present common forms does not meet the conditions of a belief system that qualifies for religious freedom.  The present common effort to grant it religious freedom undermines religious freedom, freedom of conscience, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of assembly, freedom of association, and self-ownership.  Islam is unfortunately a very tyrannical religious and political system.

13 January 2015

Updating an Inadequate List of Global Warming Deniers

I am submitting the name of an opponent of the catastrophic man-made global warming hypothesis to a favorite list of "deniers" kept at a nefarious blog called  Apparently this blog does not do an adequate job of learning who the alarmists opponents are, so I am trying to help them out through their handy informer submission form.  This is the description of the beast as I submitted it to them:

Charles R. Anderson, Ph.D., claims that the hypothesis that man's fossil fuel emissions of CO2 will cause catastrophic man-made global warming is based on bad physics and has been proven wrong by the empirical evidence.  His arguments are laid out in many posts on

He is a scientist who signed onto the Senate Minority Report by Senator James Inhofe.  He has stated that the surface temperature records for many areas of the Earth's surface have been tampered with to make it appear that unusual warming has occurred in recent years.  He points out that IR-active gases have about as much cooling effect on the Earth surface temperature as any warming effect, making the net effect very small compared to the 33C warming effect claimed by the alarmists.  While he expects negligible effects on the surface temperature due to CO2 emissions, any warming effect is likely to be beneficial, as is the effect on plant growth of higher CO2 concentrations.

This man is very dangerous to the cause because his arguments are extremely rational.

Update 14 Jan 2015, 0128 hours:

I have a reply from Brendan DeMelle of the
Are you an illeist?

Nice try, but you have to be relevant to earn a spot in our database. You're no more dangerous than any other angry Ayn Rand obsessive with a blogger account.
Invariably, the catastrophic man-made global warming alarmist refuses to address the science and responds with name-calling.  As I noted in my comments for the Senate Minority Report on AGW:
Observe which side resorts to the most vociferous name-calling and you are likely to have identified the side with the weaker argument and they know it. 
Brendan, you might try reading my posts on the issue and addressing the science.  Many scientists who have read them, including many scientists with extensive experience with infra-red radiation in weapons and detection science and technology, have found my analyses to be correct.  To be sure, with government policy so opposed to the truth and to honest discussion, they are not free to say so publicly without great harm to their careers.  I, however, am always ready to discuss the actual physics and to evaluate the hypotheses, vague and changeable as they usually are, put forth by the claimants that mankind faces a CO2 crisis.

Now as for being angry, I am only angry when someone uses force to violate my sovereign individual rights to life, liberty, property, self-ownership, and the pursuit of my personal happiness.  Yes, I do not submit meekly and willingly to thugs, not even those employed by Big Government.  Generally, I am a very live and let live person, who very much enjoys living my life.

The man-made global warming alarmists commonly angrily reject the need man has to alter and control his environment to survive and flourish on Earth.  Too many of them even advocate drastically lowering the standard of living of mankind and would leave them shivering in winter with inadequate fuel supplies.  Many would push all of mankind into small concentration camps and allow them little to no use of most of the Earth's surface so that what they call Nature would return to its primitive state of prehistoric times.  Some even call for reducing the human population from 7 billion people to 500 million people.  Now that is a very angry group of people.  Such angry people find it a pleasure to call those who do not join their crusade angry names.

11 January 2015

Why Increasing the Federal Gasoline Tax is Bad

Aside from the fact that Americans are finally catching a break on their expenses in an economy with far too few decent jobs, stagnant wages, more businesses shutting down than started, and increasing food, housing, and tax expenses, there are many other reasons why the federal gas tax should not be increased.

Some say that the highway infrastructure is decaying and more federal money is needed to repair it.  This is actually a false claim.  The Federal Highway Administration says otherwise.  According to it, the condition, safety, and quality of the US road system has been steadily improving.  A 2009 study by the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago concluded that for twenty years the road system had improved.  It even said that the median road was fully suited for higher speed transportation than the law allowed.

The federal government certainly loves having control of the dispensing of the income from the federal gas tax.  It used to be a favorite means of funding earmarks used as demonstrations of a Congressman's or Senator's ability to send money to his home district or state.  The money was frequently wasted or used inefficiently.  The "bridge to nowhere" was one famous example, but was really only one of many such abuses of the taxpayers.

It has been estimated that increased costs in highway projects due to the federal requirements of Davis-Bacon laws mandating high wages, due to an executive order of Obama diverting many projects to labor union workers while minimizing competitive bidding, greatly increased environmental and other federal requirements, and the siphoning off of taxes to pay for the federal bureaucracy, that 30% of the federal gas tax revenues are wasted.

It is worse than that.  Much additional federal gas tax revenue is still diverted to other transportation policies very much in vogue among Progressive Elitists.  These diversions are the main reason that so many Progressive Elitists want to increase the federal gas tax.  They divert large sums to rail projects, almost all of which lose money in operation.  They also divert money to bike and walking paths, which may make it easier for some Elitists to get their exercise, but which is hardly a purpose consistent with the U.S. Constitution.  Neither for that matter are the money-losing passenger rail and bus systems they like to fund in major metropolitan areas, or in some cases in low density areas as is the case in the massive cost and massive operational loss rapid rail system being built in California.

At least the Interstate Highway system has a cover under the Constitution as a system of "post roads," which were meant to tie a far-flung country together with communications and make it more defensible in a period of our history when that was needed.  Since 2008, spending on the actual road system has not increased.  The increase in spending of the federal gas and diesel taxes has fueled the 38% increase in funding of non-highway projects adored by the anti-road Progressive Elitists.  The present federal fuel taxes are actually adequate to fund road construction and repair for the next 10 years.

Republicans sometimes like the federal gas tax because it is a use tax, while Democrats see it as a sin tax to discourage fossil fuel use consistent with their failed hypothesis of catastrophic man-made global warming.  The 16% of the federal gas tax revenues spent on non-highway purposes are especially unrelated to national needs and should be funded and controlled by local governments, if they should be funded at all.  There is no reason rural people with longer driving distances between points of interest should be funding commuter systems in New York City, where no one owns a car and only pays the federal gas tax indirectly when they take a cab.  There is no reason that rich and local environment-ignorant New Yorkers should be deciding what the environmental requirements of highway projects are in Oklahoma or North Dakota.

And why is it that the fraction of the federal gas tax collected in each state that is returned to projects in that state has varied hugely from state to state over the life of the federal tax?  Some states have been huge winners and some huge losers, with the losing states outnumbering the winning states.  Generally, Pengyu Zhu of Boise State University and Jeffery Brown of Florida State University found in a 2013 paper that the federal fuel tax redistributed money from poorer to wealthier states and from higher transportation need states to lower transportation need states.  The tax distribution is biased against those states with more miles of highway and more use of that highway.

When a project is largely funded by federal money, state and local governments have little incentive to see that the money is spent wisely.  This seemingly free money from the federal government induces the states and local governments to make expensive lobbying efforts to obtain it and adds to our huge special interests problem in government.

The idea that the federal government should increase its control of the U.S. road system and other transportation systems by increasing the federal gas tax, Charles Krauthammer and Senator James Inhofe notwithstanding, is a very bad idea.  Georgia Republican Tom Graves introduced a better idea, the Transportation Empowerment Act, in the House of Representatives in November of 2013 to greatly reduce federal involvement and its highly inefficient meddling in local transportation matters with a greatly reduced federal gas tax.  Senator Mike Lee co-sponsored the bill in the Senate.

10 January 2015

Congress Calls Itself Small Employer Under ObamaCare Law

The individual state and DC health insurance exchanges under the ObamaCare law allow small businesses with fewer than 50 "full-time" employees to purchase insurance for their employees on the exchanges.  The U.S. Congress purchases its health insurance under the DC health insurance exchange, which under the District of Columbia law setting it up has the ObamaCare law required limit on institutional entities that may use it of fewer than 50 full-time employees.  Under ObamaCare law, a full time employee is anyone working 30 or more hours a week.

According to the DC Health Benefit Exchange Authority, at least 12,359 employees or dependents of employees of Congress are receiving their health insurance plans from the DC Exchange.  Because they are receiving their benefits from the DC exchange, many are receiving the federal subsidies offered on state exchanges.  The House of Representatives attested under penalty of law that it had 45 employees.  The Senate made the same statement that it had 45 employees.  This was revealed by Judicial Watch when it obtained documents under the Freedom of Information Act.  The DC government has acknowledged that their purchases of insurance on the exchange are a breech of DC law, but has yet to do anything about it.

When the House of Representatives attested that it had 45 employees, it was under Republican control.  When the Senate made the same statement, it was under Democrat control.  Both parties engaged in patently illegal activity for the monetary gain of the 437 members of the House, the 100 Senators, and their thousands of staff employees.

These are the same reprobates who controlled the acquisition of $3.0 trillion of federal revenue in 2014, spending of $3.5 trillion, and the imposition of another $1.5 trillion in regulatory costs on the private sector in 2014.  It is insane to allow such lawbreakers and avaricious, unprincipled thieves have control of so much of the wealth produced by the hardworking taxpayers of the private sector.

They get away with this using the specious argument that they are correcting injustices of the private sector.  In fact, such injustices as there are in the private sector are mostly avoidable simply because individuals are free there to associate or not with others based on their own judgment of the fairness of their interactions.  None of us are allowed to disassociate ourselves from the government and its employees who very determinedly mistreat those of us in the private sector.  We are forced, yes forced, to submit to their myriad, complex, ubiquitous predations.  Congress and government bureaucrats spend every working hour studying and implementing ways to use their nearly unbridled power over us to their advantage and our subjugation.

The only answer to this predation is for the People to insist on the most principled and strict application of the Constitution to severely limit the actions of Congress and the federal government generally.  The size and scope of this out-of-control Big Government monster must be slashed until it performs only its legitimate role of protecting the equal, sovereign rights of the individual.

09 January 2015

What States Are Americans Moving To or Fleeing From?

United Van Lines does an annual assessment of the percentage of households moving to and from each of the states and Washington, DC.  It is the largest mover in the USA.  Overall, the general story of which states are most desirable and which are least desirable for 2014 is told in this map of the USA:

The ten most desirable states with the largest percentage of households moving to them are:

Oregon                       66.4% Inbound
South Carolina           61.4%
North Carolina           60.5%
Vermont                     59.4%
Florida                        58.9%
Nevada                       57.3%
Texas                          57.0%
District of Columbia  57.0%
Oklahoma                  56.8%
Idaho                         55.5%
Colorado                   55.1%

Nebraska, Arizona, California, Georgia, Louisiana, Wyoming, Delaware,  and South Dakota all had slightly more households moving in than moving out in 2014 and are listed in order.  Tennessee had 50.0% moving in and 50.0% moving out.  The rest of the states were losers in 2014.

The worst losers are:

New Jersey               64.9% Outbound
New York                 64.1%
Illinois                      63.4%
North Dakota           60.5%
West Virginia           60.1%
Ohio                         59.0%
Kansas                     58.2%
New Mexico            57.4%
Pennsylvania           56.8%
Connecticut             56.7%
Massachusetts         56.7%
Utah                        56.0%
Virginia                   55.5%
Michigan                 55.4%
Mississippi              55.2%
Kentucky                 55.0%

[Of these states, it should be noted that North Dakota and Utah were among the most stellar states in creating jobs over the entire time span from December 2007 to December 2014.  The loss of jobs in North Dakota in 2014 is likely due to the drop in the price of oil in the later part of that year.  Comment added on 20 Feb 2015.]  The remaining minor losing states are listed from worst to not so bad -- Minnesota, Indiana, Wisconsin, Maine, Maryland, Missouri, Iowa, Montana, Alabama, Arkansas, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island.

It should be noted that the United Van Lines survey is more accurate with respect to established and larger wealth households than with young people who may live with few furnishings in small apartments in major cities, such as Manhattan.

The highest fraction of households moving out for retirement reasons was the Northeast, with more than one out of four moving for retirement.  The highest fraction moving in for retirement was nearly one out of three moves into the Mountain States.

DC remains a popular moving destination due to the growth of the federal government, but the good news is that while from 2008 to 2012 it was number one, in 2013 it fell to #4, and in 2014 it fell further to #7.

With the exception of Delaware and DC, the entire Northeast from Virginia to Maine lost households due to more outbound moves than inbound moves.  The Midwest states from Ohio and West Virginia to Minnesota and Iowa also all lost population.  I believe these areas are being harmed by the anti-growth and anti-business attitudes and governmental policies particularly prevalent in these areas.  They are also harmed by insufficient warming in those areas as more and more people take the opportunity to move to areas with warmer climates.  How odd that federal government policy wishes to maintain colder temperatures in these areas, as do Progressive Elitists, yet most people voting with their feet seek warmer climates.  Apparently, the real catastrophe of warmer climates is that people view them as desirable!

06 January 2015

Income Inequality and Government Policy

The very strongly socialist Democrat Party has made what it calls the problem of income inequality the cornerstone of their party platform.  It is the justification for calls for raising the minimum wage once again.  It justifies further and endless entitlement programs.

But is income inequality any more of a problem than are the inequality of the following characteristics of an individual?
  • Intelligence
  • Morality
  • Energy
  • Friendliness
  • Athleticism
  • Goal-Directedness
  • Height
  • Attractiveness
  • Benevolence
  • Sexual Prowess
  • Humor
  • Knowledge
  • Loyalty
  • Productivity
  • Interest in movies and TV
  • Interest in partying and drugs
  • Interest in politics
  • Interest in reading
  • Interest in spending time with children
No.  A desire to reduce income inequality by the application of government force is very much similar to the desire to reduce the inequality of any of these other individual traits by the use of government force.  In all cases, the use of force for such a purpose is an attack upon individuality itself.  It is most certainly an attack on the freedom of the individual to make his own choices and to own and manage his own life.

Some people choose to work 30 hours a week and watch 40 hours of TV a week, while others choose to work 70 hours a week and watch little TV.  Perhaps instead of transferring the extra money earned by the 70-hour worker to the 30-hour worker, we should tax people for the income they did not earn while watching TV?  That is only fair, especially considering that the harder worker generally did more to improve the standard of living of his fellow Americans.

Yet it is also the case that we Americans are actually far richer than most other people in the world.  Consequently, if income inequality really were a problem that should be leveled by government, then it would have to be performed by ceding American governmental sovereignty to the United Nations.  Even poor Americans are too rich by world standards and should be deprived of much of their income to equalize the human condition with respect to income.  Look at the percentage of people in the world with higher incomes than the following incomes:

$1,400               48.1%
$20,000               3.6%
$25,000               2.0%
$32,400               1.0%
$35,000               0.81%
$51,939               0.28%, this is the median US household income in 2013, US Census Bureau
$75,000               0.11%
$100,000             0.08%
$125,000             0.07%

Only 0.28% of households in the world have incomes greater than the median household income in the USA.  So, let those who are serious about eliminating income inequality by a simple re-distribution of income give away almost all of their own income until that equality is achieved around the world.  As the income of the lower half, less than about $1400 a year is increased, the dividing line between the poorer half will rise and those Americans earning only $1400 a year will start to receive redistributed money.  But, those earning the outrageous sum of $20,000 a year will always be contributors in the self-sacrificial duty to raise the income of the poorer half of the world population.

Well, alright now, but many Americans are only thinking of income inequality as a problem within the confines of American, because its great usefulness as a political power tool is in the context of the Democrat Socialist and generally the Progressive Elitist effort to transform the USA.  Why would these people think of income inequality as a problem to be dealt with as a matter of principle.  No, it is just a convenient tool to increase the power of government and of those who wield great influence over the government.  The aim is not to achieve income equality even in the USA.  It is to pretend to redistribute some money in the name of reducing income inequality so the government can be made more powerful.  A more powerful government can do even more to make those who have pull in Washington still richer than the present special interest control over Big Governments makes these cronies of Big Government.  A real effort to eliminate income inequality would defeat the real purpose, just as offering a real education in government-run schools defeats the real purpose of having government and special interest control of the schools.

A very interesting study of income inequality was produced from U.S. Census Bureau data from 2012 which shows the Gini index of income inequality by congressional district in the US.  Those districts with Democrat representation are shown in blue, while those with Republican representation are shown in red.  The plot below shows the districts in order of Gini index, where a higher Gini index represents a greater income inequality:

It is immediately striking that congressional districts most dominated by Democrat Representatives are those with the highest income inequality.  At the lowest and highest levels of income inequality the rate of inequality changes the most.  Let us look at these two ends of the spectrum of American income inequality more closely:

Democrats represent 23 of the 25 most income unequal congressional districts, while Republicans represent 13 of the 25 districts with the least income inequality.  Republicans are predominant in those districts with more nearly normal distributions of income.  Now, we cannot immediately assume that Republican representation reduces income inequality.  But, we should at least be asking whether there are reasons why Democrat representation might be adding to income inequality.  The rational man wants to know.

We should attack this question with some knowledge of where Democrats hold representation in the House of Representatives.  The results of the 2012 election are shown in the map below:

The Democrats dominated the big cities of the Northeast and the Pacific coast, some highly Hispanic and Native American areas of the Southwest, the union strongholds in Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, Illinois, and Missouri, a few concentrations of black voters in the Southeastern states, and a complete dominance of New England.

I am pretty sure the highly Hispanic and the highly black concentrated districts are responsible for many of the least income inequality districts the Democrats hold.  These districts are often uniformly poor, which is not a good thing.  It would be wonderfully good if these districts had more higher income people, to state the obvious.  Any district would benefit from more higher income people, provided that income was obtained in the private sector.

But most Democrat districts tend to be the high density population districts of cities and their nearby metropolitan areas.  Good fences and low population densities make good neighbors, but these conditions are lacking in cities.  As a result, there is a tendency for city dwellers to want more control over their neighbors.  They cannot achieve this on their own, so they enlist government with its monopoly on force to perform this function.  They therefore vote heavily for Democrats.  There are few exceptions to this rule.

High population densities also lend themselves to making great fortunes.  The best CPA in Russell, Kansas will only have a very few well-off clients, while a CPA with no better ability in New York City might well have many wealthy clients.  A very good restaurant in Stilwell, Oklahoma, the Strawberry Capital of the World, with a population of 3,840 people, will make less money than will a restaurant of the same quality in many parts of Chicago or its suburbs.  The networking possibilities of a major metropolitan area and its financial institution advantages will lend themselves to extreme wealth creation for a least some people.  So, we cannot blame Democrats across the board for these advantages that contribute to income inequality, except where that networking is used to provide a greater than average influence to special interests over governments.  This is a big exception, because we know that this kind of pull is used to increase the fortunes of a few cronies at the expense of the many who have little or no such pull.

Among those who have no pull are those who live in the inner city and sometimes suburb school districts with notoriously bad decades-long Democrat control of the government-run schools.  These schools are run as holding pens for children, for the advantage of government employees who staff them and the labor unions that represent school employees, as indoctrination centers for the mythical wonders of Big Government, and very often for the advantage of cronies who provide excessively expensive services and goods to the school systems.

The child victims too commonly do not graduate from high school.  Those who do often read at the third grade level, cannot write a coherent sentence, and know nothing about history, economics, science, and math.  Wonder of wonders, these city school children commonly have little ability to earn decent incomes as adults.  Very high percentages cannot finds jobs.  Many turn to crime and/or become dependent on drugs and/or welfare programs.  All of these income depressing effects are aided and abetted by the Democrat-controlled governments.

The problems do not end here.  The cities are more likely to have severe licensing laws for professions and jobs, which greatly limit entry into these jobs.  Those who start poor are more likely to be kept from becoming more wealthy by these restrictions.  Cities also produce a plethora of regulations, which hit small businesses especially hard.  This makes it harder for a poor person to succeed by creating his own small business.  Democrat city governments commonly favor labor unions, whose members add to their income by depressing the income of larger numbers of non-union members.  Once again, the Big Government model adds to income inequality, this time by suppressing the income of the poor.

Yes, Democrats might be more concerned that income inequality is common in America because it is more common in their districts.  So, they make more of it.  But, their governmental principles, insofar as they have any, embrace many policies that make income inequality greater.  They increase the income of those favored by the government, who are commonly not those they imply are favored in their speeches aimed at the poor and minorities to gain their votes.  They depress the future and present incomes of the poor and the minorities they claim to champion.  The governments they control are not righting wrongs of the private sector.  They are not righting wrongs of the government sector. 

This will not change no matter how often they pose as champions of income equality, because the wrongs their Big Government model does are inevitable by the nature of Big Government's need to sustain itself.  In comparison, competition and individual choice are very effective in limiting any injustices created in the private sector.  In the Big Government model, the government sector is characterized by force and a disrespect for the individual.  That lack of respect for the individual reduces the probability of individuals increasing their wealth all across the spectrum of incomes, but seems to act as a more severe depressant of the incomes of the poor who have no real pull in Big Governments.