Monthly Archives: January 2010

I have Two Words For You

Scott ‘effin Brown.

Think Obama is going to be watching the TV tomorrow?

Brand New Day

I still think that we’ll lose this, but my oh my, this would be HUGE!

Riding a wave of opposition to Democratic health-care reform, GOP upstart Scott Brown is leading in the U.S. Senate race, raising the odds of a historic upset that would reverberate all the way to the White House, a new poll shows.

Does this mean Brown is gonna win?  No way.  This is too big for the Dems to lose for them not to rally.  But serious, this guy was down by 30 3 months ago.  He is surging and surging huge.

Why?  Because no one wants this health care to pass.  Not even those in Kennedy’s home state:

…it appears Kennedy’s quest for universal health care has fallen out of favor, with 51 percent of voters saying they oppose the “national near-universal health-care package” and 61 percent saying they believe the government cannot afford to pay for it.

Further, this race has massive a massive impact in Washington politics.  It is so big that Obama doesn’t know what to do about this race.  He can not afford to support a Democrat that loses a major race; see Jersey Govna’.  Yet, he desperately needs to support the winner.  And right now, he’s stuck.  Does he fly to Massachusetts and risk losing or does he stay home and risk winning without him?

Gotta tell ya, this is an interesting time.  Who woulda thunk that the Senate seat held by royalty could go Red?


When you make a promise that can’t be tracked, you are then able to claim that you kept your promise:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Barack Obama’s emergency spending measures last year saved up to 2 million U.S. jobs, the White House said on Wednesday…

The White House, using two different approaches to figure out the impact of the stimulus package, estimates that U.S. employment had been raised by between 1-1/2 and 2 million jobs by the end of 2009 as a result of the stimulus measures.

Awesome.  When they made a number up at the beginning of this mess, they did it because:

  1. They needed to sell this turd.
  2. They knew it was made up and couldn’t be tracked.

But serious, did they create jobs?  Let’s look here:

While Massachusetts recipients of federal stimulus money collectively report 12,374 jobs saved or created, a Globe review shows that number is wildly exaggerated. Organizations that received stimulus money miscounted jobs, filed erroneous figures, or claimed jobs for work that has not yet started.

But in interviews with recipients, the Globe found that several openly acknowledged creating far fewer jobs than they have been credited for.

One of the largest reported jobs figures comes from Bridgewater State College, which is listed as using $77,181 in stimulus money for 160 full-time work-study jobs for students. But Bridgewater State spokesman Bryan Baldwin said the college made a mistake and the actual number of new jobs was “almost nothing.’’ Bridgewater has submitted a correction, but it is not yet reflected in the report.

In other cases, federal money that recipients already receive annually – subsidies for affordable housing, for example – was reclassified this year as stimulus spending, and the existing jobs already supported by those programs were credited to stimulus spending. Some of these recipients said they did not even know the money they were getting was classified as stimulus funds until September, when federal officials told them they had to file reports.

…several organizations that offer Head Start preschool programs and other services in Georgia reported retaining hundreds of jobs based on raises they gave their employees. In one such case, the Central Savannah River Area Economic Opportunity Authority in Augusta reported saving 317 jobs. But that represents the number of Head Start workers who received 2.3 percent raises from the stimulus funds, said Chris Whitley, the authority’s fiscal officer….

And then, finally, this one, which, by the way, is perhaps the most damaging report I’ve seen out of the MSM.  For one, it’s ABC, for another it’s recent and for another, it’s pretty harsh:

The White House has abandoned its controversial method of counting jobs under President Barack Obama’s economic stimulus, making it impossible to track the number of jobs saved or created with the $787 billion in recovery money.

Despite mounting a vigorous defense of its earlier count of more than 640,000 jobs credited to the stimulus, even after numerous errors were identified, the Obama administration now is making it easier to give the stimulus credit for hiring. It’s no longer about counting a job as saved or created; now it’s a matter of counting jobs funded by the stimulus.

That means that any stimulus money used to cover payroll will be included in the jobs credited to the program, including pay raises for existing employees and pay for people who never were in jeopardy of losing their positions.
“There were no jobs created. It was just shuffling around of the funds,’’ said Susan Kelly, director of property management for Boston Land Co., which reported retaining 26 jobs with $2.7 million in rental subsidies for its affordable housing developments in Waltham.

Take a look at some of those numbers.  The first, in Boston, claims that they created 160 full-time jobs with 7 large.  Did ANYONE check into that?  And then the idea of counting jobs as saved simply because those people got a raise is insane.  How does THAT make sense?  And finally, we get the goods from the White House.  In order to make their made up number, they are going to have to change their made up rules.  And why not?  It’s their rules to begin with.


Beer and Taxes

I can’t believe that I haven’t posted on this before.  Even my dad, a die hard Democrat had to tip his hat to this logic:

Suppose that every day, ten men go out for beer and the bill for all ten comes to $100. If they paid their bill the way we pay our taxes, it would go something like this:

The first four men (the poorest) would pay nothing.

The fifth would pay $1.

The sixth would pay $3.

The seventh would pay $7.

The eighth would pay $12.

The ninth would pay $18.

The tenth man (the richest) would pay $59.

So, that’s what they decided to do.

The ten men drank in the bar every day and seemed quite happy with the arrangement, until one day, the owner threw them a curve. “Since you are all such good customers,” he said, “I’m going to reduce the cost of your daily beer by $20.”Drinks for the ten now cost just $80.

The group still wanted to pay their bill the way we pay our taxes so the first four men were unaffected. They would still drink for free. But what about the other six men – the paying customers? How could they divide the $20 windfall so that everyone would get his ‘fair share? They realized that $20 divided by six is $3.33. But if they subtracted that from everybody’s share, then the fifth man and the sixth man would each end up being paid to drink his beer. So, the bar owner suggested that it would be fair to reduce each man’s bill by roughly the same amount, and he proceeded to work out the amounts each should pay.

And so the fifth man, like the first four, now paid nothing (100% savings).

The sixth now paid $2 instead of $3 (33%savings).

The seventh now pay $5 instead of $7 (28%savings).

The eighth now paid $9 instead of $12 (25% savings).

The ninth now paid $14 instead of $18 ( 22% savings).

The tenth now paid $49 instead of $59 (16% savings).

Each of the six was better off than before. And the first four continued to drink for free. But once outside the restaurant, the men began to compare their savings.

“I only got a dollar out of the $20,”declared the sixth man. He pointed to the tenth man,” but he got $10!”

“Yeah, that’s right,” exclaimed the fifth man. “I only saved a dollar, too. It’s unfair that he got ten times more than I!”

“That’s true!!” shouted the seventh man. “Why should he get $10 back when I got only two? The wealthy get all the breaks!”

“Wait a minute,” yelled the first four men in unison. “We didn’t get anything at all. The system exploits the poor!”

The nine men surrounded the tenth and beat him up.

The next night the tenth man didn’t show up for drinks, so the nine sat down and had beers without him. But when it came time to pay the bill, they discovered something important. They didn’t have enough money between all of them for even half of the bill!

And that, boys and girls, journalists and college professors, is how our tax system works. The people who pay the highest taxes get the most benefit from a tax reduction. Tax them too much, attack them for being wealthy, and they just may not show up anymore. In fact, they might start drinking overseas where the atmosphere is somewhat friendlier.

We're Gonna Run Out of Pollution!!

One of the biggest reasons that the Left feels we must get away from petroleum is that we have surpassed peak oil; we’re running out and we are in danger.  Couple things wrong with this:

  1. There is no alternative use for oil.  If we don’t burn it, what is it good for?
  2. We are no where NEAR peak oil.

When a thing becomes scarce, the price of that thing rises.  It has to.  And it can.  Fact is, oil isn’t scarce.  It’s plentiful and it’s competing for our purchase of it.

Consider this article:

Not many people think of the Netherlands as oil country, but a billion-barrel field lies under a nine-mile strip of grazing land along the Dutch-German border.  When oil prices cratered in the 1990s, Royal Dutch Shell shut the Schoonebeek field down.

Now higher prices and technological advances are spurring a new joint venture of Shell, Exxon, and the Dutch government to pump Schoonebeek’s reserves once more.

There is a bunch of oil that we know about in places that is just too hard to get at.  However, when the price of oil rises to the point that the cost of obtaining it can be offset by the price of selling it, we get more oil.  Further, technology is advancing as well:

New wells drilled horizontally are coming in contact with more of the oil. Steam injected into the rock loosens up its molasses-like crude so it can be brought to the surface more easily.

So, how much oil are we looking at?

Many analysts and industry executives have little doubt that there’s plenty of oil in the ground. “Only about 32% of the oil [in reserves] is produced,” says Val Brock, Shell’s head of business development for enhanced oil recovery. Shell estimates 300 billion barrels and maybe more might be squeezed out of existing fields, much of it once thought beyond retrieval. Peter Jackson, IHS Cambridge Energy Research Associates’ London-based senior director for oil industry activity, has reviewed data from the world’s biggest fields. His conclusion: 60% of their reserves remain available.

To translate into everyday terms:  That’s a lot.

A Tale of Two Cities

The Union would have you believe that they have a product you wanna buy:

DETROIT – General Motors Co. should be “solidly profitable” when demand for new cars and trucks rebounds to normal levels…

“Anything remotely resembling normal industry demand, we should be solidly profitable.”

Except, just down the road, Ford is kickin’ ass and takin’ names.

My favorite insight:

…chairman and interim CEO Ed Whitacre Jr., who said GM could be profitable this year although it would depend on economic factors.

Right.  So, put that statement into a pot, bring to a boil and simmer for 20 minutes.  Ya know what ya get?

“We could be profitable if we are able to spend less money than we make.”  Not one thing that they control will result in either spending or making.  We’ll see if they make money.

California: Part VI

Planes, trains and automobiles.  It’s a famous movie, but what really has the attention of politicians everywhere is this very same concept.  Planes, trains and automobiles.  Specifically, “how do we get fewer automobiles and more trains?”.  Everywhere people are requesting and demanding that we expand our mass transit system.  Part of it is a pander to the people who are best served at the expense of the rest of us.  Lately, though, we have begun to see the Global Warming crowd clamor that we need to implement more transit in order to reduce the number of carbon producing cars.  Still others claim that we have reached peak oil and going forward, we need to reduce our dependency on foreign oil.

In each case, the supporters are wrong, blind or both.  But nobody is as wrong as often or as blind as California.  Check this out via Reason:

For three years, Veronique Selgado took BART from the East Bay to her job working for an airline at San Francisco International Airport. But she recently switched to driving because BART raised fares and upped its SFO round-trip surcharge from $3 to $8, boosting her daily trip cost to nearly $20.

“It’s outrageous,” Selgado said. “At what point do they stop raising the prices, when it’s $50 a day to go round-trip to work? At what point does BART stand back and say, ‘People can’t pay that much to commute’?”

Millbrae resident Robert Smith, 63, had taken BART and Golden Gate Transit to his job in Sausalito because his employer provided transit vouchers, but eventually he threw up his hands, bought a Honda Civic and started driving.

It took him 21/2 hours each way by train and bus, turning his nine-hour workday into a 14-hour endeavor. Now he drives, and it takes him 45 minutes each way, which he said is well worth the extra gas and toll bridge costs.

Rick Mann loves public transit but hates the two hours and 15 minutes it takes him to walk from his Milpitas home to a transit station, catch a train, transfer to another train and then walk to his job as a software engineer in Sunnyvale.

The point is this: “Mass transit doesn’t work”.  We aren’t dense enough to make it work.  People live too far from where they work.  Transfers are common.  Further, because this is the government, making upgrades to the system is seen as an expense, not an investment.  As such, expenses are minimized meaning fewer trains and busses and fewer stops.  This raises the time of the commute and reduces riders.  But we have to continue to meet the costs.  And that means higher fares and higher taxes.

And soon, gentle reader, that means I am going to be taxed here in North Carolina so that someone in San Francisco can ride a bus that they don’t wanna ride.

California: Part V

Mark Perry has a most excellent post over at Carpe Diem.  The whole thing is a must read, but the highlights:

Exhibit A: California has lost more than one million jobs in the last several years, while employment levels in Texas have remained relatively stable.

Exhibit B: In early 2006, California’s unemployment was actually slightly below Texas, but is now 4.3 percentage points higher than Texas (12.3% vs. 8%).

Exhibit C:

One-way rental rates for a 26-foot truck from U-Haul:

From Dallas to San Francisco: $734
From San Francisco to Dallas: $2,116

From Houston to Los Angeles: $706
From Los Angeles to Houston: $2,051

Exhibit D: Texas kids are one to two years of learning ahead of California kids of the same age.

Exhibit E: William Voegeli tartly says that “Rome wasn’t sacked in a day, and California didn’t become Argentina overnight.”

Net/net children, it is high time to get the hell out of California.  And, now that I think of it, to get California’s mind-set OUT of Washington.

Update: become Argentina overnight!  THAT, is hil-ar-i-ous.

2000 Today

I posted this on October 16th, 2009:

This started in early January 2009.  It’s taken me 10 months to hit 1000 views; most of ‘em are my mom.

Here’s to the next thousand.

The first  grand took me 10 months, this one only 2.75.  My mom continues to hit F5.  Thanks mom.

Here’s to the next thousand.

Freedom Fries

As always, I have Brad and Britt on the radio for the morning commute.  I listen because they are local and because I need to convince myself that I listen to both sides.  As such, I normally am shaking my head at the discussion and the mind-set I get from Greensboro.

This morning was different.  The subject was France and whether or not it’s better to live in France or the USA.  Normally, the left says that the French model is better but given the choice, they don’t wanna live there.  As if they subconsciously understand that you don’t get both the “good life” France offers and the freedom and benefits of such that America offers.

Brad and Britt both agreed that it is much MUCH better to live in America than France.  Again, this isn’t surprising, this follows the leftist road map.  But as the conversation continued, I was pleasantly surprised at WHY they would not like to live in France.  For example, they idea of “strikes and riots when the price of milk goes up a by a nickel” was pure genius in its simplicity in capturing the French culture.  But it got even better.  When describing the summer break, Britt correctly wondered “who is gonna do the work?”.  And not to leave Brad out, he weighed in with this “given the chance to make a life in America vs being taken care of but tracked, I would take America ANYDAY!”

This was just a wonderful way to start the morning.  It gave me hope that we ARE a center-right nation.  That we know the chance, the opportunity, to strike out and make our way is a fundamental and uniquely American principle.  That we get freedom.  That being provided for has its price.

Yet it’s this wonderful news that frustrates me from the marketing side of me.  I am convinced that a conservative approach to finance and economics is the way to prosperity and advancement.  But the right is SO poor at spreading the message that we get painted as greedy industrialists.  And we never EVER learn from that.  No one wants to hear that minimum wage laws should be abolished.  “How greedy can you get?  Slave wages for the poor!”  It resonates.  It sticks.  Never mind that unemployment goes up, cost of goods go up and innovation and choice are restricted.

And who doesn’t wanna provide less expensive yet better medical care to everyone?  We ALL do.  The problem is, there is a wrong way and a right way.  Restricting that market is the wrong way.  Opening it up is the right way.

But we never get the message out.  We just sit back and “can’t be bothered by that”.  It’s the same reason you never see serious economists enter into debate about the most commonly accepted financial principles; because it is so basic and understood, that to debate it is beneath all serious members.  It would be akin to debating that 2 is greater than 1.

Anyway, Brad, Britt….well said.  And welcome to the center-right society!