Monthly Archives: June 2013

The Calls For Prosecution

It’s telling of our current political stalemate that the Irish beat American liberals to the punch:

President Obama’s visit to the Group of Eight summit has created a political row in Ireland after an outspoken liberal lawmaker on Wednesday denounced the U.S. president as a “war criminal” for his drone use and his decision to arm the Syrian rebels.

If only the liberal left here in America would attack Obama in the same way they attacked Bush for the same crimes.

Breaking News – NSA Phone Records

This just in:

The National Security Agency has been secretly collecting the phone call records of tens of millions of Americans, using data provided by AT&T, Verizon and BellSouth, people with direct knowledge of the arrangement told USA TODAY.

The NSA program reaches into homes and businesses across the nation by amassing information about the calls of ordinary Americans — most of whom aren’t suspected of any crime. This program does not involve the NSA listening to or recording conversations. But the spy agency is using the data to analyze calling patterns in an effort to detect terrorist activity, sources said in separate interviews.

Think that this is a recent story?  Check the date on the tag line:

Updated 5/11/2006 10:38 AM ET

Youth Unemployment – Unfinished Story

The Atlantic

The Atlantic had me at hello, but lost me at, “wanna dance”:

Europe’s unemployment inequality is simply astonishing. Germany’s jobless rate for young people is 8.2 percent. In Greece, it’s 54.2 percent.

Elevated and lasting unemployment is an awful thing, anywhere, and for anyone. But it is awful in a special way for young people, cutting them off from networks and starting salaries at the moment they need to forge connections and begin to cobble together a career.

A truly honest take on the impact of youth unemployment.  The first rung of the employment ladder doesn’t contain money so much as “stuff”.  Things like speaking to customers, showing up on time, meeting other people in your field and developing a work ethic that is rewarded by promotion.

Money is nice, but at age 16, 17 and 18 is largely unimportant; parents and all.

Yet we never remember this as we craft legislation, minimum wage laws anyone, that punish our youth mercilessly.  In fact, if you wanted to purposely handicap a nation, enforcing a minimum wage law that results in youth unemployment, would be near the top of the list.

But The Atlantic never goes any further than reporting on the symptom, never mentioning the cause.

So close.

Tornado In Minnesota

We just survived some pretty heavy weather here in Raleigh – Glad to say all are okay.  However, I saw this report on the tornado that hit Tracy, MN – a small town just 3 water towers from Walnut Grove of Laura Engels fame.  And, I might add, just a short 45 minutes from my own home.

An amazing storm to say the least.

Crony Capitalism


Sen. Diane Feinstein’s husband Richard Blum won a construction contract for California’s high-speed rail project, reports the California Political Review.

 Author Laer Pearce says Perini-Zachary-Parsons, a construction group partially owned by Blum’s investment firm, Blum Capital, and their investors, bagged the nearly billion dollar contract:

Pays to be connected.

North Carolina: Moral Monday


North Carolina is firmly red, much to the joy of NC State fans the world over!

But seriously, some folks are not overly happy that the republicans are in power:

We don’t take civil disobedience lightly. But the avalanche of extreme policies from Gov. Pat McCrory and the North Carolina General Assembly — attacking the poor and unemployed, cutting crucial funding from public education and dismantling voting rights — left us no choice. From teenage college students to elderly grandmothers, we are assembling in the State Capitol, week after week, to sing, pray and force politicians to hear our voices.

After our first nonviolent protest, 17 of us were arrested and jailed. The next Monday, 30 moral witnesses were carted off in handcuffs, and the next week the number was 49. Last week, 57 protesters were arrested and jailed. Still more of us are prepared to put our bodies on the line to oppose the backward, far-right ideological vision taking hold in our state.

Here’s why.

In the first 50 days of this session alone, the General Assembly and McCrory cut the earned income tax credit for more than 900,000 poor and working people. They rejected federal funding to expand Medicaid to cover 500,000 North Carolinians without health insurance. They slashed state unemployment benefits and rejected federally funded Emergency Unemployment Compensation to 170,000 laid-off workers. This vicious war on the poor will devastate hundreds of thousands of North Carolinians who are already suffering. And with no checks on the Republican hold on the legislature and governorship, these laws are only the beginning.

Piling further indignities on the poor, they also want to require people applying for temporary assistance or benefits to submit to criminal background checks, and force applicants to a job training program for low-income workers to take a drug test, for which they have to pay.

Now the legislature wants to increase and expand taxes on groceries, haircuts and prescription drugs. They’re even taking aim at poor children with a bill to lower the income requirement for North Carolina’s prekindergarten program, making it off limits to nearly 30,000 children who would have previously qualified.

Perhaps most terrifying is that the politicians who have seized control are trying to rig the state’s election rules, seeking to remain in power far after this legislative session. In their kitchen sink approach to voter suppression, they have pushed bills to require strict forms of photo ID for voting, repeal same-day registration, cut early voting from 17 days to six and ban early voting on Sundays.

Mr. Barber is the President of the North Carolina chapter of the NAACP.  And he’s been instrumental in the Moral Monday protests at the capital.

Personally, the protests smack of laziness and juvenile tendencies. These people are getting arrested to see their names in the paper.  To back slap each other at the Occupy Nowhere bonfires.  They fuel themselves.

The Tea Party rallied, to be sure.  But they were legal.  They weren’t arrested.  They left the grounds better than they found them

These people?  Occupy Wall Street retreds.

Taxation: How They Roll In France


And I thought that I had it bad when I discovered I paid a higher effective tax rate than Obama:

More than 8,000 French households’ tax bills topped 100 percent of their income in 2012, according to a French newspaper report.


The “Cost” Of Immigration


Recently, The Heritage Foundation published a report saying that immigration reform would cost us $6.3 trillion.  I’m posting late on this but it’s been in my stack for awhile.  The report struck me wrong because I’ve never considered immigration to be a financial transaction.  It’s always been a primal “yawlp”.  America is less a physical location than it is a “way of living”.

Beyond that, I couldn’t get over the numbers.  And then CATO helped me out:

The Heritage Foundation has released a study claiming an immigration amnesty will cost the U.S. Treasury $6.3 trillion. Many other free-marketeers — of which I am one — decry that report’s methodology as ignoring the economic growth effects and resulting tax revenues of open immigration.

I’ve always thought that immigration brought the folks most willing to work for a better life.  And not those who simply want to live at the government’s expense.

So, how do immigrants that are willing to work and work hard help the new nation?

A 2009 study prepared for the Cato Institute employed a dynamic economic model called USAGE to estimate the economic change caused by immigration reform. It found that a bill similar to that proposed in the Senate added $180 billion to U.S. household income a year.

Another paper commissioned by Cato employed a similar analysis using a model called the GMig2. The study found that immigration reform would increase U.S. GDP by $1.5 trillion in 10 years.

That model also ran a simulation in which all unauthorized immigrants were removed from the U.S. economy — a policy favored by Heritage’s study. The result was a $2.6 trillion decrease in estimated GDP growth over the same decade, confirming the commonsense observation that removing workers, consumers, investors, and entrepreneurs from America’s economy will make us poorer.

The Cato studies provide dynamic tools that count the unambiguous economic gains from increased immigration as part of any reform. The consensus among economists is that immigration is good for the vast majority of Americans and the immigrants themselves, and makes both the U.S. and world economies larger and more productive.

A Reagan-era amnesty confirms that legalized immigrants experienced wage increases of up to 15 percent just by working legally. Those higher wages are a result of more productive workers who then pay higher taxes. But employers, shareholders, consumers, real estate owners, and most workers also see their incomes and productivity increase from immigration.

Not only is more open and freer immigration consistent with Liberty lovers, it makes financial sense.

Awesome Honey

French apiarist Frieh holds a sample of honey besides colored ones at his home in Ribeauville

As I’m keeping bees, all thing bees are interesting:

(Reuters) – Bees at a cluster of apiaries in northeastern France have been producing honey in mysterious shades of blue and green, alarming their keepers who now believe residue from containers of M&M’s candy processed at a nearby biogas plant is the cause.

Since August, beekeepers around the town of Ribeauville in the region of Alsace have seen bees returning to their hives carrying unidentified colorful substances that have turned their honey unnatural shades.

Mystified, the beekeepers embarked on an investigation and discovered that a biogas plant 4 km (2.5 miles) away has been processing waste from a Mars plant producing M&M’s, bite-sized candies in bright red, blue, green, yellow and brown shells.