Monday, March 29, 2010

- A Joke From My Daughter

We're packing up to go to Disney World and my 10 year old daughter just told me this joke. I figured I could take a minute to post one more before I go:

There are 5 people on a plane, the pilot, the tallest man on earth, a father and his son, and Al Gore. The pilot announces that the plane is about to crash but they only have 4 parachutes. He then says, “I’m the pilot so I should get a parachute.” He grabs one and jumps out.

Then the tallest man looks at the rest and says “I’m the tallest man alive. I'm going to be a great basketball player so I should get to live.” He grabs another parachute and jumps out.

Al Gore looks at the father and son and says “I’m the smartest man alive… I discovered global warming and invented the internet. I should get to live.” So he grabs one of the remain chutes and jumps out.

Then the father looks at his son and says…”Son… I’ve had a good long life filled with great joy…so you take the last parachute.” the son says “but dad, the smartest man in the world just jumped out of the plane with my backpack on.”

Sunday, March 28, 2010

- From Darth Vader: (D) California

“The new law is designed to expand coverage and bring down costs, so your assertions are a matter of concern”

Actually it's a quote from Henry Waxman, but how can anyone tell anymore. Apparently he find the lack of faith in Obamacare that's being shown by AT&T, Verizon, Caterpillar, and John Deere to be... disturbing.

All they're trying to do is stay in compliance with the increasingly complex and self contradictory laws coming out of the rabbit hole that Washington has turned into. They've apparently committed the sin of having something left after paying all the other 'approved' parties. Back in the old days we used to call that sort of thing 'a profit' but now it's apparently looked upon as evidence of malfeasance, and it buys you an immediate congressional inquiry.

I know this will sound odd from me, but if you can get past the whole "There goes the last of America" thing, the way that this drama is playing out is pretty entertaining. After all... many people in America now consider it their right to have a service performed for them, and to have the bill presented to someone else. That really makes for some stirring prose huh?

"...Life, Liberty, and 30 hours per year of someone else's work, where the bill for that work is sent to someone with less political pull than you."

Thomas Jefferson eat your heart out.

My wife (who as you know grew up under communism) has a great saying for it. She says that understanding socialism requires "permanently suspended disbelief." We live in a world where the desire to keep money that you earned is considered "greedy", spending money that someone else earned is considered "a moral imperative", and turning a profit is considered proof that you've somehow broken the law.

Still ...It would be a lot funnier if it were just fiction.

Friday, March 26, 2010

- Suicide By V.A.T.

We all have an important decision to make. We’re going to have to decide how Americans will continue to determine what’s fair. We’re going to have to decide if we reward people based on their initiative and determination, or if we reward them on their connections, and their ability to manipulate the system. Those are the choices… there is no third way. In the end it won’t be a little from one and a little from the other.

Charles Krauthammer thinks a VAT is coming, and if Obama has his way … he’s absolutely right. And if we allow the government to adopt one, we take our first steps into a world where all the winners and losers are determined in Washington. As it stands we still have a system based at least partly on merit. But if we choose to go down this road... those days will soon be behind us. We'll be appointing Washington the final arbiter of every economic act performed by anyone in the country.

The VAT is a great thing for those collecting it but a terrible thing for those who are paying it because it’s basically impossible to tell how much tax you’re paying. In short, it’s a tax on the act of production. Whatever you do, anywhere in the product supply chain, any act that adds value to an item is taxed and it’s cost incorporated to the products you sell. No one ever sees the tax directly. All you ever see are much higher prices. And its that obfuscation that makes it the perfect tax for politicians because they can raise it at will with no one really seeing any direct effect.

In fact, it gives politicians a terrifying precise way to micromanage economic growth. They can pick virtually all the winners and losers; almost down to the man. It won’t be sold that way of course… it will start out as a very small percentage with the actual number chosen by a focus group to make it palatable. If it’s .1% at first then that’s fine… so long as the door is opened. Because next year congress can go back and raise it, and they can raise it again the year after that...and every year after for that matter. The increase will be spread equally across our entire economy so it won’t be felt directly. That’s the true beauty of a broad based tax. Gobs of money will flow into the government and all the costs will be indirect. Congress can continue to raise it until the entire country is at capacity taxation. At that point every increase in tax results in an equivalent reduction in growth and employment. We become a country with a parasite so large that no matter how hard we work we cannot grow at all. Then the truly insidious action begins.

with slower Economic growth and European levels of unemployment, people will demand action from Congress and they will respond with VAT "Tax Credits". But unlike a tax cut, a tax credit means that they get to decide who gets what and when. Take the old example of Milton Friedman’s pencil. They can give a 1% tax credit to the wood pulp people, and a 2% credit to the rubber manufacturers because the latter are all in Democrat districts. Nothing for the graphite people because they're all in a Red state. Eventually all earmarks will come in that form. Congress can focus the credits on whoever they like and for whatever reason. They can custom pick and choose who wins and who loses every time any economic activity takes place. It will place the people in congress in the center of the board negotiating every deal and controlling every outcome. In short it will put them all right where they believe they should have been all along… controlling every aspect of every one of our lives.

Thanks to the tax and spend policies of our government we face a truly grim economic future. But the VAT is not a way out for anyone but them. Without it, we face either substantial cuts in entitlements, or the potential collapse of the government. But if we allow them to implement a VAT, the government may survive but the country and its character, almost certainly will not. Our elected officials cannot be trusted to behave responsibly with public finances, and giving them a new source of income will make matters worse not better.

Obamacare taught us that we are no longer a people ruled by the consent of the governed. We are now a client people with our masters in Washington, commanding us as they see fit. If we let them establish a Value Added Tax, then we give them the final tool they need to dominate us completely. It will make us a society of 2 classes… those that make … and those that take it from them and decide who receives it. And if you ask me that's no longer the America that I know.

A Personal Note:
I'm off to Florida next week so I won't be around much. We're at Disney for a few days then a week or so with my Father in law. See you all when I get back.

- More Social Justice

...for 265 people anyway. No wait... this is ACTUAL Justice... sorry my mistake.

Marlin firearms, in the interest of continuing to operate, is moving from Connecticut to a less union friendly state. Another triumph for big labor.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

- Right Wing Violence

Christianity really is a ‘religion of peace’ and for its trouble the liberals of the media establishment lambaste it in an unparalleled way. But Islam, which in many cases argues for the promotion of religious violence, will back liberals off by a mile. They’re terrified of one, but more than happy to demonize the other. Why? The reason for this is obvious… it’s because in their heart of hearts, liberals are cowards.

It’s the reason they want everything to be a matter of negotiation. It’s the reason they want to ban all guns. They know that in a world that involves any other kind of conflict resolution they would be the losers. They don’t believe in peace as a kind of moral preening, but because they know they are too terrified to go to war. They are consumed with fear of violence, both real and imagined, to such a great extent that they even equate some speech as being the same as violence.

And now they’re saying that the right is guilty of a violent backlash against this healthcare takeover, but we know it isn’t so. It’s nothing more than politics. If that weren’t the case, then they would react the way they do with every other semi-organized violent mob… they would capitulate to it. They would suddenly find justification in the mob’s righteous anger, and be sympathetic to how they were victimized. They would be falling all over themselves to give in to their demands… it’s how they always react to violence.

The fact is… it’s all more smoke and mirrors from the Democrat machine. It’s just political posturing and a feeble attempt to demonize their opposition. It’s just one more Nancy Pelosi ‘Nazi fantasy’. They’re just cowards, spouting off about a fiction that exists only in their own minds because they think it might win them a point or two of sympathy with the public. And their media drones are doing their best to see that if goes that way… reality or no.

The surest way to know for certain that Democrats really do have something to worry about when it comes to right wing violence, will be when they treat conservatives and tea partiers like every other group that they really are afraid of, and surrender to them. Until then I’d wait to see photos and indictments before you believe their talk about the opposition.

- The Moore Capital FSA Probe

Since I’ve gotten a ton of email from friends on this story, I feel obliged to comment on it, if for no other reason that to save myself some time.

As I have mentioned in the past I worked for Louis Bacon at Moore Capital in NY for several years. And since that time I’ve consistently maintained that in my opinion, Louis M. Bacon is the single best Macro-economic market analyst alive. What's more, it's my opinion that the margin between him and the number 2 man on that metric is so large that it barely warrants comment. My job there wasn't everything I was hoping for, and truth be told I don't know that they were terribly thrilled with my confrontational style either. But the fact is, the place runs better than any firm I've ever even heard of.

Working at Moore capital was probably the most demanding environment I’ve ever been in. As a mid-level worker bee in research, I could get more accomplished in an hour at Moore Capital than I could in a month at some of the other places I’ve worked. And as I specifically said to one of one of my best friends when he was considering an offer from Moore as a senior staffer... "If what you want to do is make money honestly, Moore Capital is as perfect an environment as you will ever find."

All the petty fiefdoms and pointless meetings and turf wars that dominate many other firms operations, would not only be frowned on at Moore, but would probably establish the person who organized them as ‘being expendable’. Those things don't make money, and that's ALWAYS job one at Moore. Politicians may run other firms, but my experience was that they don’t last long at Moore Capital.

I don’t know any of the details of this investigation in the UK. I’ve never met the guy involved, and as I understand it, he went to work at Moore long after I had left. It’s just my opinion, but based on my past experience, I’d bet my life’s savings that if this allegation did actually occur, then it occurred without the knowledge of management and contrary to their specific instructions.

Many hedge funds like to think of themselves as the very best of the best, but in my experience more often than not, it's not actually the case. Many end up looking like a 1991 all star team would if they were playing in 2008. They end up fat, rich and lazy - where all they manage is to sell volatility for a living and are astounded when they are run over by the steamroller. I've seen this with my own eyes more times than I can count.

But unless Louis Bacon has changed completely since I worked for him, (and I have it on excellent authority that he hasn't) then that's not how Moore Capital works. They don't have to cheat at Moore... they never did. The truth is, I can’t think of a place where something like this is less likely to happen than Moore Capital. But I suppose that this side of the next life, no place however well run, is utterly free from sinners.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

- Civil War Part III

The truth is, it's probably just posturing, but according to Steny Hoyer, Democratic congressman are receiving threats of violence. Color me shocked. If he decides that this is a good reason to confiscate firearms, he should remember what happened to the last guy who did that.

I don't know why he's surprised. Americans have always reacted this way when under the yoke of tyranny.

- Be Still My Heart!

Who, pray tell said this:

"The leaders of the union who represent these teachers have used their political muscle to set up two classes of citizens in New Jersey: Those who enjoy rich public benefits and those who pay for them,"

Extra points if you can guess where he said it.

Hint: This time it wasn't me.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

- Civil War Part II

In the past I've been very critical of all my friends who are stockpiling ammunition in preparation for the day when the American experiment ends and the country falls apart. I've been saying it for so long that I can even quote myself:

"Countries don't collapse that way."
I usually say "Take a look at what happened when the Soviet Union ran out of other people's money. The bureaucracy collapses under it's own weight and only the real criminals are left. But by then the system works so poorly that for most people it's a relief. The power vacuum ends up getting filled by the bloods and crips in some places and the Shriners in others. Most people won't even notice.

It took Rome three centuries to fall apart and even then almost everyone still thought of themselves as Roman for another century. We may decline but we'll do it in pieces. California will fall apart a full generation before Texas finally does. There won't be any large scale shooting war. At worst it will be two armies that square off against each other over the right to be 'the real' America. Apart from being no police to call when someone tries to rob you, there won't be any need for all that ammo."

But today I've read the first piece ever that has made me think I might have that wrong. Read the following from hopefully not too prescient Mark Steyn:

Insofar as it works at all, Big Government works best in small countries, with a sufficiently homogeneous population to have common interests. There’s a fascinating book by Alberto Alesina and Enrico Spolaore called The Size of Nations, in which the authors note that, of the ten richest countries in the world, only four have populations above 1 million: America (300 million people), Switzerland (7 million), Norway (4 million), and Singapore (3 million). Small nations, they argue, are more cohesive and have less need for buying off ethnic and regional factions. America has been the exception that proves the rule because it’s a highly decentralized federation.

But, as Messrs. Alesina and Spolaore put it, if America were as centrally governed as France, it would break up. That theory is now being tested by the Obamacare Democrats, and, as we see with the wretched Ben Nelson’s cornhusker kickback or the blank check given to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, when American-style Big Government starts “buying off ethnic and regional factions,” the sky’s the limit. To attempt to impose European-style centralized government on a third of a billion people from Maine to Hawaii is to invite failure on a scale unknown to history. Which is to say that, domestically, Washington’s retreat from la gloire will be of an entirely different order of business from Paris’s.

Oy... I hope this piece isn't nearly as good as I think it is. I hope it turns out to be the ramblings of some Canadian jokester who was too depressed over new taxes to think coherently. Bets anyone?

- Civil War

I find this Dennis Prager piece from townhall particuarly compelling this morning. The moneyquote:

Acknowledge that we are in a non-violent civil war.

I write the words "civil war" with an ache in my heart. But we are in one.

Thank God this civil war is non-violent. But the fact is that the left and the rest of the country share almost no values. The American value system and the leftist value system are irreconcilable. If the left wins, America's values lose. If American values prevail, the left loses.

Monday, March 22, 2010

- Healthcare Opinion In NJ

Now that the bill has passed, some of you might be curious as to how it's playing with the common folk. I thought you might enjoy this field report from NJ.

Regular readers may remember the time my "HONK IF I'M PAYING YOUR MORTGAGE" bumper sticker got me out of a traffic ticket.

Well my wife has one identical to it on her car. She was in the supermarket today, and when she came out she found the following note under her windshield wiper:

In case it's unclear it reads:

"Now you can add a sign that says 'Honk if I am Paying your health insurance.' what is going on in this country?"

This happened in a supermarket parking lot, deep in the deepest blue part of New Jersey. This must be going over just swimmingly in Texas and Utah.

- Hope for Chains

"America Voted for Socialism when we elected President Obama."

His conclusions may not be right, but he's expressing the Democrat view more honestly than the leadership.

- All Unintended Consequences

If you think of the voters as the parents, and congress as our petulant and poorly behaved teenage children, then what we saw Sunday was a tantrum. When we elected Scott Brown we basically grounded them. We told Obama-Pelosi et al that their collectivist vision of America was not a responsible one, and sent them to their room. Last night they responded to us. They said that they don’t care what we think and that they ‘hate us anyway’, then they sealed the deal by setting fire to their curtains.

There will be damage of course, but I don’t think the whole house will burn down; not right away anyway. But you can’t argue that it was what the kids were going for. They don’t see it that way of course… to them it was just a statement to ‘right the wrongs’ that they imagine exist in the world outside their room. But everyone knows that petulant teenagers don’t really see the world as it is; and if ever there were a perfect description of Democrat ideology that would be it.

The real problem with the Democrat vision is that it’s just wrong. It has only a passing acquaintance with how the world really works, and when it’s true, it’s only true by accident. That’s why it so often adds to the problems it tries to fix rather than improving them. Government mandates, regulations and restrictions won’t do a thing to help the people they (at least say) they want to help, and the costs will have serious consequences that they haven’t considered at all. But more power for the government is the only tune they know so they are singing it with gusto. And they aren’t thinking at all about the ‘actual’ consequences of this bill beyond their own political future in November.

To them, the higher interest rates, slower growth, and higher unemployment will be completely unconnected to the 2 Trillion dollars they just promised to spend. (Even the Democrat talking heads admit that the leadership lied about the expense of this bill so let’s do away with that pretense between us at least.) To them the idea that every American now has a burden forced on them is simply a function of their role as our communal social consciences. (If we really were foolish enough to appoint anyone to that role, does ANYONE believe that these are the particular people we would trust with that responsibility?) And they view the money that they reach into our pockets and spend for us as a kind of charity.

There will always be medical care for those who have the means to pay for it, so I suppose my personal concerns are less than many people’s. But just as it was with welfare, it’s the people that get the benefits of this bill who will be harmed the most by it. Welfare increased the dependency of Americans on the government and this bill, if it stands, will do the same. It’s always that way when the Democrat’s throw a tantrum. It just shows us all once again, that if you never consider the consequences, then almost all of them will be unintended.

Friday, March 19, 2010

- Congressional Office Attacked Over Healthcare

I think we can expect more of this kind of thing. I don't know if anyone will be acting violent, but I wouldn't be at all surprised to hear about molotov cocktails or other serious vandalism. I don't think that solves anything, but when the Congress goes so far out of it's way to ignore the will of the people and is even willing to trash the constitution to do it, I think this is the kind of thing you have to expect.

Brick thrown through window in Slaughter's Falls office

- Where Obamacare Goes


I swear I wrote this piece before I saw this cartoon on Townhall today.


The Democrats fall back argument on healthcare seems to be that we can’t criticize it because we don’t know what’s in it. OK, fair enough… but we do know a few of the things in it… can we criticize them at least? Can we say that any law which compels people to buy a product whether they want it or not, may go just a tad too far in the whole ‘we know better than you do about how you should live your life’ debate?

How about the money? Every single entitlement the government offers has cost somewhere between 1.5 times and 3 times as much as projected. Does that mean we can assume that this doesn’t actually ‘save’ money like they say it will? The last healthcare item they approved, the prescription drug benefit for seniors, cost nearly 3 times as much as projected. By that metric, Obamacare will cost 3 Trillion and add something like 2 Trillion to the deficit. To me that sounds about right for a pricetag on a brand new 'free' medical entitlement for 30 million people.

But silly me… I’ve been criticizing the substance of the bill and if I hear my news staffers correctly, I’m supposed to be too stupid and under-informed to do something like that. I’m still allowed to be annoyed at the process however, and what a bastardized process that is. In this country the highest law of the land is supposed to be the US constitution. But the Democrat leadership has decided that it can ignore that document too. They’ve deemed it passé, and have decided that they can operate without it’s clearly defined constraints. The ease with which they do this should give you some kind of idea how desperately they want this new power.

And make no mistake, this is really about power. They don’t care about giving medical care to the poor, they care only about having the power to demand payment for it from everyone else. With the stroke of a pen they will do their best to transform us all from citizens to subjects. This isn’t a cavalier thing to say. When they are making the decisions about 17% of the economy, they will also be making 17% of the decision in each of our lives. And that will only grow over time.

This isn’t really about the money, it’s about people like Nancy Pelosi (who at the time of this writing has the unprecedented approval rating of only 3%) making the decisions about how all Americans live. It’s about this country changing to one where each individual has control over their own future, to one where we must each go to Washington to find out how our lives will play out.

What you deserve will no longer be decided by your work ethic and your determination, but by your political connections. That’s the difference between ‘social justice’ and ‘actual justice. If you have the first, by default, you no longer have the second. The ultimate debating point of the Democrats is that ‘something has to be done’. But it’s clear to me that ‘something’ should not be to make things worse, and that is precisely what the Democrats are trying to do. If they pull it off, America will no longer be recognizable.

My immigrant wife qualifies for dual citizenship and even though I’m American born, on a technicality, so do I. That means our daughter will also qualify for one of each of new passports once we complete the process. We’re scrambling hard now to finalize that process because like most of Europe, the burden of being American is about to become much larger then the benefits. We won’t be leaving right away, but we will make sure we have the door propped open a crack. We like to keep our options open.

No child of mine will ever be a slave if I can help it. And that’s the transformation that Obamacare is designed to begin.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

- Vote Yes Or It's The Gulag

I've written before about how environmental policies have decimated the San Joaquin valley, turning what was once the most fertile and productive farmland in America back into a dust bowl. We were told that it was all out of a desire to save some useless little carp or something, and it not only caused food prices to rise and forced increased imports from China and Chile, but made the local unemployment rate soar.

Only now it turns out there may be a reprieve. According to the NRCC, in exchange for yes votes on the Obamacare bill two California Congressmen have managed to negotiate a deal to get the water turned back on. This will allow the farmers who have been going hungry, to once again produce food... in smaller, more controlled amounts, subject to the government's allowing them to use the water.

Call me crazy, but to me this smacks of the intentional starvation of the Ukrainians, and Chinese under communism. First they use the EPA to starve out the farmers, then they use Obamacare to seize control of the rest of their lives. they've been made slaves of Washington who can turn their crops to dust... apparently at a whim.

I'm not advocating for it, but if the Democrat's and Obama manage to pass this power grab that they are calling healthcare reform using tactics like these, I think it's entirely within the realm of possibility that some people take up armed resistance against the US government. They can't possibly expect American citizens to take this kind of treatment lying down. The law doesn't matter to them any more; it's been perverted for the sake of achieving their political goals. And those goals are clearly about nothing except more power for them.

To Obama and Pelosi, the US constitution is nothing more than something to wipe their behinds with. I've never been more disgusted by a politician in my whole life.

Monday, March 15, 2010

- This Week In Healthcare

Working to defeat the great Satan of capitalism.

Friday, March 12, 2010

- As New Jersey Regrettably Goes...

You may recall that just a short while back, we had a radical leftists State Assemblyman who wanted to ban all hunting in NJ. He was one of those stereotypical hyperventilating animal rights folks who think that we should burn our suburbs to the ground to create a more amenable habitat for moles, and that fish should get the vote or should be allowed to sue people at the very least. He proposed a change that would have staffed the fish and Game department (the people who decide hunting season dates) with staffers from animal rights groups. It didn't work out, and he was voted out of office for his trouble.

Personally I think it’s exactly what he deserved.

We also had a run in with some of the most foolhardy environmental policies in human history under the Corzine administration. The jewel in that particular crown was when NJ State DEP chief Lisa Jackson, over the direct objection of her own biologists, eliminated the annual Bear hunt. This allowed the Bear population to spiral totally out of control. The States own biologists viewed a mauling in crowded northern NJ as inevitable unless the Bear population was properly managed and they viewed hunting as a perfect win – win scenario. But she wasn’t hearing any of that, and instead, she stood firm on her 'perfect worlder' politics, in spite of the science.

the State's animal rights groups called it a triumph, right up until the time that kitchens began being ransacked and small dogs started mysteriously disappearing. Now that we have a more rational governor in Trenton, that particular suicidal policy is being rescinded.

But Lisa Jackson has moved up to the federal level as director of the EPA under Obama. And regrettably, it’s another one of those ‘as New Jersey goes” moments. The president’s soviet sounding “Interagency Ocean Policy Task force” has come up with a plan for managing American waterways that may very well include a complete nationwide ban on all recreational fishing.

There are 60 million fisherman in America, a million in NJ alone. So I suspect that these dim witted animal right nuts are going to learn the same lessons that Mike Panter, (NJ dim witted animal rights nut/Ex State Assemblyman) learned once Anthony Mauro and the NJOA got done with him. They may look mild mannered, but when it comes to politics, you don’t mess with fisherman.

Maybe if we’re all lucky, this will all end up with us figuring out a way to finally be rid of that hopeless political hack Lisa Jackson as well.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

- Revolutionary Ideas

During the Carter administration there was a rebel who came from academia and whose ideas literally took the world by storm. It may sound a little ironic to refer to eternally gracious Milton Friedman that way but that's exactly what happened. He came to the height of his fame during a time when people were looking for increased partnership between government and industry; where price controls were considered essential, and the American sense of entitlement was at it's peak. And he lucidly explained why all of those ideas were doomed to failure.

And now those same people who were arguing with him at the time, have once again forgotten the lessons of history and are back to harangue us about why we need government to do things for us. Only this time they are in the seats of power, and they are no longer asking us they are commanding it. The Obama administration is guilty of all the things Carter was. Weakness abroad and entitlment, price controls and a bevy of carefully selected economic winners and losers at home. In short Obama has made it 1979 all over again.

Anyway... if there was ever a man who was perfect to explain to socialist know-it-all's why they are still wrong 30 years later... it's Milton Friedman.

- Disbelieving Science

Scientists say N.J. black bear population can't be controlled without hunt

When I participated in the NJ bear hunt a few years back, a requirement for the permit was attending a 3 hour bear biology seminar run by the state DEP. This was an excellent idea, and the seminar was filled with practical information. The State DEP after all was staffed with scientists, not the delusional animal rights nuts from the HSUS and Green Peace. The DEP staffers understood that without population contols on the Bears a tragedy was inevitable, and it was their job to prevent it. So they supported a hunt, and largely treated us like we were being a help to them in doing their jobs.

At one point during the seminar a Biologist was explaining some of the specifics of Bear anatomy and he took a minute to discuss the other methods people have proposed for managing the bear population.

"Some groups have proposed that we use birth control on the Bears," he said "but but the trouble with that is in teaching them to put the condoms on."

This joke highlighted the fact that the position of animal rights groups requires a suspended disbelief. In order to think it will work out well, you need to un-know things that humans have known about bears for millenia. But ignoring reality is one of those things that animal rights people are particuarly good at.

During the actual Bear hunt, anyone who killed a bear was required to bring it to a DEP 'check station' to have the kill recorded and the Bear weighed. The animal rights groups decided to staff the check stations with 'Bear Rescue Teams". Keep in mind, by the time the bear gets to the check station it's been shot, gutted, skinned, and in all likelyhood cut into quarters so that it can be carried more easily. Some bears weight up to 400 pounds, and that can be a lot to sling over your shoulder like Errol Flynn in 'Robin Hood'.

Those animal rights loons need to be REALLY detached if they believe a Bear can be 'rescued' from something like that.

Anyway as you would expect... the State DEP scientists still think a Bear Hunt would be the most effective ways of controlling the population. And even the hyper partisan Star Ledger isn't ignoring them this time:

Scientists say N.J. black bear population can't be controlled without hunt

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

- Getting The Gold Story

I don’t really understand the blinders that some investors have about investing in gold. Those blinders may be on, or off – they may feel that gold is essential to prepare for the coming collapse, or they may feel that it’s a silly and useless asset with no commercial applications. But the passion on the topic is always awfully high. That makes no sense to me; I just can’t get my mind around it. I mean… no one feels that way about T-Bills and they don’t pay any interest lately either.

For a long time I’ve been one of those guys who says that if western civilization really does collapse the only commodity worth anything will be bullets. I mean… what are your gold coins really worth to you when you have the muzzle of my AK47 up against the side of your head? If you really want insurance for a total collapse, you would be better off learning combat skills, or how to make beer or something. gold would be nice too, but you had better be sure you can keep it.

Gold is a hedge against inflation of course, like all hard assets are. What’s more, if things go all Zimbabwe on us you can more easily slip across the border with it in the middle of the night, unlike real estate or oil. But the critics of the inflation hedge view will usually line up the chart of gold against the chart of inflation and show that it doesn’t line up perfectly. There is a lead – lag relationship they're ignoring, and a one dimensional look at the past might not show it. But even more important is what you think of as 'inflation'. the official statistics use price inflation only, while professional investors (and Milton Friedman devotees) usually think of inflation as a monetary issue, and see the price and wage inflation that follows it as secondary. If you believe that there is no connection between money supply and price inflation, then you probably don’t think much of gold as an inflation hedge.

Even guys that I largely respect are missing the mark in my opinion, on what gold is really about. For instance, Rick Bookstaber generated quite a fuss on zerohedge when they revealed his view that gold is in a bubble. I worked very closely with him for years and Rick is a very smart guy – but like many many others, I think he’s missing the mark here too. To believe that gold is in a bubble (a term he apparently is as willing to misuse as anyone else) you have to view it strictly as a commodity. From that perspective, the ready supply and anemic commercial demand of gold doesn’t come close to justifying it’s current price. But if you look at is as a currency it’s a completely different story.

That’s the way I’ve always seen gold… as a currency. Gold is as great a hedge against inflation as any other currency except the supply is more stable. The Dollar may be strong against the Euro all other things being equal, but either the FED or the ECB can change that dynamic without any notice. The inflation rate may be constant, but the exchage rate will change because the supply of one currency or the other was specifically altered. But gold has to be mined, and it's therefore less subject to political whim than the money supply.

That's the key to how gold is viewed in the hedge fund world. The people who are buying gold now are thinking of it as a hedge against all currencies. Given the horrific mismanagement of public finances, virtually every developed country is going to have to use some measure of inflation to manage their cost of funding. Increasing their money supply will help keep their interest rates low. But since all countries will be doing the same, it probably won’t effect the currency exchange rates nearly as much as their interest rates. The people buying gold are counting on that, and if that scenario plays out, the price of gold is still due for a substantial increase.

It won’t be a straight line so if you don’t have a tolerance for draw down, don’t buy it. But competitive devaluation is the real gold story these days. And if you get that, then you get gold.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

- Experienced Hunter Seeks Private Land for NJ Bear Hunt

NJ is planning on another Bear Hunt this year.

Pension - Shmension...Now I REALLY like Chris Christie.

So a highly responsible and experienced hunter and expert shot (who is a Wall Street Executive by day) has an interest in obtaining access to any private land available in the NJ Bear hunting Zone. If you have any friends or family who live up that way I'd be very grateful for the referral.

I kind of wanted to use this blog to ask for access as sort of a joke, but the truth is, it was spectacularly frustrating being on public land last time.

If you don't recall that story and would like to know why I don't want to be on public land again if I can avoid it, you can read it here:

The Inevitable NJ Black Bear Hunt.

The truth is, the Bear hunt is serious business. The science supports it of course as a means of population control for the bears. But had we not elected a governor who is more persuaded by facts than sentiment, it would have certainly ended in disaster. Even with a hunt, NJ is wildly overpopulated with Bears. All it's going to take is one hard year and there may be a serious incident. so I hope the DEP is taking this as seriously as they used to.

- Someone Stole My Prosperity!!!

Step One:

Government bureaucrats run budget deficits and spend borrowed money until their fiscal situation is totally unsustainable.

Step Two:

Independant market participants correctly analyze that situation and demand higher rates to lend money to the insolvent parties.

Step Three:

Government Bureaucrats (with help from a sycophantic and economically illiterate business media) demand new rules banning 'speculation' in the hope that they can then force others to lend them money at the previously low rates.

Step Four:

Market Participants tell the government Bureaucrats to go suck eggs and that they can buy their own damned debt.

Step Five:

The government in question fiscally implodes.

The animating principle of all socialism is the idea that "someone stole my prosperity." The economically illiterate Greek government wants to blame hedge funds and 'speculators', but everyone knows that it's the Greeks that have behaved irresponsibly and the speculators are just calling them on it.

I'm with Gartman. I say ... if they don't want us to participate fine...let em burn.

Friday, March 5, 2010

- Democrat's Version Of The Truth

I have a small confession to make... I like Bill Clinton. I'm not saying that he isn't a liar... I think that's pretty much a settled question. Or maybe I should say that I think "that IS a settled question." Still, if I had to be stuck on a desert Island with either George Bush or Bill Clinton, I think I'd probably choose Bubba. He's certainly a flawed character, but his upbringing is closer to mine than George Bush's and I think we'd have more in common, even if we disagreed about some political issues.

In reality, Clinton was so lacking in political conviction that after about 3 weeks on a desert island with me he'd probably sound more like Bill Buckley than Al Gore. And that's how I prefer my Democrats. Wildly ambitions like everyone in government, but more interested in success than making a point.

Leftist ideologues are too preachy, condescending, and detached from reality to be any fun; which is probably why they do so poorly on talk radio. No one enjoys being talked down to, but even if you can get past that, they all end up sounding kind of crazy... like Nancy Pelosi. The more she opens her mouth the less seriously you can take her. Remember when she accused the CIA of lying to her even though there was plenty of documented evidence that it wasn't so? That went so badly that she had to run away to China to avoid the press. They gave her every pass they could on the issue and she still managed to look 'bat guano' crazy.

Charlie Rangel is another story. He's an old school Congressman. He seems to be thoroughly corrupt of course, as any 40 year congressmen typically does. But he's more like Bill Clinton than Nancy Pelosi. He comes from Harlem where people will steal or sell your mother if there is enough in it for them, while Pelosi is from San Francisco... the land of fruits and nuts. Rangel is almost certainly going down now, but he's doing it in a more traditional non-partisan way... in handcuffs. and in the meantime, bat guano Nancy Pelosi is going to get to stay. Go figure.

My favorite sign from the DC tea party was the one that showed a picture of Pelosi and underneath it said "Time To Put Nana In A Home". If we could get rid of the ideologues on the left I'd learn to live with a whole congress full of Charlie Rangels and Bill Clintons. They may be liars and cheats, but at least they can tell the difference between reality and delusion. There is a difference between not being able to tell the truth, and not being able to tell what the truth is. Give me the former any day.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

- Obama's Not Lying About Healthcare

Is Obama lying about his healthcare proposal? The truth is I don't really know. Maybe he is... but my bet would be against it. Of course that doesn’t mean he isn’t still terribly wrong or that his bill won't be a disaster for Americans; of course it will. Anyone who knows ... really anything about economics can tell you that. But the fact is, in order to be lying he has to know that the things he says aren’t true, and I don’t think he has any idea one way or the other. He doesn’t know anything about healthcare… even the people that work for him apparently don’t know all that much. But they know about political power and that’s what this bill is really about.

He went on TV and said “This bill will cut healthcare costs”, and that is absolutely untrue. But if he believed it to be the case then I can indict him for being stupid, or clueless, but not being a liar. Still… if he had just gone on TV said “The goal of this bill is to lower healthcare prices regardless of their cost.” he might have actually been telling the truth. I think he’d really like it if his infantile ideas about government mandates and price controls would have some support in the real economic world, but regrettably that is not the case. Price controls have never worked, but it won’t stop him from trying them again. And even though they will be no more helpful than when Jimmy Carter used them to moderate the price of Gasoline, for a progressive true believer like Obama, it's the only trick in his bag.

Even when Obama went on TV and said something as obviously ridiculous as his great quote: “I’m not an ideologue” I’m not certain he was lying. In his circle of friends he probably looks like a real pragmatist, and probably doesn’t think of himself as an ideologue at all. Remember, he hangs out with literal bomb throwers who still want to change America by killing people who don’t agree with them. Measured by that standard, he really is a comparative moderate. So the fact that he clearly is an ideologue compared to most Americans will probably come as quite a surprise to him when it's finally revealed to him. But that is certainly the way history will see it, regardless of his level of shock and surprise.

They say Obama is smart, but I haven’t seen it. It’s probably just the media saying that he seems smart because he says so much that they agree with. (Funny how the people you agree with always seem smarter than the people you don’t isn’t it?) But they also say that Nixon was the smartest president so far so maybe we can all agree that there might be character traits that are more important than intelligence for an American president. In my world ‘smart’ is usually determined by looking at results, and by that metric Obama is unexceptional at best. And thank god for that because if he manages to fulfill his vision of America’s future, then the world be much worse off for it.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

- The Bravest Man In NJ...

Is also popular in the polls:

Christie, who took office January 19, has favorables of 47%-25% -- a huge improvement from his upside-down 41%-44% favorable rating he had in an FDU poll released four days before he ousted Gov. Jon Corzine. His job approvals are at 74%-7% among Republicans, 43%-17% among independents, and 38%-33% among Democrats.

But unsurprisingly, the people who have been getting the best deal in the state aren't nearly as happy with Christie's threats to restore a semblance of fiscal sanity to the state budget:

Among public employees, Christie’s job approvals are upside-down, 36%-46%.

If Chris Christie does half of what he says he will, I'm going to do all I can to make sure he ends up in the Whitehouse. I don't even care if he wants to go. I'll start a 'draft Christie' campaign and fund it myself... I'll lobby the congress to make mandatory that anyone elected to the office is forced to serve. If this man can fix the insane asylum of corruption and graft that is Trenton NJ, then he may be too good for Washington. I might end up having to lobby the Vatican to get him what he really deserves. And don't you think I won't do it. In fact, I'm gonna give the cardinal a quick call just in case... just to keep the door open.

Chris Christie, if you deliver on the things you're saying, then you've got a truly devoted fan in me... as if that wasn't clear. The day will probably come when you hear nothing but complaints... but today is not that day.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

- Alice In Healthcare

More from Thomas Sowell, the smartest man in the world. Including this typically direct gem:

Virtually everything that is proposed by those who are talking about bringing down the costs of medical care will in fact raise those costs. Mandates on insurance companies? Why are insurance companies not already doing those things that new mandates would require? Because those things raise costs by an amount that people are unwilling to pay to get those benefits.

Another 'must read'.

- Big SCOTUS Ruling Expected Shortly

We few who are steeped in gun culture are hoping that the supreme court will rule in favor of individual Americans today and cause the gun control movement to scurry a little further back under the Carter era rock they came from. The ruling will be a bit technical, but even the NYTimes is in favor of supporting individual rights this time out, so you know the prospects are pretty good. Basically it's an assessment of whether States and Cities have their authority limited by the second amendment just like they do with the first. I'm hopeful overall, but I'll leave you to read a lawyer's blog if you need the specifics.

In the meantime, in recognition of his fantabulous work to motivate the masses on the issue of gun rights, I wanted to give you all a link to some of Oleg volk's work. Oleg is a Tennessee photographer witjh a passion for guns, and has crafted some of the most phenomenal internet artwork on the topic. That's his photo above, and clicking it will bring you to opne of his sites. An image is worth a thousand words and in Oleg's case, usually much more than that. I strongly suggest you have a look.


I should mind my calendar more. It's due soon...

Monday, March 1, 2010

- The Future With Andy Stern (Or Obama) At The Helm

As catastrophic as the numbers may seem, fixing social security isn’t that tough. Apply a means test; extend the retirement age by 5 years and presto…fiscal solvency for another generation or two. Medicare is tougher but not impossible to fix by using the same sort of logic. Take it away from the people who have it but don’t need it. Also take it away from the people who need it but haven’t earned it. Then add in a little more free market to increase efficiency and if you aren’t there already, then you are close enough that you can reach your goals with a little tweaking.

None of this will happen of course, because the thing we need to change isn’t our medical insurance regulation or even the people in congress, but our sense of entitlement. We need to come to the understanding that all the good things in our life shouldn't be provided to us by the government, and the bill for those good things shouldn't be given to someone else; specifically… the rich. We've tried that and the numbers won't add up.

The biggest problem with the Obama - Pelosi - Reid view of the future is that the rich have no intention of letting people like them loot their coffers. The reason the rich are rich, for the most part, is because they are smarter than the people who aren’t. They can hide their money well enough so that the kids from the short bus at the IRS will never find it. But even if they could get every dime from the rich that they believe they’re entitled to, there aren’t enough of ‘the rich’ to go around. When you look at the numbers you discover that there are far too many non-rich people to be supported in such luxury by the few remaining rich.

Of course, you could solve all of these problems with a flat tax. A tax that applies to everyone will get a benefit from the fact that there are so many people, instead of being limited by it. And by providing everyone with a bill for the things they get from government, it will also reduce demand for them and therefore lower costs. This is the most basic rule of economics… the law of supply and demand. Raise demand without effecting supply and prices go up… lower demand without effecting supply and prices go down. Nothing will lower demand of free government stuff by no longer making it free.

You may want a government provided widget so long as someone else has to pick the tab, but when you are also presented a bill for the widget it raises all sorts of new questions in your mind. This is why Medicare is bankrupt. They provide stuff that people want without providing them with a bill. So naturally, the demand for the stuff they provide skyrockets, while supply remains constant, and prices respond accordingly.

But that presents a problem for Obama – Pelosi – Reid et al, because limiting the demand of government stuff is the last thing they want. Still… like I said… if we can get past that idea… that the poor are entitled to something simply by virtue of being poor… then the numbers become pretty easy to fix. It can be done pretty easily by anyone who meets 2 simple intellectual requirements:

1. A realistic view of how modern economics works.
2. The courage to take away something that voters have been getting for free.

And this is why I think we’re going to fail at this effort. There are people in government who meet requirement number 1, but there is no one… not a single soul in the entire elected classes, who meets requirement number 2, and our means of electing people to office prohibits us from electing any who do. "Vote for me because I'll stop letting you drink on the house... you've had too damned much already!" is not the kind of thing that wins election. Well maybe it does... but not until you're already so bad off that even you, the previously free drinker, also sees the problem. (Glenn Beck's drunk analogy is actually better suited to this discussion than the elitist right will ever give him credit for.)

Then of course there is the last fiscal problem we’re currently ignoring, and it’s potentially the most serious. We have an entire class of people who work in government, who believe that the whole purpose of government is to get them a standard of living which is higher than the rest of us who don’t. If this isn’t tyrannical I don’t know what is, but in order to undo it it’s another one of those basic cultural questions. We’d either need to make civil service unions illegal, or take away the right to vote for anyone in a government job, or affect some other means of limiting their authority.

The last thing we used to accomplish that goal was the flintlock rifle. I hope it won’t take something like that again, but I won’t bet against it. Mark Steyn has a (another) great quote about the future role of the civil service unions in the coming American collapse:

President Ford liked to say: “A government big enough to give you everything you want is big enough to take away everything you have.” Which is true enough. But there’s an intermediate stage: A government big enough to give you everything you want isn’t big enough to get you to give any of it back. That’s the point Greece is at. Its socialist government has been forced into supporting a package of austerity measures. The Greek people’s response is: Nuts to that. Public-sector workers have succeeded in redefining time itself: Every year, they receive 14 monthly payments. You do the math. And for about seven months’ work: For many of them, the work day ends at 2:30 p.m. And, when they retire, they get 14 monthly pension payments. In other words: Economic reality is not my problem. I want my benefits. And, if it bankrupts the entire state a generation from now, who cares as long as they keep the checks coming until I croak?

That’s Andy Stern’s vision of the future for America. And so long as he (or someone with a world view like his) is on the committee, and making all the rules for how government works, that’s the way it’s going to be.