Friday, July 30, 2010
If I were to set your house on fire and burn it to the ground, but instead of calling it arson I called it 'Real Estate Reform", could I then say that I was pro-housing?
The key to being pro-business is to let businesses make their own decisions about how they're run. It's a question of who decides, not what the decision is. Obama wants the government to take on an unprecedented level of decision making for America's private sector. And since some companies (generally the one which employ his unionized supporters) will reap benefits from that while others bear the costs, he wants to be called 'pro business'.
Not even the most 'tie died in the wool', 'I was really at Woodstock dude' liberal could be stupid enough to swallow something like that.
Thursday, July 29, 2010
Monday, July 26, 2010
This weekend I had an epiphany and after decades of consideration I finally figured out the core of the liberal ideological problem. It’s a complex psychological illness which requires the abbreviation of an analogy in this forum. But take my word for it, I’ve thought this through carefully and only my description is abbreviated, not the concept itself.
The basic issue can be described this way: Both conservative and liberals have people in their lives that they care about… their parents, their children, their siblings and their friends. They both also have other people in their lives with looser connections – acquaintances of various types and degrees and even total strangers for whom they feel some other affinity. But when it comes to the people they care about liberals always see the people in their lives as supporting cast members in their personal story, while conservatives have no problem seeing themselves as a supporting cast member in the lives of others.
A mother who lives her life for her children – makes sacrifices and compromises her own happiness for their sake will be a conservative, while another who sees her children strictly as objects and is solely concerned with what they express to others about her, will always be a liberal. The same is true of a father, a sibling, or a friend. For liberals it’s always about them. Even in the small ways. For all their talk of thinking of others, the only people they really care about are themselves.
No one is perfectly liberal or conservative. We all have moments of selfishness, and even the most devoted liberal will set their own issues aside now and then (usually when the camera is pointed at them and they want to look ‘selfless’) but I’m talking about a broader lifestyle here.
That’s it – that’s the secret. Ponder this just a little and I’m sure you’ll see what I mean. I'll have more to say later, but right now I have some stuff I need to do for others.
Petulant, childish thin Skinned Obama still has his public image carefully guarded by leftist journalists in the mainstream media. They remain hopeful that he'll sweep away the corruption of capitalism and bring fairness back to America by cutting the rich down to size and giving their stolen wealth back to the poor.
But that's not how the world really works, and I think I'll be right before they are. I think he's been deified by them... and when he disappoints them that last time, I'll bet they still have enough integrity left i their dark socialist hearts to crucify him. That's the 'fairness' in the age of Obama that I'll be waiting for.
Saturday, July 24, 2010
I’ve been telling people that the market has become a binary phenomenon; it either soars from here, or collapses. And the choice of which we get rests in Washington.
It’s no secret that next year Obama will seize the banner of fiscal responsibility and start raising taxes to pay for all the money he’s given away. This is being called a ‘Tax Tsunami’ in the media for the effect it will have on our still fragile economy. The amount of taxation that it will take to make any meaningful dent in even our medium term fiscal problems will almost certainly shove us back into an even deeper recession. Unemployment will begin to rise and accelerate again, and the private sector will all but give up the ghost.
The odds are good that after November, Congress will be more reluctant to give him what he wants. But the government’s books have been so mismanaged that we can’t get on a fiscally sustainable path without pain for someone. And with Obama demanding fiscal responsibility, and the Republicans caught in their own rhetorical trap – it’s hard to imagine that taxes aren’t going up somewhere.
But the truth is, it doesn’t matter. Even if Obama finds religion (maybe someone will buy him ‘The Road to Serfdom’ or 'Atlas Shrugged' ) and he decides to slash entitlements instead of raising taxes, any responsible change in government finance will bring a reduction in GDP. Remember, a large part of our annual GDP is simply borrowed, and to end that borrowing will reduce the output number as well.
Besides, all those people collecting government money are fostering economic activity with it, and when it goes away it will take some time for them to learn how to respond. So no matter if we raise taxes or cut spending,either way the shock to our economy will be the amount of new found fiscal 'austerity' plus some multiplying effect based on it's source.
So when it comes time for it, either the government kick's the can down the road and waits for the entire economy and the federal government to collapse (which it will certainly do - and sooner than any of them realize) or they ‘do something’ and make things much worse for everyone in the short term but better in the long run.
In other words, when it comes to an austere and fiscally responsible future for America, you simply can’t get there from here. We just can't afford it right now. Well… there is one way. But you probably won’t like it.
Suppose for a minute that out of fear of a deflationary spiral (a phenomenon all too familiar to our Fed chief whose expertise is in the causes of the great depression) the Fed returned to using ‘inflation targeting’ and set a goal for 2011 of a 4% inflation rate? From the moment they made a public declaration to that effect, market forces would be set in motion to make it happen.
Suddenly there would be a large perceived penalty for hoarding cash, and the urge to spend on capital equipment and raw materials would become paramount for all businesses. Since the private sector is so much more nimble than the public, this will quickly translate into new hiring. The bond markets will fall and the stock and commodity markets will rise. And the fact is, it will all happen so fast that the Fed might not actually have to do anything further to the money supply to follow through on this target.
As economic activity increases, so too will tax revenue. And through the miracle of extrapolation at places like the GAO, the CBO and the BLS, suddenly our problems won’t seem quite as grave as they did when revenues were falling. A small increase in taxes on a growing economy won’t be nearly as painful as a chokingly high tax increase on a faltering one.
This solution will take on faith that someone in the Fed will have the strength of character to raise rates after things are back on track. And I admit to some pessimism on that front. But the whole idea of monetary stimulus is to stimulate – not to turn the world’s largest economy into a zombie. And besides, I’d bet the folks at the Fed would rather try to stop a car that’s speeding down a hill than to push the same car up another one.
Inflation has very real long term consequences, but so too does a stagnating economy. And if we’re going to be monetarists and live with the long term cost of inflation (which for the time being we certainly are), then we should at least try to ensure that we get the promised economic growth as short term benefit. It’s a lot easier to solve fiscal problems with everyone working than it is with unemployment in the double digits.
I don’t mean to pretend that I have confidence in the Fed’s ability to be responsible long term. They certainly have shown no history of it. But in my mind, we’ve reached our darkest hour. Our current short term trajectory is unsustainable in the extreme. Either the money begins to flow through the system creating inflation (hopefully modest and to be tamed later) or we fall into the vortex of deflation and economic collapse.
At the moment inflation seems the least bad choice to me.
Tuesday, July 20, 2010
This has really been taken WAY beyond caricature. The Obama administration continues to maintain that the gulf oil spill is... I'm sorry, I can't even type it.
I think there is something inherent in the Democrat worldview that fills them with the desire to blame others when things go wrong. Maybe it's their horrible insecurity or the way that they fail to relate cause and effect. But I can't believe that the allegedly politically saavy Whitehouse is allowing anyone to utter these words anymore. At this point it accomplishes nothing except to make them infantile and ridiculous.
Which is I suppose, why they're still doing it.... because in their heart of hearts, they are infantile and ridiculous.
Saturday, July 17, 2010
Being a gun club in New Jersey is like being the last Antelope in Africa. Virtually every predator in Africa seems to live off the Antelope, which is fine because there are so many. But if the population ever got whittled down to the last one, I imagine that lone survivor would be just a little skittish. So it is too with a NJ gun club. The anti-gun politics in New Jersey are so well established, and the number of groups looking to see you shut down are so many, that every complaint from the outside both reasonable and unreasonable is thoroughly over-reacted to.
For instance, it was discovered by Jersey Central Power and Light that on the high tension power line a few miles behind our rifle range, the insulators have received an unusually high number of chips. You know those big ceramic doodads I’m talking about right? They look like something from a Frankenstein movie? They’re actually built pretty sturdily. Anyway, these particular insulators are more damaged than average and JCPL has been trying to track down potential causes.
So about 8 weeks ago, a few of their safety guys drove by the club and mentioned to management that one possible explanation would be ricochet rifle shot going over the high sand berm at the back of the 200 yard range. The odds of this being the actual cause were to be perfectly frank about it, very small. It's VERY far away, over 2 miles, and ricochet's don't travel THAT far. It's much more likely that some kid with a shotgun blasted the tower with some buckshot during hunting season.
But the safety guys mentioned talking to the homeland security department about it, and that’s when management’s ‘last remaining antelope’ instincts kicked into action. They immediately drafted a new set of rules for the rifle range having to do with the size, height, shape, and position of what you can and cannot use as a target.
Most people on the rifle range were shooting at a variety of different objects. I myself used mostly painted over election signs, but some people used even more unconventional things like water bottles and bowling pins. So management knew that these rules would be difficult to comply with at best. And to help smooth the transition, they built a bunch of target holders specifically designed to meet their new specs, and left them at the range for member use.
I’m sure you can imagine how that went. In just a few weeks all of them had been shot to hell and were incapable of standing up on their own, let alone holding a target. They were basically reduced to bullet hole ridden scrap wood, suitable for kindling but little else. And they were not being replaced by management because of the cost. Just one more example of the ‘tragedy of the commons’.
As the availability of the target frames fell off, so too did the number of shooters on the rifle range. There were only two guys there last time I went by, down from the usual ten or twelve. I don’t think it’s the expense of the target holders that’s a problem for the members exactly. In a case like mine a pair of target holders will probably last me a year or two so the 20 bucks in wood and nails isn't prohibitive. But the massive inconvenience certainly is. And I get the impression that it's the same for the rest of the membership.
It may just be a temporary thing, but I don’t think so.
And as that last Antelope's heart rate continues to race, the rules now have been amended even further so that there are three different heights and sizes of target holder that must be used depending upon the position you expect to shoot from. There are plans for one of them on the website, but this membership isn't the most web-centric bunch. I’m betting that about half the membership will now simply find somewhere else to shoot where it isn’t such a monumental hassle, or leave their rifles at home. Since many are retired, I think it will be just one more reason to give in to the pull of political gravity and finally relocate.
Me, I’m a wingshooter for the most part, and my club still has great facilities for shooting skeet and trap. So since I will use them infrequently, it’s probably worth it for me to go to the trouble of building a couple frames for rifle shooting. And as soon as I do, the last antelope will probably detect some shadow in the tall political grass and change the rules yet again. That’s how it is with antelope instincts – they will bolt one direction at the tiniest crack of a twig, and reverse direction just as quickly. But when you’re the last of a vanishing breed, that’s the only way to survive.
Monday, July 12, 2010
10 Yr Old Daughter: "Dad, did Jennie and Allie call?" (the twins - her BFF's)
Wife: "I told you honey, they're in camp this week."
Me: "Yeah ... I'm a little surprised that you didn't want to go with them? What kind of camp was it?"
Wife: "I think they're in acting camp."
Me: "Oh my... acting camp... I can just see our shy quiet daughter in acting camp. I dont' think that would have suited you honey."
10 Yr Old Daughter: "But I act like you're not fat."
One way that I know I can get a laugh lately is when the increasingly dark conversations about the future of America reach a lull I say: "Isn't it astounding how moderate Hillary Clinton looks these days?"
Actually I've been telling my buddy Marcos (congrats an that World Cup win BTW buddy) is that Hillary will challenge Obama in the 2010 primary, and may actually win. Bernard Goldberg has been thinking this way too. One thing is for sure... it's gonna take more than a secretary of state gig to back her off.
They say Bill Clinton was the first Black President, and Obama is the first woman President. If Hillary wins I guess she'll be America's first gay President. Clearly those labels don't mean what they used to.
Sunday, July 11, 2010
This chart shows a forecast of when the NJ Public Employee Pension System will run out of money under the current rules. Speaking as someone who performs similar studies for a living, it's assumptions are completely reasonable (In fact in my opinion they are just a little generous).
The state cannot get 'off the hook' for liabilities under current law, and these benefits are absolutely committed to the civil service unions. So what do you imagine will happen to the broader NJ State finances when these dates come rolling around? I'll tell you...eventually, 100% of all of our taxes will be committed by law to keeping geriatric union members reclining in luxury. There will be no more money for silly luxuries like policemen, or courts and prisons, or anything else the state does.
To me this looks very much like when the doctor finally breaks medical protocol and not only tells you that 'yes it's cancer' but he also breaks down and tells you how long you have. And since a great many states are in exactly the same position as NJ, and the governments of Europe are considerably worse off, unless the law changes what we're looking at here is the probable 'drop dead date' on western civilization.
I'll tell you another secret...at present the financial markets are in a binary state. The full reasons for this are complicated, but it has to do with the way a higher percentage of short term investment creates market conditions that make longer term investment increasingly difficult for professional investors. So unless the US treasury and the FED decide to commit re-inflating them (a choice with it's own set of dire consequences just a little further down the road) then the markets will de-leverage pretty dramatically in the next few months, and all of these numbers can be bumped forward in time by about 5 years.
Full Story at the link.
Friday, July 9, 2010
Someone once told me that instead of doing what I do for a living, I should be designing drugs or new more efficient uses of energy. Instead, he said, I was just pushing paper for a living and benefiting no one. I told him that for starters, the people with money invested with me would probably feel differently about me benefiting no one, but even with that said, I’d be happy to design new drugs or better engines or whatever, as soon as the government gets out of the way and let me get compensated the way I’d like for work like that.
His response was “who says you should be the one to decide how you’re compensated?!” It was sort of a group discussion with most of the people involved being fairly literate, so I didn’t bother to respond. I just rolled my eyes and let his own stupidity show him for what he really was. Burt had I bothered to respond I would have said that in the end we all decide what we’re paid. When we say that we have a ‘free’ economy, that’s actually what we mean – that we are each ‘free’ to decide wither to offer our labor for the price people are willing to pay or not.
If you can’t get a job that pays what you would like then you have a few options. You can go back to school or get additional training. You can go into a different field, or move to a competitor or a different city or whatever. The point is, you can decide how to solve your own compensation problems. There are limits on this of course, both in the marketplace and in your personal ability. I’m pretty good at skeet shooting but I can’t seem to get anyone to pay me what I’d like for it because there just isn’t much of a market. There is apparently a big market for shooting baskets, but I can’t get anyone to pay me big for that either because I’m no good at it. Freedom is not without it’s burdens.
But on the whole, within each of our own limits, we are still free to solve our own economic problems in the way we see as best to solve them. But this may all be about to change.
It’s no secret that Obama is a fan of ‘big labor’. His affection for labor unions trumps everything, even his other ‘liberally approved’ desires like creating jobs, or cleaning up the gulf oil spill or fixing the healthcare system. There is apparently no agenda item that he won’t sacrifice on the big labor alter. And the talk now is that if the Democrats lose control of congress in November (which looks increasingly likely) they will use the lame duck session to pass the labor union’s last big hope – the ‘card check’ bill.
I’ve written about this bill before. It would basically eliminate anonymous voting for unionization votes, and allow union reps to find out who voted against them so that they could be ‘persuaded’ to vote yes. It’s a bill specifically designed to eliminate economic freedom and to make sure everyone has their compensation decided by an uninterested third party. It will lead to disaster in more ways that most people realize.
I feel like I’ve been writing about this forever. I’m saying the same thing over and over again, and people still don’t get it. Want to see what the benefit of a labor union is? Look at the blue collar jobs of Flint, Detroit, and Cleveland which are now in Cuidad-Juarez. Look at the Steel industry which was in Pittsburg and Cleveland but is now in Shanghai. Look at the shuttered offices of Pan-Am. But that was the past, instead let’s look at the wildly under funded pensions of California, Illinois and New Jersey. Look at the thousands of unionized civil servants retired in their 40’s and living their six figure dream on the taxpayer’s dime. Look at all the teachers in New York or DC who can’t be fired but are parked in offices doing nothing at full pay. Now imagine that every industry in America is run with the efficiency of the Auto or Steel industries. Imagine our entire workforce as (un) productive and (un) accountable as the civil servants or public school teachers.
Unions breed excess. Unions increase cost without adding any economic value. They are designed to distort behavior and to prevent natural consequences. They try to reward failure and punish success. They are the most economically illiterate of our interest groups. To consider strengthening their position is economic suicide.
If the lame duck congress passes a card check bill the consequences to our nation will be disastrous. If they do it over the objection of the American people it will be economic treason.
Thursday, July 8, 2010
Personally I always thought (like so many other men) that Michelle Malkin was a total hottie. Yes I know she's married... so am I. I'm not looking to date her. I'm just paying a compliment that most liberals wouldn't expect to hear when you're describing a conservative woman. If you believe the liberal mantra then you think all conservative women look something like Barbara Bush (the President's wife and mother, not the President's daughter - who at the risk of confusing the issue is also a hottie). Grandmotherly Mrs. Bush is a handsome woman, but not what most people would call 'a hottie'.
Michelle on the other hand is a total babe. She's young, thin, and very photogenic. But what's even more compelling about her is that she's smart as a whip. I don't know about you but that always does it for me. Women with brains are much more attractive than women without. And that combination of intelligence and attractiveness seems to be the very thing that gets under liberal's skin about her.
Until now, I always thought that Jonah Goldberg got the best hate mail. When it comes to deranged lunatic diatribes, as a group it's really tough to beat liberal anti-semites. And that's always put Jonah right smack in the center of their headlights. But as it turns out, the pro-amnesty crowd seem to be prepared to give them a run for their money in wingnuttery.
And Michelle Malkin will apparently bow to no man when it comes to her willingness to 'mix it up'. She has published a few selected emails she's recieved about her writing on the new Arizona anti-illegal immigration law including the sender's email address and name where available. (I can only assume that this is so that people can engage them in a more productive discussion of their views) They really show the liberal fringe at their very best.
You can read them here, but this contains lots of language which is NOT SAFE FOR WORK so use your discretion.