National Debt Clock

Sunday, January 31, 2010

IPCC Based Claims on Student Dissertation and Magazine Article

However, it can be revealed that one of the sources quoted was a feature article published in a popular magazine for climbers which was based on anecdotal evidence from mountaineers about the changes they were witnessing on the mountainsides around them.

The other was a dissertation written by a geography student, studying for the equivalent of a master's degree, at the University of Berne in Switzerland that quoted interviews with mountain guides in the Alps.

The revelations, uncovered by The Sunday Telegraph, have raised fresh questions about the quality of the information contained in the report, which was published in 2007.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

"The two enemies of the people are criminals and government, so let us tie the second down with the chains of the Constitution so the second will not become the legalized version of the first."

--Thomas Jefferson

Friday, January 29, 2010

Fannie, Freddie Bonuses Total About $210 Million

April 4, 2009:

In a compensation program that has drawn angry protests from lawmakers, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac expect to pay about $210 million in retention bonuses to 7,600 employees over 18 months, according to a letter from the mortgage companies' regulator.

The maximum retention bonus for any individual executive under the plan will total $1.5 million during the 18 months ending in early 2010, according to the letter to Iowa Republican Sen. Charles Grassley, which provides previously undisclosed details about the bonuses.

January 14, 2010:
Significantly, the administration will exempt GM, Chrsyler, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac from the fees even though most of the current TARP deficit is linked to taxpayer bailouts of these firms.

Russia's Newly Unveiled Sukhoi T-50 Stealth Fighter Jet to Rival United States'

Study of the Effects on Employment of Public Aid to Renewable Energy Sources

The following are key points from the study:

  1. As President Obama correctly remarked, Spain provides a reference for the establishment of government aid to renewable energy. No other country has given such broad support to the construction and production of electricity through renewable sources. The arguments for Spain’s and Europe’s “green jobs” schemes are the same arguments now made in the U.S., principally that massive public support would produce large numbers of green jobs. The question that this paper answers is “at what price?”
  2. Optimistically treating European Commission partially funded data1, we find that for every renewable energy job that the State manages to finance, Spain’s experience cited by President Obama as a model reveals with high confidence, by two different methods, that the U.S. should expect a loss of at least 2.2 jobs on average, or about 9 jobs lost for every 4 created, to which we have to add those jobs that non-subsidized investments with the same resources would have created.
  3. Therefore, while it is not possible to directly translate Spain’s experience with exactitude to claim that the U.S. would lose at least 6.6 million to 11 million jobs, as a direct consequence were it to actually create 3 to 5 million “green jobs” as promised (in addition to the jobs lost due to the opportunity cost of private capital employed in renewable energy), the study clearly reveals the tendency that the U.S. should expect such an outcome.
  4. At minimum, therefore, the study’s evaluation of the Spanish model cited as one for the U.S. to replicate in quick pursuit of “green jobs” serves a note of caution, that the reality is far from what has typically been presented, and that such schemes also offer considerable employment consequences and implications for emerging from the conomic crisis.
  5. Despite its hyper-aggressive (expensive and extensive) “green jobs” policies it appears that Spain likely has created a surprisingly low number of jobs, two-thirds of which came in construction, fabrication and installation, one quarter in administrative positions, marketing and projects engineering, and just one out of ten jobs has been created at the more permanent level of actual operation and maintenance of the renewable sources of electricity. This came at great financial cost as well as cost in terms of jobs destroyed
    elsewhere in the economy
  6. The study calculates that since 2000 Spain spent €571,138 to create each “green job”, including subsidies of more than €1 million per wind industry job. The study calculates that the programs creating those jobs also resulted in the destruction of nearly 110,500 jobs elsewhere in the economy, or 2.2 jobs destroyed for every “green job” created.
  7. Principally, the high cost of electricity affects costs of production and employment levels in metallurgy, non-metallic mining and food processing, beverage and tobacco industries.
  8. Each “green” megawatt installed destroys 5.28 jobs on average elsewhere in the economy: 8.99 by photovoltaics, 4.27 by wind energy, 5.05 by mini-hydro.
  9. These costs do not appear to be unique to Spain’s approach but instead are largely inherent in schemes to promote renewable energy sources.
  10. The total over-cost – the amount paid over the cost that would result from buying the electricity generated by the renewable power plants at the market price - that has been incurred from 2000 to 2008 (adjusting by 4% and calculating its net present value [NPV] in 2008), amounts to 7,918.54 million Euros (appx. $10 billion USD)
  11. The total subsidy spent and committed (NPV adjusted by 4%) to these three renewable sources amounts to 28,671 million euros ($36 billion USD).
  12. The price of a comprehensive electricity rate (paid by the end consumer) in
    Spain would have to be increased 31% to being able to repay the historic debt
    generated by this rate deficit mainly produced by the subsidies to renewables, according to Spain’s energy regulator.
  13. Spanish citizens must therefore cope with either an increase of electricity rates or increased taxes (and public deficit), as will the U.S. if it follows Spain’s model.
  14. The high cost of electricity due to the green job policy tends to drive the relatively most electricity-intensive companies and industries away, seeking areas where costs are lower. The example of Acerinox is just such a case.
  15. The study offers a caution against a certain form of green energy mandate. Minimum guaranteed prices generate surpluses that are difficult to manage. In Spain’s case, the minimum electricity prices for renewable-generated electricity, far above market prices, wasted a vast amount of capital that could have been otherwise economically allocated in other sectors. Arbitrary, state-established price systems inherent in “green energy” schemes leave the subsidized renewable industry hanging by a very weak thread and, it appears, doomed to dramatic adjustments that will include massive unemployment, loss of capital, dismantlement of productive facilities and perpetuation of inefficient ones.
  16. These schemes create serious “bubble” potential, as Spain is now discovering. The most paradigmatic bubble case can be found in the photovoltaic industry. Even with subsidy schemes leaving the mean sale price of electricity generated from solar photovoltaic power 7 times higher than the mean price of the pool, solar failed even to reach 1% of Spain’s total electricity production in 2008.
  17. The energy future has been jeopardized by the current state of wind or photovoltaic technology (more expensive and less efficient than conventional energy sources). These policies will leave Spain saddled with and further artificially perpetuating obsolete fixed assets, far less productive than cuttingedge technologies, the soaring rates for which soon-to-be obsolete assets the government has committed to maintain at high levels during their lifetime.
  18. The regulator should consider whether citizens and companies need expensive and inefficient energy – a factor of production usable in virtually every human project- or affordable energy to help overcome the economic crisis instead.
  19. The Spanish system also jeopardizes conventional electricity facilities, which are the first to deal with the electricity tariff deficit that the State owes them.
  20. Renewable technologies remained the beneficiaries of new credit while others began to struggle, though this was solely due to subsidies, mandates and related programs. As soon as subsequent programmatic changes take effect which became necessary due to unsustainable” solar growth its credit will also cease.
  21. This proves that the only way for the “renewables” sector - which was never feasible by itself on the basis of consumer demand - to be “countercyclical” in crisis periods is also via government subsidies. These schemes create a bubble, Study about the effects on employment of public aid to renewable energy sources which is boosted as soon as investors find in “renewables” one of the few profitable sectors while when fleeing other investments. Yet it is axiomatic, as we are seeing now, that when crisis arises, the Government cannot afford this growing subsidy cost either, and finally must penalize the artificial renewable industries which then face collapse.
  22. Renewables consume enormous taxpayer resources. In Spain, the average annuity payable to renewables is equivalent to 4.35% of all VAT collected, 3.45% of the household income tax, or 5.6% of the corporate income tax for 2007.

Obama Gets 'F' on Stopping Spread of Weapons of Mass Destruction

In a 19-page report card being published Tuesday, the bipartisan Commission on the Prevention of Weapons of Mass Destruction, Proliferation and Terrorism gives the Obama administration an "F" for failing to take key steps the commission outlined just over a year ago in its initial report.

Specifically, the commission concludes that the Obama administration, like the three administrations before it, has failed to pay consistent and urgent attention to increasing the nation's ability to respond quickly and effectively to a germ attack that would inflict massive casualties on the nation.

The commission repeated its warning that unless nations acted decisively and urgently, it was more likely than not that a WMD will be used in a terrorist attack somewhere in the world by the end of 2013, and that the terrorists' weapon of choice would be biological, rather than nuclear.

Alito Winces as Obama Slams Supreme Court Ruling

Obama's frontal assault on the Supreme Court in a State of the Union is almost unheard of for a President. Typically, Presidents who get bad Supreme Court rulings (and they've all gotten their share) grimace and bear it, taking the position that the "court has spoken." I don't ever remember a Democratic president, in a State of the Union address, take on the Supreme Court for a recent decision and dare Congress to overturn it.

Tim Tebow Super Bowl Ad: Anti-Abortion Commercial to Air

Doctors advised her to abort the fetus. Pam ignored their advice and gave birth on Aug. 14, 1987, to a baby boy. That boy was Tim Tebow.

White House Considers Changing Venue of Terror Trial

The Obama administration appears to be backing away from the plan to try the alleged mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks in New York City.

The White House's revised stance comes amid calls from New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and others that the trial should be moved out of Manhattan due to security costs, traffic delays and fears of new attacks.

Economy Grows at 5.7% Pace, Fastest Since 2003

The economy's faster-than-expected growth at the end of last year, fueled by companies boosting output to keep stockpiles up, is likely to weaken as consumers keep a lid on spending.

Still, economists expect growth to slow this year as companies finish restocking inventories and as government stimulus efforts fade. Many estimate the nation's gross domestic product will grow 2.5 percent to 3 percent in the current quarter and about 2.5 percent or less for the full year.

That won't be fast enough to significantly reduce the unemployment rate, now 10 percent. Most analysts expect the rate to keep rising for several months and remain close to 10 percent through the end of the year.

Heritage Responds To The State Of The Union

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Forty Years of Feminism Now Bearing Fruit

A new documentary, Oral Sex Is the New Goodnight Kiss, chronicles America's moral decay. Sharlene Azam, a Canadian filmmaker, says, "If you talk to teens [about oral sex], they'll tell you it's not a big deal. In fact, they don't consider it sex. They don't consider a lot of things sex." In the documentary, teenage girls talk casually about their sexual experiences and even their forays into prostitution.

This is the bitter fruit of forty years of feminist domination in the United States.
Virtue, self-worth, and man's moral value are DOA in the age of the cultural domination of the left. What an awful stench this decaying corpse gives off, lying in a smoldering, fetid pile of ash.

This is how the phony feminist movement empowered women? Girls selling the it for a handbag? Those men-hating parasites have ruined the glorious exaltation of women in 20th-century America.

To say that feminism was one of the worst things to happen to women is being easy. It has been worse for men. The demon seeds of the "liberation" movement are everywhere -- including the epidemic of single motherhood, the breakdown of the American family, the street vernacular of "bitches and hos," the emasculation of men, and the bone-crushing responsibility of single moms acting as mother, father, breadwinner, chief cook, and bottle-washer.

And what has Obama done about all this? He has appointed Kevin Jennings, the founder of GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network), to be his Safe Schools Czar. GLSEN is notorious for having sponsored a conference at Tufts University at which teenagers were given instruction in an array of risky and dangerous sexual practices. Obama has appointed this radical to head up America's "safe schools," but who is going to keep kids safe from him? This is another terrible Obama choice. Whatever one's sexual preferences or proclivities may be, do not traumatize children. Why can't the schools just teach reading, writing, arithmetic -- and civics?

Monday, January 25, 2010

Congress Went to Denmark, You Got the Bill
For 15 Democratic and 6 Republican Congressmen, food and rooms for two nights cost $4,406 tax dollars each. That's $2,200 a day - more than most Americans spend on their monthly mortgage payment.
Total hotel, meeting rooms and "a couple" of $1,000-a-night hospitality suites topped $400,000.

Flights weren't cheap, either. Fifty-nine House and Senate staff flew commercial during the Copenhagen rush. They paid government rates -- $5-10,000 each -- totaling $408,064. Add three military jets -- $168,351 just for flight time -- and the bill tops $1.1 million dollars -- not including all the Obama administration officials who attended: well over 60.

The President's Bank Reforms Don't Add Up

First, Mr. Obama has proposed to limit the size of banks or their holding companies, or both. The trouble with limiting the size of these institutions is that no one has the faintest idea what the right size is.

The Glass-Steagall Act, despite what we constantly hear in the media and from people who should know better, still applies to banks; it forbids them from engaging in underwriting or dealing in securities. This should prohibit them from engaging in proprietary trading to the extent that this is dealing in securities. Bank holding companies, however, because they are not banks and not government-backed, can engage in any financial activity, including securities dealing. Why would we prohibit them from doing so when they are using their own funds?

Real-estate loans rose to 55% of all bank loans in 2008 from less than 25% in 1965. These loans will continue to rise in the future, because only real-estate, small business and consumer lending are now accessible activities for banks.

This is not a good trend, because the real-estate sector is highly cyclical and volatile. It was, indeed, the vast number of subprime and other risky mortgages in our financial system that caused the weakness of the banks and the financial crisis. Requiring banks to continue to lend to real estate, because they have few other alternatives, virtually guarantees another banking crisis in the future.

NH's Carol Shea Porter: Could Pass Healthcare if Send Men Home

Obama Said "Big Difference" Between '10 and '94 is "Me"
Berry recounted meetings with White House officials, reminiscent of some during the Clinton days, where he and others urged them not to force Blue Dogs “off into that swamp” of supporting bills that would be unpopular with voters back home.

“I’ve been doing that with this White House, and they just don’t seem to give it any credibility at all,” Berry said. “They just kept telling us how good it was going to be. The president himself, when that was brought up in one group, said, ‘Well, the big difference here and in ’94 was you’ve got me.’ We’re going to see how much difference that makes now.”

Whitehouse Brass Split of Stimulus Stats

White House advisers appearing on the Sunday talk shows gave three different estimates of how many jobs could be credited to President Obama’s Recovery Act.

The discrepancy was pointed out by a Republican official in an email to reporters noting that “Three presidential advisers on three different programs [gave] three different descriptions of the trillion-dollar stimulus bill.”

Valerie Jarrett had the most conservative count, saying “the Recovery Act saved thousands and thousands of jobs,” while David Axelrod gave the bill the most credit, saying it has “created more than – or saved more than 2 million jobs.” Press Secretary Robert Gibbs came in between them, saying the plan had “saved or created 1.5 million jobs.”

Global Warming the Scientifc Process

"None of their erstwhile "scientific" observations have included solar cycle or water vapor data, or the sixteen other sources of climate change -- only carbon dioxide data, which is highly suspect."

In fact, a new report is out in which the IPCC admit that their predictions of melting glaciers in the Himalayas by 2035 was based entirely on unscientific "speculation" rather than the scientific evidence they claimed to have.

But why would formerly-respected scientists lie, cheat, and subvert science at the behest of the U.N. and various world governments? The power that controls carbon dioxide output will effectively control every living thing on Earth.

Berkeley's Unbearable Whiteness of Science

The racial madness that has left-wing America in its thrall finds its apogee in the Berkeley, California public schools. Berkeley High School is now poised to eliminate science laboratory classes because "science labs were largely classes for white students."

The proposal to put the science-lab cuts on the table was approved recently by Berkeley High's School Governance Council, a body of teachers, parents, and students who oversee a plan to change the structure of the high school to address Berkeley's dismal racial achievement gap, where white students are doing far better than the state average while black and Latino students are doing worse.

So in order to "help" black and Latino students, the idea is to eliminate the opportunity for said students to make something of themselves through science. Those students who excel will be disfavored, while those who do not will be given more resources.

18 Drivers of Climate

Friday, January 22, 2010

America's Climategate

Not surprisingly, the blatant corruption exposed at Britain’s premiere climate institute was not contained within the nation’s borders. Just months after the Climategate scandal broke, a new study has uncovered compelling evidence that our government’s principal climate centers have also been manipulating worldwide temperature data in order to fraudulently advance the global warming political agenda.

This time out, the alleged perpetrators are the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS).

Perhaps the key point discovered by Smith was that by 1990, NOAA had deleted from its datasets all but 1,500 of the 6,000 thermometers in service around the globe.

It seems that stations placed in historically cooler, rural areas of higher latitude and elevation were scrapped from the data series in favor of more urban locales at lower latitudes and elevations. Consequently, post-1990 readings have been biased to the warm side not only by selective geographic location, but also by the anthropogenic heating influence of a phenomenon known as the Urban Heat Island Effect (UHI).

The recent NOAA proclamation that June 2009 was the second-warmest June in 130 years will go down in the history books, despite multiple satellite assessments ranking it as the 15th-coldest in 31 years.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Why Government Spending Does Not Stimulate Economic Growth
  • The fact that government failed to spend its way to prosperity is not an isolated incident:
  • During the 1930s, New Deal lawmakers doubled federal spending--yet unemployment remained above 20 percent until World War II.
  • Japan responded to a 1990 recession by passing 10 stimulus spending bills over 8 years (building the largest national debt in the industrialized world)--yet its economy remained stagnant.
  • In 2001, President Bush responded to a recession by "injecting" tax rebates into the economy. The economy did not respond until two years later, when tax rate reductions were implemented.
  • In 2008, President Bush tried to head off the current recession with another round of tax rebates. The recession continued to worsen.
  • Now, the most recent $787 billion stimulus bill was intended to keep the unemployment rate from exceeding 8 percent. In November, it topped 10 percent.[2]

Congress cannot create new purchasing power out of thin air. If it funds new spending with taxes, it is simply redistributing existing purchasing power (while decreasing incentives to produce income and output). If Congress instead borrows the money from domestic investors, those investors will have that much less to invest or to spend in the private economy. If they borrow the money from foreigners, the balance of payments will adjust by equally raising net imports, leaving total demand and output unchanged. Every dollar Congress spends must first come from somewhere else.

Removing water from one end of a swimming pool and pouring it in the other end will not raise the overall water level. Similarly, taking dollars from one part of the economy and distributing it to another part of the economy will not expand the economy.

But savings do not drop out of the economy. Nearly all people put their savings in: (1) banks, which quickly lend the money to others to spend; (2) investments in stocks and bonds; or (3) personal debt reduction. In each of these situations, the financial system transfers one person's savings to someone else who can spend it. So all money is quickly spent regardless of whether it was initially consumed or saved. The only savings that drop out of the economy are those hoarded in mattresses and safes.

Accepting that domestic borrowing is no free lunch, some analysts have asserted that foreign borrowing can inject new dollars into the economy. However, these nations must acquire American dollars before they can lend them back to Washington. Foreign countries can acquire American dollars by either:

  • Attracting American investments in their country. In that instance, the dollars leaving America match the dollars lent back to America. The net flow of saving circulating through the U.S. economy does not increase.
  • Selling goods and services to Americans and receiving American dollars in return. For the United States, these imports raise the trade deficit and thus reduce domestic demand. The government's subsequent borrowing back and spending of these dollars merely offsets the increased trade deficit.

In either situation, American dollars must first leave the country before they can be lent back into the U.S. economy. The balance of payments between America and other nations must net zero. Consequently, government spending funded from foreign borrowing does not provide stimulus.

Thus, not all tax cuts are created equal. The economic impact of a tax cut depends on how much it alters behavior to encourage labor supply or productivity. This productivity standard is the same as the one applied to government spending in the previous section.
Tax rebates fail to increase economic growth because they are not associated with productivity or work effort. No new income is created because no one is required to work, save, or invest more in order to receive a rebate. In that sense, rebates that write each American a check are economically indistinguishable from government spending programs. In fact, the federal government treats rebate checks as a "social benefit payment to persons."[20] They represent another feeble attempt at creating new purchasing power out of thin air rather than focusing on productivity.

Tax rebates in 1975, 2001, and 2008 all failed to create economic growth. By contrast, large reductions in marginal tax rates in the 1920s, 1960s, and 1980s were each followed by large surges in economic growth.[21] More recently, the 2003 tax-rate reductions immediately reversed the job losses, sinking stock market, declining business investment, and sluggish economic growth rates that had followed the 2000 recession.[22] These gains continued until unrelated economic developments brought the most recent recession in December 2007.[23]

Stimulus Money Goes to Discredited Climate Scienetist Michael Mann

Mann was also a central figure in the Climate-Gate email scandal, which showed prominent global warming alarmists to be fudging the data and squelching dissent.

According to today's Wall Street Journal, more than $2.4 million is "stimulating" the career of Michael Mann:

Mr. Mann came by his grants via the National Science Foundation, which received $3 billion in stimulus money. Last June, the foundation approved a $541,184 grant to fund [Mann's] work [...] He received another grant worth nearly $1.9 million [...] Both grants say they were "funded under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009."

Obama to Nationalize Student Lending with Pending Budget Bill

A bill currently before the Senate would empower the Obama administration to nationalize the student lending industry, eliminating the federally subsidized private loans millions of university students rely on to finance their educations.

Under the current system, the federal government subsidizes private financial institutions in order to entice those institutions to provide low-interest loans to students.

Under this arrangement the government sets the interest rates lenders may charge students. In return, the government reimburses lenders if market interest rates rise above the interest rates on the loans – in essence, the government reimburses private lenders if they begin losing money on the loans.

In return, the lenders agree to return any windfall profits made from the loans to the government. In other words, if market interest rates fall below the interest rates of the loans, the lenders pay the government the difference.

The government also agrees to reimburse the lenders should a student default.

Under the system proposed by Obama, the government would cut private lenders out of the picture entirely, setting the interest rates and collecting payments directly for all student lending.

Whether or not the government saw a profit or a loss from the new, federal loans would depend on the rate at which the government borrows money. For instance, the law currently sets the interest rate for direct loans at a maximum of 6.8 percent.

Under Obama’s proposal, if the government can borrow money at a rate lower than 6.8 percent, it would realize the difference as profit. If the government’s borrowing rate were to fall in the future, its profit on student loans would grow.

The idea to nationalize student lending was first put forth in President Obama’s fiscal-year 2010 budget and marketed as a way to save the government billions of dollars. According to a CBO estimate, the proposal would save the government $87 billion over 10 years.

The savings estimate results from the fact that the government believes it will collect more in interest payments from students than it would otherwise have to pay in fees to lenders.

How Poor Are America's Poor? Examining the "Plague" of Poverty in America

The following are facts about persons defined as "poor" by the Census Bureau, taken from various government reports:
  • Forty-three percent of all poor households actually own their own homes.
  • The average home owned by persons classified as poor by the Census Bureau is a three-bedroom house with one-and-a-half baths, a garage, and a porch or patio.
  • Eighty percent of poor households have air conditioning. By contrast, in 1970, only 36 percent of the entire U.S. population enjoyed air conditioning.
  • Only 6 percent of poor households are overcrowded. More than two-thirds have more than two rooms per person.
  • The average poor American has more living space than the average individual living in Paris, London, Vienna, Athens, and other cities throughout Europe. (These comparisons are to the average citizens in foreign countries, not to those classified as poor.)
  • Nearly three-quarters of poor households own a car; 31 percent own two or more cars.
    Ninety-seven percent of poor households have a color television; over half own two or more color televisions.
  • Seventy-eight percent have a VCR or DVD player; 62 percent have cable or satellite TV reception.
  • Eighty-nine percent own microwave ovens, more than half have a stereo, and more than a third have an automatic dishwasher.

As a group, America's poor are far from being chronically undernourished. The average consumption of protein, vitamins, and minerals is virtually the same for poor and middle-class children and, in most cases, is well above recommended norms. Poor children actually consume more meat than do higher-income children and have average protein intakes 100 percent above recommended levels. Most poor children today are, in fact, supernourished and grow up to be, on average, one inch taller and 10 pounds heavier than the GIs who stormed the beaches of Normandy in World War II.

While the poor are generally well nourished, some poor families do experience temporary food shortages. But even this condition is relatively rare; 89 percent of the poor report their families have "enough" food to eat, while only 2 percent say they "often" do not have enough to eat.

Overall, the typical American defined as poor by the government has a car, air conditioning, a refrigerator, a stove, a clothes washer and dryer, and a microwave. He has two color televisions, cable or satellite TV reception, a VCR or DVD player, and a stereo. He is able to obtain medical care. His home is in good repair and is not overcrowded. By his own report, his family is not hungry and he had sufficient funds in the past year to meet his family's essential needs. While this individual's life is not opulent, it is equally far from the popular images of dire poverty conveyed by the press, liberal activists, and politicians.

2010 Economic Freedom Index

The positive relationship between economic freedom and prosperity is confirmed yet gain in the 2010 Index. Gross domestic product per capita is much higher in countries that score well in the Index. The positive relationship holds true at all levels of economic freedom but becomes even more dramatic as economic freedom increases.

Economic freedom improves the overall quality of life, promotes political and social progress, and supports environmental protection. The 2010 Index provides strong evidence that economic freedom has far-reaching positive impacts on various aspects of human development. Economic freedom correlates with poverty reduction, a variety of desirable social indicators, democratic governance, and environmental sustainability.

Michelle Obama: Snakeskin and Skin in the Game

Michelle's statement about measuring character on what is done, rather than what is said, presents a moral dilemma for the First Lady and President Obama, both of whom never come close to exemplifying the injunctions both freely impose on everyone else.

Nevertheless, Michelle can't very well censure Barack for what she is also guilty of doing. Prior to Obama being elected, Michelle militantly spoke the words, "Barack will require [emphasis mine] his flock to work." Once in the White House, the First Lady, having no official duties per se, hired a staff of 22 assistants with combined salaries totaling $1.5 million per year to assist her every whim. Michelle's words portended imposed toil on the "flock" while harboring full intent to partake of a sumptuous, power-pampered lifestyle -- regardless of whether the rest of the nation wallowed endlessly in the throes of a Great Recession.
Michelle also said, "Barack will demand [emphasis mine] that America sheds its cynicism." Then, while volunteering at a Washington, D.C. food bank, the First Lady fed the impoverished while shod in $540 Lanvin sneakers. Over the past year, through repeated thoughtless actions, Michelle Obama has contributed greatly to Americans' pervasive distrust of each others' professed integrity and motives.

The First Lady also forewarned, "Barack will demand [emphasis mine] ... that America move out of its comfort zone." Yet if Mrs. Obama expresses a hankering for organic kale, then Washington, D.C. promptly shuts down. Three dozen vehicles set to work, police and Secret Service sweep the area, dogs sniff for bombs, barricades are erected, and fruit stands are staked out with magnetometers and rooftop binoculars. Only then, in an armored limo, can Michelle be ferried to the organic food stand to be welcomed with flower leis and cowbells by extremely uncomfortable people cordoned safely off to the side -- far from their comfort zone.

In the UCLA speech, Michelle uttered rousing words of freedom from oppression and overbearing control, claiming firsthand knowledge of the fact that Americans "are sick and tired of other people telling them how their lives will be." In spite of that, the First Lady heartily approves of dictatorial, liberty-curtailing decrees, enforced governmental management, and a presidential agenda poised to significantly impact everybody's life but her own.

The most poignant Michelle Obama declaration was this: "Barack will never allow [emphasis mine] you to go back to your lives as usual." One year later, after thousands of hours of empty, hypocritical rhetoric, Barack's "requiring," "demanding," and "never allowing" actually appear to be words he plans to back up with action. To do so, he needs Harry Reid, which is probably why the First Lady held her nose and said she absolved the contrite senator.

However, if the past is any indication of the future, then Michelle, like Barack, is first and foremost concerned with personal political expediency, power, and prestige. With that in mind, although the First Lady graciously extended public exoneration toward Harry Reid, in reality, it's highly unlikely that she ever really intended to do what was said.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Barney Frank - God Didn’t Create the Filibuster

In Epic Upset, GOP's Brown Wins Mass. Senate Race

In an epic upset in liberal Massachusetts, Republican Scott Brown rode a wave of voter anger to win the U.S. Senate seat held by the late Edward M. Kennedy for nearly half a century, leaving President Barack Obama's health care overhaul in doubt and marring the end of his first year in office.

The loss by the once-favored Democrat Martha Coakley in the Democratic stronghold was a stunning embarrassment for the White House after Obama rushed to Boston on Sunday to try to save the foundering candidate. Her defeat on Tuesday signaled big political problems for the president's party this fall when House, Senate and gubernatorial candidates are on the ballot nationwide.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Fannie Mae Eases Credit To Aid Mortgage Lending - September 30, 1999

In a move that could help increase home ownership rates among minorities and low-income consumers, the Fannie Mae Corporation is easing the credit requirements on loans that it will purchase from banks and other lenders.

In moving, even tentatively, into this new area of lending, Fannie Mae is taking on significantly more risk, which may not pose any difficulties during flush economic times. But the government-subsidized corporation may run into trouble in an economic downturn, prompting a government rescue similar to that of the savings and loan industry in the 1980's.

Fannie Mae, the nation's biggest underwriter of home mortgages, does not lend money directly to consumers. Instead, it purchases loans that banks make on what is called the secondary market. By expanding the type of loans that it will buy, Fannie Mae is hoping to spur banks to make more loans to people with less-than-stellar credit ratings.

But they add that the move is intended in part to increase the number of minority and low income home owners who tend to have worse credit ratings than non-Hispanic whites.

Home ownership has, in fact, exploded among minorities during the economic boom of the 1990's. The number of mortgages extended to Hispanic applicants jumped by 87.2 per cent from 1993 to 1998, according to Harvard University's Joint Center for Housing Studies. During that same period the number of African Americans who got mortgages to buy a home increased by 71.9 per cent and the number of Asian Americans by 46.3 per cent.

In contrast, the number of non-Hispanic whites who received loans for homes increased by 31.2 per cent.

The change in policy also comes at the same time that HUD is investigating allegations of racial discrimination in the automated underwriting systems used by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to determine the credit-worthiness of credit applicants.

AFT President Randi Weingarten on Social Justice

"We have to do more than simply instruct children 7 hours a day...the community school can be the hub of the community. If you know kids...need resources to level the playing field for became a no brainer."

The Backlash Is Coming!

That election, which will be held on Tuesday, was widely seen as a formality. Ms. Coakley coasted through the holiday season while the GOP challenger, little-known state Sen. Scott Brown, scrambled for traction.

Those extremes are cropping up as issues in this race. One is giving civilian legal rights to terror suspects, which Ms. Coakley supports.

Another issue is taxes. Mr. Brown has scolded Ms. Coakley for supporting a repeal of the Bush tax cuts, for entertaining the idea of passing a "war tax," and for proclaiming in a recent debate that "we need to get taxes up." Ms. Coakley says she meant that tax revenues, not rates, need to rebound. Nonetheless, Mr. Brown's critique resonates with voters who are smarting from a 25% hike in sales tax last year.

Support for the state's universal health-care law, close to 70% in 2008, is also in free fall; only 32% of state residents told Rasmussen earlier this month that they'd call it a success, with 36% labeling it a failure. The rest were unsure. Massachusetts families pay the country's highest health insurance premiums, with costs soaring at a rate 7% ahead of the national average, according to a recent report by the nonpartisan Commonwealth Fund.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Voting Democrat Causes Cancer

Barack Obama won with 53% of the vote, which means the cancer mortality rate could be reduced by almost 66 -- or from the current U.S. average of 209 to about 143 deaths per 100,000 person-years -- if everyone refused to vote Democrat. That is a reduction of over 30% in cancer deaths. Given that there are over 500,000 cancer deaths in the U.S. every year, over 150,000 cancer deaths could be averted by not voting Democrat.
Also, the 0.594 correlation coefficient indicates that about 35% of cancer mortality is "explained" by voting Democrat. (The amount of explanation is the square of the correlation coefficient.) Thus, not all cancers are caused by voting Democrat.

Harry Reid said, "On average, an American dies from lack of health insurance every ten minutes." If he can say that, then I can say, "On average, an American dies from voting Democrat every 3.5 minutes." Both statements are equally valid.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Inalienable vs. Unalienable Rights

Inalienable Rights are defined as: Rights which are not capable of being surrendered or transferred without the consent of the one possessing such rights.
According to Morrison v. State, Mo. App., 252 S.W.2d 97, 101.

Unalienable Rights are defined as: [Rights which are] incapable of being alienated, that is, sold and transferred.
According to Black’s Law Dictionary, Sixth Edition.

This is a fairly important philosophical distinction that has been lost through the evolution of language. It is highly important to understand that when the two words did hold separate meanings, the Declaration committee of the Continental Congress opted to use the word, “unalienable,” in the final draft of the Declaration of Independence, over Jefferson’s original wording which included, ‘inalienable.’

Without getting too deep into meta-ethics, it’s clear that the committee supported the idea that human rights, or Natural Rights, where inherent to all people and could not be transferred, even by those having the rights. Most importantly – these rights where not created by governments – but rather, where acknowledged to already pre-exist and supersede government.

Survey on the American Revolution
  • On the 27-question test within the survey, a national sample of American adults scored an average of only 44 percent correct.
  • Nearly 83 percent received a failing grade.
  • Only four of the 27 questions were answered correctly by 70 percent or more of respondents.
  • Half did not have even a basic understanding of historical chronology, believing that either the Civil War, Emancipation Proclamation, or War of 1812 occurred before the American Revolution.
  • Many more Americans knew that Michael Jackson authored “Beat It” and “Billie Jean” than knew that James Madison was the Father of the Constitution, or that Alexander Hamilton was the first Treasury Secretary.
  • Only 11 percent of Americans could identify John Jay as the first Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court. Compare that to the 60 percent who knew the number of children of Jon and Kate Gosselin, a reality-TV show couple.
  • More than 50 percent of Americans wrongly attributed the quote “From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs” to either George Washington, Thomas Paine, or President Barack Obama, when it is in fact a quote from Karl Marx, author of The Communist Manifesto.
  • One-third did not know that the right to a jury trial is covered in the Bill of Rights, while 40
    percent mistakenly thought that the right to vote is.
  • From a list of major battles, two-thirds of Americans could not correctly name Yorktown
    as the last major military action of the American Revolution.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Tom Harkin - Healthcare is an Inalienable Right

I beg to differ Mr. Harkin:

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their CREATOR [NOT CONGRESS] with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

Government Payroll Has Now Replaced Goods-Producing Jobs
The Goods Producing category currently includes less than a million workers in mining and logging, about 6 million in construction, and 11.7 million in manufacturing.

The Government category includes 2.8 million federal employees and almost 20 million state and local workers, just over half of whom work in education.

The Current State of Our Economy

The End of Insurance

A key insurance concept is the need for a large, diversified pool of policyholders so that the insurance company can predict the pool's catastrophic events, and so that such events will be rare. Any concentration of risk in the insurance pool will increase premiums, given the negative impact of those excess payouts on the insurance company's bottom line. Obama and Reid have produced a bill that turns this insurance concept on its head by i) preventing underwriting based on medical risk and ii) requiring citizens (and employers) to purchase insurance or pay a fee. This combination guarantees an adverse selection problem whereby healthy people will pay the cheaper fee until sick and in need of insurance, whereupon they will enroll for non-deniable insurance. Risk pools will become sick pools, and insurance will become a pass-through vehicle for the cost of sick policyholders. The benefit of healthy participants, formerly shared by all policyholders, will be eliminated.

Risk-sharing is another key insurance concept. The policyholder and the insurer share risks and costs, but in exchange, the policyholder is mostly or fully protected against catastrophic economic loss (a home burning down, death, or expensive illness). When the policyholder retains non-catastrophic but more frequent expenses, the cost of the insurance (the premium) is reduced because the insurance company need charge less to make the same shareholder return. Obama and Reid have produced a bill that must raise policyholder premiums because it increases insurance company expenses by i) taxing drugs, devices, and policies; ii) eliminating "unreasonable" annual or lifetime limits on insurance company payouts; and iii) establishing maximum out-of-pocket limits for policyholders.

Because every liberal Democratic policy must be rooted in class envy, Barack Obama has vilified the health insurance companies. His lynch-mob sentiment is again defied by facts -- these insurance "robber barons" are not very profitable, nestled somewhere between the 35th- and 86th-most profitable U.S. industries, with a 2-3% return on sales.

Nonetheless, Obama and Reid reassure us that profits will be regulated through state exchanges, cost incurrence mandated, and minimum policy standards established. In other words, health insurance pricing, profits, and products will be governmentally determined. That's a regulated public utility, a framework typically used to address monopolistic situations (not the case with health insurers and potentially unconstitutional).

Obama's and Reid's plan not only increases costs as described above, but also by requiring coverage of numerous non-catastrophic ($25-$400) items -- abortion, prescription drugs, lab services, wellness and preventative services, oral care, and vision care. For all these reasons, the bill will dramatically increase insurance company costs with one of only two possible conclusions -- premiums will increase commensurate with costs through the utility model (government-controlled health care), or government-imposed price controls will drive private sector players out of business (government-owned health care).

The Senate bill also funds abortion. If you are confused on that point, that's a desired effect of its complexity. Nothing about states opting in/out or policyholders paying a separate $12 premium for a $400 procedure changes this. The reason Obama favors the Senate over the House version (that directly prohibits federal funding of abortion) is obvious, given his pro-abortion record.

A baby's heart begins beating about 20 days, hiccups begin 52 days, and organs function eight weeks after conception.

Minority babies have been disproportionately affected because most abortion facilities target lower-income mothers unaware of pro-life choices and the availability of prenatal care. (Eighty percent of Planned Parenthood locations are in minority neighborhoods.) Since Roe v. Wade, it is estimated that one-third of the black population has been eliminated, killing 13 million black babies totaling 40+% of all abortions despite the fact that only 12% of all U.S. women are black.

Harry Reid, Liberalism & Race

The truth is that Harry Reid and his liberal cohorts are the very definition of racists. They do not see "minorities" as individuals, but as part of a faceless group of victims. Joe Biden and Harry Reid give us a clear picture of how liberals view black Americans: none too bright, not very clean, have very dark skin and speak Ebonics or jive, except for Obama and a few others. That is called racial stereotyping. Liberals deny they do this, but out of the abundance of their hearts, their mouths speak.

Conservatives on the other hand see people as individuals, not unwashed and victimized masses. They do not look upon black Americans as a group to be rescued, but as individuals to be respected -- or not -- based on character and ability. This view of life makes them far less susceptible to the racial obsession which drives liberals to politically correct madness. When Trent Lott made his infamous Strom Thurmond remark, most Republicans -- including then-President Bush -- refused to stand by him, Although in my view they overreacted, they were unwilling to rationalize or justify racist speech and behavior. They do not suffer from the delusion of liberals who see themselves as the privileged paragons of racial sensitivity.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

'Homophobia' and Music Ed?

In the article, Bergonzi contends that traditional music education reinforces a heterosexual lifestyle to the detriment of homosexual students who often feel left out. He notes that traditionally speaking, heterosexual love is often the subject of most music -- and argues that as a result, heterosexual students are often more privileged than their homosexual counterparts. He goes on to argue that homosexual music students often feel left out and have no one to talk to about their love issues. The music professor also makes mention that heterosexual music teachers have advantages over their homosexual co-workers because they do not have to hide their true selves. Bergonzi ultimately concludes that sexual orientation should be a vital aspect of music education, and that homosexual musicians should be highlighted and celebrated.

Wow, just wow.

UN Scientist Admits 'Global Warming has Paused, and There May Well be Some Cooling'...

The bitter winter afflicting much of the Northern Hemisphere is only the start of a global trend towards cooler weather that is likely to last for 20 or 30 years, say some of the world’s most eminent climate scientists.

Their predictions – based on an analysis of natural cycles in water temperatures in the Pacific and Atlantic oceans – challenge some of the global warming orthodoxy’s most deeply cherished beliefs, such as the claim that the North Pole will be free of ice in summer by 2013.

The scientists’ predictions also undermine the standard climate computer models, which assert that the warming of the Earth since 1900 has been driven solely by man-made greenhouse gas emissions and will continue as long as carbon dioxide levels rise.

They say that their research shows that much of the warming was caused by oceanic cycles when they were in a ‘warm mode’ as opposed to the present ‘cold mode’.
'They have now gone into reverse, so winters like this one will become much more likely. Summers will also probably be cooler, and all this may well last two decades or longer.

‘That hasn’t happened for several decades,’ he pointed out. ‘It just isn’t true to say this is a blip. We can expect colder winters for quite a while.’

Reid Apologizes for 'no Negro dialect' Comment

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada described in private then-Sen. Barack Obama as "light skinned" and "with no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one." Obama is the nation's first African-American president.

"I deeply regret using such a poor choice of words. I sincerely apologize for offending any and all Americans, especially African-Americans for my improper comments," Reid said in a statement released after the excerpts were first reported on the Web site of The Atlantic.

Interesting given the fact that Obama was not so quick to forgive racist comments from the other side of the aisle:

[Obama] said: "The Republican Party itself has to drive out Trent Lott. If they have to stand for something, they have to stand up and say this is not the person we want representing our party."

Shrinking U.S. Labor Force Keeps Unemployment Rate From Rising

Had the labor force not decreased by 661,000 last month, the jobless rate would have been 10.4 percent.

About 1.7 million Americans opted out of the workforce from July through December, representing a 1.1 percent drop that marks the biggest six-month decrease since 1961, the Labor Department report showed. The share of the population in the labor force last month fell to the lowest level in 24 years.

The so-called underemployment rate -- which includes part- time workers who’d prefer a full-time position and people who want work but have given up looking -- rose to 17.3 percent in December from 17.2 percent.

The number of discouraged workers, those not looking for work because they believe none is available, climbed to 929,000 last month, the most since records began in 1994.

The labor force will probably grow this year as the economy continues to expand and Americans believe jobs will be easier to get. That will mean the unemployment rate will head higher because there won’t be enough jobs available to satisfy the demand for work.

“We expect unemployment to resume rising over the next few months, peaking near 10.5 percent in the third quarter.”

Friday, January 8, 2010

Is it all just a Ponzi Scheme? summarize, the majority buyers of Treasury securities in 2009 were:
1. Foreign and International buyers who purchased $697.5 billion.
2. The Federal Reserve who bought $286 billion.
3. The Household Sector who bought $528 billion to Q3 – which puts them on track
purchase $704 billion for fiscal 2009.

These three buying groups represent the lion’s share of the $1.885 trillion of debt that was issued by the US in fi scal 2009. We must admit that we were surprised to discover that “Households” had bought so many Treasuries in 2009. They bought 35 times more government debt than they did in 2008. Given the financial condition of the average household in 2009, this makes little sense to us. With unemployment and foreclosures skyrocketing, who could afford to increase treasury investments to such a large degree?

Amazingly, we discovered that the Household Sector is actually just a catch-all category. It represents the buyers left over who can’t be slotted into the other group headings. For most categories of financial assets and liabilities, the values for the Household Sector are calculated as residuals.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Interstate Health Insurance

It is no secret that this page is all for competition in the marketplace. If indeed that's the goal, allow us to suggest a path to it that will be a lot easier than erecting the impossible dream of a public option: Let insurance companies sell health-care policies across state lines.

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius routinely calls for more choice and competition in health care.

"There are states and localities where health care is much less expensive than others, and if we allow people to buy all their insurance from those places, it will raise the rates there. And it's called risk selection. It's a real problem, given the fact that health care costs can vary substantially from one place to another. So I think while the idea sounds appealing, the consequence would be it would make health care more expensive for those people who live in those low-cost areas."

[John Rother's] claim assumes that what makes insurance expensive in places like New Jersey—where the annual cost of an individual plan for a 25-year-old male in 2006 was $5,880—is merely the higher cost of medical services in the Garden State. He sounds an alarm in the rest of the country by suggesting that an individual living in, say, Kentucky—where an annual plan for a 25-year-old male cost less than $1,000 in 2006—would be asked to subsidize plan members living in high-priced states.

That's not how interstate insurance would work

A 2008 publication "Consumer Response to a National Marketplace in Individual Insurance," (Parente et al., University of Minnesota) estimated that if individuals in New Jersey could buy health insurance in a national market, 49% more New Jerseyans in the individual and small-group market would have coverage. Competition among states would produce a more rational regulatory environment in all states.

This doesn't mean sick people who have kept up their coverage but are more difficult to insure would be left out. Congressman Shadegg advocates government funding for high-risk pools, noting that their numbers are tiny. The big benefit would come from a market supply of affordable insurance.

Interstate competition made the U.S. one of the world's most efficient, consumer driven markets. But health insurance is a glaring exception.

Racially Discriminatory Provisions in Healthcare Bill

Now it sees the House health care bill having provisions that are racially discriminatory.
How? By making overt a preference to award billions of taxpayer dollars and preferential treatment to minority students for scholarships, and favoring medical schools that have a record of sending graduates to areas with inadequate health care services.

"These programs are unlikely to reduce health care disparities among racial and ethic groups," according to the draft letter obtained by The Washington Times. "A growing body of evidence indicates that increasing access to high-quality physicians - whatever their racial or ethnic ancestry - is the best way to mitigate such disparities."

"No matter how well-intentioned, utilizing racial preferences with the hope of alleviating health care disparities is inadvisable both as a matter of policy and as a matter of law."

Stealth Rollback of Welfare Reform in 2009 Stimulus Bill

Much of the "stimulus" bill is devoted to a backdoor undoing of one of Washington's greatest achievements of recent years - welfare reform.

One of the most important changes of the Clinton-era reform law was replacing the individual entitlement to welfare with a block grant to the states. In the old system, the more people a state signed up for welfare, the more money it got from Washington. The block grant broke this link, creating an incentive for states to help people become self-supporting.

But, as The Post's Charles Hurt has reported, slipped into the stimulus bill is a provision establishing a new $3 billion emergency fund to help states pay for added welfare recipients, with the federal government footing 80 percent of the cost for the new "clients."

Plus, the bill would reward states for increasing caseloads, even if the growth came because the state had loosened its requirements for recipients to work.

This is radical change. States that succeed in getting people off welfare would lose the opportunity for increased federal funding. And states that make it easier to stay on welfare (by, say, raising the time limit from two years to five) would get rewarded with more taxpayer cash. The bill would even let states with rising welfare rolls still collect their "case-load reduction" bonuses.

In short, the measure will erode all the barriers to long-term welfare dependency that were at the heart of the 1996 reform.

What is Universal Voter Registration?

In January, Chuck Schumer and Barney Frank will propose universal voter registration. What is universal voter registration? It means all of the state laws on elections will be overridden by a federal mandate. The feds will tell the states: 'take everyone on every list of welfare that you have, take everyone on every list of unemployed you have, take everyone on every list of property owners, take everyone on every list of driver's license holders and register them to vote regardless of whether they want to be ...'

The problems with universal voter registration are numerous and obvious. Many states' lists include vast numbers of illegals, including some states which allow illegals to obtain drivers licenses; because many homeowners have more than one home, there will be duplicates; because so many people are on so many separate federal and state government agency lists, there will be duplicates; and because so many lists exist with little or no cross-checking capability, all of these duplicates are likely to go uncorrected. Add to this the fact that Dems hope to extend voting rights to felons, and the whole thing begins to look like a nationwide Democrat voter registration drive facilitated by taxpayers.

C-SPAN CEO: White House Has Allowed Only ‘One Hour’ of Health Care Coverage

U.S. Now a Renters' Market

Apartment vacancies hit a 30-year high in the fourth quarter, and rents fell as landlords scrambled to retain existing tenants and attract new ones.

The vacancy rate ended the year at 8%, the highest level since Reis Inc., a New York research firm that tracks vacancies and rents in the top 79 U.S. markets, began its tally in 1980.
Rents fell 3% last year, according to Reis, led by declines in San Jose, Calif., Seattle, San Francisco and other cities that had brisk growth until the recession.

Who Soaked Up the U.S. Treasury Auctions?

Married Couples Pay More Than Unmarried Under Health Bill

The built-in "marriage penalty" in both House and Senate healthcare bills has received scant attention. But for scores of low-income and middle-income couples, it could mean a hike of $2,000 or more in annual insurance premiums the moment they say "I do."

The disparity comes about in part because subsidies for purchasing health insurance under the plan from congressional Democrats are pegged to federal poverty guidelines. That has the effect of limiting subsidies for married couples with a combined income, compared to if the individuals are single.

People who get their health insurance through an employer wouldn't be affected. Only people that buy subsidized insurance through new exchanges set up by the legislation stand to be impacted. About 17 million people would receive such subsidies in 2016 under the House plan, the Congressional Budget Office estimates.

If the bill passes in its current form, it would be far from the first example of federal and social benefits creating incentives to remain single. Under current law, marriage can have a negative impact on a person's ability to claim the earned income tax credit and welfare benefits including food stamps.

Reigning in Congress, Permanently

Three controls that the people have placed in state constitutions do not exist at the federal level. These are balanced budget amendments, line item vetoes, and single-subject requirements.

Balanced budget requirements (BBA) exist in some form in all fifty states. There must be an escape clause in these requirements or the restriction would prevent all curative steps in an economic emergency. The late economist Milton Friedman suggested that a two-thirds vote of both Houses of Congress should be required to override the BBA proposed for the federal Constitution [i].

If the federal government had already had such a BBA, none of the current or proposed emergency spending bills would have passed in their present form, with uncontrolled and unverifiable spending and trillion-dollar deficits for the next decade at least.

The second constitutional control common in the states but absent at the federal level is the line item veto. This exists in 43 states in various forms. When they work, they prevent legislatures from passing kitchen-sink legislation. The temptation to stuff bills is common at all levels of government. Some legislators try to attach special and unpopular spending provisions to a popular and must-pass bill to force a governor to accept the bad with the good. With a line-item veto, a governor can strike individual items from any bill.

If every president had the same line-item power that most governors have, each president would be responsible for any earmarks that remained in any bill [ii]. President Obama has decried special-interest earmarks, but he has not vetoed any bill over them. Presidents Reagan, Bush, and Clinton all sought line-item veto power. Congress passed a bill to create that power for President Clinton. Promptly after he used it, the Supreme Court struck it down, saying it must be established by amending the Constitution.

The third constitutional control common among the states but absent at the federal level is the single-subject requirement on all bills. This exists in 41 states in various forms. It's another protection against kitchen-sink legislation when the issue is policy, not money.

Under single-subject, legislators cannot attach provisions on such hot-button issues as taxes, regulation, abortion, gun control, or welfare to highly favored bills on entirely different subjects. At the federal level, disfavored clauses are often added to bills with the intention of forcing adoption of the disfavored clause, or to create a poison pill to kill the overall bill.

All three of these provisions work more effectively if there is a tightly written constitutional control and a tendency of the highest courts in that jurisdiction to enforce them.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

The Lost Decade

Up to 20% of Former Gitmo detainees are Suspected of or Confirmed to have Engaged in terrorist Activity After Their Release

As many as one in five former Guantanamo Bay detainees are suspected of or confirmed to have engaged in terrorist activity after their release, U.S. officials said, citing the latest government statistics.

The 20 percent rate is an increase over the 14 percent of former inmates that an April Pentagon report said were thought to have joined terrorist efforts, said the officials, who requested anonymity. The officials didn’t provide the numbers on which the 20 percent is based.

Obama Promised Televised Healthcare Negotiations
As Democrat leaders commence their final round of negotiations on the health care bill in secret meetings following the Christmas holiday, C-SPAN has issued a letter to the president and lawmakers challenging them to live up to their promises of transparency and allow the network to cover the proceedings.

"President Obama, Senate and House leaders, many of your rank-and-file members, and the nation's editorial pages have all talked about the value of transparent discussions on reforming the nation's health care system," wrote C-SPAN's Brian Lamb to congressional leaders in a letter dated December 30.

"Now that the process moves to the critical stage of reconciliation between the Chambers, we respectfully request that you allow the public full access, through television, to legislation that will affect the lives of every single American."

Want Tax Help? IRS Offers Busy Signal to 3 in 10

Only seven in 10 taxpayers calling the Internal Revenue Service for help this tax season are expected to reach a real person — if the agency reaches its service goal.

A report issued Wednesday by an internal watchdog said the lucky ones who get through can expect to wait on hold for an average of nearly 12 minutes.

70% is their service goal!!! No real business would survive with a rate like that.

Pending Home Sales Post Record Plunge in November

Pending home sales unexpectedly plunged in November, according to a report issued Tuesday by the National Association of Realtors, posting their largest drop on record after several months of positive gains for a closely-watched indicator of housing market activity.

According to the industry group, November pending home sales activity dropped by 16% to a reading of 96.0, compared with the previous month’s reading of 114.3. The drop was much larger than expected by Wall Street, which was looking for a dip of 2% for the indicator for November.

It was the largest drop, point-wise, since the industry group started the index in 2001, dragging the indicator to its lowest level since June.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

The Obamacare Horror Story You Won’t Hear’t-hear/

Following the Adams incident, the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) blasted Mrs. Obama and Mr. Axelrod’s grand plan. The group released a statement expressing “grave concerns that the University of Chicago’s policy toward emergency patients is dangerously close to ‘patient dumping,’ a practice made illegal by the Emergency Medical Labor and Treatment Act (EMTALA)” – signed by President Reagan, by the way – “and reflected an effort to ‘cherry pick’ wealthy patients over poor.”

Rewarding political cronies at the expense of the poor while posing as guardians of the downtrodden? Welcome to Obamacare.

Bankers Get $4 Trillion Gift From Barney Frank

The baby of Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank, the House bill is meant to address everything from too-big-to-fail banks to asleep-at-the-switch credit-ratings companies to the protection of consumers from greedy lenders.

It authorizes Federal Reserve banks to provide as much as $4 trillion in emergency funding the next time Wall Street crashes. So much for “no-more-bailouts” talk. That is more than twice what the Fed pumped into markets this time around. The size of the fund makes the bribes in the Senate’s health-care bill look minuscule.

The legislation does create a council of regulators to spot risks to the financial system and big financial firms. Unfortunately this group is made up of folks who missed the problems that led to the current crisis.

The bill also allows regulators to “prohibit any incentive-based payment arrangement.” In other words, banker bonuses are still in play. Maybe Bank of America Corp. and Citigroup Inc. shouldn’t have rushed to pay back Troubled Asset Relief Program funds.

U.S. to Lose $400 Billion on Fannie, Freddie

Taxpayer losses from supporting Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will top $400 billion, according to Peter Wallison, a former general counsel at the Treasury who is now a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.

“The situation is they are losing gobs of money, up to $400 billion in mortgages,” Wallison said in a Bloomberg Television interview. The Treasury Department recognized last week that losses will be more than $400 billion when it raised its limit on federal support for the two government-sponsored enterprises, he said.

The Treasury said on Dec. 24 it would provide an unlimited amount of assistance to the companies as needed for the next three years to alleviate market concern that the government lifeline for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the largest source of money for U.S. home loans, could lapse or be exhausted.


Spy Chiefs Turn on President Obama

Barack Obama was accused of double standards yesterday in his treatment of the CIA.
The President paid tribute to secret agents after seven of them were killed by a suicide bomber in Afghanistan.

In a statement, he said the CIA had been ‘tested as never before’ and that agents had ‘served on the front lines in directly confronting the dangers of the 21st century’.
He lauded the victims as ‘part of a long line of patriots who have made great sacrifices for their fellow citizens and for our way of life’.

Yet the previous day he had blasted ‘systemic failures’ in the CIA and other U.S. intelligence agencies for failing to prevent the Christmas Day syringe bomb attack.

‘One day the President is pointing the finger and blaming the intelligence services, saying there is a systemic failure,’ said one agency official. ‘Now we are heroes. The fact is that we are doing everything humanly possible to stay on top of the security situation. The deaths of our operatives shows just how involved we are on the ground.’

Obama just says whatever is politically correct at the moment, he doesn't mean any of it.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

New Grade Scale Raises Questions

Concord High School [NH] has begun rolling out a new grading system aimed at encouraging progress rather than marking achievement. But two years after the new 1-to-5 grade scale saw its first limited use, major questions remain about how competency-based education will work in Concord

The shift away from the 100-point grading scale will foster a different mindset about assessment, Crumrine told the 16 or so adults gathered at the parents meeting Thursday. Though the school will continue using the 100-point scale on transcripts, the current plan calls for teachers to mark report cards with grades ranging from 1, when a student shows no grasp of a competency, to 5, when he or she masters it.

The shift is intended to strip grades of association with judgment, so they become a tool of communication. A teacher can tell a student it's all right to begin with a 1 more convincingly than he could say it's all right to begin with an F, said Crumrine, who teaches two chemistry classes.

We're doomed...

Friday, January 1, 2010

Obama Gives Interpol Free Hand in U.S.

There are multiple reasons why this Obama decision is so deeply disturbing. First, the Obama order reverses a 1983 Reagan administration decision in order to grant Interpol, the International Criminal Police Organization, two key privileges. First, Obama has granted Interpol the ability to operate within the territorial limits of the United States without being subject to the same constitutional restraints that apply to all domestic law enforcement agencies such as the FBI. Second, Obama has exempted Interpol's domestic facilities -- including its office within the U.S. Department of Justice -- from search and seizure by U.S. authorities and from disclosure of archived documents in response to Freedom of Information Act requests filed by U.S. citizens. Think very carefully about what you just read: Obama has given an international law enforcement organization that is accountable to no other national authority the ability to operate as it pleases within our own borders, and he has freed it from the most basic measure of official transparency and accountability, the FOIA.