Monday, January 4, 2010

A Twelve Step plan for Democrats

Came across this today on Scott Ott's Facebook page. Michael Steele, our fearless leader of the RNC is releasing a new book "Right Now: A 12 Step Program for defeating the Obama agenda". And it got me remembering the book I saw the the DNC chairman Tim Kaine wrote, "Maybe Never: A twelve step plan for passing the Obama Agenda.

Step 1. We admit that we are powerless over Big Government

Step 2. Only a government bigger than GWB's government can save us.

Step 3. We made a decision to turn our money and freedom over to the government.

Step 4. Made a searching of our tax receipts (this only applies to those living under Big Government.Not to prospective members of the administrion)

Step 5. Admitted to Obama the exact nature of what is wrong with free enterprise.

Step 6. We are ready to have Obama nationalize all remaining remnants of the free market.

Step 7. Humbly ask Obama to remove the yoke of work from us.

Step 8. Made a list of all of the people that Republicans have harmed and find a way to send Attn Gen Holder after them.

Step 9. Made Attn General Holder send them to Gitmo (It's not for terrorists anymore!)

Step 10. Continued to take personal inventory of Republicans and send them to Gitmo when necessary.

Step 11. Sought through Obama's youtube videos and speeches in MP3 format for the knowledge and will to carry out Obama's vision.

Step 12.Having had a glorious vision of the future, spread the message of Hopenchange to all people, at least those on the mailing list.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Failure number 7,894,423, give or take a few more million, of socialism

In the wonderful workers paradise that is Venezuela, where all people are equal and there is no strife as Chavez is concurrently Jesus, Castro and Barack Obama combined, El Jefe has made all people equal. Equal to rolling blackouts in one of the most energy rich countries in the Western Hemisphere. From the NYTIMES (of all places)

This country may be an energy colossus, with the largest conventional oil reserves outside the Middle East and one of the world’s mightiest hydroelectric systems, but that has not prevented it from enduring serious electricity and water shortages that seem only to be getting worse.

President Hugo Chávez has been facing a public outcry in recent weeks over power failures that, after six nationwide blackouts in the last two years, are cutting electricity for hours each day in rural areas and in industrial cities like Valencia and Ciudad Guayana. Now, water rationing has been introduced here in the capital.

Over the course of the last decade, Chavez has nationalized the better portion of the utilities industry as oil money flowed into the country and drove growth in Venezuela. Now that we have seen global demand wane, it looks like poor little Hugo is learning, probably for the first time, the inefficiencies inherent in centrally planned economies. As oil revenues poured in, things got better for the greater population in Venezuela right?

The deterioration of services is perplexing to many here, especially because the country had grown used to cheap, plentiful electricity and water in recent decades. But even as the oil boom was enriching his government and Mr. Chávez asserted greater control over utilities and other industries in this decade, public services seemed only to decay, adding to residents’ frustrations.

With oil revenues declining and the economy slowing, the shortages may have no quick fixes in sight. The government announced some emergency measures this week, including limits on imports of air-conditioning systems, rate increases for consumers of large amounts of power and the building of new gas-fired power plants, which would not be completed until the middle of the next decade.

So what does Hugo do? He moves towards a more efficient market based economy right?

In response, the president is embarking on his own crusade: pushing Venezuelans to conserve by mocking their consumption habits.

He began his critique last month with the amount of time citizens spent under their shower heads, saying three-minute showers were sufficient. “I’ve counted and I don’t end up stinking,” he said. “I guarantee it.”

Then he went after the country’s ubiquitous love motels and shopping malls, accusing them of waste. “Buy your own generator,” he threatened, “or I’ll cut off your lights.” He similarly laid blame with “oligarchs,” a frequently used insult here for the rich, for overconsumption of water in gardens and swimming pools.

Damn those clean people. How dare they want to wash themselves. Additionally those money changers are trying to throw their weight around.

Mr. Chávez is even going after his countrymen’s expanding waistlines. “Watch out for the fat people,” he said last month, citing a study finding a jump in obesity. “Time to lose weight through dieting and exercise.”

When Chavez writes his little red book the first political piece of advice will be "fatty, fatty two by four can't fit through the bathroom door." I wonder if that will show up in any of the speeches of Mark Lloyd and Anita Dunn in the future. Fat People are the scourge of existence they don't share their bounty.

Meanwhile, homes and businesses across the country are adapting to the erratic supply of power and, here in Caracas, of water. Sales of small generators, candles and water storage tanks are surging. Reflecting the unease of the already strained industrial base, which developed around access to ample and cheap power, Sidor, a steel maker in Ciudad Guayana, said it was shutting down its furnaces five hours a day because of the cuts.

“If this crisis teaches us something,” said Fernando Branger, an energy expert at the Institute of Superior Administration Studies, a Caracas business school, “it is that the immensity of our energy reserves means nothing if we cannot even get them out of the ground.”

Socialism will never be able to match up to the efficiency of capitalism. Can we finally throw this model on the dustbin of history.(see what I did there, I quoted Trotsky)

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Hey Mr. Bi-Partisan I want ideas that work President, here is a plan that works better. I'm holding my breath as I know that you are my Messiah.

I would have liked to have been a fly on the wall in the White House when the C.B.O released this report. I can imagine that Rahm Emmanuel let loose with the F-bombs like the Allies at Dresden. To commence with the nana-nana-boo-booering

CBO and the staff of the Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) estimate that the amendment would reduce federal deficits by $68 billion over the 2010-2019 period; it would also slightly reduce federal budget deficits in the following decade, relative to those projected under current law, with a total effect during that decade that is in a broad range between zero and one-quarter percent of gross domestic product.

This is good,good news as the bill after the after ten years would almost truly be "deficit neutral" And the hits keep on coming.

Regulatory reforms in the small group and non-group markets, including establishing association health plans (insurance coverage that is offered to members of an association) and individual membership associations, and allowing states to establish interstate compacts with a unified regulatory structure;

This is what Free-marketeers like myself have been calling for, truly increasing competition between evil horrific insurance companies on a state to state basis. The pool of risk will be larger and will drive premiums down. BET ON IT.

Federal funding for states to use for high-risk pools in the individual insurance market and reinsurance programs in the small group market; and Changes to health savings accounts (HSAs) to allow funds in such accounts to be used to pay premiums under certain circumstances, to make net contributions to HSAs eligible for the saver’s tax credit, and to provide a 60-day grace period for medical expenses incurred prior to the establishment of an HSA.

This might be my favorite portion of the amendment. While states are being further empowered with Federal funding(really their own dollars) for high risk pools and re-insurance programs in the small group market; direct Federal intervention is not happening. The idea behind the GOP's Health Care Bill is to put the individual in charge of his/her healthcare with as little Federal intervention as possible.

Here is the really good stuff:

Limits on costs related to medical malpractice (“tort reform”), including capping noneconomic and punitive damages and making changes in the allocation of liability;

Defensive medicine over. Dead, not coming back. The economic incentive that ambulance chasers like John Edwards has to sue over bad breast implants is gone.

CBO anticipates that the combination of provisions in the amendment would reduce average private health insurance premiums per enrollee in the United States, relative to what they would be under current law-by 7 percent to 10 percent in the small group market, by 5 percent to 8 percent for individually purchased insurance, and by zero to 3 percent in the large group market. Those are averages, however, and they are subject to a great deal of uncertainty; some individuals and families in each market would see different results.

Now, these are the initial estimates by the CBO. So, we can expect to see some changes in the numbers. If these numbers hold up, I believe they will, this is a powerful weapon in the fight. What defenders of this bill, you and I, need to do is be able to explain how the inclusion of free-market reforms in this measure will lead to more innovation and lower costs for the population at large. We need to draw the distinct differences between the efficiency of the private markets and the sprawling inefficiency of the government bureaucracy. This is a battle that we can win. History and economics are on our side. Hope and change are on the side of the Democrats, also I believe they may have a centaur, but we'll still survive. Let's Dance.


The Great Thomas Sowell hits the nail on the head.

Economics and politics confront the same fundamental problem: What everyone wants adds up to more than there is. Market economies deal with this problem by confronting individuals with the costs of producing what they want, and letting those individuals make their own trade-offs when presented with prices that convey those costs. That leads to self-rationing, in the light of each individual’s own circumstances and preferences.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Ruminations on the Recent Election

A few thoughts about the election last night. First, there is the old axiom that all politics is local. Very true, and one of the reasons that decentralized government is the best form of governance. It was comical to hear hard-core liberals last night pulling out this card. "This has no bearing on the President as all politics are local." If they really believed it, than they would be for a smaller central government and more power in the hands of the state and local governments. But I digress. Some interesting polling data I saw this morning in the New York Times caught my eye. The split in party affiliation is 33% Democrat, 37% Republican and 30% independent.

Pct. of voters Deeds McDonnell
33% Democrat 93% 7%
37% Republican 4% 96%
30% Independent or other 33% 66%

Deeds won 93% of Democrats, 4% of Republicans and 33% of independents. The figure that is not getting attention, and should is the 7% of the Democrat vote that McDonnell was able to siphon off. Almost 1 in 10 democrats decided to vote for the Republican in a state that all of the experts say is trending from purple to blue. McDonnell ran a positive, results oriented campaign and ended up winning big. Bob McDonnell won Virginia, my home state by 18 points. Republicans and conservatives need to run positive results oriented campaigns if they want to win in 2010. I am all for conservative insurgencies in primaries to let the squishes know who is paying them, but we need to focus on results oriented policies if their is to be another Republican revolution in 2010. We can't simply run against the party in power. This is a good start.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Al Gore is the Music Man

Al Gore is quite possibly the greatest con man in history. If I was Al Gore's agent, I would book him on a Broadway run of THE MUSIC MAN and cast him as Henry Hill. I can see and hear the Goracle running through his version of the immortal song Trouble.
(Apologies to Meredith Wilson)

Citizens of the world/Well either you're closing your eyes/To a situation you do not wish to acknowledge/ Or you are not aware of the caliber of disaster indicated/ By the presence of carbon in your community./ Well, ya got warming, my friend, right here/ Ya got warming right here in your community./ Why, sure I'm a carbon man/ Certainly mighty proud I say/ I'm always mighty proud to say it/ I consider the hours that I expand carbon/ flying my private jet are golden./ Help you cultivate a green thumb/ and a cool head and a preening eye/ Never take and try to give/ a Nobel Prize from/ a three railed sailing yacht/ But just as I say/ It takes judgment,brains, and pomposity to thrive/ in a rigged game/ I say that any boob kin take/ and shove a cap and trade bill/ and they call that progress/ the first big step on the road to World Sal-Va-/ I say, first, recycling plastic/ then then re-using TP/ An the next thing you know/ your son is trading carbon credits/ in a hemp made suit/ An listenin' to some big out of town movie star/ hearin him talk about sustainable living/ not some communal living but living where the world isn't going to pot/ Like to see some stuck up Commie boy smoking on green patch/ Makes your blood boil/ Well I should say/ Plebes let me tell you what I mean/ You got one, two, three, four, five, six, seven continents in the world/ continents that mark a difference/ between Europeans and a Yank/ With a capital Y/ and proceeded by W and that stands for WARMING/ And all week long your Republican/ youth will be debatin away/ I say your youth will be debating/ debating away their noon time suppertime indoctrination time too/ get the can in the recycling/ never mind doing study/ or reading Adam Smith or Edmund Burke/ never mind being charitable/ til the third world is caught under water/ on a Saturday night and that's warming/ Oh yes we got lot's and lots of warming/ I'm thinking of the kids in India/ bellies poking out cause they can't get any food after school/ That's warming/ with a capital W/ followed by Y and that stands for Yankee/ who everybody blames.

To remember the rhythm

Any-who, Al Gore is set to become the world's first carbon billionaire from his pushing of global warming on us the residents of River City. Pretty similar to the huckster selling the boys band, no actual knowledge of the issues at hand but knows how to sell the sheep.

Hey How about this Front Page Editorializing

From The New York Times

It is probably not wise to draw broad lessons from Tuesday’s results about what might happen in next year’s midterm Congressional elections and high-profile governor’s races. That said, it is worth watching whether Mr. Obama succeeds in turning out his supporters — especially people who voted for the first time last year — in New Jersey and to a lesser extent in Virginia.

That will be an early sign of his ability to transfer his own appeal to other candidates and of whether he has succeeded in building a sustainable new coalition of Democratic voters. That is something that will not be lost on Democratic members of Congress, especially those in moderate and Republican-leaning districts whom he will be pressing to cast tough votes on issues like health care and climate change.

Similarly, in Virginia, keep an eye on whether independent voters who supported Mr. Obama so strongly in 2008 turn out for Mr. Deeds, vote for Mr. McDonnell or just stay home.

History may not repeat itself but it sure does rhyme.

Market Forces Vs. Government Forces

Now, I'm not one to often gloat when I'm right, but the news of the "unexpected" profit by the Ford Motor Company this week just makes me want to dance around in my Milton Friedman Halloween mask. From the New York Times this morning:

While its crosstown rivals stumbled through bankruptcy this summer, the Ford Motor Company pressed its advantage, and delivered surprising news on Monday that its cost-cutting efforts and improving sales helped it earn nearly $1 billion in the third quarter.

Ford could have taken the bail-out money the same way that GM and Chrysler did. It would have been easy and completely understandable. Who says no to free money. Well, Ford did as they had put together a plan to work their way out of near bankruptcy. What is this plan that Ford came up with to once again become a profitable company. I'm sure that it must be something that the masters in DC could push GM and Chrysler to do.

Ford, which earned $997 million in the third quarter and made money in North America for the first time since 2005, has turned itself around largely by cutting costs and introducing cars that consumers want to buy, rather than resorting to deep discounts to lure shoppers into showrooms.

Let me get this right, by producing a product that consumers want to purchase, Ford was able to post a profit. That flies against everything I learned in my economics courses over the years(snark.) Look, this was a foregone conclusion that Ford was going to post a profit as they have been restructuring their business for the last several years with an eye on the future. Certainly, GM and Chrysler were able to clear their books by taking gubmint money, but the psychological and monetary edge that Ford picked up during the government restructuring of Chrysler and GM put Ford at a distinct advantage.

When Ford chose not to ask for government loans, the company was freed to continue spending on new products like its Fusion and Taurus sedans. G.M. and Chrysler, by comparison, had to rein in much of their product development programs to conserve cash while they awaited federal aid.A report by the Government Accountability Office released on Monday said that the federal government was unlikely to recover much of the $81 billion that was invested in G.M. and Chrysler, their suppliers and related financing companies.

Let this be another example for the inefficiency of Government Force Vs. the Power of Market Forces. While Ford investors will begin to see a return on the investment that they are making into Ford Motor Company, you and I, the American taxpayer, will never even sniff the 81 billion that we sunk into GM and Chrysler.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The Direction of the Republican Party

There has been alot of debate recently about the direction that the Republican Party is heading in. On one side of this chasm, we have the Republican intellectuals; David Brooks, David Frum, Peggy Noonan and George Will to name a few lining up against the conservatives; Rush Limbaugh, Mark Levin, Sean Hannity etc.

TO set it up in a far simpler fashion, we have the Old Guard Republicans vs. the New Media Conservatives. Also, what is lot in the cacophony of noise between the two camps is each sides interactions with everyday modern Americans, you and I. Now, David Brooks, who for me is always a must read, published a piece in the New York Times, decrying how talk radio is really aimed at a niche audience.

It is the story of media mavens who claim to represent a hidden majority but who in fact represent a mere niche — even in the Republican Party. It is a story as old as “The Wizard of Oz,” of grand illusions and small men behind the curtain.

What is most interesting in all actuality is that the niche audience that is being "preached" to by the small men behind the curtain is reaching more people than David Brooks column each week in the New York Times. What Brooks and the conservative intellectuals of today's day and age seem to think from their ivory tower is that the audience for Rush or Mark Levin are not free-thinking individuals who make their own decisions. Following Brooks logic, if Mark Levin was really all that influential, what he would say for his audience to do would be done lickety split, no questions asked by the stupid silent majority. It didn't happen, so they have no say within the conservative movement and should just let us handle the policy issues...mmm-kay.

This is childish thinking for someone as intelligent as David Brooks and goes to show that he is no longer in touch with conservative principals. If he was a conservative, Brooks would understand that we are all free-thinking individuals and are not happy to just hop onto the bandwagon of the first nice candidate with perfectly creased pants and a worn out copy of Reinhold Neibhur which he uses to Pied Piper proto-statists who are looking for a savior.

Conservatives are free-thinking individuals who understand the fallen nature of man and the ability of power to corrupt individuals and would thus like to keep as much centralized power away from the government as possible. This is why we prefer to allow the free-market to sort out our economic differences. Sure, we get walloped on the chin when we make mistakes, but we learn from them and begin to realize over the course of our lives that no one individual person is infallible. This is why the conservatives in the Republican Party were able to peg President Obama so accurately.

The conservative "intellectuals" are not the ones who are bringing forward the good ideas anymore, or trying to find ways to apply conservative principals to the issues of the day. Certainly, there are instances where the "intellectuals" position a plan for an issue of the day, such as George Will's column in the WPost last week.

So, instead, forces should be substantially reduced to serve a comprehensively revised policy: America should do only what can be done from offshore, using intelligence, drones, cruise missiles, airstrikes and small, potent Special Forces units, concentrating on the porous 1,500-mile border with Pakistan, a nation that actually matters.

This is similar to the thinking of Joe "I hope people take me seriously" Biden. Conduct a counter-terrorism operation from out of the country to reduce military casulties. Now, this is simply a re-tread of a democratic idea. Get out and take care of it without boots on the ground, it is politically tenuous. This is could be considered a conservative idea in the 1930's when we were isolationists, but one thing George W. Bush did tie to conservatism was the neo-conservative idea of nation building. Wouldn't it be better to try and give the Afghani's some true stake in the world economy. How about a pilot program to get some of our Opium for medical usage from the Afghans. Give them a stake in the world at large. That is was in conservative.

The idea that conservatives are no longer offering the types of policy and popular books that brought conservatism into vogue, Free to Choose, The Road to Serfdom, Conscience of a Conservative is a complete joke. Mark Levin's Liberty and Tyranny is one the best conservative policy cases that has been made in this generation. Also, JOnah Goldberg's Liberal Fascism is quite possibly the best history of the American Left, who make no mistake are in charge right now, that I have read.

What we are really seeing in this country now is a backlash against big government conservatism and liberalism. We are moving more in the direction of a Libertarian style conservatism. What will be interesting to watch is whether the movement we see now, Tea Parties etc, continue. I believe they will as the audience for talk radio and Fox News as well as anything attached to Andrew Breitbart and Glenn Beck continues to grow and the influence of the Ivory Tower Conservatives wane.

Big government conservatives had their man in George W. Bush(voted for him twice) and now the party wants to go in a new direction.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Health Care as Big Screen TV's

In the great debate that we are having about health-care in this country right now, I figured it was time to take a look again in my "free-market method" at a contentious issue and break it down into easier terms. It's what I do.

Any-who, as we can see from this study by the Kaiser Family Foundation

In the United States, which has had both a high level of health spending per capita and a relatively high rate of real growth in that spending, the share of GDP devoted to health grew from 8.8% of GDP in 1980 to 15.2% of GDP in 2003 (Exhibit 5). This almost 7 percentage-point increase in the health share of GDP is larger than increases seen in other high-income countries.

What we have seen, at least through 2003, is a huge jump in the increase of the health care sector's share of our GDP upon a cursory statistical analysis. Now over the course of roughly 23 years, this is a fart in the wind considering some of the life saving and prolonging medicines and technologies that we have developed. On an average evening at home, think of all of the ads that you see for either some heart drug, cholesterol inhibitor or other TV ad that you see for drugs for asthmatics. (Then again, if you are home reading Golf Digest it is a steady diet of Viagra and Cialis ads. Gives me a stiff neck, reading at home.) As the quality of care that we have received has increased so has the cost. Now, to be contrarian, why can't we have both, increased efficiency as well as lower costs. I believe that we can do both within the health-care market.

As we can see in this post from Consumer Reports,

a 32-inch 720p set will sell for $647, down 7 percent from December 2007
• a 37-inch 720p LCD TV will cost $782, down 5 percent
• a 40- or 42-inch 720p LCD TV will sell for $944, down 5 percent
• a 40- or 42-inch 1080p set will sell for $1,123, down 19 percent
• a 46- or 47-inch 1080p set will sell for $1,528, down 17 percent
• a 52-inch 1080p LCD TV will sell for $2,243, down 19 percent

High end expensive items are dropping based on the demand for these products. The supply of these items are meeting the demand. What you have is a fairly fluid market, essentially that there is not so much overhead and regulation that it is difficult for upstarts to get into the business of making a product and supplying a service that people want. How many TV making companies are there, I can think of several; Sony, Samsung, Pioneer, Westinghouse, Vizio etc. A good amount of them. What we have within the market for HDTV's is true competition. Lets' say that Samsung and Sony are servicing the "super prime" market, Pioneer and Westinghouse are serving the "prime" market and Vizio is the upstart, serving the rest of the general public. Sony and Samsung are competing with one another to make a product that the "super prime" consumer wants to purchase. At the same time, we have upstarts like Vizio who are trying to break into the market and make a profit by providing a similar, not better or discernibly worse product, by targeting a certain type of consumer who wants to have the HD technology but doesn't want to pay for the pomposity of the Sony or Samsung name brand. This is good for you and me, the average consumer, even though Samsung and Sony are not in a direct competition with Vizio as they will adjust their prices to try and pull from Pioneer and Westinghouse who are serving people in the "prime" part of the market. These forces drive the prices down for all consumers.

Now, this is a pretty crude picture that I've painted here, but the lesson to take away is that general competition between actors on an even stage will lead to lower prices for all consumers as each company is competing from a pool of consumers who wants to purchase their product.

On the other hand, what we don't have is a Czar of TV Pixelation who is dictating what each company needs to include within each television and how many pixels per inch that each TV should provide the viewer. The consumer is left to make that decision for themselves. Do they want the high end product, with the special gadgets and the mini robot which makes deviled eggs during half time, or the less expensive product which will only boil the eggs for you.

The "problem" with our health care system is that it is over regulated, overtaxed and overburdened with tort cases which have driven up the cost of providing medicine. Now, do I want just any Tom, Dick or Harry to set up a practice and begin to sell snake oil to the masses, of course not. The current health care debate isn't about "bending the cost curve" or insuring the uninsured. If it was, we would have broken down the barriers between purchasing health insurance across state lines and allowing in all states the kinds of plans that the uninsured would more than likely purchase, high deductible insurance to cover catastrophic accidents, not normal doctors visits. Or, we would have reformed tort law to cap the monies that could be won when Aunt Flo got a bad boob job and they came out lumpy. This is not the idea, the idea is control.

When the government is in charge of health care, they, the government underneath of the idea of cost cutting and trying to service the masses will have alot of say over what we can and cannot do with our lives. Hey, sorry Mr. Carlton, put that cigarette out as it will drive up costs. There is no greater control than the control over ones on day to day health.

Now, I would like to leave you with a thought, and hopefully if anyone reads this, a point we can debate. Since 1980 we have seen an increase in the cost of health care as a percentage of GDP grow by 7% points. Could it be from the government involvement and the slow creep of a socialized health care system? The health care markets have only become less free and the consumer has only lost choice. Where do we go from here?


This story pertains pretty well to cost. Here

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

The Daily Twain

Facts are stubborn things, but statistics are more pliable.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The Daily Twain

Education: that which reveals to the wise, and conceals from the stupid, the vast limits of their knowledge.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The Daily Twain

I thoroughly disapprove of duels. If a man should challenge me, I would take him kindly and forgivingly by the hand and lead him to a quiet place and kill him.