Thursday, May 05, 2016

Still slow posting

I still haven't solved the tie-in between my blogging SW (both on Mac and IPhone). And I have other problems now! The SSD in my Mac froze. I have replaced it but am only part-way restored from my back up. My situation is not straight-forward for Apple's Time Machine. And I am being very, very careful not to mess up my only back up.

A family member asked me which I would vote for: The Donald or Hillary Clinton.

Response: My only vote for Hillary is "Guilty." She violated State Department rules and stored Secret and Top Secret information on her own private server. That made that classified info available to foreign governments - friends and foes. If I had done inadvertently a fraction of what she did  I would be behind bars. She did it intentionally and expects you and me to elect her president.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Does Bernie Sanders want GE to remove 1,500 jobs from Vermont?

Bernie Sanders of Vermont complains constantly about immoral corpoerations. Generally without any examples. But recently he cited giant GE. Does Sanders want GE to close two plants and remove its 1,500 employees from Vermont? And stop buying $40 million of parts and services per year in Vermont?

GE's CEO Immelt responded  in Washington  Post:
The senator has never bothered to stop by our aviation plant in Rutland, Vt. We’ve been investing heavily (some $100 million in recent years), hiring and turning out some of the world’s finest jet-engine components in Vermont since the 1950s. The plant employs more than 1,000 people who are very good at what they do. It’s a picture of first-rate jobs with high wages, advanced manufacturing in a vital industry — how things look when American workers are competing and winning — and Vermont’s junior senator is always welcome to come by for a tour. 
Elsewhere in Vermont, GE Healthcare employs more than 340 men and women in South Burlington. Yearly, GE does about $40 million worth of business with dozens of suppliers of parts and services across Vermont. Nationwide, we have 200 GE plants, including 15 that were built in the past five years — all with the aim of making GE the world’s premier industrial company.
And Immelt defends GE's global business.

Would Vermont be better if GE took those jobs to another state? Via Powerline Blog.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Swedes leaving their country

Swedes are leaving their wonderful, perfect country. Don’t we wish the US  could be like Sweden? Where are the Swedes choosing to go? The United States is the top destination!!

… emigration reaches record levels. Last year, 51,237 Swedes left the country. It is more than the peak reached in the late 1800s when there was an agriculture crisis in Sweden.
And there might be “unregistered residents” also departing, making the number larger.

Yale University is closing its climate institute

Yale University is closing its climate institute - Yale Climate and Energy Institute. It only opened in 2009. Looks like the priorities of the elite changed rather quickly. Everyone told us the Paris climate summit in December, 2015 was going to solve everything. If it did we can stop spending money on “settled science." This should be just the beginning. 

Yale Students respond. Maybe alumni were not donating to it.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Three things Congress got right last year

Congress got three things right this year. 

1. End oil export ban.

It was a good-faith effort to reduce dependency on imports after the 1973-74 Arab oil em cargo. But market forces have overwhelmed this simplistic approach. The goal has been attained by increased US production(!) due to fracking. Furthermore US refineries are not set up to handle the characteristics of US crude. It can be processed in many places overseas. Let the marketplace decide where.

2. Make permanent removing marriage penalty from EITC - Earned Income Tax Credit. 

An income subsidy for families with children, it penalized families where both parents were working. A correction was put in place in 2009, but was temporary.

3. Improved military retirement. 

Broadening the “serve for 20 years, so you can retire” rule. Under the existing policy only those who completed 20 years got anything toward retirement. Now all those serving will be able to establish 401(k)-type accounts with employer matching.

Charles Lane puts his best left slant on this meager good news at Washington Post.

Did they get anyting else right? Can't think of anything. Making Paul Ryan Speaker was worse than a disappointment.

Wednesday, January 06, 2016

The middle-income moved up

The middle-income group in the US has gotten smaller. We have all heard this. The assumption is always that the families no longer in the middle dropped to lower-income.

Wrong. They moved up. While the middle group got smaller the top group got larger; even the lower group got smaller. Data for 1967 to 2014.

 The change is not due to more women working. The number of workers per household is unchanged from 1960 to 2000 at 1.22. Source: US DOT (I don’t use “class” terminology, but “income.”)

Graphics and data from Prof Mark Perry’s Carpe Diem blog at AEI - American Enterprise Institute. Click to enlarge.

Saturday, January 02, 2016

Sanders can't afford his socialist dreams

Bernie Sanders’ socialists goals are so expensive that he can’t raise taxes enough to pay for half their cost. Megan McArdle at Bloomberg.
… And Democratic priorities, particularly Sanders' plans, would cost a great deal of money. He says he favors single-payer health care, which would involve funneling through government coffers most of the $3 trillion a year that Americans currently spend on health care; $1 trillion of new spending on infrastructure; expanded Social Security benefits; and free tuition at public colleges. Enacting his agenda would require something on the order of $1.5 trillion a year in new revenue. 
That’s a lot of money. That’s not “whack up taxes on the rich” money: His Social Security plan to modestly increase benefits, for example, appears to consume all of the revenue from lifting the cap on Social Security earnings above $250,000 a year. Maybe that sounds like a little itty bitty change to you, but in fact it is a 12.4 percent tax hike on all wage and salary income for high earners, who already have a marginal tax rate of about 40 percent, not including state and local taxes. That’s just to pay for one proposal. Covering the estimated $1 trillion a year in private health insurance expenditures would need something many times larger than that. 
That means taking money from the middle class, because while the middle class does not have oodles of the stuff lying around, there are so many more of them that in aggregate, taxing them raises more revenue than taxing the rich. (That’s why extending the Bush tax cuts for the middle class cost three times as much as extending the tax cuts for the wealthy would have, even though investment bankers got a much bigger individual benefit from the tax cuts than a bus driver making $45,000 a year.) Just paying for Sanders’ single-payer plan would, for example, conservatively require between 25-35 percent more tax revenue than we currently collect. Other plans require expenditure from other parties -- employers, state and local governments -- that are likely to end up being collected from the paychecks of workers, one way or the other.
She also goes into an obstacle I hadn’t thought/heard of: His tax-raising ideas would have to get past the chattering class - policy wonks and journalists - who will realize that they will have to pay big; some will take a bullet for the cause, but most will hesitate when they realize the tax increases will hurt them.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

The Adminstrative State - The EPA sending us to jail

We are seeing our government become out of touch and responsible for nothing. The elected officials give power to the bureaucracy, but don’t hold it responsible when it is ineffective or causes harm.

Scott Johnson of PowerLine Blog reviewed a book on this - Is Administrative Law Unconstitutional? by Prof. Philip Hamburger in National Review in 2014.
… The practice of rule by decree is of dubious constitutionality, to say the least, and Obama is extending it to the breaking point. While of dubious constitutionality, the practice is not without precedent. The precedent, however, is the prerogative power claimed in the past by the British king. It is the power against which the British revolted in the Glorious Revolution of 1688 and against which we revolted in 1776. 
Now comes Professor Philip Hamburger with a serious work of legal scholarship on the return of the prerogative power to our government. The power returns in the dry-as-dust form of “administrative law,” reflecting the agency form of government. Administrative law has not been a matter of substantial intellectual controversy for a long time. Professor Hamburger comes not to bring peace, but rather a sword of understanding and ultimately of action. He means for us to understand what we have lost or are losing. ...
Johnson briefly revisits it this week at PowerLine.

An in-your-face example. This summer the EPA caused the horrible toxic spill in the XYZ river near Durango, Colorado, affecting New Mexico and Utah also. See Daily Caller. Did any individual lose his/her job over it? No. But the EPA is sending people like you and me to jail - to jail - over much smaller violations. 185 people in 2015 for an average sentence of eight months. Daily Caller
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) enforcers helped convict 185 Americans of environmental crimes this year, with each of these eco-convicts getting sentenced to eight months in prison on average for crimes ranging from biofuel fraud to illegally removing asbestos. 
EPA enforcement data for 2015 shows the agency opened 213 environmental cases which resulted in 185 people convicted and sentenced to 129 years in prison. EPA has been opening fewer cases in recent years to focus more on “high impact” cases. 
...Every year, EPA agents help put dozens of Americans in prison for breaking U.S. environmental laws. Environmental crimes range from spilling coal ash into public waterways, to pretending to produce biofuels, to illegally cleaning up asbestos in buildings.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Three unreported global warming news stories

Here are three global warming, that is, climate change, stories that were reported on in the UK, but not in the US, or hardly reported, according to my source.

1. NASA has "found the Earth has cooled in areas of heavy industrialization where more trees have been lost and more fossil fuel burning takes place."
This is, of course, the opposite of what we've been told for decades.

2. Polar bears are increasing.

3. Scientists are collecting bad weather data from compromised sites. This one is not new, but seldom reported.

Graphic: Find the cat by Hungarian artist Gergely Dudas.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Poverty-related diseases and malnutrition increased in UK

The United Kingdom has recently seen increases in the diseases associated with 19th Century poverty plus malnutrition. NHS statistics show that 7,366 people were admitted to hospital with a primary or secondary diagnosis of malnutrition between August 2014 and July this year, compared with 4,883 cases in the same period from 2010 to 2011 – a rise of more than 50 per cent in just four years. Independent UK

Cases of other diseases rife in the Victorian era including scurvy, scarlet fever, cholera and whooping cough have also increased since 2010, though other diseases are decreasing.

What is happening? The Fabian Society blames the government.

Eric Worrall at WattsUpWithThat looks further and finds large increases in energy costs. Those costs, of course, hit the lower-income people much harder.
… The article in the Independent carefully avoids mentioning the cost of energy, but you don’t have to look far for evidence that electricity prices are placing a lot of stress on British household budgets. Quite apart from devastating job losses which occur when energy intensive industries are forced to close, because they can’t compete with lower energy costs in other countries, Eurostat reports that electricity costs have surged from £0.121 / kWh in 2010, to £0.155 / kWh in 2015 (USD $0.23 / kWh), a rise of 28%. 
A lot of British homes rely on gas for heating, this isn’t always the case, especially in isolated rural regions. In any case, the price of gas has also surged, from £0.035 / kWh, to £0.046 / kWh. Thanks to British hostility to fracking, British gas supplies and prices are vulnerable, to political instability in Russia, and to sudden cold snaps – Britain is on the end of a long supply chain of countries which quite reasonably place the needs of their citizens first. 
What evidence is there that green policies are exacerbating this price spike? Willis did a compelling analysis in 2014, which shows a strong relationship between installed renewable capacity, and domestic energy prices. [See the link for graphic.] 
British people are slowly waking up to the cost of green energy. For the British middle class energy costs are a serious annoyance. For the poor, rising energy prices are an unmitigated disaster. Adding to this burden, in the name of saving the environment, must be contributing to the ongoing surge in poverty related illnesses.

Friday, December 25, 2015

South America socialists run out of money and ...

South America’s socialist leaders are running out of money. And corruption is catching up with several leaders.

Brazil is in a great recession. Fausta’s Blog

Argentina is a mess; defaulted on sovereign debt again last year.

Venezuela despite having among the largest oil reserves in the world, has gone hugely into debt and destroyed its own economy. It memorably could not afford to import toilet paper; and blamed unknown capitalists. And the government calls out the national guard if the long lines at stores get unruly.

But… In Argentina a non-Peronist was recently elected president. In Venezuela the opposition won control of the national assembly. But Chavist President Maduro says the revolution will continue. 

Also Guatemala. In September President Ottto Perez Molina resigned, then was jailed on customs corruption charges. NY Times

But no good news yet In Ecuador President Correa is changing the constitution so he can stay in office beyond the legal limit. Groups are rising up against him. Wall Street Journal

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Poverty for everyone (almost) is the normal condition

Robert Heinlein (science fiction writer) quote on poverty:

“Throughout history, poverty is the normal condition of man. 

Advances which permit this norm to be exceeded — here and there, now and then — are the work of an extremely small minority, frequently despised, often condemned, and almost always opposed by all right-thinking people. Whenever this tiny minority is kept from creating, or (as sometimes happens) is driven out of a society, the people then slip back into abject poverty.

This is known as "bad luck.”

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Worldwide poverty has dropped and dropped

Around the world deep poverty is dropping and dropping and is now below 10%. This is huge: until 1860 it was over 90%! Everyone! This is very good news. 

The term means per person income of less than $1.90 per day, indexed for inflation and adjusted for different countrys’ cost levels. 

Glen Reynolds explains at USA Today
… For most of human history, of course, extreme poverty was the norm. People worked hard to get — if they were lucky — three meals a day and clothes on their backs. Money was scarce, possessions were few, leisure existed only when all the work was done, which was seldom, and capital for investment was scarce — as were things to invest in.
Deaths from sickness and violence were common: As Steven Pinker has noted, human beings back in the era before nation states developed had a 15% chance of dying by violence; numbers today are vastly lower. This is true, he notes, despite the number of deaths from wars and civil wars.

Charles Kenny even wrote in The Atlantic that 2015 was the best year ever in the history of humanity. Wars have become less common and less deadly (though better publicized), while vaccines and medicines have reduced sickness and death. Kenny writes: “The UN reported this year that global child mortality from all causes has more than halved since 1990. That means 6.7 million fewer kids under the age of five are dying each year compared to 1990. Nearly 7 million families avoided the pain of burying their child in 2015 who would have gone through it if the world hadn’t seen two and a half decades of historically unprecedented progress against childhood illness.”
Graphic: At Instapundit.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Veterans Day and VA health care

The best to all veterans today. 

Even though I was in Army National Guard and Army ROTC, I never considered myself a veteran, because I neither served long-term nor overseas. But I was active for five months and wore green uniforms for 3 1/2 years, including on the U of Washington campus during the Vietnam war. Doesn't that count? 

President Obama today says that at VA medical facilities the waiting lists are much shorter. Where did he get his data? The whole VA scandal was about VA officials building false waiting lists and throuwing those who waited long off the list to make the data look better. Who is Obama believing?

In Phoenix, where deaths of those waiting broke open the mess, veterans are protesting today. They say that Skye McDougall, who was appointed in October to serve as the new director of the Southwest Health Care Network, lied to Congress on wait times in So. California. Putting her in charge won't help any.

USA Today tells more about the unacceptable situation.

Killing NAFTA would hurt US companies and consumers

Donald Trump would kill NAFTA, North American Free-Trade Agreement in order to save US jobs. But doing so would make things worse, not better.

Our exports are up since NAFTA. Our economies are integrated - Manufacturers allocate different tasks to firms in the US, Canada and/or Mexico, using the comparative strengths of each. Cars being manufactured cross between the US and Canada, sometimes more than once!

Putting up Donald Trump's wall would break those relationships that have been developed and refined over decades. That would raise costs to the producers - and to us consumers.

See Mary Anastasia O'Grady at Wall Street Journal. (Might require subscription.)

Aat Wharton School of Business at U of Pennsylvania they go into all the pluses and minues. Their mesure of loss/benefit is closer, but still positive for the US. The authors are more worried about Mexico damaging its economic ties with US and Canada. Wharton

Friday, October 16, 2015

If your city/town is dying then move!

If your city/town is failing then MOVE. It’s the best thing you can do. If you stay to live among the ruins you and your sons and daughters will have fewer and fewer opportunities.

Kevin Williamson at NRO

The town where my parents grew up and where my grandparents lived no longer exists. Phillips, Texas, is a ghost town. Before that it was a company town, a more or less wholly owned subsidiary of the Phillips Petroleum Company. Phillips had already lost a great deal of its population as highway improvements sent residents off to the relative urban sophistication of Borger, and there were fewer than 2,000 people living there in 1980 when an explosion at the refinery destroyed practically all of the town’s economic infrastructure, along with a fair number of houses.

Phillips, Inc., in the end decided it had no need for Phillips, Texas, and the town was scrubbed right off the map. The local homeowners owned their houses but not the land they sat on, which belonged to the company. (These sorts of arrangements were, and are, more common than you’d think, as in the case of the many Californians in the Coachella Valley who own their houses but lease their land from the Agua Caliente band of Cahuilla Indians.) Many of the residents of Phillips were uneager to be evicted from their homes, and they sued the company with the help of the famously theatrical Texas trial lawyer Racehorse Haynes, who informed the good people of Phillips: “They might whup us fair and square, but they better bring lunch.” Lunch was served, and Phillips is just gone. 
It was the right thing to do. Some towns are better off dead.