Monday, January 11, 2016
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
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
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
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.
Via: American Thinker
Monday, December 28, 2015
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
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’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
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
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.Graphic: At Instapundit.
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.”
Wednesday, November 11, 2015
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.
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 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.
Wednesday, October 07, 2015
Recycling is a waste. Expect for only paper, cardboard, steel and aluminum for greenhouse gas emission reduction. The very respected science reporter John Tierney for the establishment NY Times says so after full research.
... In 1996, I wrote a long article for The New York Times Magazine arguing that the recycling process as we carried it out was wasteful. I presented plenty of evidence that recycling was costly and ineffectual, but its defenders said that it was unfair to rush to judgment. Noting that the modern recycling movement had really just begun just a few years earlier, they predicted it would flourish as the industry matured and the public learned how to recycle properly.
So, what’s happened since then? While it’s true that the recycling message has reached more people than ever, when it comes to the bottom line, both economically and environmentally, not much has changed at all.
Despite decades of exhortations and mandates, it’s still typically more expensive for municipalities to recycle household waste than to send it to a landfill. ...
Blogger stopped accepting posts from both my blogging applications a couple months ago. Haven't figured out why. I am going to attrmpt more posts via Bloggers adequate, but less friendly web interface. I see news and analysis crying out to be emphasized on my very popular Economic Freedom blog.
Wednesday, September 30, 2015
Jimmy Carter rushed to get his photo with dictators while worlds leaders were in NYC for United Nations meetings.
See his big smile with Nicolas Maduro the “elected” dictator who has made Venezuela and absolute mess - very high inflation, shortages of basics including toilet paper and armed soldiers at grocery stores to control the lines of frantic shoppers. Here is a post on lack of rule of law and good currency, comparing Venezuela to Ecuador.
From 2011 there are photos of President Jimmy sharing his biggest smile with Raul Castro, who with his brother Fidel ruined and enslaved Cuba. Gateway Pundit
The story at Investors Business Daily
Pres. Carter with Maduro photo at Yahoo
For my practice: En Espanol at NTN24
Thursday, September 03, 2015
The Democrats repeatedly say that vote fraud is very, very rare. Well, here it is today. A woman in Alabama was found guilty on 24 felony counts of vote fraud. A local race was flipped due to many absentee votes for the candidate who lost at the polls. Dothan Eagle newspaper
A Houston County jury found Olivia Reynolds guilty Wednesday afternoon for her role in a voter fraud case.
Assistant District Attorney Banks Smith said the jury found 66-year-old Olivia Reynolds guilty of 24 felony counts of absentee ballot fraud. Smith said the jury deliberated for less than an hour before returning with the guilty verdicts.
Houston County Sheriff’s investigators arrested Reynolds in May 2014. She was one of three women charged who worked on the 2013 campaign for District 2 City Commissioner Amos Newsome.
In the August election, Newsome beat challenger Lamesa Danzey by 14 votes. Newsome received 119 of the 124 absentee votes that were cast. Danzey received more votes than Newsome at the polls.
Reynolds is the third suspect in the election fraud investigation to go to trial.
Smith argued to jurors during his closing Wednesday morning that investigators with the Houston County Sheriff’s Office found evidence of widespread voter fraud during the District 2 race for the City of Dothan election in the summer of 2013.
Smith said some of the voters testified at trial how they never wanted to vote for Newsome yet their ballot was cast for Newsome anyway.
“This case is about the sanctity of the ballot,” Smith said.
Via Thomas Lifson at American Thinker.