Friday, August 31, 2007

Socialists complain about tax advantages

We must be doing something right. The socialists are complaining loudly about the formerly socialist countries that have adopted flat taxes. Cato's blog:
I almost feel sorry for hard-core leftists. First, they had to endure the agony of watching the Berlin Wall crumble and the Soviet Union break apart. As depressing as that must have been, they now must be horrified that former communist nations are leading the shift to pro-market flat tax systems. But their angst is my joy.
Read it.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Two years after Katrina - All fouled up

It's time to look back at the lessons of Hurricane Katrina two years later. First response to any disaster is the responsibility of local government, not the federal government. Think about it: the feds don't know your city as well as your local police, firemen and government officials who live and work there. They can't. So it doesn't make sense to expect the outsiders to be leading the effort when things are bad. The federal government's role is to come in 3 days later with supplies and manpower to distribute them and to provide clean-up help, then rebuilding, etc. FEMA did an excellent job. They had substantial supplies at the outskirts of the city ready to go before Katrina hit. The aid provided by FEMA was huge and timely. Myth: "President Bush was on vacation and did nothing." False. He asked Mayor Nagin to evacuate the city; he asked two or three days before it hit. And he flew over the city within a day of the storm. Local government failed when it was needed most. But it was more than a failure of government. It was a failure of their society. Many people who needed help to leave didn't use what was available. (Many did, on the other hand.) Warnings went out days in advance, but they were treated like false alarms. Previous "close-call" storms deconditioned people from fear; they bet on another close call and lost. The city of New Orleans had hundreds of buses that sat and got flooded; they weren't used to evacuate people. Why didn't Mayor Nagin use them? Governor Blanco let out the secret a few days later she said in effect "Nagin can't get his drivers to show up for work on a sunny day. We knew he wouldn't get them out when a hurricane was bearing down." Of course she had to take back the truth when it embarrassed poor Nagin. The Red Cross brought supplies to N.O. before Katrina hit and offered to take them to the Superdome, but the city declined. The city was required to have a plan for a hurricane disaster and it had it. But they didn't implement the plan. People found the plan on the city's web site during the aftermath. It was interesting reading, but tragically sad, because they did not or could not implement it. It was just words on paper written to get some federal money. Governor Blanco had a hand in the mess also. I don't recall the details now, but she wrung her hands instead of taking action when she could have saved lives. The main-stream media They got every big story wrong. They made huge spectacles of stories that either were totally untrue or were overblown to 10 times the problem. - The Superdome was not overrun by gangs raping and killing. There were some crimes committed there, but it was not run by criminals. - There was no storage of dozens of bodies in a freezer at the Superdome. Again, a few deaths and a few bodies stored, but no more than 5. - Relief helicopters were not held off by a small army of criminal gunmen. The story was something like one guy had a gun and took one shot. Over blown by 10x. - And just about every memorable negative story they had wrong. The worst news The same spineless incompetents are still in charge. They have allowed armed bands of criminals to overrun the city - this is now!. Nicole Gelinas of City Journal's article is in the Wall Street Journal:
In fact, since Katrina, New Orleans's murder rate has been higher than that of any First World city. Depending on fluctuating estimates of the city's returning population, it's perhaps 40% higher than before Katrina and twice as high as the rate in other dangerous cities like Detroit, Newark and Washington. Families trying to make a home in this environment live in fear, even while many have taken to rebuilding their homes with their bare hands.
This is the because elected officials are not cracking down on crime. They must feel sorry for the armed robbers. "We need more money" Our generosity to New Orleans, the state of Louisiana, Mississippi and the Katrina victims is unprecedented. We are giving them more than the funding of the Marshall Plan at the end of World War II. More! But the Marshall Plan was for 16 countries. The Washington Times has the details. See Jonah 3 September: Jonah Goldberg has an excellent analysis today in the LA Times:
But there was one thing missing from the coverage of this natural, social, economic and political disaster: the fact that Katrina represented an unmitigated media disaster as well.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Reward terrorism, expect more

South Korea has a promise from the Taliban in Afghanistan to release the now 19 hostages they have held for about a month. How? By rewarding them. South Korea promised to end missionaries going there. And removing their armed forces from the country by the end of the year. Expect more terrorism. It pays. Associated Press

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Labor shortage in the West

Managers are desparate to hire qualified workers throughout the US's mountain states. The most valuable resource - people - is increasing in value. The article has lots of stories of job openings going unfilled. AP News We are at Whistler ski resort in British Columbia, Canada and I have seen "help wanted" signs this week. That's unheard of near the end of the high season. Why? Baby boomers are retiring and moving to Montana and other states. They need homes constructed or rebuilt. They buy goods and services. Increased demand. But these states have generally had lower pay, so young people move away. Thus the shortage. This is prosperity. Blame Bush.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Best case against Al Qaeda is Al Qaeda

We are gaining in Iraq. The top insurgetn leader has decided to turn against Al Qaeda and work with the Irag government against them. Captains Quarters And Michael Yon is on the ground in Iraq. He takes a broader, deeper look at the causes. Michael Yon (part 1)
Any premature history of this war will be as simplistic as a woven carpet, but some patterns are clear even today: crushing Fallujah backfired. If only because the timing assured a near total Sunni boycott of the first and most important national election, the start of nation-building politics, the same process that is now so widely acknowledged as the only path to a secure and self-sufficient Iraq. ... Al Qaeda has a management style—doing drugs, laying up sloppy drunk, raping women and boys, and cutting off heads, all while imposing strict morality laws on the locals—that makes it clear that they have one set of principles for themselves, and another for every one else. In that kind of scheme, it didn’t take long before people in Anbar realized that any benefits from Al Qaeda having control would not be distributed equally. Once that realization spread, the tribal sheiks—almost all Sunni—had to consider the alternatives. Shattered headstones, like broken promises, warn of restless ghosts. The sheiks of Anbar turned against al Qaeda because the sheiks are businessmen, and al Qaeda is bad for business.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

France the developing nation

France is a developing country. Developed countries attract people to work and make more money/have a better life than back nome.Developing countries see their sharp young people leave looking for work. France is among them. This Associated Press story in the Seattle Times shows the data for how much money the workers send home, so their families can live. The top nations attracting workers (sending money home) are the US far out front, sending $41 billion in 2006, then Saudi Arabia, Switzerland, and Germany, followed by Spain. 2003843095

Click the graphic to enlarge it

France is fifth of the countries that receive remittance money from their people working abroad with $12 billion in 2006. In good company with, from the top, India, China, Mexico and the Philippines! Why do the French leave? Their society is very structured and restrictive on work rules, starting businesses, etc. Where do they go? Mostly to the United States, the country they look down on! I worked a few years ago with a bright young Frenchman who got his PhD in France, then came to the US to work. He found work in France, but he wanted the wider options of the US. We were glad to have him. He made a contribution.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Do we want to slow down like Old Europe?

What economy do the Democrats want to emulate? A growing, vibrant one? No, the restricted, ossifying economy of old Europe. Senator Mitch McConnell, the Republican whip (#2) jabs at the Democratics. The Hill
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) mocked congressional Democrats Wednesday, attacking the new leadership of the 110th Congress for attempting to ram through proposals that would turn the American government into “Old Europe.” In a speech at the Ronald Reagan presidential library in Simi Valley, Calif., he said Democratic leaders have been pushing through bills on health care, federal spending and taxes that would substantial grow the government and lead to the economic stagnation that has dogged some European countries. “I can tell you that in the Senate it seems as though the other side is still looking to Old Europe for answers,” McConnell said. “In one of the great political ironies of our time, the new majority in Congress seems intent on taking America down the path of bigger government and higher taxes just as Europe is frantically trying to steer themselves away from it.”
Which way are the Europeans moving? Toward our lower taxes and fewer regulations!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Journalists, historians and politicians who fabricated stories

Scott Beauchamp at New Republic has been uncovered, and his editors are fabricating a defense for him. We remember previous cases - Dan Rather, photos misattributed to events by AFP - multiple times, even my favorite historian Steven Ambrose, RIP. Politicians also - surprise. Randall Hoven constructed a list at American Thinker of cases where journalists, historians and politicians just made up the story they wanted, or streched an actual one to the point of being a lie. The list is unbelivably long. Example:
59. Nina Totenberg, The National Observer (1972). Plagiarism. She was fired by The National Observer for plagiarism. "Totenberg had allegedly lifted several paragraphs from a Washington Post story and dropped them into a piece she was writing about former House Speaker Tip O'Neill for the now-defunct National Observer." She is currently legal correspondent for NPR.
And just last week:
54. Reuters Russia's North Pole coverage (2007). More fake photos/footage. "Reuters has been forced to admit that footage it released last week purportedly showing Russian submersibles on the seabed of the North Pole actually came from the movie Titanic." The mistake was caught by a 13-year-old Finnish boy.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Faulty data on global warming

The historical data showing recent years to be the warmest on record is wrong. An error made 1998 to be the warmest ever. After correction it is 1934. The Star:
In the United States, the calendar year 1998 ranked as the hottest of them all – until someone checked the math. After a Toronto skeptic tipped NASA this month to one flaw in its climate calculations, the U.S. agency ordered a full data review. Days later, it put out a revised list of all-time hottest years. The Dust Bowl year of 1934 now ranks as hottest ever in the U.S. – not 1998. More significantly, the agency reduced the mean U.S. "temperature anomalies" for the years 2000 to 2006 by 0.15 degrees Celsius.
A former mining executive who runs the blog, McIntyre, 59, earned attention in 2003 when he put out data challenging the so-called "hockey stick" graph depicting a spike in global temperatures. This time, he sifted NASA's use of temperature anomalies, which measure how much warmer or colder a place is at a given time compared with its 30-year average. Puzzled by a bizarre "jump" in the U.S. anomalies from 1999 to 2000, McIntyre discovered the data after 1999 wasn't being fractionally adjusted to allow for the times of day that readings were taken or the locations of the monitoring stations.
But, of course, NASA says it doesn't matter. Oh? Historical data doesn't matter?

Sunday, August 12, 2007


I was offline, migrating to a new Mac. I had a major misunderstanding of the process and lost a week. Back to business....

Thursday, August 09, 2007

A Bold College President

The president of Columbia University has taken a stand against the British academics' boycott of Israel. The British are trying to shut up academics in Israel. Of course stopping their speech will stop their careers, because publishing and professional exchange are key parts of an academic career. No publishing means no advancing. Would you call it censhoring? It's not, because only governments do that. But it is the equivalent. President Lee Bollinger of Columbia University took a stand against this "censorship" and got several more presidents to join him. See American Jewish Committee:
August 8, 2007 – New York – College and university presidents across the United States are signing on to a statement by Columbia University President Lee Bollinger denouncing the decision by the union representing British academics to promote a boycott of Israeli educational institutions. The full list of presidents to date was published today by the American Jewish Committee in a full-page advertisement in the New York Times. Other presidents joining the initiative are being added to a list on the AJC website. "Boycott Israeli Universities? Boycott Ours, Too!" is the call of the nearly 300 college and university presidents who have endorsed Bollinger's powerful statement, released shortly after the United Kingdom's University and College Union shamefully passed a boycott resolution at its conference in May. The appeal to U.S. college and university presidents to follow Bollinger's example came from eight of their colleagues: Jehuda Reinharz, president, Brandeis University; Robert J. Birgeneau, chancellor, University of California, Berkeley; Richard Herman, chancellor, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; Donna E. Shalala, president, University of Miami; Henry S. Bienen, president, Northwestern University; Graham B. Spanier, Pennsylvania State University; Lawrence S. Bacow, president, Tufts University; M. Lee Pelton, Willamette; and, Harold Shapiro, president emeritus, Princeton University. AJC shares the concerns of the presidents who have signed the statement to date, and is facilitating distribution of the list of presidents who have publicly endorsed Bollinger's statement ...

New Mac

I bought a Mac Powerbook to succeed my old Powerbook G4 12. It's a big step up in performance and a step down in aesthetics. It has a plastic case, which is not so nice compared to the aluminum. But it is much faster. Speed and performance require more than the heavily-advertised clock speed, which is 2.16 MHz. RAM helps. But also the size of the cache(e) and speed of the bus - 667 MHz versus 1.67 - Wow! I paid extra for the black one, because every middle-school kid in our local school district has the standard white one. But migrating to it is slow and painful. Apple has software to help, but it spent an hour moving things - at very fast Firewire speed - without helping me with my daily needs - mail, calendar and address book. And I had to start up the old one to post this!