Saturday, October 29, 2011

Thailand flooding

Our friends in Thailand have a terrible problem with flooding. Rains in the north months ago caused huge runoff that, flowing to the south, started hitting Bangkok a few days ago. Bangkok is low and flat. Runoff can affect the whole city. For better or worse the city has some canals. But the authorities don't know if allowing the runoff into them will help or not. But they are using them.

News -- Hard disk drive prices rising. Huh? Thailand make parts for around half the world's production. Reuters
-- Ancient city of Atthaya flooded (Oct. 23) Earth Observatory

Google has set up a resource center for just this event: Google

Google shows areas of flooding, closed roads and highways... Shelters... Where one can park - hey it's a problem when the your city is low and flooding - "I don't want my car ruined, but the ground is near sea level for miles. Where can I park my car on higher ground? "

Our friends: The House of Glory Church in Bangkok. Pastor Kritiya Sawatkaew. We call her Note. Our church, New Hope International Church in Mercer Island, WA, (also Mountlake Terrace, WA) has about thirteen more "daughter" churches in Thailand (plus some in the US).

Photo: This method of escape is not recommended. From

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Alaska Way Viaduct destruction - time lapse

Five days of demolition in time lapse; they are not yet finished. This doesn't show work at night, though I think they are. Maybe it doesn't show very well. Set to techno music.

Seattle Business Journal & TechnoFlash

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Obama hires Wall Street lobbyist

For his reelection campaign Obama is making plans to again suck megabucks from Wall Street. He hired a big-gun lobbyist who opens the doors in D.C. for Wall Street. Broderick Johnson in recent years has worked for JP Morgan Chase, Fannie Mae and Bank of America.

While he was a registered lobbyist he visited the White House seventeen times since Obama's crowning in 2009. Source: Matthew Boyle at Daily Caller

And big energy. He helped to bring lower oil prices to the US by working the doors for the Keystone XL pipeline. That pipeline will help reduce US dependence on the kingdoms and dictators of the Middle East. Source: Huffington Post
Broderick Johnson, a former Bryan Cave LLP lobbyist registered on the Keystone XL account, reported lobbying President Obama's legislative affairs staff in 2010,
Friends of the Earth have noticed Obama's acceptance of this Wall Street lobbyist. Will the kids at "occupy Wall Street" notice? Will they call Obama on it?

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Belated parental advice for "occupy" protesters

Their parents didn't teach important lessons about life to the superannuated children "occupying" Wall Street and Seattle and everywhere. Washing is so obvious. But the kids say that they think everything in life should be free - all the things they want. And that they should be relieved of the commitments they made, such as student debt. You have some learning coming, kids.

Marybeth Hicks has some advice at Washington Times.
• Life isn’t fair. The concept of justice - that everyone should be treated fairly - is a worthy and worthwhile moral imperative on which our nation was founded. But justice and economic equality are not the same. Or, as Mick Jagger said, “You can’t always get what you want.” 
No matter how you try to “level the playing field,” some people have better luck, skills, talents or connections that land them in better places. Some seem to have all the advantages in life but squander them, others play the modest hand they’re dealt and make up the difference in hard work and perseverance, and some find jobs on Wall Street and eventually buy houses in the Hamptons. Is it fair? Stupid question.
Add effort to that list. The "lucky" people are often those who work twice as hard as their peers. And she has four more points.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Harry Reid tells the truth - public unions not jobs

Senator Harry Reid got caught telling the truth Wednesday: He cares about government workers, not jobs for the rest of us. Obama kept saying his bill is about jobs. Wrong. Harry told the truth:
“... private sector jobs are doing just fine. It's government workers that need help."
He got his facts wrong. He doesn't seem to be concerned about facts interfering with politics. Fox News
Since Obama took office in January 2009, the public sector has lost 607,000 jobs while the private sector lost 1.6 million, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The numbers show the big problem is the private sector. But he made his priorities clear - the public-sector union jobs which means bodies and  cash for the Democrat Party.

Austan Goolsbee, the formerly prominent economist, continues to chip away at the respect I had for him. He could not say he disagreed, just that he "would disagree a little."

I don't know my way around the employment statistics well enough to verify the jobs numbers. They are somewhere at Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Photo via Sweetness and Light

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Steven Beren on radio for three days

Steven Beren, our favorite ex-congressional candidate, will be on the radio Wednesday thru Friday. KUIK in Portland. 3 to 6 pm.

We can listen online at IPhone users can get the excellent app TuneIn and browse Portland Oregon. AM 1360.

Beren's own website

Saturday, October 15, 2011

ObamaCare is sent into the red by canceling long-term care part

The Obama administration faced the numbers on a provision of ObamaCare and killed it - a long-term care provision called CLASS. But it was one of the budget tricks that made ObamaCare "lower the deficit." Not that they could say that with a straight face.

CLASS never made any sense. Obama's person in charge of estimating such things, Richard Foster, head of long-range economic forecasts for Medicare, warned in 2009 - before ObamaCare passed - that CLASS would never work out as planned.

So Secretary of HHS Kathleen Sebelius announced Friday that CLASS was canceled.

But it started collecting premiums now and didn't pay out for five years. That made it add $80 billion of black ink to ObamaCare of the next 10 years. ObamaCare is now more obviously than ever a huge drain on the US budget for years into the future.

Hey, President Obama, how will you balance ObamaCare?

Read at AP
... After months insisting that could be fixed, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius finally acknowledged Friday she doesn't see how.

"Despite our best analytical efforts, I do not see a viable path forward for CLASS implementation at this time," Sebelius said in a letter to congressional leaders.

The law required the administration to certify that CLASS would remain financially solvent for 75 years before it could be put into place. [Wow! There was one piece of common sense hidden in the ObamaCare 2,000-page bill.]

But officials said they discovered they could not make CLASS both affordable and financially solvent while keeping it a voluntary program open to virtually all workers, as the law also required.

Monthly premiums would have ranged from $235 to $391, even as high as $3,000 under some scenarios, the administration said. At those prices, healthy people were unlikely to sign up. Suggested changes aimed at discouraging enrollment by people in poor health could have opened the program to court challenges, officials said.

"If healthy purchasers are not attracted ... then premiums will increase, which will make it even more unattractive to purchasers who could also obtain policies in the private market," Kathy Greenlee, the lead official on CLASS, said in a memo to Sebelius. That "would cause the program to quickly collapse."

That's the same conclusion a top government expert reached in 2009. Nearly a year before the health care law passed, Richard Foster, head of long-range economic forecasts for Medicare, warned administration and congressional officials that CLASS would be unworkable. His warnings were disregarded, as President Barack Obama declared his support for adding the long-term care plan to his health care bill.

The demise of CLASS immediately touched off speculation about its impact on the federal budget. Although no premiums are likely to be collected, the program still counts as reducing the federal deficit by about $80 billion over the next 10 years. That's because of a rule that would have required workers to pay in for at least five years before they could collect any benefits. ...

"The CLASS Act was a budget gimmick that might enhance the numbers on a Washington bureaucrat's spreadsheet but was destined to fail in the real world," said Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky. ...

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Jobs will be leaving China for US

Higher costs in China at the same time as higher productivity in the US (which lowers costs). These jobs are expected to go to the states that have lower costs, of course.

"Reshoring” trend expected to bring more factory work back to States over next 5 years
A big shift of manufacturing from China to the U.S. and other parts of North America will create up to 3 million U.S. jobs in coming years, says a study from Boston Consulting Group. 
The report says labor costs in China are rising so fast, while U.S. productivity continues to climb, that the cost advantage of sourcing many types of goods production in China is rapidly shrinking.
“Factor in shipping, inventory costs and other considerations,” and for many types of goods “the cost gap between sourcing in China and manufacturing in the U.S. will be minimal,” according to the report. 
The report, titled “Made in America, Again,” cites various examples of companies already shifting work back to the U.S. and says that process will quickly speed up.
The move of jobs and production back to this country is often called “re-shoring,” and some organizations are promoting policies to spur greater returns of factory jobs from overseas.
In just five years, BCG said, “the total cost of production for many products will be only about 10 to 15 percent less in Chinese coastal cities than in some parts of the U.S. where factories are likely to be built,” before counting shipping costs.
But the report said ocean shipping rates have risen in recent years, mainly because of spiking bunker fuel prices since the depths of the recession in 2009, while a shortage of container port capacity projected in 2015 and a falloff in shipbuilding could push rates higher.
The authors said the steady appreciation of China’s currency against the U.S. dollar is another factor raising the cost of goods made there, while trade disputes continue over many products made in China and the ocean supply chain is subject to threat of disruptions. 
BCG said several southern U.S. states “will turn out to be among the least expensive production sites in the industrialized world.” Mexico is also getting some of the output shifting from China, and can deliver goods into the U.S. in one or two days compared with 21 by ocean. But BCG officials said Mexico would not benefit as much as some expect because U.S. expertise in many goods would draw the work back here instead.

Monday, October 10, 2011

There have been 26 deaths following attacks on Coptic Christian churches in Egypt recently.  Most of the deaths have been Christians.

Associated Press vis Seattle Times
The spiritual leader of the Coptic Christian minority, Pope Shenouda III, declared three days of mourning, praying and fasting for the victims starting on Tuesday and also presided over funerals for some of the Christians killed. Sunday's sectarian violence was the worst in Egypt since the uprising that ousted Hosni Mubarak in February. 
"Strangers got in the middle of our sons and committed mistakes to be blamed on our sons," the Coptic church said in a statement. It lamented "problems that occur repeatedly and go unpunished." 
The clashes Sunday night raged over a large section of downtown Cairo and drew in Christians, Muslims and security forces. They began when about 1,000 Christian protesters tried to stage a peaceful sit-in outside the state television building along the Nile in downtown Cairo. The protesters said they were attacked by "thugs" with sticks and the violence then spiraled out of control after a speeding military vehicle jumped up onto a sidewalk and rammed into some of the Christians.

Saturday, October 08, 2011

Huge, beautiful lighthouse lens in Westport

Westport Maritime Museum in Westport, Washington, has a new display of the huge, first-order Fresnel lens that was in the lighthouse at Destruction Island 50 miles north of Westport. The lens is huge - eight feet plus pedestal. But it was efficient: it warned mariners for miles around with a kerosene lamp (later a 1,000 watt bulb).

Westport was given it in 1998, refurbished it and built a special building to display it.

Westport also has the Grays Harbor lighthouse south of town, which is still active. The site is maintained by the community and the light by the Coast Guard.

This is my kind of fun! (The license plate on my car has a lighthouse on it.) I will go see it... and the beautiful area of south Grays Harbor and the coast south of Westport - Grayland, etc. I always like to explore places.

Source: Seattle Times has two excellent photos.

Friday, October 07, 2011

Inspired by Steve Jobs

We are inspired by super-capitalist Steve Jobs. He dropped out of college. He built his company from nothing to a multi-billion dollar (sales per year) company. He suffered the public humiliation of being fired from the company he built. From the ashes he started two more companies, NeXT Computer and Pixar. When Apple bought NeXT he returned to be CEO of foundering Apple.

Then he was stunned by having pancreatic cancer and being told "to get his affairs in order." In other words, you don't have long to live.

Read or listen to/watch the video of his commencement address at Stanford University in 2005. Stanford

Question for the Wall Street protesters. Do you wish Steve Jobs had never started Apple and created the IPod and IPhone?

Question: Who did Steve Jobs hurt by being successful?

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Election 2011

The 2011 election is only initiatives and local offices.

For the statewide initiatives see the Washington Policy Center's guide web page. Here is my quick take:

I-1183: I favor ending the government's monopoly on liquor sales. More competition will lead to lower prices. Washington Research Council did an analysis.

I-1125 Tolling. I am split on this one. I like the revenue being controlled by the Legislature, not passing the buck to a special board. But Tim went too far. The level of toll should vary by the time of day. We build more highways and lanes for the peak traffic. The big cost is the peak traffic; make them pay. But a lower charge for off-peak travel makes sense. On balance, I will support it.

I-1163: The SEIU can't get the Legislature to overspend for the union's interest. Indeed SEIU won't go through the give-and-take of law making. No, they go back to the voters to increase training requirements for long-term care workers. I oppose it.

The Seattle Times says it is a combination of bad policy and cynicism.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Demo Reid blocked Obama's jobs bill - Obama then said Republicans did

How can President O look in the mirror? Blaming the Republicans for his new stimulus not being passed.

Tuesday in the Senate Sen. Harry Reid blocked Obama's $47 billion "jobs bill" stimulus from a vote. Republican Leader McConnell had moved that the bill be voted on. National Journal Then Reid blocked the vote. Reid the Democrat killed Obama's jobs bill.

Then President O's campaign manager Jim Messina sent out an email saying that Republicans blocked it.

Weekly Standard

About ten minutes later [after the vote], Jim Messina, Obama’s 2012 campaign manager, emailed this message to supporters:
President Obama is in Dallas today urging Americans who support the American Jobs Act to demand that Congress pass it already. 
Though it's been nearly a month since he laid out this plan, House Republicans haven't acted to pass it. And House Majority Leader Eric Cantor is out there actually bragging that they won't even put the jobs package up for a vote -- ever. 
It's not clear which part of the bill they now object to: building roads, hiring teachers, getting veterans back to work. They're willing to block the American Jobs Act -- and they think you won't do anything about it. 
But here's something you can do: Find Republican members of Congress on Twitter, call them out, and demand they pass this bill.
So will the Obama campaign be asking its supporters to "call out" Harry Reid and "demand" he and Senate Democrats pass the bill?

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Government employees paid for not working

Tacoma, Washington teachers refused to work for 8 school days, causing great disruption for the families of 28,000 students. They defied a court order to return to work. KING-5

After the strike they were worried they would not be paid "on time" for the days they didn't work. Huh? "Paid on time" surely means paid next June when they work the days they refused to work. No. The Tacoma School District bent over backward to find a way to pay them now.

If you refuse to work do you get paid? Get paid when you would have been paid had you worked?
Tacoma News Tribune

[At Washington Policy Center Liv Finne says the WEA union gambled and lost; they caused the strike, but didn't get what they wanted for it.]

FAA workers were furloughed for two weeks. They did not work. But they are receiving "back pay" now that the authorization bill is in place. It's not back pay; it's a gift. They are government workers and "it wasn't their fault." Elsewhere in government and industry they would be happy to be called back from furlough.
Anchorage ADN

There must be more cases of paying for not working in the public sector. Any private examples?

Saturday, October 01, 2011

Elected chief education bureaucrat Dorn refuses to do his job

Oh, schools are so efficiently run that they couldn't cut one dollar of their spending. Yeh...
Seattle Times
In a symbolic showdown between Gov. Chris Gregoire and Superintendent of Public Instruction Randy Dorn, Seattle education officials are not surprisingly taking Dorn's side.
Dorn is refusing to give the governor a list of potential ways state education funding can be cut to help close a projected $2 billion revenue shortfall. He sent a letter to Gregoire this week saying that doing so would violate the state constitution and his oath of office. 
"I cannot, in good conscience, submit a budget ... that is consistent with (your) requirements," he wrote. 
It's a symbolic move: All parties, including Dorn, have acknowledged education funding will be cut when the Legislature convenes in November to deal with the shortfall. The only question is where the cuts will be. 
And by not submitting a list of ideas to guide the Legislature — as all of the other agency directors have — Gregoire spokesman Cory Curtis says Dorn is making it harder for the state to make "the best decisions for the kids."