Sunday, March 29, 2009

I'll be away next week, so will leave readers with this inspirational picture. You may print it if you need a new dart board, or if you just want to frighten small children, pets, or yourself.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

White House chief of staff Rahm Emmanuel's bonuses at Freddie Mac

While AIG executives are being excoriated by Obama for accepting bonuses, his own chief of staff, Rahm Emmanuel, was lavishly compensated for doing almost no work as a politically appointed director of failed mortgage giant Freddie Mac during the Clinton administration.

So far, he's made no effort to return the $320,000 he picked up for attending a few meetings during which "the board was told by executives of a plan to use accounting tricks to mislead shareholders about outsize profits the government-chartered firm was then reaping from risky investments."

During his tenure, "he was also informed that the company hatched a plan ... for illegally using corporate resources to host fundraisers for politicians. Emanuel was the beneficiary of one of those parties after he left the board and ran in 2002 for a seat in Congress from the North Side of Chicago."

Fannie and Freddie are perfect examples of the sort of corruption that follows from government sponsored commercial organizations. Both Fannie and Freddie have been Democratic financial playgrounds for decades, where on-the-make politicians could pick up huge rewards for neglecting their responsibilities. They doled out campaign cash to favored pols including Obama himself, who as a junior senator somehow received more cash than anyone except banking chairman Chris Dodd.

Has Obama given campaign contributions from Fannie and Freddie back yet? Does the term "selective outrage" come to mind?

Stalin's tactic used to justify additional regulation

After the death of Lenin, one of Stalin’s rivals for power was the mayor of Leningrad. Stalin had the man murdered, and used the investigation of the murder to pin the killing on other rivals, who were then liquidated. Stalin blamed others for his own misdeeds to justify drastically increasing his power.

The tactics of those responsible for the current murder of the financial system bear an uncanny resemblance to the tactic used by Stalin.

The ultimate cause of the financial disaster was the fact that Federal law (namely the Community Reinvestment Act passed under Carter) and regulation (implemented under the Clinton administration by, among others, current AG Eric Holder) forced Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and the banks to make subprime mortgage loans. When the danger of these regulations was pointed out to Democratic lawmakers, they scoffed at the possibility that their actions might be jeopardizing the financial system.

These facts are well documented. The undermining of the value of mortgage backed securities was caused by regulatory action. These securities formed one of the primary foundations of the entire financial system. The collapse of securities firms and insurance companies like AIG were downstream problems caused by the undermining of this financial foundation.

Yet, as soon as the extent of the disaster became clear, politicians and bureaucrats have used the damage caused by their own regulatory misdeeds to justify massive additional regulation. And most people have bought the con. Even many of those who know that regulation was the root of the problem support additional regulation.

Stalin would have been proud that his tactic is still working so well today.

Monday, March 23, 2009

A great video clip of Milton Friedman explaining capitalism to Phil Donohue

In this classic video clip, Milton Friedman takes on that great thinker, Phil Donohue, on the merits of capitalism.

Summary of the real climate change conference

In contrast to the IPCC, which has discredited itself as a reliable source of information on climate change, the International Conference on Climate Change, sponsored by the Heartland Institute has become the premiere scientific gathering devoted to the subject. Proceedings of the 2009 conference have been published online here.

Powerline blog summarizes some of the interesting graphs presented at the conference here. They are well worth studying if you're still in any doubt about anthropogenic global warming theory.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

More enviro craziness

Solar power plant pictured above.

We are living in surreal times, when absolute insanity is considered mainstream leftwing political opinion. Another example is the opposition by California Senator Dianne Feinstein to solar power development in the Mojave Desert because it may harm desert tortoises.

One could applaud opposition to solar power because it would dramatically raise the cost of electricity. In Dubai for example, a new "eco-friendly" development plans to use solar power at a cost 5 times that of conventional power.

But Feinstein's opposition is based on supposed harm to the environment. Solar power has been touted by enviros as a solution to so-called damage by fossil fuel power plants for decades. However, now that real solar power plants are being planned, the greenies are opposed to them as well.

Of course, Feinstein claims she's not opposed to solar power per se, just to solar power where actual sites are being proposed. You have to wonder what's going to happen to this country with people like Feinstein in charge.

Friday, March 20, 2009

A quote from Frederic Bastiat on socialism

Frederic Bastiat (1801-1850) was a French economist, who unfortunately knew more about economics in the early 1800's than about 98% of people living today, including a certain president. (He was, however, one of Ronald Reagan's favorite economists.)

Those who haven't read his book Economic Fallacies have missed one of the most incisive and readable books on economics ever written. I happened upon a blog entry quoting his description of one of the fallacies of socialism, written in his book The Law, which is as relevant today as when it was written over 150 years ago.

"Socialism, like the ancient ideas from which it springs, confuses the distinction between government and society. As a result of this, every time we object to a thing being done by government, the socialists conclude that we object to its being done at all.

We disapprove of state education. Then the socialists say that we are opposed to any education. We object to a state religion. Then the socialists say that we want no religion at all. We object to a state-enforced equality. Then they say that we are against equality. And so on, and so on. It is as if the socialists were to accuse us of not wanting persons to eat because we do not want the state to raise grain."

Ludwig von Mises' book Socialism, written in the 1920's, was perhaps the greatest early book to devastate socialist theory, but this quote from Bastiat shows how well he had socialism pegged more than 70 years before von Mises.

The first 60 days of the Obama administration is becoming increasingly surreal. Apparently all restraints on spending and inflation of the money supply are off. Budget deficits are now expected to average almost $1 trillion per year for the next 10 years, over twice the previous all time record.

The chart above shows what is happening to the money supply, and the accompanying article from Canada's Financial Post asks "Is this the end of America?"

Not a bad question.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Obama's cap and trade plan estimated to cost $2 trillion over 8 years

Obama's plan to crush American business and consumers with a new energy tax called cap and trade was already projected to cost $646 billion over 8 years, but now top Obama economic aide Jason Furman has estimated the real cost is close to $2 trillion.

This sort of tax has been the real objective of the global warming crowd all along. Demonizing CO2 has always been a means to an end - justifying huge new taxes and controls of all kinds.

The so-called science behind anthropogenic global warming is laughable, but the campaign against CO2 is not - it is probably the greatest threat to freedom in the West that's been devised to date. It's been obvious for quite a while now that environmentalism has become the new Communism, an all purpose ideology of repression.

Now the Dems are talking about ramming the cap and trade tax through by using a maneuver to eliminate the 60 vote requirement in the Senate. Surprise, surprise. When they scent this much money, the Dems are like wolves tearing at a carcass - in this case the carcass of the American economy, and of American freedom. It will be interesting to see if they are successful at devouring both.

More on the CPSIA fiasco

As you know from my blog entry below, if not elsewhere, the so-called Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act is causing major economic damage - killing jobs, destroying small companies, and literally reducing billions of dollars of existing products to garbage.

In this interview, Hugh Hewitt, who should immediately be given a job on a (better) Tim Russert style interview show on Fox, asks the Consumer Products Safety Commission chairperson, Nancy Nord what can be done. In classic bureaucratic fashion, she admits that the damage is being done, but says there's nothing she can do but keep the destruction going, while passing the buck to Congress.

One wonders how many people realize that this law means there can be no small, hand made toy makers. And once, this was the "land of the free".

Monday, March 16, 2009

Another liberal paper bites the dust

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer, one of the two hyper liberal newspapers in Seattle, will stop printing tomorrow. After years of pursuing a policy of alienating Republicans and other conservatives with news pages laced with liberal political slant so that it could share the population of Democratic party faithful with its more successful rival, the Seattle Times, the PI has finally run out of financial options.

It's really a wonder that the corporate types at Hearst, the owner of the PI, never tried the one tactic that might have made a difference - fair and balanced reporting. If that phrase sounds familiar, it's because Fox has had tremendous success in the cable news market by not being another of the innumerable purveyors of Democratic party talking points.

While technological innovations like the internet have put tremendous pressure on paper papers, Fox has shown that, in the cable world, having the right side of the political spectrum to yourself while everyone else has to share the left side, is a recipe for ratings and financial success.

It's really interesting that media executives are so wedded to their left wing ideology that they'll just let their papers fail rather than move them to the center.

Companies moving abroad to escape Obama

You can't be a liberal and understand the most basic principles of economics. If you raise taxes on multinational companies, being multinational, they'll just leave this country for lower tax jurisdictions. This is so obvious, only a liberal couldn't understand it.

When this is pointed out to them, instead of wondering whether a policy of higher taxes on companies is a good thing, they'll rail on about how unfair these companies are not to pay their "fair share" - among the highest corporate tax rates in the world - and watch them leave, along with their headquarters jobs. Is there a better definition of obtuseness?

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Congress mindlessly doing more damage to business

A liberal congress supported by a socialist president is trying to improve the economy by hurting businesses and business people. If you think that is going to work, I have a one way ticket to North Korea for you.

Much of the damage being done is on purpose - at least they understand what a tax increase is, for example. But substantial damage is also occurring because of generalized blundering around, like a bull in a trillion dollar china shop. Such is the case with the so-called "Consumer Products Safety Improvement Act."

Thousands of small toy makers are being put out of business, a billion dollars of toy inventory is going into the dumpster, the cost of toys is going to rise, and the variety and availability of toys is going to decline because of ridiculous testing rules which don't even allow the sale of existing stocks which have not been shown to cause any harm.

One small business owner, Kimberly Owen, who started a children's clothing business called Moonfly Kids Inc. about two years ago in Las Vegas, says about $4,000 of useless inventory -- clothes and storybooks -- sits in her garage. Her small-boutique customers canceled orders because she couldn't produce certificates showing the books and clothes had been tested by an independent laboratory, she says. She recently closed Moonfly and returned to her previous job as a real-estate agent.

Small manufacturers say they can't afford testing, which can cost up to $2,000 per production batch even if the entire batch is only 20 items.

Even books are affected. A comment from an author says,

"I wrote a little book about kayaking in the area where I live (Paddling the Waters of Vashon Island.) It sells a few hundred copies in a good year. Last week I got a letter from my distributor demanding test results showing that my book contains no pthalates or other prohibited substances. The cost of such testing would be much more than any profit on my remaining inventory. So the rest of the books go into the land fill. I guess that's life in a socialist worker's paradise. Thanks, Nancy!"

Charitable organizations are also being hurt as their supplies have to be dumped.

Local outposts of Goodwill Industries International are "filling up trailers with the stuff," says Jim Gibbons, chief executive of the charitable group, which collects and distributes used clothes. The law affects clothing because lead is sometimes used in buttons, zippers, rhinestones and other embellishments.

Goodwill's Mr. Gibbons says its stores may have to destroy $170 million in merchandise. The Salvation Army say it will have $100 million in lost sales and disposal costs related to used goods.

This is not the first, second, or third example of government's destructive efforts - it's only one of a long, long list extending into the future.

The china shop bull is mindlessly smashing things left and right, but while its brain isn't working, its mouth is going non-stop telling us it's doing all this "for the children." One hopes the children won't mind growing up poorer as their parents are put out of work.