Friday, December 23, 2011

Shocker! Stabenow and Levin Wrong Again

Could it be that sound economic principles are now driving our energy policy? How about our policy on agriculture? Well, either would be a stretch, but every little bit helps.

The United States has ended a 30-year tax subsidy for corn-based ethanol that cost taxpayers $6 billion annually, and ended a tariff on imported Brazilian ethanol.

Congress adjourned for the year on Friday, failing to extend the tax break that's drawn a wide variety of critics on Capitol Hill, including Sens. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., and Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif. Critics also have included environmentalists, frozen food producers, ranchers and others.

The policies have helped shift millions of tons of corn from feedlots, dinner tables and other products into gas tanks.

Environmental group Friends of the Earth praised the move.

"The end of this giant subsidy for dirty corn ethanol is a win for taxpayers, the environment and people struggling to put food on their tables," biofuels policy campaigner Michal Rosenoer said Friday. "Given corn ethanol's downsides, it's outrageous that taxpayers have been subsidizing the industry to the tune of $6 billion a year. The industry's inability to get this tax credit extended signals that it no longer has carte blanche in Washington: Corn ethanol is no longer a sacred cow."
Clearly ethanol had no business being considered a vital portion of America's energy solution to begin with. Its harms were legion and its benefits dubious.

The corn ethanol industry was largely the brainchild of environmental activists and benevolent politicians who joined forces to not only save the planet from the evils of pollution and to save America from the evils of foreign oil, but it also served as a grand vehicle for politicians to bring home the bacon to voter districts rich in corn production--an act not considered nearly so evil.

They could save the family farm, could save the environment and, as an added bonus, could also tell the Middle East to stick it where the sun don't shine. Of course, that was before those pesky unintended consequences started popping up as thick as corn in a flat southern Michigan field. Buoyed with redirected tax dollars, the ethanol industry boomed.

Corn was diverted from food production into an inefficient energy source whose manufacture and distribution actually consumed as much energy as it produced. Millions of acres of arable land were diverted from other grains and vegetable production to that of producing corn; corn that was to be burned in my sleek '95 Buick.

Prices rose for corn as demand rose. Prices also skyrocketed for those products that had their production acreage slashed in favor of corn. Beef and poultry prices also rose as feed grains hit the roof. Meanwhile, the UN and NGOs began issuing warnings of impending starvation in the third world as food supplies waned and costs rose.

But, there was even more trouble. Many ethanol producers declared bankruptcy outright or managed to stay afloat merely through the taxpayer funded leverage supplied to them by vote seeking bureaucrats.

Ethanol producers in turn lamented that they had entered the industry at the behest of government but that the government had not done enough to actuate demand. So, a gullible congress bowed again and again to lobbying pressure by continuing to subsidize corn and ethanol production and also by changing fuel mix standards to heighten demand. Billions more dollars (and meals) went down the drain annually.

There were other ethanol alternatives, of course, the most viable being cane ethanol from Brazil. However, stodgy bureaucrats could not allow efficient ethanol to enter this country when they had activist voting constituencies that needed their inefficient products protected. So, tariffs levied upon imported ethanol made what would be a sensible alternative a no-go.

Farmers were given taxpayer money to grow corn. Ethanol manufacturers were given taxpayer money to start up and continue operations. The industry was guaranteed increasing demand for its products through manipulation of fuel blends. The industry was granted protection from truly efficient foreign ethanol.

Despite the billions poured annually into the industry and stacking the deck heavily in its favor, it simply could not support itself on its own merits regardless of the motives behind its launching. Economics is funny that way.

In recent years even many former ethanol supporters have jumped ship, among them most notably the Nobel Prize recipient Albert Gore who admitted he was merely taken in by the hype and that he is a hopeless moron. Other groups are now off the ethanol bandwagon too, apparently feeling some guilt over the millions their favored regulations helped starve over the past few decades.

However, despite Al Gore's two brain cells hesitantly sparking to life, some enlightened politicians still exist that favor the disaster that is corn ethanol, with Michigan's two brainy senators sharing top billing. Senators Stabenow and Levin voted against suspending the subsidy, apparently still is support of the idea that a bankrupt nation should be able to force its recessed citizens to pay billions in tax dollars for the simple pleasures of being able to pay billions more on food, to use less efficient fuels, and as an added bonus, to severely restrict the caloric intake of millions of people in the third world.

In Michigan we call that representation. In Ethiopia they simply call it hunger.

Hatemonger!

That would be me for linking to this article in the Daily Mail concerning contemporary textbooks in the modern Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

'They show students how to cut (the) hand and the feet of a thief,' he said.

The textbooks were printed for the 2010-2011 academic year and translated from Arabic by the institute.

In one, for ninth-graders, students are taught the annihilation of the Jewish people is imperative.

One text reads in part: 'The hour (of judgment) will not come until the Muslims fight the Jews and kill them. There is a Jew behind me come and kill him.'

According to the translations, women are described as weak and irresponsible.

Mr Al-Ahmed said the textbooks also call for homosexuals to be put to death 'because they pose a danger at society, as the Saudi school books teaches'.
Incidentally, Saudi Arabia was the home of 11 of the 19 airline hijackers on 9-11-2001.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

And Then There Were Three (Less)

The green energy industry, in particular the solar energy component of that industry, now has three fewer participants than it did just a month ago as BP Plc. has bid it a long, last goodbye. It did so voluntarily citing 'continuing global economic challenges'; this unlike two German competitors who were recently forced into liquidation by the realities of the free market and the global economy.

Solon SE and Solar Millennium, the latter of who received a $2.1 billion grant of free US taxpayer money, are no longer producing solar cells due to oversupply in the market (too little demand for an overprice product) and price pressures (falling retail prices the result of too little demand.)

It must be understood that the solar energy industry itself has recognized that it is woefully inefficient. But, in the convoluted thinking of a government driven benevolent economy, this is a feature and not a bug. It brags that it requires the most workers per megawatt of power produced than any other energy source. See how long Denny's stays in business using a "more cooks in the kitchen than anyone else" business model. Of course, that is only part of the problem. Not only is the production and installation of solar energy components more expensive than its green and not-so-green energy sisters, once the solar components are built and installed at an industry high labor cost, the energy produced is both intermittent and dependent upon even further subsidized transmission lines to bring the energy to market.

There simply is no way for these companies to make a free market profit pursuing a highly inefficient energy solution and selling it to the world for multiple times the cost of fossil powered energy. The only way a solar energy company can stay in business is by having its solar cell division carried along by other divisions that are hugely profitable (a course of action BP is no longer willing to pursue,) by perpetually preying off of taxpayers through the benevolence of planet saving politician pimps (which was the preferred route of German owned Solar Millennium,) or by choosing the path of the Chinese--compensating workers with poverty inducing wages and coupling that with a willingness to market dump products at a loss in order to dominate the industry.

We can complain all we want about China's emerging dominance in the solar panel market, but why? Economics has dictated that solar energy will not for many decades be anything more than a small niche market within the energy industry as a whole--and it will only reach profitability if its products are severely overpriced. (A price, incidentally, that only benevolent US and EU governments have been willing to pay.) Large scale profitability can be reached only if American families are forced to endure poverty inflicting prices for such heinous acts as warming up cans of soup (a food we should all get used to eating at least twice a day should solar energy ever be forced on us) or huddling around the dim family light bulb in order to read Al Gore's latest work of fiction. Americans will not voluntarily make such sacrifices--a development that the Obama administration has duly noted.

What we have here is a trade off in living standards. On one side is the American consumer who must endure a lower living standard to pay the exorbitant price of a failed energy policy, while on the other is the Chinese worker who must work for poverty sustaining wages in order to deliver a communist-blessed product to market against all economic common sense.

We must have one or the other for an existent solar energy industry. Me, I'll take the side of the energy loving American consumer and the over-stretched American taxpayer and hope that the Chinese people don't suffer overmuch for my greed.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

A Salute to Troy

By Troy, I'm referring to Troy, Michigan, a city that lies in the shadows of a crumbling Detroit and a city, it would seem, with at least a little bit of common sense and a sense of responsibility.

Troy has figured something out. It has determined that the most destitute country in the history of the solar system does not have the money to spend on a project whose benefits were over-hyped, was not needed, and despite the fact that the $8 million necessary to construct the albatross was coming from the feds, was not free.

The people in Troy have discovered something that should make them eligible to win next year's Nobel Prize for Economics--namely that federal tax dollars still are paid by those who live in small, medium, and large towns across America; they are not created arbitrarily at the wave of some federal bureaucrat's wand.

This country is $15 trillion in debt not counting the scores of trillions of additional debt currently off the books in the form of unfunded liabilities. Not only does this country not have the money to fund wanted but unnecessary building projects, it doesn't even have the money to fund initiatives without which needy people will go hungry, without heat, and without health care.

Troy is but one declining city in one declining state in what amounts to a bankrupt country, and as it turns its nose up at this project, countless other entities across the nation are greedily peeping toward the sky hoping the shadow of Father Bird Obama will regurgitate some borrowed Chinese money down their gluttonous throats for their own versions of a pet project--easily wiping out Troy's common sense on the order of a thousand times or so.

But for this moment at least, we should salute Troy.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Joe Biden is not Sentient, per se...

Fightin' Joe Biden is at it again, this time waxing eloquent on the tangled web of geopolitical intrigue present in modern day stone age Afghanistan and, one assumes, tribal Pakistan.

One can definitely draw a line between al Qaida and the Taliban, but one cannot have one working brain cell and posit that the Taliban is no enemy of the US. While they are not al Qaida, they did offer Osama bin Laden an unfettered existence within their territories from which to attack the US. While they are not al Qaida, they have killed many Americans within Afghanistan. While they are not al Qaida, they have helped to export terror to surrounding countries including Pakistan and India. While they are not al Qaida, the Taliban is one of the most oppressive political bodies on Earth, beating women who do not cover their faces, burning schools, blowing up innocent civilians, stoning infidels, outlawing music, among other things.

The Taliban is working against every interest of the US and is willing to back that up with munitions. Yet our Vice President does not see within any of that the hint of an enemy stance.

One heartbeat from the presidency resides a man with a flat line EEG.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Imagine My Surprise

Imagine my surprise when I read the first few sentences of a politics blog post by Libby Spencer in the Detroit News.

"As you know, the investment firm MF Global went bankrupt and somehow "lost" at least $1.2 billion of their customers' money. Former CEO...["]
Seeing that an article written by Libby Spencer might possess even the slightest hint of criticism aimed at a progressive Democrat is enough to set my heart aflutter. Might Libby be seeing the light? Might her enthusiastic approval of all things socialist at all times be finally cracking.

Might she finally criticize John Corzine, the huge Democrat supporter and former Democrat governor of New Jersey, who took huge bets on foreign states with his clients' money just before the Eurozone members began floating in obvious debt? Might she?

With a lump in my throat I decided that I had to look.

So, I clicked through to the main blog post where I was met with this headline: GOP helps Banksters Run Wild. Drat.

Libby was just teasing.

No mention of Corzine's long standing membership within the favored Wall Street Democrat support group. No mention of Corzine's party affiliation. No mention of his Democratic former governorship in the nearly insolvent state of New Jersey. No mention of Corzine's term as Democratic senator. No mention of his failed nomination to President Obama's cabinet. No mention of any of these pesky little facts in a story designed to use Corzine's actions as a way to pillory the GOP.

I did find this little bit of fun...
I didn't know this but according to the report, "Farmers, ranchers and others who make a living from agriculture rely on futures contracts to lock in commodity prices."
Imagine that, Libby admitting her ignorance on something so basic as this despite the fact she feels expert enough to comment on politics and economics with all too much frequency.

Let's hope she doesn't discover all the items of basic economics in which she is totally ignorant, at least any time soon. I don't think my heart could take it and I'm certain I couldn't toil my way through any blog post of Libby's that long.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Irony...heh

Protein Wisdom:

I’m tempted to talk about the irony of kids taking out student loans to enroll in a class that will “study” why irate college grads who can’t get jobs are camped out in tents complaining about the amount they owe on student loans...
That ain't no education bubble, its just an inflatable muffin. Tuition rates at NYU? $1,159 per credit hour. Carry on.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Lowest Common Denominator

"I am not trying to be a snob", said the snob, "But if you come from any of the coasts or if you have an education in art … you wouldn't even think twice about it."

But, what is "it?"

Well, since you had to ask, "it" is the photographic work of MSU professor Danny Guthrie who over the course of the past few years has produced a controversial series of photographs. The controversy arises because some of the works contain Guthrie's aging nude body juxtaposed and oft times interacting with the nude bodies of female art students decades his junior.

Guthrie has it made--a high paying union gig at a taxpayer supported institution where emotionally immature coeds can be successfully plied out of their clothing so the tenured prof can artistically slobber on an outer thigh.

However beautiful that saliva or thigh might be, should the professor be using his understood status amidst the student body (heh, I wrote that on purpose) to publicly lament his sexual waning?


So that you know, this photo is cropped to hide the naughty bits.

While they might not think twice about this on any of the coasts or among the artistically educated, as an MSU parent who lives more than thirty miles from Lake Huron, I'm thinking about it big time right now. What I'm thinking is perhaps we should not allow the incrementally desensitized to be the moral arbiters of all things artistic in this world. Perhaps we should not hold the artistic community in such high regard that their flippant responses to moral and ethical questions become the standard by default.

I am no prude. If some twenty one year old wants to yank off her bra in order to allow Guthrie to plant his grizzled pate between her breasts at the perfect light optimizing angle, I suppose that is her choice. That doesn't make it any less creepy.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Danger of Letting the Media Decide

I posted this over at Right Michigan in the comments section to a post by The Wizard of Laws. I might as well post it here too as nothing much else is happening on this site of late.

I am of the opinion that we conservatives cannot let unsubstantiated claims promoted by a leftist media interfere with our selection of a candidate. It is dangerous to do so. We should not cede this territory to the twenty four hour news cycle.

Every conservative candidate that climbs to the top of Romney opposition gets cut off at the knees by a willing media intent upon preventing a conservative candidate from making the ballot.

How surprised should we be that the communications arm of the democrat party dragged up these skanks and ran about 100 prime time hit pieces on Cain based on the unsubstantiated claims of someone named anonymous? Where were these women when Cain was running for the senate? Where were they when he climbed ever higher in the corporate world? Where were they when his radio talk show became ever more popular? More importantly, where were they fifteen years ago when Cain was supposedly groping them or making untoward gestures?

Where was the muckraking media when John Edwards stepped out on his terminally ill wife who was undergoing cancer treatments? For that matter, why was discussion of Chappaquiddick taboo for all the years that the swollen-headed and oft inebriated Teddy Kennedy sat in the Senate? Bill Clinton, a man who "didn't have sex with that woman" remained the champion of the media long after the stained dress was proffered, with their attention instead aimed at that unsympathetic and vengeful shrew, Linda Tripp.

"But," say the doubters, "we don't think Cain is necessarily guilty. We are just concerned about the unprofessional manner in which he responded to these very serious allegations." Good grief. The guy said immediately that he didn't do it and that he has never done it. This is just the fruit of the media trying to create doubt.

The media, for its part, would be much more pleased if we selected a candidate to represent us who is highly skilled at explaining the success of his disastrous health care initiatives, or one that can eloquently state his support of "efficient green jobs technologies" that use more energy than they create, are not green, that will have no impact on the climate, and that will destroy more jobs than they create. That these slick presentations are based on fallacies is of little import to a media whose goal has somehow drifted from informing to persuading.

I haven't decided yet on whom I'm going to vote for. But, I'll be damned if I'm going to let Brian Williams, Martin Bashir, David Brooks, and those flunkies at Politico decide on who best should represent the Republicans in a system that they'd like to have mirror the process by which the mullahs screen presidential candidates in Iran. These democrat mouthpieces have no skin in the Republican or conservative games.

I think we conservatives will only survive if we refuse to pay attention to that man behind the curtain.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Turkia Abbott and Lou Ficano

*** UPDATE AT BOTTOM ***

I have to admit that I have not followed closely the appointment of Turkia Mullin to a directorship of the Wayne County Airport Authority. Her involuntary departure after only two months on the job is, however, interesting.

Ms. Mullin was considered a good public servant in Wayne County, in fact being so valuable that the County paid her $200,000 for leaving, and it is that exit payment that appears to have put the kibosh on her employment at the airport authority--a job for which she has no direct experience. (Oddly, you'd think that a valued employee would be offered $200K for sticking around and not beating the pavement, but this is not apparently how government works in Wayne County.)

What did Ms. Mullin do wrong? Aside from accepting a payment that may or may not have been illegally offered, we do not know. And, there is absolutely no reason to believe that Mullin was intentionally trying to receive an illegal payout. (Hey, I know its an unjustified and truly irrational payout, but does that make it illegal?)

What I find most interesting here is that it is Wayne County that should be heavily scrutinized for offering Ms. Mullin the $200K upon her departure, not necessarily Ms. Mullin who would have been a nutcase to turn down such an offer unless she thought the payment illegal.

But, the illegality of said payment is not so obvious. In fact, her exit payment (as well as some others) is under investigation right now, but it was not Ms. Mullin who wrote herself a check upon leaving, and it was not Ms. Mullin that demanded payment before she left. Ms. Mullin is certainly guilty of acting human when someone in authority and someone that you think is acting legally tries to shove stacks of crisp greenbacks across the table at you. But, to my knowledge, she didn't extort the payments and she didn't attempt to hide them once they were shoved at her by the greasy fingers of Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano.

Now, don't get to thinking that I think such payments make any sense. Whoever authorized such payments ought to be run out of their jobs on a high-speed rail because they clearly are not being good stewards of the people's money. In fact, I think any person in charge of any government authority that would think such payments justified should also be run out on a rail, after all, its the only way to be sure. Well, that or nuke them from orbit.

But, there is nothing that I can see to this point that makes me believe that Mullin was acting in any way other than human. These government agencies toss around money like feathers of a broken pillow, and what public servant properly desensitized to bundles of wasted cash wouldn't think it proper to accept a few if they were legally offered as thanks?

Ms. Mullin, upon the deserved scrutiny her payment received, returned most of the $200K. She also was put on the defensive by those who began to scrutinize her credentials for the job that she had already been hired for. This too seems like a government screw up (if a screw up at all)--this of the Airport Authority rather than Ms. Mullin. Good grief, if I thought I stood a chance of knocking down $250K running Detroit Metro I'd go for it. It isn't the applicant's fault that the hiring authorities offered Ms. Mullin the job without any previous airport experience.

Of course, Ms. Mullin is now threatening a lawsuit against the airport board and might be due a $750,000 cash settlement as a contract buyout for the job she's held for eight weeks and from which she's just been fired. (By the way, I think I got the wrong major in college.)

I'm certainly not suggesting that Mullin is innocent of all ethical wrongdoing in this saga. But I do find it odd that Robert Ficano is the one whose agency paid Mullin the disputed $200K severance, and that it is the same Robert Ficano whose airport board offered the inexperienced Mullin the airport job, with, I suspect, an outstanding letter of reference signed by none other than Robert Ficano. What's more, it is the same Robert Ficano who is politically behind the removal of Mullin from the airport job his appointed directors specifically hired her away from Ficano's Wayne County to fill.

Mullin might be a crony (and a reasonably good lookin' crony at that,) but it is Ficano who is pulling the strings here and a busy puppet master he is.

To recap, Robert Ficano has now successfully gotten Turkia Mullin removed from the same job he just recently had recommended her for, this after apparently losing faith in her for accepting the same severance check his office offered her for leaving her former job with Ficano, so that she could take the second job, also with Ficano.

Abbott and Costello could make a routine.

UPDATE ***

CS at Right Michigan points to more muddy water here.

Herman Cain Allegedly Guilty of Something! Roll the Presses

It appears as if Herman Cain is as guilty as his black skin might indicate. He's done gone and made some anonymous someone, a couple decades ago, allegedly, feel offended by something that he might have said or done. Whether or not what he said was intended to be offensive or not is irrelevant, as is whether or not what Mr. Cain said or did could be plausibly interpreted as offensive. (Incidentally, he says he was accused of harassment but has denied ever harassing anyone.)

This is what we have come to expect from politicians and the media who will spend an inordinate amount of time seeking out scandals among conservative political competitors while aggressively looking the other way when it comes to vetting progressive politicians who might, wink, wink, impregnate a campaign staffer while his wife is home dying of cancer.

How many snoops fled to the Alaskan woods to dig up dirt on Sarah Palin? Accusations of affairs, marital troubles, fraud, vindictiveness, cronyism, obstruction, etc., against the Alaskan governor were each given their days in the headlines--none of which were proved. Even her children became targets of progressive political merrymaking up to and including her Down's Syndrome infant son.

Michelle Bachmann and her Neanderthal! husband have undergone more religious inspection than did the twenty years that Barack Obama sat in the pews not listening to a single word spake by the Rev. Jeremiah Wright. (Oh, he also didn't listen to Frank Marshall Davis, take tips from Saul Alinsky, take political cues from Bill Ayers and Madelyn Dohrn, snort a little coke, get a sweet deal from Tony Reszco, strong arm political opponents off the ballot, or steer millions in government grants to the employer of his wife.)

George W. Bush was accused by a democrat operative and Dan Rather of evading the Vietnam War even though the evidence was created out of whole cloth and with a technology that didn't even exist when Bush was in the Texas Air National Guard. (Why should such trivialities matter?) It was enough for Mr. Rather and his crack team of fact checkers at CBS to run with.

Which gets me back to Herman Cain.

Whoever is guilty of forwarding these accusations needs to be exposed for who they are--regardless of which camp they might be coming from. Some rumors are pointing at operatives within the Rick Perry campaign and if that is true Republican voters should hold him responsible. We should expect better from our Republican candidates.

I'm afraid, however, that we will not be able to expect as much from a liberal press that yearns for another four more years of Obama. This is a story that might very well have no natural legs on its own but that we can probably expect progressive journalists to duct tape fake legs to for however long it takes to damage Mr. Cain.

Politics is a dirty business but it needn't be so dirty if voters would, first of all, hold politicians responsible for the mischief they create, and secondly, if they would tell the legacy media to go jump in a lake.

Jack Frost Visits Oscoda County

Early Saturday morning I rose in order to visit my children in East Lansing to ascertain how successfully they are being indoctrinated into leftist culture and politics. (It probably drives the professors crazy when they discover just how counterproductive I was during their formative years.)

In any case, when I arrived at the car I saw this heavy frost pattern on the roof. I'm not a photographer but I snapped a picture anyway.


Winter is coming.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Another Great Moment in Bureaucracy

One of the many downsides of huge government is the number of rules and regulations that must be adhered to. The more complex these sets of rules and regulations become, the more difficult it is to satisfactorily navigate through the morass.

The city of Detroit is so far removed from sanity that we have come to expect knuckelheadedness in even the situations where obvious solutions are evident.

I give you the city of Detroit.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

2.5 Percent Rise In GDP Equals 4 Percent Rise in Oil

Today the US government released GDP numbers for the last quarter.

It was an anemic 2.5%. In historical terms, a quarterly GDP number this low is alarmingly low. It is not high enough to spur employment growth. It is not high enough to outpace modest inflation. It is not high enough to pull this country out of the serious economic doldrums it has dug itself into.

And yet, 2.5 percent is enough in today's energy depleted economy to send oil prices up over 4% and to a three month high. West Texas Crude hit $93 plus per barrel today on economic numbers that would have sent them a buck or two a barrel lower only two or three years ago.

I know we are suffering from a credit crisis. I know we have a serious debt issue. I know that unemployment is unacceptably high and that the American Dream is under attack in nearly all corners of this country. But, in my opinion, it is this country's obtuse energy policy that will keep it from recovering in a healthy way over the next few years.

America can simply not recover when every modest step it takes toward a rebound results in a shovel to the head in the form of energy prices.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Because It Worked So Well In Michigan

Jennifer Granholm's impact on the state of Michigan is still unfolding. She spent eight long years in the governor's mansion, each one of them dedicated to making Michigan less competitive on both the national and international stage.

She harmed employers through crippling regulations. She harmed employers by promoting regressive tax policies. She harmed the entire economic landscape through efficiency-hobbling initiatives that funneled taxpayer money to heavy Democrat constituencies. Unions gained in strength under her leadership while the services provided by those unions became more expensive and less efficient. She made energy expensive, cronyism cheap, and all the while knew she was blowing much of Michigan away.

Sadly, hindsight has taught her nothing. She regrets not having been tougher in office. She regrets not being forceful enough with her agenda. Her vision and leadership were all that could save the state. And save it she did.

During her tenure as savior, Comerica fled the Great Lakes State. As did Pfizer. As did portions of GM, Ford, and Chrysler. Meanwhile, despite the superior workforce she touted her job training programs and her public universities had helped to produce, Toyota opted for Texas, Volkswagen chose Tennessee, and Honda now produces cars in Indiana. Windtronics (despite a nice state grant) shipped their manufacturing north to Canada. Eaton moved theirs south to Mexico. Factories became shuttered from coast to coast, from peninsula to peninsula, and for sale signs began to spring up on lawns along the highways like mushrooms after a warm rain.

And yet, it is the wisdom and talents of Jennifer Granholm that will soon be on display at Current TV, the media company founded by former VP and Nobel Laureate Albert Gore. She is getting her own television show--The War Room with Jennifer Granholm.

From the promo:

During two terms as governor, she pioneered the state through an economic storm, strengthening its auto industry, preserving the manufacturing sector, and adding new, emerging sectors, such as clean energy.

Each night, Granholm will present a dynamic, fun and informative show that actively engage viewers with a blend of smart analysis and relevant commentary from guests on the cutting edge of politics, business and entertainment.
Only to Al Gore and the socialist left could the current condition of Michigan be a bragging point on a resume.

People silly enough to follow Granholm's sort of 'smart analysis and relevant commentary' on economics and business deserve to travel their own path to predictable ruin. The rest of us will only watch when we need a good laugh.

Oh No! Not Again...

This from an article on MLive yesterday under the title: Expect more pressure to raise minimum wage as percentage of those receiving it increases.

Anyone earning minimum wage in Michigan makes $296 a week for a 40-hour week, or $15,392 a year. Federal poverty level in 2011 is $10,890 for a single person and $14,710 for a couple.

Nationwide, the Bureau of Labor Statistics says the percentage of employees working for minimum wage doubled from 2009 to 2010, going from 3 percent to 6 percent. The percentage of men receiving minimum wage or less nationwide rose last year from 1.9 percent to 4.5 percent

Some states are aggressively raising their minimum wages, led by the State of Washington, where the minimum wage will go up 37 cents on Jan. 1, 2012, to $9.04 per hour. Ohio is also raising its minimum wage Jan. 1 from $7.40 an hour to $7.70 per hour for non-tipped employees and $3.85 per hour for tipped employees, plus tips.

As the Occupy movement gains more supporters across the country expect more more discussion about raising the federal minimum wage. The Center for Economic and Policy Research is already arguing that if the minimum wage had kept pace with the economy, it would be almost $20 per hour.
Minimum wage laws fly in the face of liberty even though they are a tyranny based on benevolence. The results of minimum wage laws are always of the "unintended consequence" variety, while their motivations are of the "for the people" ilk.

While the article itself is rather straight in its presentation, it is in the comments that one can find the progressive favor for such intrusion into the private sector.

Here are facts that are rarely disputed among economists. First, since minimum wage increases are arbitrary and not based on increased productivity or profitability, the added cost of higher wages are inflationary. In other words, if a company has to absorb an additional $1,000 a week in payroll and other employment costs, in order to simply keep its head above water, the business must raise revenues to offset the new $1,000 in costs and must toss a few more dollars to the profit side in order to keep margins healthy. (Don't believe me on that last part? Try to get a commercial loan today with poor margins.)

But, what if a company is unable to get customers at the higher rates? (This occurs often to businesses whose products are more discretionary in nature.) Those businesses, unable to raise the additional $1,000 per week in receipts, must find other ways to make ends meet. The easiest way to do this is to lay off employees, and the first jobs to go are typically those that can be done with lower frequencies and lower skill labor. A business can have the back room swept less often, can make customers wait a bit longer in line before a cashier is available, or can try and handle the lunch hour with a smaller wait staff.

Each job has a price point. At a certain cost they are worth doing. At costs above this point they are not worth having accomplished as often or at all. By raising the costs of employment, more and more jobs are no longer worth doing at the prescribed rate.

The fact is, whenever the minimum wage laws are changed they increase unemployment among unskilled and new-to-the-marketplace workers while also offering an inflationary component to the entire economy. Those workers who hold on to their jobs gain nothing over the long term because their larger checks must purchase more expensive goods and services, while those who have been laid off lose big at the outset.

Another unintended consequence of higher mandated costs is the shifting of commerce from high overhead mom-and-pop operations to larger corporate behemoths such as Wal-Mart and Home Depot. While all progressives hate warehouse stores for the small businesses they supposedly destroy, they have no problem with encouraging the very sort of regulations that place a decided disadvantage on the backs of these smaller stores.

The minimum wage war is something that is fought every several years at the Michigan or national level. Foolishness has often been defined as employing the same failed solutions time and time again while each time expecting a different outcome.

The results of an increased minimum wage in Michigan are as predictable as the effects of gravity. We know that they will increase unemployment among the most vulnerable while also adding to inflationary pressures and, in addition, will put smaller employers at a disadvantage against low overhead businesses. No wonder it is in such favor among progressives.

Thank you sir, may I have another!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Stop Being So Rude, Just Shut Up and Put Your Father Back On the Phone!

I am so blessed by being in my 50s and still being able to enjoy the company of both of my parents who have lived long and healthy lives. I have experienced few benefits due to my underemployment, but one is the ability to share a morning cup of coffee with my parents several times a week when I'm in town.

Last Wednesday was just such a morning as I pulled into drive the of their house at about 9:00 am. I entered their sweltering house and greeted my Mom with a quick hello but left my Dad alone as he was listening intently on the telephone. I would occasionally hear him toss out short responses such as "I don't know about that" and "Oh, a few years ago."

The conversation went on for another five minutes or so--my father occasionally interjecting a word here or there which was answered in kind by a muffled voice that I could pick up whenever the angle of my Dad's hand changed to allow the caller's voice to reach my ear.

I asked my Mom who he was talking to. "Some salesman or someone that wants some money." My Mom at that point began suggesting that my Father should just hang up on the caller, but My Dad has never been a man wont to engage in rudeness or the impolitic. So, on he listened with the occasional interjected word to the increased frustration of my Mom and interest in me. I gathered enough from what I could hear that the salesman was hawking a septic treatment designed to infuse the septic system with massive amounts of bacteria that would help the system from becoming overloaded and needing to be repaired or replaced. (Think expensive Rid-X.)

After another few minutes or so, my Dad began to say more forcefully that he was uninterested in what was being sold. While never being rude or raising his voice, it became obviously clear to me that the salesman was not going to take no for an answer--he was the kind of salesman who only understood the word 'no' when it was delivered by the sound of a dial tone. But, since my father has never hung up anyone in his entire life, the conversation continued on and on until my Dad was completely frustrated.

Of course, my Mom was willing to offer her advice. "Hang up on him." "Hang up the phone." "Hang up on him." As for myself, I was confident that I could dispatch the caller with a simple--"Dude, my Dad's not interested. What is it about "no" that you do not understand?"

Finally my Dad threw up his arms with the receiver clutched tightly in one hand and asked "What am I supposed to do?"

I was angry. My elderly Father has lived too long and gracefully to have to put up with the sort of crap being expelled by this anonymous asshole. "Let me have the phone," I told my Dad. He handed it to me without hesitation.

On the other end of the line I could hear a man blathering on (he believed at the time he was still talking to my Father) about the information that he had delivered and about the value of his product. Having delivered the information flawlessly and truthfully, he was demanding that my Father repeat to him what it was about his presentation that my Father either disagreed with or did not understand.

"Sir?, Sir?" I said into the phone. There was a slight pause as I introduced myself to the salesman. "I need to let you know that you are no longer talking to my Father. My name is Kirk and my Dad just handed me the telephone because he was getting frustrated. He is not interested in your product and he has told you several times already."

"Who am I talking to?"

"You are no longer talking to Boyd. You are now talking to Kirk, his son."

I must admit that there was a flurry of words from the salesman at this time that I don't entirely remember, and his flurry was matched with a flurry of my own that, because of my frustration, I have also forgotten. I know that I did not raise my voice.

This went on for several sentences, him talking, me talking, and nothing at all being communicated other than the noise that is created when different words from different mouths are crashed headlong into each other.

Then, perhaps in the short break it might take me to inhale, I heard this..."Mind your own business. Be a good Son, and give the phone back to your Father." Classic.

"What?" I remember asking this with a disbelieving tone in my voice. "Hey, my Father just handed me the phone. At that point I think it became my business. You wouldn't listen to him so he handed the phone to me. He is not interested in your product."

"Shut up and give the phone back to your Father. You are causing him to lose money."

"Maybe I am, but it is his money. He can do with his money what he wants and he is not interested in your product."

"He has used the product in the past and was satisfied. Give the phone back to your Dad. You are being rude."

"You're kidding me! You just told me to shut up and now I'm the one being rude?"

This seemed to snap him back to the fringe of reality as he slowed down and attempted a different tactic. "Let's go back to square one. Who am I talking to?"

I have to admit that at this point I was no longer upset and was having a bit of a good time. I was happy to continue this conversation.

"Sure. Let's start over."

"Okay, my name is Joe. I'm the account manager."

"Hello, Joe. My name is Kirk. I already told you my name earlier when I introduced myself."

"I'm sorry, I must have missed that."

At that point Joe leaped off into another sales pitch having deduced that I was now the one that needed to be sold, not my Father. He talked about the oils included in today's new cleaning products. He talked about their impacts on a septic system. He talked about the buildup they caused on sewage lines, about the reduced flow this buildup could cause, and how this could result in major problems. He yammered on and on for several minutes. Admittedly I had been ignoring most of what he said, so when he asked me a question, I had no idea what his question even involved but I faked it. Satisfied with my response, he went on again, this time launching into the costs associated with failing to use his product. A replaced septic system would cost $7,000. A pumping of the septic would run my Dad $300. Calling a plumber in to do work on the system could cost additional hundreds.

"Are you a plumber?" he asked me.

"No, my brother in law is the plumber."

"Well, you probably know then how expensive all of this could get. This could cost your Father a lot of money."

"Joe, you might have a great product. It might be the best product on the market. But the fact is that all of this is irrelevant. It is not my money. It is not your money. It is my Dad's money, and he does not want to buy your product."

"You need to stop being so stupid and give the phone back to your Father. Why are you even there? Don't you have a job? Are you there because you are living off your parents? Be a good son and give the phone back to your father."

"Joe, where are you calling from? What company do you represent?" Up until this point I knew the type of product he was selling but did not know which company was employing him to prey off my Father's politeness and to occasionally, whenever the need would arise, to accuse his customer's family members of preying on unsuspecting patriarchs. "What number are you calling from."

"The same number that showed up on your caller ID."

"We don't have caller ID here. Where are you calling from?"

He gave me the 800 number of the business and told me he was calling from Florida. He also made certain that I understood that my Dad had purchased the product from him in the past, apparently giving his phone call the necessary wiggle room to avoid do-not-call restrictions.

"Oh. I thought I could detect a Florida accent." Now, I have no idea why I was trying to engage this guy in casual conversation other than the fact that I was having a pretty good time. Perhaps it was stupidity.

"I don't have a Florida accent. I am from New York. You must be too stupid to recognize a New York accent." Yep, it was stupidity.

"Oh, well, I've known people from Florida that had similar accents." I was responding to the guy with a mirth in my voice because the whole situation had become humorous to me. I had never in my life had a conversation like this. I was being entertained!

"You're wasting my time. Why don't you shut up, be a good son, and put your Father back on the phone."

"Because he is not interested in your product."

"I tell you what I'm going to do. I'm going to call him back later in the day when you are not around."

"You had better not call him back later in the day. He has already told you that he is not interested in your product. I don't want you to call back here and I don't want anyone else from your company ever calling here again."

"Well, your Father has already given me his credit card information."

I knew that this was a lie. My Father is as blind as a bat and couldn't read numbers if they were written in bold red on the side of a barn. "So, what are you telling me, Joe? Are you saying that you plan on charging my Father's credit card for a product that he has told you that he does not want to buy?"

"No, I'm not saying that. I wouldn't do that."

"Then why would you even mention it? Is there some sort of identity theft issue that my Father now has to be concerned with?"

"No, I would not do that."

"I cannot figure out why you would mention having his credit card information unless you were trying to threaten me with an illegality."

Joe clearly did not want to continue to discuss the credit care issue. He moved on. "Well, when your Father's septic tank fails and needs to be replaced and it costs him thousands of dollars to have it done, I'm going to call him up and say 'I told you so."

"How in the world are you ever going to find out if and when my Father's septic tank goes on the fritz? Do you have spies out here that monitor sewage levels?"

"And, when your septic tank fails, I don't want any phone calls down here threatening to sue us."

"Why would we ever call you if the septic tank failed?"

"Because of the costs of replacing a septic tank and because your Dad has been using the product for the past few years. You might claim the product failed. You know what? You are just wasting my time. I'm going to call back later when I can speak with your Father. I'm going to hang up on you."

"You called here and you don't think you are wasting my time?"

"I'm going to hang up and call back later. You are too stupid to talk to and you are costing your Father money."

"Joe, please don't hang up on me. What about my feelings?" Click.

After twenty plus minutes with my Dad on the phone and another fifteen minutes more with me, Joe had determined that too much of his time had been wasted.

I went and hung up the phone thoroughly impressed that I had outlasted possibly the rudest and most obstinate sewage treatment salesman on Earth. I went back and discussed with my parents some of what had been said.

I then did a Google search of the phone number he had given me to see if I could find any consumer complaints lodged against the company for its sales tactics. I found none but decided I'd call the company to lodge my own complaint.

I dialed the 800 number worried that I was going to get Joe back on the line and that he would have to hang up on me again, after all, a man's self esteem can only withstand so much. My fears were calmed when the phone was answered by a nice young lady not named Joe with an accent decidedly un-NewYorkerish.

I told her that I wanted to speak with a supervisor. She assured me that she could help me. I told her a second time that I wanted to make certain I was speaking with someone that supervised the account managers. Again, she assured me that she could assist me with whatever I was calling about.

"Do you supervise Joe? I'm calling from Michigan and Joe called here this morning and I want to lodge a complaint about him."

"What did he say to you?"

I did my best to recount all of the things that occurred, trying to lay them out similarly to this blog post. Of course, I probably remembered a few things then that I forgot to write here, and I probably wrote some things here that I forgot to mention to the supervisor.

When I mentioned the credit card number and that I was going to be very angry if Dad was charged for product he did not want or became a victim of identity theft, she wanted clarification. I repeated that part of the story to which she assured me that Joe had no credit card information. While I knew that my Dad had not given the information to Joe I was not so certain that Joe did not have access to the credit card information through his access to my Father's sales file--after all, Joe was the account manager.

Finally, after I had completed my account of events, the supervisor told me that when she heard the phone ringing that she wondered if it was me. She told me that she had wandered out into the call area and heard Joe's part of the conversation and told me that Joe had definitely "crossed the line." Joe was going to be reprimanded.

I told the lady that my Dad should not have to suffer through any more of these calls and that I did not want Joe or any other representative of the company calling him back. She quickly and resolutely agreed and assured me again that the credit card information was secure, that Joe would not call him back, and that no other representative from her company would ever contact my Father again.

We ended our call in the traditional manner without anyone being hung up on and, thankfully, with no one's feelings being damaged.

Approximately twenty minutes later the telephone rang again. My Mom answered the phone, paused, and then handed the telephone to my Dad. My Dad listened for a few seconds and then handed the phone to me.

I said into the receiver, "Hello, this is Kirk."

On the other end of the line was the general manager or owner of the company that Joe had called from. Once again I was asked to recount my side of the story. This time, however, while retelling the story I was kindly encouraged to continue. For instance, when I mentioned that Joe had told me to 'mind my own business' the general manager interjected that he thought it was definitely my business. When I told him that I had been repeatedly called stupid, that I had been told to shut up numerous times, and that I had been told to mind my own business and be a good son, my words were greeted with empathy. He too was concerned when I mentioned the credit card part of the conversation and assured me that Joe did not have that information.

"I want you to know that Joe is not just getting a reprimand. He is being fired. What he did is inexcusable and we cannot have that here."

To my insistence that I did not want anyone from his company to call my Father again, he said he didn't blame me one bit and that no one would call.

He apologized again and we hung up.

In retrospect I couldn't help but wonder what Joe's problem was. Meth? Coke? Was he wrestling with the manic side of a bi-polar incident? I am not gloating over the loss of his job and my intent was not to get the man fired. I told the general manager as much when he told me Joe was being terminated. The guy needs some help.

The truly sad thing about this whole story is that I did not have to embellish it in the least. Some of the comments might be slightly out of the order in which they were originally uttered and I'm certain I forgot portions of what was said--for instance, I know I was called stupid at least five times, but I cannot remember what I said to prompt Joe's wrath each individual time. To the best of my ability and recollection, this story is recounted as accurately as possible but if I can think of anything else I'll add it to the bottom in an update.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Leonard Pitts on Herman Cain

From the freep

One of the least-discussed impacts of the black experience in America is its emotional toll. African Americans were psychologically maimed by this country, the expression of which can still be seen in the visceral self-loathing that afflicts too many.

Meaning the black child who equates doing well in school with "acting white." Meaning the famous black man who bleaches his skin. Meaning the famous black woman who rationalizes her use of a certain soul-killing racial epithet. Meaning Herman Cain.
Pitts plays the identity politics card with such mastery that not only is Cain's authenticity as a black man challenged, but today's black populist culture is itself forwarded as evidence of legacy racism.

Leonard Pitts is left to define for the rest of us who is a bigot, who is self-loathing, and who is inauthentic, and is also kind enough to point out the two types of African-Americans that we crackers can tolerate--which I truly appreciate as its just like having a Caucasian owner's manual!

For my part, I don't know Herman Cain the candidate as well as I expect to know him over the next few weeks and months, but his message of conservatism is refreshing--not because it is a message of black conservatism, but because his message is one that this pasty skin American believed in before he was introduced to the inauthentic Mr. Cain.

As for Pitts, living life must be miserable when you cannot take even one day off from keeping score.

What's Next, The $22.95 Cup of Coffee?

Starbucks is worried about the extinction of the coffee bean according to the company's director of sustainability, Jim Hanna. Global warming rears its ugly head again.

With a typical cup of coffee at Starbucks already more expensive than a six pack of gray tube socks, I don't think an escalation in the price of a Grande Caff├Ę Misto will affect me much.

Monday, October 17, 2011

The Circle of Life: Government Style

At the same time that the Suburban Mobility Authority for Regional Transportation has announced plans to cut its bus service by 22 percent and to lay off 123 people, Ray LaHood has announced that SMART will be receiving federal grants totaling nearly $5 million for new buses.

In the government's circle of life, the albatross is never allowed to die.

Friday, October 14, 2011

This One Was Not For the Children

There are many winners in the plea deal that resulted from the dismissal of Teresa Gueyser from her Superintendant's post at the Detroit Public Schools--this shortly after she was exposed to Detroit's School Board President fondling himself while he sat across from her at a meeting.

As sympathetic as the lawyer turned adminstrator might seem, she gets to walk away with a cool $650,000 that could otherwise have been used to, well, educate children. Of course, Otis Mathis, the self-pleasuring public servant in trust of the education of his city's children, gets off (I'll bet you didn't see that one coming (or that one)) with a couple years probation for his admitted behaviors while simultaneously avoiding the embarrassment of other disclosures.

The DPS itself, perhaps the most incompetently run government entity this side of Mogadishu, gets to avoid what could have easily amounted to even larger legal fees while not having its already besmirched reputation dragged farther into the gutter in full view of the district's parents.

There are words that aptly describe Otis Mathis though I will leave them untyped should Mom stumble onto this rant while looking for important cake recipes in Mennonite history. There are other words and terms every bit as fitting (and more palatable to your typicaly anabaptist) to describe Gueyser; opportunist, sufferer of M├╝nchausen, selfish git, typical bureaucrat. I find one simple word appropriate to describe the DPS; failure.

The driving force behind the education of children has become money. Not necessarily the money actually needed to educate the little rugrats, but the chambers full of treasure to be divided among the educrats so that little Johnny and Little Sally can drop out after completing the 11th grade while their older siblings, Billy and Susan, having received their own diplomas can scantly read the word Diploma stamped on its face.

$650K is peanuts to a school district so awash in red ink that the new punishment will scarsely register a blip, and $650,00 is less than peanuts to a city with problems so numerous that a public snake charming hedonist can seamlessly rise to the level of School Board President after he had already climbed to the board room of Wayne County.

The scoreboard looks like this. Gueyser gets her some cash, Mathis can entertain some other unsuspecting victim (that is, should the miracles of modern medicine fail him in his never ending quest to stop yanking himself in public) and the DPS can avoid having its name in the papers throughout a very embarrassing and protracted court litigation. The kids? Who cares, the education establishment has bigger fish to fry.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Confusing Orwell

Okay, I'm in Georgia right now and blogging is almost impossible, but at the very least certain hypocrisies must be exposed and ridiculed.

Americans United for the Separation of Church and State has filed a brief in support of the Justice Department in a lawsuit brought against the Lutheran Church.

The case involves a former teacher at Lutheran school, who along with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is pushing a claim that a Lutheran congregation should be forced to restore her ministry position.
Let me see if I have this right.

A group whose adopted name would seem to indicate that it exists ostensibly for the purpose of keeping the church out of the state's business and the state out of the church's business, has decided instead to cast lots with Eric Holder and Barack Obama in their attempts to put the government in charge of the church's personnel policies for ministers.

We know, of course, that these control freaks are not interested in church and state separation but rather endorse a rigid hierarchy where the church rests comfortably underneath the heel of state tyranny. Saying so just doesn't sell as well.

Friday, September 30, 2011

The Great War Against Employers Continues

Wonderful.

We now have another class of aggrieved in this nation...and it used to be ME! Sadly, I lost my special status even before I got a chance to use it.

Hey, I've been there. I'm still only cobbling together a living after losing my job in the construction sales industry a couple years ago. (Thank you Jennifer Granholm!) I spent many months completely out of work and many more months "underemployed" as today's dynamic social sciences lexicon might refer to me.

Barack Obama's so-called jobs program includes a priceless little gem that would allow me to sue the pants off of any of the scores of potential employers that didn't hire me during the blight of my unemployment.

One can imagine the additional costs that could be amassed by any business with over fifteen employees that makes the mistake of filling its only opening after accepting 100 applications and interviewing ten finalists. Any one of those spurned 99 percent that might happen to be unemployed at the time of their application could be encouraged to sue for damages.

Here in Michigan there are often thousands of applicants accepted for only a handful of jobs. How many Alice reruns do you suppose the average unemployed job seeker would have to sit through before the Law Offices of Sam Bernstein or Robert Goldwater started peddling their sue first meme over job discrimination?

While the law does specifically exclude applicants who are unqualified or incapable of handling the job in question, the mere threat of litigation and the financial requirements of walking the regulation tightrope will have a chilling effect on many potential employers.

This chill might effect not only the routine hiring process conducted by any employer, but even base-level decision making that might be considering potential company expansions or relocations. How will a company pay for any unforeseen litigation costs? How much more expensive will their product become in order to defend against unjustified accusations?

Of course, these concerns are not a major problem for those who demand that a 'jobs bill' be signed immediately regardless of its actual impact. The great war against employers continues apace.

More at Overlawyered.

Anwar al-Awlaki Meets His Maker

I know that Ron Paul and the ACLU are very concerned that the US would target an American citizen for assassination when he has never been truly charged with any crime, but I'm not quite so sentimental.

Anwar al-Awlaki strove for the status he acquired and relished his meteoric rise to the top of the anti-American Muslim jihadist movement. He was a spiritual adviser to at least two of the nineteen 9-11 hijackers, was a correspondent and adviser to the Fort Hood shooter, and was behind the radicalization of many African jihadists including the underwear bomber.

Perhaps the Justice Department should have charged the late al-Awlaki, but such maneuvering would have been largely cosmetic to begin with and it is doubtful that having charges against the scumbag would in any way blunt Paul's or the ACLU's ultimate disfavor.

Had al-Awlaki been hiding in New Mexico or Texas, I'd agree with Ron Paul. We don't assassinate American citizens on our soil because we have other options. But, in the hostile sands of the Mideast where the Allah-commanded murdering of nearly anyone, Christian, Muslim, or Jew, is commonplace, we are somewhat limited in our legal arsenal if not the one held by our military.

Dick Durbin and the Bank Profit Dyke

Dick Durbin is a painfully predictable communicator which, it seems, he attempts to compensate for by spewing out of his acerbic pie hole fantastic claims that do nothing more than provide evidence of his mind boggling ignorance.

One of Durbin's biggest legislative accomplishments is the inclusion of the Durbin Amendment to Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, an act signed into law last year in response to our current economic malaise. (It should be noted that many critics of the Dodd-Frank fiasco point out that the act responds to our current economic crisis by addressing exactly zero of the factors that contributed to the economic crisis, that it would not have headed off the recession had it been passed in previous years, and that its passing will contribute significantly to the likelihood that we might fall face forward into the second half of a disastrous double-dipper.)

It does all of these things because it misinterprets the major causes of the recession to begin with. It blames Wall Street and the big banks for the recession (two easy-to-hate culprits) while it conveniently forgets that it was a predictable housing bubble coupled with a government-mandated relaxation of lending standards that were the principle motivators of the credit crunch. Then, when benevolent bureaucrats swooped in to save the day, they exacerbated the problem by holding risky lenders largely unaccountable for their ill advised exploits while siphoning out of the private sector badly needed capital.

Hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars flowed into the coffers of careless banks, conveniently blinded mortgage lenders and insurers, poorly managed car companies, overspending state and local governments, and ill-advised green energy favorites until those numerous billions, now adding up to trillions, had been fatally squeezed out of the American economy and no longer were available to private enterprises who needed the capital resources to expand their businesses while also expanding their employment bases.

Dick Durbin, Barney Frank, and Chris Dodd were three of the swooping bureaucrats--all of them partly responsible for the catastrophic credit meltdown in America, and all of them equally as guilty of misdirecting blame for their own complicity at Wall Street and the banking boardrooms.

You see, the rich and the banks they own make wonderful villains. They are the haves while we are the have-nots. They board corporate jets to flit about the globe while we haven't had a vacation in years. They own yachts while we cannot afford fishing licenses. The rings on their fingers could pay off our mortgages. They are the millionaires while we live paycheck to unemployment check.

It is the evil banks and their excessive profits that Dick Durbin was aiming at when he slipped the Durbin Amendment into the Dodd-Frank disaster at the last moment. The villainous banks needed to have their profits reined in, and Durbin was just the man to do it.

And yet, even responsible banks must operate at a profit and must maintain a certain profit margin. Falling nether a particular profit margin makes banks, like any free market business, unworthy of investment. So, when the benevolent Dick Durbin struts around a bank and sees profits he feels are unnecessary or unfair, he attempts to plug those leaks with regulations. Unfortunately, when more and more of these profit centers become plugged with the pudgy fingers of Durbin, more and more seemingly unreasonable measures of revenue must be gathered elsewhere.

This is not because banks want to punish their customers for their patronage, but rather the banks are being forced to scrounge for dollars under the seat cushions because many of their conventional streams of income are being crushed by regulations.

Do I love banks? Nope. They piss me off as much as the next guy. My free checking went away years ago, my ATM charges keep climbing, and it is rumored that my e-banking might start costing me money. But, these seemingly unreasonable charges are becoming the norm these days because government regulators are busy trying to plug profit holes that they deem excessive even though eliminating them makes banks turn to more creative (and unreasonable) measures to maintain their profit margins.

Says Durbin:

“Earlier this year the Federal Reserve determined that the interchange fees Visa and MasterCard fix for big banks grossly exceed the cost of processing a debit card transaction by some 400%. These hidden fees were designed to boost big-bank profits by charging small businesses and merchants every time a debit card was swiped. And profit they did. Bank of America hauls in billions in debit interchange each year.”

“Thankfully, on October 1st that flawed system will be replaced by a more transparent and competitive market. Swipe fee regulation will still allow banks to cover the actual costs of debit transactions but will rein in the banks’ excessive profit-taking. Small business and merchants will benefit from fee relief and consumers will benefit from lower prices. And banks that try to make up their excess profits off the backs of their customers will finally learn how a competitive market works.”
The more 'transparent and competitive market' that Durbin has announced that will result from his brilliant private sector intrusion, in part, amounts to millions of debit card holders having to fork over an additional few dollars every month for the right to spend their own money. Other annoying charges are certain to follow in order to pay for Durbin's bulbous nose snuffling about my bank account, and to pay the salaries of the additional bank regulators necessary to pull off this sort of intrusion, as well as to pay the higher overheads incurred by banks that must install and maintain viable systems in a more regulated world.

Profits will not go down. But costs, as accompanied by all regulations, will go up. These will need to be paid for.

Thanks. Dick.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Debating the Next Potential Disaster

I have never liked debates as a way to determine the best candidate, and the latest spate of contentious gumsnappery has done little to change my mind.

Debates should be, at most, a small portion of what potential voters consider when they choose a candidate to champion. Unfortunately, in today's world of reality television and 24 hour a day populist news jibber-jabber, it is the candidate who is quickest on his rhetorical feet that gains most on the staged political stage.

Newt Gingrich, a candidate who carries more baggage than a Michelle Obama stoop-shouldered bellhop, did nibble around the edges of my argument when he challenged debate moderators on two separate occasions to ask serious questions of the debaters rather than trying to manipulate potential presidents into embarrassing exchanges as if they were Snooki and Michael "The Situation" Sorrentino.

Each of the presidential candidates in the current Republican stable have years of history in business or politics or both, and a voter's investigation into these histories is a far better way to judge a candidate than whether or not they can deliver a scoring soundbite in the form of a quick comeback. And yet, this is not how I see many voters choosing candidates.

Debate moderators are offered but a few opportunities to dig into this history. Unfortunately it seems that they, and their bosses, would rather turn these events into entertainment spectacles rather than embrace their utility.

My Mom is a true believer in conservative principles; she believes an ever expansive government is dangerous, that a government, as well as those that it governs, should live within its means. She is a conservative that believes that the federal government should not nose its way into state issues, that the state government should not nose its way into local issues, and that local government should not nose its way into private issues. My experience is that she has no problems with parents nosing their way into children's issues, but that is another story.

So, at the end of the of the past couple of debates, she has decided that she is a supporter of Mitt Romney. This is not because of his long history of offering big government solutions, but because he is such a good debater.

I'm sorry, but this is akin to spending weeks investigating the best kind of car to buy, spending many hours digging into the option packages, the gas mileage, the warranty, the attendant service agreement, and then, when it is all said and done, choosing the pretty green one.

If not for his debating skills (and the not so subtle endorsement of mass media) a former community organizer with no business or administrative or foreign policy experience would not now be sitting at the helm of a country sliding off the end of the earth. A man who has never created a job in his life, but for political debates, would not be in charge of the national strategy of creating jobs. A man whose self-admitted real life administrative experience prior to his election amounted to nothing more than running his own presidential election campaign, but for debates, would not now be the CEO over the largest economy on the planet.

So, sure, pay attention to the debates. Let's see how quick witted and fast footed these celebrities of politics are. But, in the end, lets look at some history and track records. Perhaps we can avoid the next disaster.

Monday, September 19, 2011

A Belated Political Humor Trifecta

I've been gone for ten days and blogging, as always, is difficult when I'm on the road.

While I was gone I saw several things that I believe are worthwhile reposting here.

First, with a hat tip to NewsBusters...Martin Short sings a lasting tribute to Osama bin Laden.



Then from Moonbattery I ran across this:



But not to be left out, Iowahawk jotted down a number of questions he wished to be asked of the president during his twitter press conference a few weeks back. My favorite among many hilarious queries..."Why do you need permission to be clear, and not need permission to bomb Libya?"

Sunday, September 11, 2011

9/11/2011

...Daniel F. Libretti...

I've been watching the somber 9/11 memorial proceedings on Fox News and Daniel's name has just crossed the bottom of the screen in what seems to be a never ending scroll of the murdered.

This is a day of rather raw emotions. Anger. Pride. Grief.

America has been accused of not letting go. Of not getting on. We've been accused of celebrating this day and turning it into a holiday.

This is no holiday. While it might be a day on the calendar that many Americans circle in red ink, it is more likely a day that most of us simply allow our eyes to become circled in moist redness.

I would guess that a vast majority of those that stand solemly today on that ground once buried under thousands of tons of rubble, do so not because they want to be there, but do so because they have to be there.

...Luis Manuel Lopez...

That was a day of disbelief.

We vowed then, ten years ago, that we would not forget the images of bodies as they tumbled out of the sky, that we would not forget the images of the towers as they fell, and that we would not forget the sacrifices of those who selflessly charged into fiery buildings fated to fall.

But, I think what we vowed to remember on that day has become more than the simple evil that attacked us. We also remember the good that is America.

Today, as we feel the painful effects of the baring of old wounds, as we watch names circle the bottom of our television screens, we also salute the goodness that is America. We remember the vivid past, but we are also being reminded of who we are, as a people and as a country.

Ten years on and we have not forgotton.

...Joseph Ross Marchbanks, Jr...

Thursday, September 08, 2011

I Cannot Wait

I will not be watching our President as he makes his much anticipated jobs speech tonight in a joint session before some of both houses of Congress. It is being predicted that his Majesty will be regurgitating parts of several past proposals that at one time or another, within divergent contexts and in different financial times, a few of his detractors might have endorsed.

Well, I personally am not so thrilled at what I believe will be his $450 billion worth of slush fund projects to get Americans working again. As we saw in his beloved bailout bill, much money will be channeled toward hard left union constituencies where the taxpayers get totally screwed. The money enters a narrow pipeline where the recipients of said funds will be providing to the taxpayers no more than a fifty cents on the borrowed dollar value.

I'm not so thrilled either about proposals that would supposedly reward businesses for hiring new employees or not laying off the ones that are already unjustified given current economic conditions. First of all, with the rising flood water of employment regulation just around the corner these tax credits do nothing but temporarily negate the inevitable higher cost of doing business under Obama. Secondly, if any company is ever rewarded for not letting go of unnecessary employees we toss the entire working apparatus of the free market system and capitalism out the window.

But lets look at the timing of this jobs speech in the current business context.

We have one company, Boeing, that has been told by the Obama administration that it cannot operate a factory in South Carolina because doing so, according to the NLRB, would be an act of punishment aimed at unionized labor. The Department of Labor has demanded that Boeing keep production at its union facilities in Washington rather than let right to work state South Carolina provide the several thousands of employees that would operate the factory.

Now, Boeing is not shuttering the Washington factory. In fact, since its announcement of building a plant in South Carolina became public, it has actually added hundreds of jobs in Washington.

Lets look too at Gibson Guitars, a company incidentally that is owned and operated by conservative supporting executives. The Justice Department raided two of the company's factories in Tennessee to investigate whether or not the company was in violation of foreign timber harvesting laws. The company is not even being charged with violating any American laws. Gibson's largest American competitor, Martin, is not being scrutinized in the same manner even though its instruments are manufactured using many of the same woods. Martin is owned by big Democrat political contributors.

Lets look too at the fossil fuel industries. Barack Obama has suggested that he wants to bankrupt the coal companies. He has said that, under his plan, electricity rates must necessarily skyrocket.

Yet, at the same time that he heaps huge piles of red tape in front of efficient energy sources, he rewards his solar panel buddies over half a billion dollars worth of federal subsidies. Now that the company has gone belly up, FBI agents have raided the company, Solyndra, and seized a huge cache of information. How this information will be used, whether to indict Solyndra officials (unlikely since they visited the Oval Office over twenty times) or to cover up whatever hazy relationship has existed between the administration and its corporate lap dogs is anyone's guess.

So, the Obama speech is being anticipated by many. I wonder, however, how filled with anticipation the executives at Gibson Guitars are, or how excited the executives at Boeing are. I wonder how excited the owners of big oil and big coal are over the prospect of listening to the US President tell them how he is going to create jobs.

They all know that this administration is using whatever means it has available to it to actually shut down companies unfortunate enough to belong either to an unfavored industry or to be unwise enough to believe in a political ideal that runs contrary to the one held in the White House.

Politics when fought within the political arena can be an ugly game. Politics, when fought in the private sector, is as revealing as it is ugly. It tells us a lot about those that try to use their political power to shape industries and companies into instruments of the state itself.

This is not liberty, it is tyranny. This is not freedom, it is fascism. This is not the free market, it is a cobbled together obstacle course designed to trip up all businesses that do not parrot the talking points of this administration.

Ya, I cannot wait to read tomorrow what the President will say in a few minutes.

Saturday, September 03, 2011

Well, You Can't Blame Him For Everything...

How many times have we heard this from defenders of Barack Obama as it relates to the horrible economic climate we live in these days?

'You cannot blame him for everything.'

Dozens of times? Hundreds?

It is an excuse used by this administration in its own defense as well as by progressive media pundits who acquired all they know about journalistic objectiveness in a beer tent outside an NEA rally. Certainly the basic tenet of the comment is true...Barack Obama did not create every single situation that led us too far down this road to economic ruin.

And yet, such defense of Obama is rarely evenly applied by the literati to George W. Bush who took office in charge of a largely dismantled intelligence community just nine months before a bloodthirsty collection of Mohammedan adherents decided the best way to serve their God was to kill a few thousand Americans in New York City, Washington DC., and an infamous Pennsylvania field.

In fact we fiscal conservatives were alarmed by Bush's inability to locate his veto pen until about year seven of his administration, and we felt horribly betrayed by the "compassionate conservative" after we found out that his brand of conservativism and compassion amounted to a perpetual commitment to growth in government. No Child Left Behind and the prescription drug benefit are two far reaching intrusionist examples that expose Bush for the big spending Republican that he was.

But this post is not about Bush at all (he isn't still President, is he?) but rather about a barely wavering media and voting constituency of Barack Obama (as if they were two different things) who refuse to apply an equal standard to this President Messiah and his evil predecessor.

So, while Barack Obama cannot be directly blamed for everything that is leading us to ruin, we have to point out three things to those receiving their political education from National Socialist Radio.

1. While Obama did not create all the policies that are breaking the bank of our country, he philosophically supports nearly every one of them regardless of whether or not he was around to vote on them when they were instituted.

Some will argue that it was the expensive wars that created our problem or the greed on Wall Street. These arguments can be easily dispensed with when one looks at Obama's unnecessary and misguided escalation of the Afghanistan war partnered with his arrogant participation in a Libyan war where we don't even know who we are supporting. And while Wall Street does house a staggering number of greedy bastards, a majority of those greedy bastards are supporters of Obama and his trademarked brand of crony capitalism.

Bush supported a Wall Street banker bailout. Um, so did Obama. Obama also supports the sort of Keynesian intrusionism that allows the genius of bureaucracy to pick the industries and businesses that are supposed to win and lose. It is this genius that bails out automobile companies and their socialist workforces while it tries its hardest to castrate the oil, manufacturing, clothing, and agricultural companies that it finds socially unhelpful. It is also the genius that preys on companies like Exxon/Mobil while it slathers doomed-to-fail Solyndra Inc. with hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars.

When Bush supported No Child Left Behind and the prescription drug benefit, he was only hounded by progressives such as Obama for their narrow scale. They were underfunded! They needed to be even bigger!

The housing crisis and run up in energy prices, which are largely the cause of the current situation, are both the direct result of progressive socialist policies that Obama has always supported fully. As our gas prices rose Obama opined that "[energy] prices must necessarily skyrocket." As housing concerns tangled, Obama was actively involved in ramrodding, at the community organizer level, the federal policies that not only encouraged high risk mortgage candidates to buy homes they could not afford, but helped put taxpayers on the hook ultimately for their mortgage obligations.

Is it more important that Obama was not in office when the Community Reinvestment Act was voted on or not in office to help spearhead a disastrous and progressive energy policy, or is it more important to recognize that he is now and always was sympathetic in toto to the reasonings behind their commencements?

2. While Obama did not create all the policies that are breaking the bank of our country, he has used the regulatory powers of every federal agency that he has at his disposal to hamstring the growing of the American economy.

The EPA, the FDA, the Departments of Energy and Education and Commerce, HUD, the DOJ, the Department of the Interior and the Consumer Protection Agency, HHS, etc., etc., have all used their expanded powers of tyranny under Obama to not only destroy wealth but to hinder its creation at either the wellhead, in the laboratory, on the factory floor, or atop the tractor. I cannot wait until those 10,000 new IRS officers cut their teeth imposing Dodd-Frank and Obamacare mandates.

This ain't helping.

3. While Obama did not create all the policies that are breaking the bank of our country, it has to be recognized that Ronald Reagan inherited an economy from Billy Carter's dumber brother that was in many ways worse than the one inherited by drunk driver Onyango Obama's nephew.

Two and a half years after Reagan inherited a disastrous economy, the American economic machine had turned around. When he took office he faced higher Carter level inflation, comparable unemployment rates to those suffered by Obama, and interest rates of nearly twenty percent. Reagan faced a tumultuous Middle East, an oil squeeze, and a Congress decidedly of progressive vein.

Under Ronald Reagan America began the longest lasting period of sustained economic growth this country has ever known. He cut taxes, cut regulations, rebuilt the military, supported our friends abroad, and set free the American spirit.

Barack Obama believes in different tactics. He wants to raise taxes, introduce crippling regulations, cannot wait to gut the military, sold our traditional friends down the river, and has dismissed American exceptionalism as nothing more than cultural narcissism.

No, Barack Obama is not at fault for everything that this country suffers today.

But, that he agrees with all the policies that helped create this situation, that he has used every tool at his disposal to exacerbate the situation, and that Ronald Reagan took a worse situation and quickly turned it around all should give pause to even his most loyal progressive political groupies.

Friday, September 02, 2011

Down, Down, Down

Once again, the US economy has produced some unexpected news--job creation was low in August. In fact, according to today's Department of Labor report, no net new jobs were created. This is the first time since 1945 that there has been a zero job growth figure.

But, it gets even worse. The dismal job growth performances for the past two months have both been revised, wait for it...downward. A dismal July estimate of 117,000 jobs created was lowered to an even more dismal 85,000, and an embarrassingly dismal June estimate of 46,000 jobs was lowered to a wear-a-sack-over-my-head-dismal 20,000 jobs created.

This is the success story of Barack Obama and his army of economy killing regulators and Keynesian economists. You cannot wage a war on employers without it having a crippling effect on the numbers of employees they can afford to either keep on, or add to, the payroll.

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Sanity, Ignorance, Ignorance, Sanity/Ignorance, Intrusion, and Intrusion with a Dash of Ignorance

How else can I describe the six cost-efficient ways that our ex-Governor and ex-First Gentleman have laid out to help this country create jobs?

We Michiganders are fully aware of the skill set that Jennifer Granholm and her trophy husband, Daniel Mulhern, brought to the Michigan statehouse.

Under Granholm's leadership the state became a wasteland of vacant homes and shuttered storefronts. The only good good news was that business was brisk in both the outbound moving van and Michigan Works! staffing sectors of the economy. For half of her time in office, Michigan led the nation in unemployment and was the only state in the union to actually lose population during the decade that contained her administration.

And this is the experienced perch from which Michigan's dynamic duo will point out to the rest of us 'six cost-efficient ways to create jobs.'

Before we explore the list, can we not at least ask an important question? If these two were so smart when they had tens of thousands of state employees and agencies at their beck and call, why didn't they use some of their expertise to, you know, actually help get Michigan's economy moving?

The answer to that question can be found within the six cost effective solutions they forward. They just don't get it--never have, and never will.

Here is the list.

1. Give global companies, which have parked more than $1 trillion in earnings offshore to avoid U.S. corporate taxes, incentives to "repatriate" those foreign earnings.
Of course, this is a borrowed stroke of genius from conservative economists and business leaders. One cannot plausibly argue with point one. It is the earmarking these two want to do with the repatriated funds that gives me pause.
2. Put half those proceeds toward a blockbuster "Jobs Race to the Top," modeled on the highly effective Education Race to the Top.
First of all, one would have to be two points shy of lucid to say the Education Race to the Top has been highly effective, but that is not the point. Secondly, has there ever been a scarier word than "blockbuster" ever attached to a government spending initiative?

Granholm and Mulhern do not recognize what private sector jobs are--they are a byproduct of a successful and profitable business, they are not the purpose of a business. Such failed logic is seen within the solar energy industry (one of the Mulherns' favorites) today where heavily subsidized companies are still going belly up because of the inherent inefficiency--not just the relative inefficiency of solar energy physics, but also because of the economics involved. As hard as it is to believe, solar industry leaders have been known to brag about their sector creating more jobs per Megawatt produced than any other energy sector. Hey dipsticks, this is not a feature, it is a flaw.

Imagine Henry Ford's success if he had tried to bring his product to market while employing more people per car produced than any of his competitors. (No, that an innovation of the UAW some decades later.) How many early model Fords would have been sold with such a claim to fame? How could the cars have become accessible to the American consumer if they were more expensive than any other car on the road? No, Henry went in the opposite direction and tried to produce more cars per employee rather than the other way around.

The solar energy industry has everything exactly bass ackwards.

If you really want to incentivize job creation, make profit more achievable. Leave cleverly disguised intrusions into the free market at home.
3. Invest the remaining proceeds toward capitalizing an infrastructure bank, broadly defined — construction for roads, bridges, technology, grid upgrades and schools.
Great, then lets spend the rest of the windfall in the same manner that was wasted on our other stimulus boondoggles--namely slathering money onto the Democrat Party's favorite monolithic voting constituency. But hey, if the hundreds of billions of dollars that have already been spent on supporting union jobs haven't been successful, what could a few billion more hurt?

Why can't we just use the windfall to pay down our huge debt? That would lower our debt obligations, strengthen the dollar, lower the costs of commodities, and maybe make it possible for me to eat a hamburger once in a while down at the restaurant. Why do socialists believe that every boon to the economy has to start with the spending of billions of taxpayer dollars?
4. Lower the nation's corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 25 percent, and pay for it by streamlining the tax code and eliminating loopholes.
America's corporate tax rates are among the highest in the world. Even the socialist paradises of Europe have significantly lower income tax rates on corporations. So, what could my beef be with this?

It is once again a complete misunderstanding of economics. Lowering of tax rates helps grow the economy--as such, they all but pay for themselves. Letting anal retentive Democrats rewrite tax laws in order to pay for tax cuts will not turn out well. Just cut the tax rates to a level that is competitive with the rest of the world, and watch our economy grow.
5. Modernize our unemployment and workforce training systems.
Government funded job training programs are misguided, inefficient, and completely outside the responsibility of government.

How can Granholm and Mulhern ever possibly discern what jobs our evolving economy will need unless they also believe they can nudge this economy toward their own favored outcome? No person, not even a brilliant Harvard educated Canadian lawyer, can interject herself into an economy and determine what industries of the future will be successful. Corn ethanol anyone? Solar panels?

No, lets let consumers determine what products they will want in the future, and lets let business provide those products and train their own workforces to produce those products.
6. Adopt a federal clean energy standard to proclaim to clean energy businesses — which can locate anywhere — that a market exists here for their products.
And here you have it. Granholm and Mulhern believe the best way to achieve inexpensive job creation is to further regulate the American economy so that inefficient energy sources can compete with efficient ones. I wonder how much that will cost.

It is just another angle to the failed Keynesian principle that you can create wealth by destroying it.

I will not be buying the book by Granholm and Mulhern. Its a brand new book certain to contain glossy terms to describe the same tired old ideas. Ultimately, all we really need are the proper puppet masters to pull the right strings.

Granholm and Mulhern should be available shortly after the book is released.