Monday, January 31, 2011


I've been under the weather for the better part of a week now and I'm sick of being sick.

During my illness, Egypt has been all over the news, our country has drawn ever closer to an economic cliff, and John Conyers has announced he wants to seek reelection because, I suppose, he feels no one else in Detroit or the greater downriver area is better capable of representing the district than a fossilizing communist whose head is lodged solidly within his own large intestine.

Not surprisingly, Conyers is neither the oldest nor longest serving Democrat in Michigan's delegation to Washington to announce that he will seek another term of hobbling the American economy. Last week, John Dingell (even older and having served longer) announced that he too is better than any other candidate the democrats might be able to conjure up within his representative kingdom.

Southeast Michigan is the poster child for malfeasance in both government and electorate. While I don't equate the two situations, I do find it somewhat ironic that half way around the world thousands of people brave guns and tanks and fill the streets to demonstrate against a dictator who has served only a bit more than half as long as either Mr. Conyers or Mr. Dingell have. If Mubarak lived in Dearborn or Detroit his government job would be safer than it is today in Cairo.

It is being said by many today that the Arab and Muslim worlds demand strong central leadership; that while the protests in Egypt might very well lead to elections down the road, most likely the ultimate government will be every bit as oppressive toward its people as the current one is. (Iran? Gaza?) The fact is, as far as this relates to Egypt at least, we do not know for sure.

That same theory might also be applicable enough in Detroit, but Detroiters don't seem brave enough to even explore the point.

Now if you'll excuse me my head is swollen and my ears are plugged up--something, come to think of it, that both John Conyers and John Dingell would consider positive qualifications for office.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Jimmy, Why Do You Hate the Elderly?

Many of you know that my employment situation has been up in the air for a long time. As a Michigander, that makes me no rarer than one in five people walking on the pot-holed streets of this once great state.

Vacant houses line the landscape, U-Haul lots are as sparsely populated as a Joe Biden scalp, and the Michigan Works office has replaced the local coffee shop for catching up on juicy gossip. "Mary, I'd absolutely love to know whom Jim is dating, but I've got two on-line applications to submit before my unemployment gets cut off."

Well, thankfully, I have solved my own little employment problem. While the solution is less than ideal in that it provides me less than full time labor, it does provide me with a paycheck (if intermittent) and a certain sense of esteem (if probably undeserved.)

That's right folks, I've found a job.

And, as Jennifer Granholm would be remiss to predict, that job is In Georgia.

I love going to Georgia on my monthly stints. For five months I've been traveling I-75 through Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, and north Georgia to arrive in Atlanta among a group of people who were only a short time ago strangers. Now they are good friends and co-workers. (Perhaps they simply don't know me well enough.)

I absolutely love Jimmy. (Okay, sickos, in a nonsexual way--nttawwt.) He is an incredibly smart man who spends his Saturdays fishing and his Sundays witnessing to inmates in local county jails. He is a man that has served his country in the armed forces, and he is a man that to this day has put his money where his mouth is--he lives his beliefs and he loves his Lord and Savior.

Oh, he is also a flaming fiscal liberal.

Jimmy's error is not that he is unable to fathom the realities of economics, but that he is unable to transcend the shackles of his emotions while considering economic outcomes.

What Jimmy has not figured out yet (I'm working on him) is that economics is an exact predictive science and is nothing to get emotional about...except, I suppose, for those who are just as likely to get excited about the wrenching realities of gravity and absolute zero--"Dang it, John, my molecules have stopped moving, and I'm beyond remorse!"

Economics is a lot like polling. Polling is an abstract that is capable of producing remarkably accurate estimates based on information gathered from a relatively small sample of respondents. A poll of 500 voters can return estimated results accurate to within just a few paltry percentage points. One thousand...even better. Fifteen hundred? Foggehd aboudit.

Economics as a science is a lot like sample polling, only it bases its projections upon the totality of human behavior, not on 500, 1,000 or 1,500 respondents. It can assume, accurately, that most people (that is, a vast majority of billions) will act in their own best interests. It can assume, accurately, that most people (again, a large majority of billions) will pursue outcomes that benefit their own situation. It can therefore assume, accurately, that government-interjected impediments to the natural pursuits of human behavior will be avoided by a majority of those seeking to keep themselves solvent, despite whatever regulations have been benevolently cooked up within the vacant craniums of good-intentioned Utopians.

Can I reduce that to a northern Michigan axiom? Okay..."Screw the legislature, I'm mowing this lawn for less than minimum wage, and I ain't reportin' the income!" I hope you don't mind that I left out the expletives.

Yet, Jimmy is adamant. "Old people should not have to choose between food and medicine." (I paraphrase.)

In truth, as far as the basic argument goes, Jimmy is correct!

Really, people should not have to choose between food and medicine! I'm not even sure that people should have to choose between Raisin Bran and Pop Tarts, but that's just me.

I'm serious. Imagine that, a conservative being forced to admit that he doesn't want to sacrifice the innocently infirm to the Gods of Corporate Greed. (Funny how my desire for outcome need not be pigmented by any economic theory. I almost feel dirty.)

Yet, Jimmy will have to dig much deeper into the reality of costs versus prices before he ever discovers that the government's benevolent interjection into private industry has done nothing to slake the free market's thirst for business solvency.

Good grief, even tribbles want to survive, why shouldn't job providing businesses? I don't know, Jimmy might call it greed.

The government Jimmy believes he pays taxes to is a government that should be able to demand that businesses coexist with government mandates guaranteeing livable standards to all of its citizens. That sounds good.

Sadly, whatever government Jimmy feels he has served, his beliefs are predicated upon a philosophy that business solvency remains a sacrificial variable within a larger economic reality--as if a business's need of survival were irrelevant to a benevolent government's attempt to meet all needs to all people.

As such, he would be loathe to know that an intrusive government created the food vs. medicine cage match to begin with. That is, the nearly unfathomable cost of bringing a drug to market versus the unbelievable costs of harvesting corn in the Midwest for the purpose of making bread.

While doing his research, if he cared to indulge, he would discover that it is government involvement into both the medical and agricultural environments that has created the food versus medicine problem to begin with.

Government intervention into agriculture has effectively resulted in a huge percentage of farmland being dedicated to producing fuel for our cars. How tragic is that? As Granny's outlay for corn flakes has risen to over $4.00 per box, Sudanese refugees near starvation for the lack of calories. As Granny's bread has risen to well over $2.00 per loaf, acres once dedicated to wheat are now planted in rigid rows of maize to be turned into a fuel that cannot be transported point to point in anything less than a diesel burning 18 wheeler.


And pharmaceuticals, as a product group, are fantastically dynamic. Today's cutting edge elixir is destined to generic obscurity in only seven brief years. If there is one sector of the economy that can become obsolete more quickly than electronics, it is pharma.

And yet, because of the demands of the FDA, it takes hundreds of millions of dollars to bring a medicinal product to market. That is, a drug, a procedure, or a piece of equipment. Who in America can assume to absorb that upfront cost if not an established monument within the pharmaceutical industry?

The truth is that regulations (favored by advocates such as Jimmy) have virtually guaranteed that any pharmaceutical product successfully introduced into the market today can be done so only by those sitting atop the hierarchy of big pharma, you know, the people targeted by social advocates (like Jimmy) that demand medicines be given to the population at large regardless of any person's ability to pay.

It ain't a pretty picture, at least for an investor. Stick your neck out to the point that it is in the crossfire of the FDA, and once passing that hurdle, facing the demands of social advocates that want you to persist corporately despite giving your product away.

A lone researcher's probability of producing a marketable product without financial backing is infinitesimal. An underfunded solution to, lets say cancer, will fail long before it ever sees the light of day.

The need for behemoth amounts of capital to bring a product to market is not the result of researchers demanding upfront million dollar yachts and country club memberships, but rather the flaming hoops of gyrating regulation that must be leaped through by persons willing to risk their personal wealth in hopes that their unlikely solution to illness is a better solution than ethanol is to gasoline.

The fact is that Jimmy does not hate the elderly. He loves them. He simply has not been exposed to the real truths of economics in a misguided country that seems to elevate regulators to the level of super hero while it denigrates researchers, scientists, and businessmen to the cellars of greed.

I'll be back in Atlanta in a couple of weeks.

Jimmy better be prepared for what I'm bringing to him.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Granholm Lands on Her Feet

There is little doubt that no other potential college professor in America will be better able to prepare undergraduates for an adulthood of tenuous employment than Jennifer Granholm.

It seems that Cal-Berkeley (Granholm's alma mater) will put that rare ability to test as it has hired the former first couple of Michigan to teaching stints.

Former Gov. Jennifer Granholm and her husband, Dan Mulhern, will move to California to teach at the University of California, Berkeley, and together they’ll write a book about her experience leading Michigan during one of its worst economic episodes.

On his Web site,, Mulhern today announced that Granholm will be a paid contributor to NBC’s “Meet the Press.” He said they’ll both do public speaking through the Keppler’s Speakers Bureau in Virginia.
He says Granholm will join the Boalt School of Law and the Goldman School of Public Policy teaching classes on energy, industrial policy and governing during tough economic times.
In an interview with published today, Granholm said her book and university classes she teaches will share a common theme: creating jobs and reviving U.S. manufacturing, and promoting clean energy industries.

“We want to be able to have the nation draw lessons, good and bad, about what can happen if the United States doesn’t take a more active role” in creating jobs,” she told
I hope civil minded democrats can forgive me for this one, but is that target rich or what?

There are a lot of lessons to be learned from reviewing Granholm's dismal record in Michigan, but it would be difficult to surmise exactly how she had any part in creating a single job outside of the public sector. Sure, she paraded around the state to a number of public events to tout the expansion or founding of businesses as a result of a public/private partnership. (See fascism.)

But, follow up reports on those gilded partnerships reveal vastly oversold projections while they completely ignore the overall job cost to society that result from taking money from individuals and employers in order to redistribute the confiscated monies to companies willing to do the government's bidding. (See fascism.)

As taxes rose, as fees rose, as public sector employment rose, as regulations grew more tangled and cumbersome, as residents fled, and while proposed expansions in business sectors that Granholm deemed distasteful were denied, Michigan became a slogan on bumper stickers around the rest of America. All of which, I suppose, give her exactly the necessary credentials to write a book "about her experience leading Michigan during one of its worst economic episodes."

Which leaves us with "Meet the Press." How long do you think it will be before her contributions to the program result in half the show's staff being laid off and NBC begging for a federal bailout?

Hey, we all have to stick with what we're good at.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Preemptively Changing History--Islam Edition

A suicide bomber blew himself up today in Moscow's Domodedovo airport. At least 35 are dead and more than a hundred others are injured--some of them in critical condition.

This is a post about the medias' tortured pursuit of a news reporting style from which no minority group can feel offense--even is such reporting makes the news itself so vague as to be misleading.

The BBC does it thusly:

BBC security correspondent Gordon Corera said immediate suspicion about Monday's attack would fall on militants from the Caucasus region.

Militant groups fighting in the Caucasus know how important the perception that the president and prime minister provide a secure society is, and to undermine that is a key aspect of their aims, adds our correspondent.

Last March the Russian capital's underground system was rocked by two female suicide bombers from Russia's volatile Dagestan region, who detonated their explosives on the busy metro system during rush hour, killing 40 people and injuring more than 80.
No mention of suspected Islamic militants. No mention of the worldwide jihad. No mention of the desire of those "militant groups" to establish a caliphate.

As for motivations behind those who are responsible, all that the BBC can manage to unearth is that
President Dmitry Medvedev has admitted that poverty, corruption and conflict in the North Caucasus is Russia's biggest internal problem.
Ya, that and maybe the blinders being worn by British journalists and Russian leaders alike.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Selective Economic Perception

You see, Debbie Stabenow really does get it. Sure, she tries hard to hide behind that nearly unpenetrable shroud of negative economic wherewithall, but when it comes to embracing sound economic principles on issues that she truly believes in, the January centerfold of Michigan's Garish Lipstick Magazine hits this one out of the proverbial park.

If you want more of something, reward it. If you want less of something, discourage the behavior (a novel concept to parents of juvenile hall children nationwide.)

Raise the cost of hauling commercial waste into Michigan, she says, and you will get less trash. On this score she is correct. Michigan's low cost for trash importation makes it a Mecca for industrial and commerical waste from Canada and surrounding states. Raise the charge per ton and you will get fewer tons.

Bingo. See how easy that was?

The remarkable thing is not that Stabenow actually understands this concept in its most simplified form, but that she refuses to acknowledge the impact of this basic principle when it is applied to other broad based democrat strategies that she supports.

Stabenow is an all-in supporter of national health care (particularly single-payer,) tighter regulations on cheap energy generation, and more restrictive product standards on Michigan's largest industry. Her influence (when combined with the usual big-government solutions crowd) has helped to push the country and her state toward her main political goals all the while seeming to be incapable of understanding the overall impact of her influence.

If you want less health care available to the masses...increase its regulatory cost. If you want less energy available to cars and big rigs, make it brutally painful at the pump. If you want to cripple an industry that relies on consumers to pay the sticker price...make it harder for the auto industry to provide a product that its customers can afford.

As health care costs rise, energy costs rise, and as consumers find themselves pushed farther behind the financial eight ball, Stabenow and her ilk will march onward with legislation (and support of regulation where legislation cannot be achieved) designed to push the economy into Utopia--one certainly containing less trash, but one that few people can afford to live in.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

We'll Take It From Here or Butt Out Rookie

There used to be a day when Americans took care of Americans. During that time period, countless charitable organizations and individuals gave millions of dollars and hours in efforts to take care of the homeless, the victims of natural disasters, political refugees, orphans, and the ill and infirm.

While there are still millions who give time and money to human charities, more and more people have adopted government as their favored conduit of kind giving. It is in this atmosphere of today where good people can announce a desire to take care of the homeless and in nearly the same breath opine that they pay enough in taxes to do so.

Indeed, how many government departments at the national, state and local levels were entirely created to help the needy? And yet, it has been proven time and again that agencies of the government whose primary goal is to assist with social needs are greatly less effective than private operations designed to do the same thing. (A proof that also happens to apply to every other category of government benevolence.)

It is an attitude that elevates an impersonal and inefficient government to the level of caregiver while at the same time it encourages individual citizens to abdicate their God-given responsibilities to take care of their fellow man.

As if this system isn't ineffective enough, government itself is aggressively staking out its territory as care giver and is systematically threatening private caregivers with regulations that could drive their selfless charities off of the street corner.

Today's example comes from Houston, Texas, where a married couple is being told to stop feeding the homeless for lack of a permit; a permit that the local officials say is very unlikely to ever be granted.

Bobby and Amanda Herring spent more than a year providing food to homeless people in downtown Houston every day. They fed them, left behind no trash and doled out warm meals peacefully without a single crime being committed, Bobby Herring said.

That ended two weeks ago when the city shut down their "Feed a Friend" effort for lack of a permit. And city officials say the couple most likely will not be able to obtain one.

"We don't really know what they want, we just think that they don't want us down there feeding people," said Bobby Herring, a Christian rapper who goes by the stage name Tre9.

Anyone serving food for public consumption, whether for the homeless or for sale, must have a permit, said Kathy Barton, a spokeswoman for the Health and Human Services Department. To get that permit, the food must be prepared in a certified kitchen with a certified food manager.

The regulations are all the more essential in the case of the homeless, Barton said, because "poor people are the most vulnerable to foodborne illness and also are the least likely to have access to health care."
Who, I'm sure, would prefer chowing down on a discarded half-eaten Big Mac to taking a chance on a bowl of hot soup prepared by someone who couldn't produce the required papers.

h/t Drudge Report

Friday, January 14, 2011

Leonard Pitts: Spinning Spin Once Again

Leonard Pitts, Jr. is one of the most eloquent editorial writers in today's America. But, if a reader pays too close attention to the beauty of his words and the striking contrasts in his metaphoric symbolism, one might simply miss the fact that he is nearly always wrong.

This is simply another example of beautiful wrongness in a way that only Leonard Pitts can deliver.

In today's Free Press:

It was probably to be expected that the political spin was in motion before the bodies had even cooled. Tea Party activist Judson Phillips quickly deflected blame for the tragedy. Giffords, he reportedly noted on his Web site, is "a liberal," but, he said, "that does not matter now."

Of course, if it didn't matter, he wouldn't have mentioned it. "At a time like this," he said piously, "it is terrible that we do have to think about politics, but no matter what the shooter's motivations were, the left is going to blame this on the Tea Party movement."
So, Judson Phillips correctly anticipated a left-wing political wacko of Pitts' ilk would blame conservatives for the massacre in Tuscon. (How hard was that, even Pitts said "it was probably to be expected.")

The kicker is that now Phillips is guilty for accurately reading the minds and predicting the behaviors of leftists like Sheriff Dupnik--as if knowing the obvious somehow makes him and the tea party guilty of creating the atmosphere where such massacres can be expected.

It goes something like this.
  1. Some otherwise anonymous (and left leaning wacko) goes on an assassination rampage where six are killed and fourteen others are wounded.
  2. A conservative anticipates being blamed for the incident because, as we have all seen for the past twenty years or so, conservatives are blamed for everything from starving children to gasoline gouging to poor education to wall street greed to pillaging of the earth to racism to the homeless to...well, you get the idea.
  3. "Blame the conservatives for their political vitriol" meme goes viral with politicians, television hosts, journalists and bloggers piling on.
  4. A short term investigation disproves leftist accusations that conservatives are to blame for the shooter's actions.
  5. Pitts blames conservatives for the vitriolic atmosphere that didn't cause the violence.
  6. I bang my head against the desk.
In a nutshell, we conservatives know we are going to be blamed for everything. What kind of prescience does it take to make that prediction--it always occurs.

But this realization in itself has helped to create a whole new blame standard. Because we know we are going to be blamed for everything, we actually deserve the blame--after all, we created the atmosphere in which we know that we are going to be blamed for everything.

Try that on for size.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Playing Politics With Tragedy

Playing politics with tragedy; that is what we are experiencing in the aftermath of a deranged murderer killing six and wounding 14 others at a Tucson political meet and greet.

Almost immediately after the shooting occurred, Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik laid blame on the tea party, conservatives, right-wing vitriol, and Sarah Palin. After he had a chance to think about it a little longer he expanded his finger pointing to include Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, talk radio, and Sarah Palin.

That Dupnik had known of the shooter's derangement for some time is of no concern. That the sheriff's department had been to the shooter's home on more than one occasion to answer a complaint is of no merit. That the sheriff had personal knowledge of the shooter making previous death threats within the community also seems to be secondary to, you know, the right wing hate machine that there is absolutely no reason to believe the shooter had ever paid any attention to.

Details, schmetails.

His writings leave no reference to Sarah Palin. They do not refer to Limbaugh, the tea party, talk radio, Republicans, conservatives or anyone else that the left has tried to brand with the killings. In fact, the shooter's obsession with one of the victims, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, is documented to have begun as early as 2007--long before Sarah Palin was a national figure, and before the tea party had even been formed or held one of its famous hate-filled rallies. (Incidentally, there is a record of his interests in atheism, anarchism, devil worship, communism, fascism, and nihilism--leanings which few conservatives would find any sympathy with, but seriously, who cares about any of that--there is blame to cast!)

And now Sarah Palin has committed perhaps the most heinous of acts--she has released a statement on the shooting. ABC is quick to point out that

Sarah Palin, once again, has found a way to become part of the story. And she may well face further criticism for the timing and scope of her remarks.
Palin should, it seems, be the good sort of vanquished political opponent that allows Democrats from coast to coast to virtually paint her as an accomplice to the murders. How dare she release a statement!

As the criticism goes, her defense of herself is merely political opportunism and "a way to become part of the story." How graphically stupid can some members of the media be?

The good news is that the Westboro Baptist Church has announced its decision not to picket at the funeral of 9 year old Christina Green. The bad news is that they are still only slightly more macabre than the ghoulish finger pointing leftist politicians and journalists who never want a tragedy to go to waste.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Casting Blame

If we are being encouraged to believe that Sarah Palin and guns are somehow to blame for the shooting spree in Arizona, why is it such a stretch to blame progressives for the violence?

After all, the murderer was an avowed leftist and anarchist who listed among his favorite books Mein Kampf and the Communist Manifesto. (That would be fascist and communist for those keeping charge--two socialist bents not at all similar to the calls of freedom and individual rights being made by tea party advocates today.)

If one side does it, why cannot the other?

Well, the truth is that one person alone carries the blame for this event and I'm not going to get stuck in the tit-for-tat games of politicians and pundits who refuse to let any tragedy pass without taking political advantage.

As easy as it would be to rant and rave about how such tragedy could have been avoided if only politicians would be kinder and gentler during political discourse, the fact remains that a paranoid schizophrenic (particularly one with an altar to the devil outside in his back yard) marches only to the beat of the unkind drums that hammer away within his own sick skull.

I am not going to blame anyone for this event other than the single brazen asshole who took a gun to a political meet and greet and fired shots that either killed or wounded twenty innocent individuals.

To do anything else is simply stupid.

Friday, January 07, 2011

Small Steps on a Narrow Path

It may have been a baby step but it was an important one.

Mayor Dave Bing announced this morning the firing of two executives within Detroit's fire department. The firings were at least in part the result of systemic department resistance to a police investigation into the coverup of a wallet's theft during a smoke alarm call.

All crimes committed by city worker's are supposed to be reported to internal affairs within the Police Department. The Fire Department failed to do so and Bing and the Police Department only became aware of the theft after a reporter from Fox2 in Detroit contacted them. Oops.

Detroit has inadvertently created a fire dilemma for its citizens--what do they do first? Do they bury their valuables in the yard before or after they make that fateful call?

Many a housewife will now have to hesitate. "The curtains are on fire, but I sure do enjoy those pearls!"

Fortunately, with response times being another issue within the department, a person should feel safe enough in calling the department first and then burying the family fortune out back--by the time they hear sirens grass might already have begun to conceal the disturbed soil.

Luckily for homeowners too, a shovel has always been considered standard fire fighting equipment. Now it has a dual purpose!

In making these changes Dave Bing is taking a small step toward cleaning up a city that has almost reached the point of no return. Corruption is so pervasive in his city that it infects every level of every department. Many people who work for the city are involved in the corruption and many of those left over are so used to seeing it on a daily basis that they have become immune to its ugliness.

We all get who we vote for. This is why I hold the citizens of Detroit ultimately responsible for the big ball of crap that their city has become.

Could things now be changing?

Certainly Dave Bing ran under the banner of "enough is enough" and he made ending corruption part of his campaign. His election is a testament to the fact that a great number of people who voted in the city felt they too had had enough.

Kwame Kilpatrick, Bing's immediately elected predecessor, was swept into office with a different mindset. He wanted to become wealthy by taking advantage of the easy pickings of a corrupt city. (Do I need to mention that he was reelected even after his first term was exposed as an orgy of excess, waste, fraud, and corruption?) Dave Bing came to office with the intent of ridding the city of corruption.

One man wanting to enrich himself. The other man wanting to enrich a city.

Firing these two fire department jackasses undoubtedly only scratches the surface. But, knowing that someone is finally willing to do some scratching makes me feel that Michigan might indeed have a glimmer of hope for its signature city and its long term future.

Mr. Bing, stay on the narrow path. And thank you for walking it.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

If You Subsidize It, They Will Come

...not necessarily customers to use what is built, mind you, but companies ravenous to take part in the feeding frenzy on government borrowed dollars slathered upon pie-in-the-sky projects that no private company would ever venture into without a taxpayer footing most of the tab.

Companies from China, France, Korea, Germany and elsewhere are lining up to add their expertise to a high-speed rail project proposed in the Peoples Republic of California.

California expects to spend about $43 billion over the next decade to build the backbone of an 800-mile high-speed system linking the state's major cities.

California voters approved a $9.9 billion bond measure in 2008 to help pay for high-speed rail, and rail officials say they expect the federal government to contribute $17 billion to $19 billion over the coming decade.
(Incidentally, California has approximately $120 billion total bond debt in outstanding general obligation bonds and in authorized but unissued bonds. The US carries about $14 trillion in debt not counting the $100 trillion or so promised in social security and retirement benefits.)

Of course they'll ante up two thirds!
The state must find $14 billion to $16 billion from other sources, both foreign and domestic.

It's too early to know what Chinese or other foreign investment might look like. California is still forming its business plan for high-speed rail, and construction won't begin until mid- to late 2012 in the San Joaquin Valley, between Madera and Bakersfield.

Test runs could begin as early as 2015.

Barker, of the state rail authority, said bidders may put up billions of dollars in either cash or construction of needed technology, or offer to provide trains at no cost in exchange for the long-term rights to operate the system as a business. Or they may find other ways to contribute to the cost.
Why don't Americans have the expertise necessary to pull off this sort of project?

Because, as an industry, it is not viable in this country. This is an industry that can only succeed in a world of mass subsidy where citizens are either duped or forced into footing a huge portion of the bill (Hello, California!) and who will later be forced to ride the rails by benevolent bureaucrats as they systematically cripple the train's competition.

It works great in China where hundreds of millions of people are still mired in poverty while their overlords spend the fruits of economic gains, and it works great in Europe where historical economic growth comes in far below that of the US.

The results of these types of projects cannot be measured solely on whether the trains can be built, whether the trains can run on time, and whether the trains are really, really fast. They must be measured with a true cost in mind that has to include the costs associated with diverting real dollars into areas of the economy that would not stand on the merits of their own profitability, the debt service of such projects, the continuum of subsidies that will remain in effect forever to keep the trains from free-market collapse, and the overall impact such government intrusion has in a free market economy.

The cost of Utopian ideals are best measured, not in billions, but in percentages of GDP and in the human suffering caused by such shenanigans.

As high speed trains flit about China they pass hundreds of millions of peasants still living in poverty. For those who plan train networks it is a price well worth paying.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Good News and Bad News

That bunion won't be bothering you any more. However, we did have to chop that right foot off just below the elbow.

The Ludington Daily News is reporting today that the unemployment rate for its four county readership area has dropped significantly over the last year.

The local unemployment rates for November were:

• 12.4 percent for Mason County, compared to 14.2 percent in 2009

• 12.6 percent for Manistee County, compared to 13.8 in 2009

• 14.5 percent for Oceana County, compared to 16.7 in 2009

• 14.4 percent for Lake County, compared to 17.2 percent
These are huge differences even if the new numbers remain disastrously high. Mason's dropped 1.8 percent. Manistee's dropped 1.2 percent. Oceana's dropped 2.2 percent. And Lake County's unemployment rate plummeted a whopping 2.8 percent.

The bad news is that virtually all of these drops can be attributed to prospective employees bailing out on the local employment scene; they moved in search of a non-mythical job of today located elsewhere, or they simply fell off the local job seeking radar and are home watching The View.

In either case it would be safe to say they were blown away.
An estimated 150 fewer area residents were working in November than a year earlier, but because there are also 750 fewer people in the local labor force, the unemployment figures look better than in 2009.
From the glass is half full side of the ledger, that is 750 people no longer having to rely on the assistance of Michigan taxpayers to survive in this new green economy of Jennifer Granholm's--assuming that they all moved and aren't home polishing up their new Bridge Cards.

But, more disturbingly (from the glass has been three-quarters empty for the last eight years side of the equation,) there are 150 fewer taxpaying jobs around to help fill public coffers.

These tax contributions are vital, both in helping support those pushed over the economic edge by Michigan's newly departed disaster in chief, and in helping to pay off fascists crony capitalists who promise to create inefficient and expensive "green jobs" that will assuredly rejuvenate Michigan's economy, that is, once tomorrow finally gets here.

I honestly don't blame Jennifer Granholm for every mess this state seems to step in, and sadly I don't trust Rick Snyder to be much better when it comes to wise stewardship in regards to the money Michigan extorts from its remaining taxpayers--but I do blame Jenny for embracing every bizarro economic principle in the book in her effort to change Michigan into a worker's paradise despite the free-market's resistance.

Granholm may not be to blame for the total mess Michigan is in today, but she certainly supports every idea behind which we can place full blame.

The good news is that Jennifer Granholm has finally exited the governor's office down in Lansing. The bad news is that she left a statewide disaster in her wake.

That would be a glass half full if it hadn't been shattered to pieces.

Never Forget (Unless)

...unless remembering makes you too offended.

Never mind that the "never forget" promise has been shelved by many as it relates to World War II. Before it became cosmopolitan to pick on the Jews and gypsies again, hundreds of millions of people around the world vowed to never let another holocaust occur. (While Mahmoud Ahaminejad denies the existence of any historical evidence that such an occurrence ever took place, he does suggest that perhaps it should occur again.)

The holocaust is one of the more important, brutal and recent chapters in humankind's evil life story, and this post is aimed at the necessity of remembering such events throughout history while it has nothing at all to do with any backhanded wink-wink stupidities a certain Persian dwarf might utter for international consumption.

The century recently passed actually contained dozens of chapters in which the purposeful murdering of human beings en masse was carried out with systematic efficiency. The desire for remembrance may be slanted based on whether you are Communist or peasant, Armenian or Turk, Hutu or Tutsi, Russian or Ukrainian, Chinese or Tibetan, etc., or, as previously mentioned, Ahmadinejad or lucid.

The US has its own ugly past with perhaps its most visual being that of its acceptance of slavery and a decades long denigration of an entire people even following emancipation. This history and its effects upon this nation must be remembered for all of its ugliness--the actual ugliness itself being more important to understanding the formative context of this nation than interjecting a guarded reference to bad words perhaps once being uttered.

If we are truly to uphold any oath of "never again" we must have available references to what it is that we must avoid in the future, Ahmadinejad aside.

It is with this in mind that I scoff at the simpleminded foolishness undertaken in a new release of Mark Twain's Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

Mark Twain's Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is a classic by most any measure—T.S. Eliot called it a masterpiece, and Ernest Hemingway pronounced it the source of "all modern American literature." Yet, for decades, it has been disappearing from grade school curricula across the country, relegated to optional reading lists, or banned outright, appearing again and again on lists of the nation's most challenged books, and all for its repeated use of a single, singularly offensive word: "nigger."

Twain himself defined a "classic" as "a book which people praise and don't read." Rather than see Twain's most important work succumb to that fate, Twain scholar Alan Gribben and NewSouth Books plan to release a version of Huckleberry Finn, in a single volume with The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, that does away with the "n" word (as well as the "in" word, "Injun") by replacing it with the word "slave."
I know that many people see Twain's work as classic American, and I know too that these people are distressed over Twain's fading from classroom shelves--yet the omission of important words, however offensive, represent part of the greatness of the work itself and contain within their abject offensiveness a historical context that cannot be captured through roundabout references.

If you want to learn the subtleties of racist creep, read these classics. If you want to understand the casual acceptance of learned denigration, read these books in the context of the period's stratum of human value.

If you actively want to never forget you should start by refusing to alter or erase the past; a lesson being sacrificed here so that future generations can cuddle with a good book that now misrepresents an ugly history that Twain helped expose.

UPDATED to add that Protein Wisdom has more, and that more is better anyway.

Let Them Eat (Rice) Cake!

From Bloomberg via Drudge:

World food prices rose to a record in December on higher sugar, grain and oilseed costs, the United Nations said, exceeding levels reached in 2008 that sparked deadly riots from Haiti to Egypt.

An index of 55 food commodities tracked by the Food and Agriculture Organization gained for a sixth month to 214.7 points, above the previous all-time high of 213.5 in June 2008, the Rome-based UN agency said in a monthly report. The gauges for sugar and meat prices advanced to records.
As millions of American cars travel the roads today burning $3.20 per gallon gasoline that contains ten percent corn ethanol, the impact of destroying millions of tons of food to create an inefficient and unnecessary fuel additive is either being lost on or ignored by American environmentalists.

In effect, a consortium has been formed between environmentalists with a planet to save, corporate welfare recipients with a bottom line to protect, and malleable politicians with farmer constituents to reward; this so that third-world children lucky enough to actually survive the impending wave of man-made starvation can live long enough on this sustained Earth to propagate the next generation of children who may or may not survive the next.

It is a difficult argument to defend from any angle--the intentional diversion of food away from people who will starve without it. But, with a planet to save (and farmers to appease, corporate bottom lines to monitor, and too-short election cycles) we all have to make sacrifices.
The cost of food climbed 25 percent from a year earlier in December, based on the FAO figures, after Chinese demand strengthened and Russia’s worst drought in a half-century devastated grain crops. The agency’s food-price indicator rose from 206 points in November.

Last month’s year-on-year rise compares with the 43 percent jump in food costs in June 2008. Record fuel prices, weather- related crop problems, increasing demand from the growing Indian and Chinese middle classes, and the push to grow corn for ethanol fuel all contributed to the crisis that year.
Cause and effect.

Fuel prices certainly affect the cost of food production--particularly when a high percentage of food is destroyed in the production of the very fuel needed to plant, harvest, manufacture, and transport. Larger demands on food stocks by developing nations is actually a good thing as it means that millions of poverty stricken people in 3rd world nations have finally managed to shrug off the chains of human misery. And destroying food in order to slake the thirst of my '95 Buick? I've already beaten that horse to death.

It appears as if ethanol proponents have honed in on mitigating the fourth cause of high food prices, that of the weather related crop problems--even if such pin-point accuracy directly exacerbates fuel prices and food supplies. The added benefit of lowering food demand by sustaining world poverty is just a bonus.

Let them eat (rice) cake!
“The real uncertainty and problem is the 2011-2012 market,” Abbassian said. “We are at a very high level. If it’s further up than this, then you really begin to be concerned.”
Unless you are invested in the ethanol market, in which case, it's a measure of success.

Monday, January 03, 2011

Obama's Energy Policy Showing Signs of Reward

Queue arguments on gouging in