Thursday, January 26, 2012

"Electricty Rates Will Necessarily Skyrocket"

As Jeff says, and so it begins.

Arab Spring Looking A Lot Like Arab Winter

Ugly stuff being reported by the BBC.

"After all the promises to get detention centres under control, it is horrifying to find that there has been no progress to stop the use of torture," Donatella Rovera, from the charity, said.

Medecins Sans Frontieres said it was being "exploited" as some patients were being brought to them between interrogation sessions.

"Our role is to provide medical care to war casualties and sick detainees, not to repeatedly treat the same patients between torture sessions," said general director Christopher Stokes.
We helped to put these people in charge despite the fact that we had no national interests in the conflict.

Qaddafi was a bad man who we helped to replace with other bad men. Islamists are now rising to the surface of the emerging governments we helped to put in place.

Perhaps this is part of a necessary progression; one similar to the one that the Iranian people appear they want to be in--political strongmen fall begetting an Islamic theocracy that falls begetting a true constitutional republic.

The problem is, of course, that Iran, the country perhaps closest to achieving this full cycle transformation, one with millions of west-leaning citizens who hate their freedom quashing Islamist regime and who have no desire to ever live under the thumb of an Islamist crushing strongman, has not gotten the support from the west that the theocrats-in-waiting in Egypt and Libya received with nary a concern as to who might end up on top.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

My Own Education Proposal

I was very much interested in one of the educational proposals President Obama made last night in his state of the union. He wants to make it necessary for every child in America who has not graduated and is less than 18 years old, to stay in the classroom.

Oh, this is a flowery goal in both appearance and odor. Statistics say, which ones I'm not sure but ones that Obama alluded to last night, that even students who are made to stay in school do better than those who dropped out. Okay, I've not seen the study. But, if someone has dropped out, how do you know how they would have done if they had stayed in school and vice versa?

But I'll let Obama cite all the statistics he wants. My question is, how good do motivated students do in school when they are forced to sit in the same classrooms as clowns who have no desire to be in school and no inhibitions against disruption?

It takes one freak show to ruin an otherwise learning atmosphere. It takes one bonehead to start a fight, bully a nerd, expectorate a spit wad, or disrupt a classroom. And what are the consequences for such behaviors in such a situation...the delinquent might get...wait for it...kicked out of class.

Disruptive students require a much higher percentage of school resources than do good students who really would like to learn something before the final bell rings. They use up extra resources, poison the learning of other students, and cost the taxpayers money.

I have a better suggestion. All students who drop out of school prior to graduation or the age of eighteen should forgo forever any government assistance for a lifetime. No diploma? No Bridge Card. No diploma? No Section 8 housing. No Diploma? No heating or transportation assistance.

Hey, I'd go a step farther. No diploma? Get off the heavily subsidized transit bus.

If they cannot force themselves to sit in a classroom until the age of 18, we should not be forced to care for them afterwards.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

A Job Is A Job Is A Job

Susan Demas at MLive has an issue with the "right wing economic argument" that government cannot create jobs. She then goes on to blame, in part, the sluggish economic recovery in Michigan on shrinking government employment even though she'd like us to think that this blame is being cast by a respected University of Michigan economist.

I think we could use a little context here.

Knee-jerk conservative Bible thumpers do believe that government can create millions of specific jobs. How many people are employed by our postal service so that my Mom can receive 18 pieces of junk mail a day (all posted at a bulk discount rate) while that legendary arm of government operates at a mere loss of about $15 billion per year? Those are jobs, aren't they?

Not to put too fine a point on it all, but the worker's paradise of the Soviet Union used to pride itself on almost 100 percent employment. Among those employed were countless citizens entrusted in keeping its railroad tracks nice and shiny. It was a good gig, but then again, stooped over Soviet rail shiners were often envious of straight-backed American road workers who could make a decent living while leaning on a shovel. Weren't those jobs too?

(Sadly, the Soviet track shiners lost their gainful employment when the USSR stumbled off its mountain of debt--one that is miniscule in comparison to the peaks being created by America today.)

But I digress.

No, the conservative argument is not that government cannot create specific jobs. The argument is that it does not create net jobs in a free market economy, and that government created jobs, while sometimes worth the cost, are not ultimately stimulative or wealth producing.

Yes, this does include most jobs even conservatives feel are necessary, such as military personnel, police, firefighters, prison guards, and many college professors today teaching pretty much anything other than women's studies and ethics in journalism. These sorts of jobs, those that fall legitimately within an accurate scope of government concern, while costing net jobs and not being stimulative in the aggregate, are very much worth the cost.

But why would Demas bother trying to present an accurate representation of conservative economic policy when her abridged version fits the Democrat and media stereotype (redundant, I know) of gun toting, Bible thumping, knuckle-dragging, immigrant hating, elderly killing conservatives so much better? (It's early Monday morning and I tire of thinking of adjectives...)

Says Dumas about recent economic data suggesting that the Michigan economy is recovering:

But one fact got buried in the flurry of economic data. While Michigan added 63,500 jobs in 2011, it could have been more.

Why? Well, the private sector grew, as University of Michigan economists reported. There were 77,500 private-sector jobs added. But the overall number of jobs added was brought down by the decline in government sector jobs.

And that's one reason why Michigan's economic recovery hasn't been as robust as downturns past.

"It's been brought down because government jobs are declining," economist George Fulton.
But what is the U-M economist Fulton actually referring to?

What is the "it" that has been brought down?

Is "it" the number of jobs added, or is "it" the economic recovery?

Is Fulton actually saying what Demas wants her casual readers to believe he is saying (that government layoffs are slowing the recovery,) or is he saying that the total number of jobs added has been "brought down" because of a decline in government employment, a statement not at all inconsistent with conservative economic theory or, for that matter, simple mathematics?

Who knows?

What we do know is that Susan Demas is a columnist that plays with words and contexts like an experienced magician works a masterful shell game. A snippet of comment here, a bit of editorializing there, and after a few deceptive swings and swoops you find an economist who appears to be standing in league with the absurd while firmly positioned against the mischaracterized.

It too is not a bad gig if you can get it. At least it beats polishing railroad tracks.

Friday, January 20, 2012

EV Proponents Have More Work To Do

Europe ain't so smart after all. From the National Legal and Policy Center:

The Daily Mail reported that sales of electric cars in the United Kingdom have fallen so sharply that there are now more charging stations than there are vehicles. If you thought the flaccid U.S. sales of the Chevy Volt (7,671 units) and Nissan Leaf (9,674 units) were a letdown – despite significant government funding for research and development, batteries, charging systems, and a $7,500 tax credit for buyers – the signs from Europe won’t lift spirits.

“Just 2,149 electric cars have been sold since 2006, despite a government scheme last year offering customers up to £5,000 (about $7,700 U.S. dollars) towards the cost of a vehicle,” the U.K. newspaper reported. “The Department for Transport says that around 2,500 charging points have been installed, although their precise location is not known.”

That’s just 430 cars sold per year. In addition, Britain has spent £30 million on charging points for public and business locations, and EV buyers have taken advantage of only £3.9 million of the £300 million in government grants made available for EV purchases, according to The Daily Mail.
Common sense should dictate, after looking at such startling figures, that it is time for governments around the world to end their intrusion into the automobile industry. Should, it seems, is an odd word.

What wisdom that will be gleaned instead from this phenomenon, of course, is that governments have not yet done enough to promote electric vehicles.

Doing more will be accomplished in multiple ways, but their strategic points will fall within two major strategies. First, more must be done to positively encourage consumers toward an EV purchase, such as the $7,500 per unit credit being offered in the US (a credit being used by consumers with an average income of about $170,000) and secondly, by punishing consumers into modified behaviors. This latter strategy includes government policies that would include promoting high fuel costs and discouraging travel.

It is being celebrated today that gasoline consumption in the US has gone down in the past few years, perhaps in part to the 8,000 Chevy Volts sold so far in the US, and complemented by the odd couple thousand purchased by Brits. More likely it is the economy crippling initiatives promoted by governments that have had more to do with falling gasoline consumption--of which the EV is a storied poster child.

All it really took was several years of economic stagnation, nearly ten percent unemployment, and a booming number of citizens on food stamps to force gasoline consumption down. This may not be too high a price for the enlightened to pay for what they deem a cleaner environment based on flimsy evidence, but it is a heady price for those of us to pay who happen to suffer at their whim of the more enlightened in Europe and elsewhere.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Adam Carolla is Uniquely Qualified

h/t Ace

Troy's Disappearing Line in the Sand

A few weeks ago I complimented the city of Troy, Michigan, for its realistic interpretation of public finances.

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.


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.
As it turns out, the city of Troy decided that it wanted some nourishing regurgitation after all--but not until the project was stripped clean of waste. By shaving 400 square feet off the original proposal, the project will now cost only $6.2 million instead of the originally proposed structure estimated to cost $8.4 million. And Troy would like itself a piece of that action. (In fairness to Troy's Mayor Janice Daniels, she still voted against the measure.)

By shaving off 400 square feet the project's cost has been lowered significantly. That was some expensive square footage there--roughly coming in at $5,500 per square foot. The smaller and redrawn project will cost a mere $3,100 per square foot which I find absolutely alarming...what kind of slum are these bureaucrats trying to push over on us? No gold toilet seats? No granite counter tops?

Holding fast to principle, the council also dispensed itself with the estimated $30,000 of annual maintenance that would have been its portion of upkeep. Voila! No cleaning needed!

While the opulence of the structure is not irrelevant here, it is the blatant ignorance that council member Wade Fleming displays that drives me bonkers (well, that and the CMU Chippewas football team.) "The bottom line is this is federal money. Like it or not, it'll be spent on a transit center somewhere in this country if we do not use it in Troy."

Fleming is too blind to see the genuine bottom line he claims to have found, even after he has tripped over it. Fleming, multiplied by the millions of bring-home-the-bacon bureaucrats all across this once great land, has helped to spend this country into destitution, its future generation into servitude, and its ideals into an asterisk within the history books.

So, put the grand kids on the hook for Troy's version of the Taj Mahal. When they are old enough to begin paying their taxes this transit center will be key in getting commuters from the Detroit area to Chicago in approximately the same amount of time it will take them to get there by car.

Congratulations America! An enlightened society will get there no faster, it will just depart in style.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

UK Sovereignty?

The EU is toast financially. Years upon years of kicking the can of economic-collapse down the road is soon to result in a seam rending the likes of which would make Bruce Banner's wardrobe appear well hemmed.

While this generation's lot of EU under producers (see Ireland, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Greece, etc.) have basically stripped future generations of enlightened Europeans of economic viability, there has been another attack upon the future generations of Europe that has been largely unnoticed.

Today in the UK, less than thirty percent of the laws and regulations hoisted on the back of Brits are actually hoisted there by British lawmakers. The rest of said hobblings are locked in place at the behest of a larger government, that of the EU. (While the UK has a delegation serving in Brussels, its delegation is relatively powerless when mixed among the whole.) The UK in effect has ceded authority on its own land to those in Brussels and elsewhere who are supposedly more enlightened even though this highway to enlightenment comes at a huge cost.

The latest example is that of Abu Qatada, an avowed supporter of terrorism being held on British soil for more than ten years. His firebrand teachings have been inspirational to many terrorists who in turn killed many people for the sole reason of being non-Muslims. (Well, to be fair, his teachings have led to the killings of many Muslims too, just the wrong type of Muslims, if you know what I mean, and I think that you do.)

The British government has been trying to deport Qatada to his home country of Jordan--a place Qatada fled years earlier to escape what he felt was the certainty of state-sponsored torture. And yet, even though the UK is supposedly a sovereign country, and even though another sovereign country, Jordan, would love to have the elusive Qatada back in their custody, the European Court of Human Rights has denied the deportation. Qatada will therefore remain in British custody being lavishly supported by British taxpayers until the cows come home.

The UK is, of course, to blame for this, regardless of how diligently they have attempted to deport Qatada. Preening Brit elitists, in its frantic attempt to be a part of a new Europe to displace the US as the world's foremost economic engine, chose instead to abdicate their basic responsibilities of protecting British citizens financially, culturally, and physically.

If the UK has willingly chosen to delegate protection of its citizens onto Brussels and elsewhere, should they be surprised that there are many in Europe that really don't care one iota whether a terrorist is detained within Britain at British expense? Besides, there are many on the continent who think that the stuffy Brits could use a little multiculturalism.

The EU is crumbling and its finances are in ribbons. The upside to all of this is that individual countries might actually accept some responsibility for their own outcomes after the impending collapse, rather than expecting sages from larger organizations of benevolence to make the proper decisions for them.

Saturday, January 07, 2012

In a Nutshell, Why We Are Destitute

Sorry, but Robert Ficano's miserable record as a county executive is only part of the story here. Sure, he's an inbred corrupt Democrat bureaucrat, but he is pretty typical when it comes to inbred corrupt Democrat bureaucrats.

No, what makes me want to bark at the moon is the fact that a person in Wayne County can retire after 25 years at the age of 50 and collect a $90,000 annual pension.

Fifty? Retire? For $90,000 a year?

Who represents the taxpayer when such lavish benefits are slathered upon public employees? I'm not suggesting that government workers cannot be hard workers, I'm certain some small percentage of them are--though none of them understandably work at the DMV.

But, WTF?

Why should we taxpayers have to pay for people to become unproductive so early in life and at such high compensation?

Hell, meet handbasket.

Thursday, January 05, 2012

100 Percent Recall

Of course, when you've only sold approximately 8,000 of the vehicles in total (and many of those few to the government and crony capitalist GE) recalling every last one of them isn't such a big deal after all.

Sure, the cars have been thoroughly disappointing to drivers who expected 40 miles out of their charges before the gasoline motor kicked in, and thoroughly freezing to those drivers who live in cold climates where the seat warmers are insufficient to keep the driver comfortable, and thoroughly disgusting to middle income taxpayers who must drive '95 Buicks so they can afford to contribute to rich consumers the $7,500 rebate necessary to drive the Volt off the lot, but the idea that they won't explode weeks after a side impact is extremely, well, comforting to everyone!

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

What it Ain't

In light of the fact that I've spent part of the morning changing out my forced air furnace blower motor, you can probably guess what this picture is of.

It ain't marvelous cave art.

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

"Hey, hey, ho, ho, these racist cuts have got to go!"

A city hundreds of millions of dollars in debt located within a state that can no longer afford to extend to it earmarked financial support, and further, located within a country that is farther in debt than any other country in the history of the human race, cannot shut down one underused and unnecessary public library without being accused of racism.

Detroit does not have the money to maintain its libraries. It does not have the money to fix its buses, secure its streets, pay its light bill, or haul its trash. (It seems the only money it does have is to pay extravagant salaries and provide extravagant benefit packages to its City Council members.)

Never mind their silly accusations of racism, these protestors have their economics bass ackwards.

Libraries and other unnecessary public institutions are only viable when they are thought of as the fruits of success, rather than the drivers of success. Wealth creators spring up in communities where wealth creation is encouraged--they rarely spring up in locations based solely upon their great libraries and museums.

This wealth is then spread about among those who own work for the wealth creator, enjoy the products or services provided, or live near the place where the product or services are made or delivered. These wealth creators, employees, and consumers of products in turn pay the taxes that can then be used to support extravagances such as libraries and museums.

Don't get me wrong, I think libraries and museums are great. I also like zoos, parks, skating rinks, public plazas, and the occasional mass transit system. Any and all of these things, when viable, should be encouraged within a community.

However, when city operations become so encumbered with costs and administration that their policies begin to punish wealth creation (through higher taxes, usage fees, regulations, etc.) there will be less wealth created. Businesses will leave, scale back, or close altogether and employees, in turn, will leave, lose benefits, or lose jobs altogether. Tax bases dry up and libraries must close.

This is not racism. It is economics.

Taliban to Expand with the Blessing of the US?

Stunning idiocy.

From the BBC:

The Taliban say they have reached a preliminary agreement to set up a political office, possibly in Qatar, as part of Western plans to end the war.

A statement confirmed the move, which has been backed by Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

Both the US and Germany have been pushing for such a representation in an effort to kick-start negotiations.
If our goal for the Afghanistan invasion, other than the soggy corpse of Osama bin Laden of course, is for the expansion of the Taliban's influence in the Mideast, I'd say that we've lowered the bar to an Improv level of seriousness.

American foreign policy no longer even attempts to benefit America. Perhaps that is the change that was voted for.

First January Post

This has been an up and down (mostly) year for the Rougblog.

I've spent between one quarter and one half of my time out of town, state and region, and much of my time here at home has been spent compensating for the time I must spend elsewhere. You know the old saying, ya gotta do what ya gotta do.

Let's just say I've been doing a lot of gotta do.

For every post I've actually put online here I've probably started another that never made it to the digital page. Just like playing guitar (I am the world's worst avid guitar player) when you put down the instrument for an extended period of time it takes a while to get the feel when you finally pick it up again. Likewise, my forced time away from the keyboard has helped to create difficulty when I'm actually sitting behind the keys.

My inspirations have been jumbled. My words have lacked crispness. My analysis also-ran and my discernment shallow. How much of this is the result of my travel and how much of it can be attributed to my woefully low IQ is unclear to me.

Regardless, this upcoming year undoubtedly holds within its calendar the most important presidential election in the past 150 years. Our country is on the brink of economic collapse while the very fiber of our representative republic is being challenged internally by the machinations of an ever more powerful and seemingly benevolent government.

It is my intent to slog my way through this year by posting more frequently and posting more loudly. It is my desire to post often enough that my yip or yap, when added to the cacophony of others also yipping and yapping, will break through the heavy clouds above our political landscape and make a difference.

Ya gotta do what ya gotta do.