Saturday, January 31, 2009

GOP Governors Hit the Slippery Slope Head First

Per Fox News, it looks like most Republican state governors are practically pleading with their counterparts in the Senate to push the "stimulus" package through, with little or no regard at all for the state of the overall economy.

A gem of an excerpt that basically sums it up:

Vermont Gov. Jim Douglas, the Republican vice chairman of the National Governors Association, planned to be in Washington on Monday to urge the Senate to approve the plan.

"As the executive of a state experiencing budget challenges, Gov. Douglas has a different perspective on the situation than congressional Republicans," said Douglas' deputy chief of staff, Dennise Casey.

In other words, "Well, since we don't know what we're doing, and we pissed away all our own taxpayers' dollars, and we're Republicans so we can't be the ones in charge when taxes are raised during a recession, we'll ever so begrudgingly take this undeserved federal money. Oh, and step on it!"

Then we have the wafflers, including the credibility-lost-by-the-day Bobby Jindal:

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, a former member of the House, said he would accept the stimulus money but would have voted against the bill if he were still in Congress. Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, a former chairman of the Republican National Committee, said he wasn't sure whether he would accept the approximately $3 billion his state would be in line for.

"Yes, we need some help and we appreciate the help," Barbour said in an interview. "But I don't know about the details and the strings attached to tell you if I'll take all of it or not."

Jindal perhaps can be forgiven to some extent given the mess still being cleaned up from hurricanes in his state, although his self-contradiction on decision-making seems to point to a general lack of moral fortitude.

Barbour is hilariously transparent here. He doesn't know "about the details and the strings attached" to let us know if he'll take all $3 billion pointed his way. If this weren't a big enough indicator to point to general corruption I don't know what is. This merely smacks of a guy trying to skim off the top, but not so much that he gets caught for skimming off the top of too big a pot.

At least Mark Sanford speaks out for what is right:
"It's incumbent on me as one of the nation's governors to speak out against what I believe is ultimately incredibly harmful to the economy, to taxpayers and to the worth of the U.S. dollar," Sanford said in an interview. "This plan is a huge mistake and is going to prolong and deepen this recession."
He hasn't said whether he'll take the money yet. But he will. It would be his own political suicide not to take $2.1 billion to help his state. And that is what is ultimately the biggest problem. They're throwing so much money around now that to oppose it on principle is to be accused of not acting in the best interests of ones own constituents, to be called the en-vogue dirty word, partisan, nigh on becoming the Democrat and mainstream media version of un-American.

It seems apparent that the American ideals of rugged individualism, standing for ones own beliefs, and fighting for what is right; indeed pursuing our lives, pursuing our liberties, and pursuing our properties, are falling by the wayside in lieu a the cozy pseudo-comforts of some gooey kind of statism.

As Mark Steyn so eloquently summarizes today:
In the western world, countries that were once the crucible of freedom are slipping remorselessly into a thinly disguised serfdom in which an ever-higher proportion of your assets are annexed by the state as super-landlord. Big government is where nations go to die—not in Keynes’ “long run,” but sooner than you think.
The death of our nation as we have idealized may very well come sooner than Steyn, or any of us think. To many this will seem a great happening. To those of us that are aware of the history of the collectivist path, however, it seems merely that the shining beacon of freedom that has long been the United States, may merely be repeating the mistakes of the past, trudging, in that long run, down the road to serfdom.

Friday, January 30, 2009


Received a great email today. Perhaps you've seen it, perhaps you haven't. Nevertheless, the Nose plays. Enjoy:

Today we mourn the passing of a beloved old friend, Common Sense, who has been with us for many years. No one knows for sure how old he was, since his birth records were long ago lost in bureaucratic red tape. He will beremembered as having cultivated such valuable lessons as:

Knowing when to come in out of the rain;
Why the early bird gets the worm;
Life isn't always fair;
And maybe it was my fault.

Common Sense lived by simple, sound financial policies (don't spend more than you can earn) and reliable strategies (adults, not children, are incharge).

His health began to deteriorate rapidly when well-intentioned but overbearing regulations were set in place.

Reports of a 6-year-old boy charged with sexual harassment for kissing aclassmate;
Teens suspended from school for using mouthwash after lunch;
A teacher fired for reprimanding an unruly student, only worsened his condition.

Common Sense lost ground when parents attacked teachers for doing the job that they themselves had failed to do in disciplining their unruly children. It declined even further when schools were required to get parental consent to administer sun lotion or an aspirin to a student; but could not inform parents when a student became pregnant and wanted to have an abortion.

Common Sense lost the will to live as the churches became businesses and criminals received better treatment than their victims.

Common Sense took a beating when you couldn't defend yourself from a burglar in your own home and the burglar could sue you for assault.

Common Sense finally gave up the will to live, after a woman failed to realize that a steaming cup of coffee was hot. She spilled a little in her lap, and was promptly awarded a huge settlement.

Common Sense was preceded in death, by his parents, Truth and Trust, by hiswife, Discretion, by his daughter, Responsibility, and by his son, Reason.

He is survived by his 4 stepbrothers;

I Know My Rights
I Want It Now
Someone Else Is To Blame
I'm A Victim

Not many attended his funeral because so few realized he was gone.

If you still remember him, pass this on.

If not, join the majority and do nothing.

Oh My God - Teetering on Complete Collapse

"Oh My God."

Such were the words of John Boehner following his initial perusal of the looming economic disaster that is Obama's "stimulus" bill.

The further down the rabbit hole we delve, the more we understand that those three little words simply do not even do this mountainous turd sandwich of a "bill" justice.

After my initial perusal, I noted the inherent dishonesty toward the American People that the writing of the bill showed, hiding controversial social programs under their bill numbers rather than their descriptive titles.

Many of the more mainstream blogs and news outlets have begun to notice, as I did, that there is over $5 billion made available to ACORN, and this has become a big drum to beat on.

Not yet addressed by many is my initial look at $22.6 billion to Section 502 Loans, a program basically giving away subprime housing loans to people who can't afford them, which, for anybody who's been paying attention, is the entire root of the problem in the first place.

These, along with the egregiously wasteful spending that that one will find in line after line after line of the bill, like $420 million for a potential flu pandemic, $600 million for new cars for the government, $150 million to the Smithsonian, which is already well funded enough by miles, or the $200 million set aside to revitalize the National Mall, are not in any way stimulus to the economy. They are merely, as the Wall Street Journal pointed out, an assemblage of a 40-year wish list of Democrat spending programs.

Aside from the wasteful spending, a deeper analysis of how the numbers actually break down, let's us know that even the spending on construction won't really stimulate the economy. In fact, even some of the most high level economists we have are rallying against the stimulus. Furthermore, over 10% of the entire package ends up going to new government salaries.

As if the economics of it all weren't bad enough, now we are finding out that the Democrats have been even sneakier than I had originally realized. JWF points us to a story that points out that the language in the bill eliminates welfare reform in its entirety. The caps on welfare money to states are relinquished entirely. The federal funding is essentially able to be claimed from any welfare agency, in any amount they please, as emergency funding!

If that wasn't bad enough, HotAir points us to the de-facto Healthcare Nationalization that the bill puts into place by expanding who Medicare covers:

House Democrat Henry Waxman was so thrilled by this blowout, it was left to Republicans to remind him that the very banking millionaires he dragged to the Hill last year for a grilling would now qualify for government aid. His response? A GOP proposal to limit subsidies to Americans with incomes under $1 million was accepted during markup, but had disappeared by final passage. In this new health-care nirvana, even the rich are welcome.

In terms of woefully inefficient healthcare spending, the general consensus is that third-party systems like Medicare get in the way of progress. The Cato Institute describes a better method for improving delivery, but since it has nothing to do with government control, I'm sure we'll never see it happen.

Unfortunately, if this passes, it only gives the Democrat-controlled Congress a better chance at forcing through their next step, the absolutely insane Universal Health Care plan introduced, deep under the radar, by John Conyers.

The amount of money our government is about to spend under the Orwellian guise of saving us from disaster carries with it only the possibility of the collapse of the dollar.

"Oh my God" doesn't cut it. It doesn't even come close.

The absolute dishonesty of this bill should outrage every single American citizen there is, whether they are paying taxes or not.

Any tax-paying American citizen should be on the verge of hoisting the black flag!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Buy American is NOT the Issue - Obama Is

Over at HotAir, Ed Morrissey rants today about the Washington Post's report on the provisions in the stimulus package that force contracts doled out via the bill's money to buy 100% American steel and iron. He makes a nice big show about how it smells like Smoot-Hawley and could destroy our international trade, expanding on a point made in the Washington Post:
Opponents, including some of the biggest blue-chip names in American industry, say it amounts to a declaration of war against free trade. That, they say, could spark retaliation from abroad against U.S. companies and exacerbate the global financial crisis.

Now, I hate to be the bearer of bad news to all you stimulus hawks out there, especially since I've been digging through this thing looking for everything wrong with it since the day it was released to the public, but this argument is a bit misguided, and I figured I'd better let everyone on our side in on the actual facts of the matter so we've got a leg to stand on when some HuffPo or Kos lunatic calls us out on it.

The Buy American Act is nothing new. It was initially enacted in 1933, and the provision that controls Buy American in terms of the FAR clauses on federal contracts was enacted in 1954. You can read through the reams of information about it if you'd like, but I know it pretty well from experience so you could also let me outline it.

The Buy American Act, in a summary look, already requires that no less than 95% of all construction materials and services on federal contracts be purchased within the United States. There are three exceptions, and they are all exceptionally impossible to prove, at least to a politician:

1. The goods/services being purchased within the US results in a public disservice.

2. The goods/services being purchased are entirely unavailable in the US.

3. Unreasonable Cost

I looked into circumventing the 95% rule a few years back, with the intention of trying to buy about a million dollars worth of steel from overseas. At the time, we were in a phase in construction where it was actually cheaper to re-buy steel sections from China than it was to get them rolled here, because we were exporting so much to them for their Olympic building spree.

I proved that there was an adequate savings to the federal government, but the fact that I had not made the request pre-award was the immediate disqualifying factor. There is too much sentiment against sending tax-payer dollars out of the country to ever get this done.

At this point, however, adherence to LEED standards for construction projects is really going to override any concept of going outside even your local area for materials anyway. Most, if not all, federal contracts will be requiring LEED certification at this point. And most of those projects will be requiring that as many materials come from within a 500 mile radius as possible.

Even if we could go out of the country for materials at this point, the simple fact of the matter in terms of any construction project, and especially in this economy, where the price of steel in particular has declined about 30% in the past six months, is that you're not going to get it much cheaper by the time you take into account for the tarriffs and shipping anyway.

There. Now that I've sufficiently strangled away any hopes you had of siezing upon this as a soapbox topic, let me tell you what the real problem is.

It's still Smoot-Hawley.

It's still the idea of protectionism and isolationism, and it's still everything that Ed Morrissey rants about to perfection today.
We already have large trade deficits, thanks to our massive wealth transfers each year to oil-producing nations based on our unwillingness to pump our own crude. If we touch off a trade war, which this will almost certainly do as it violates all of our WTO and bilateral trade agreements, other markets will close their doors to American products, such as cars and technology. Instead of closing our trade gap, we will explode it, and even those oil imports could get retaliatory tariffs from our two closest trading partners, Canada and Mexico, our two largest foreign suppliers of crude.

So what are we going to do about it?

Well obviously those of us in the construction industry are going to do what we have to do. And we'll be the benefactors when anything does actually cost more since our percentage fees will be of higher volume since the volume we calculate them on will be higher. So we'll make out OK on the government-created construction bubble, at least for a few years, even if our country's ability to export crumbles around us.

But guess who can do something about it.

The One.

From Wikipedia on the Buy American Act:
The President has the authority to waive the Buy American Act within the terms of a reciprocal agreement or otherwise in response to the provision of reciprocal treatment to U.S. producers.
Unfortunately, however the President has surrounded himself with a horde of moronic Keynesians, so it's unlikely he'll waive the Act, even if its in the best interests of the country's economy as a whole.

But considering his insistence on forcing through his pay-for-play porkfest of a stimulus, I'm guessing that the well being of the country's economy is the last thing on the Chairman's mind.

Blago Blasted!

I just got done listening to the proceedings live as they happened on WLS.

There was not a single vote against his removal from office.

All hail new Illinois Governor Pat Quinn!

Why Can't We Just Think?

UPDATE: Great minds think alike.

Now it's been fairly obvious to those of us that are skeptical of Anthropogenic Global Warming that nobody advocating AGW has been practicing real science, and the specific facts are now beginning to come forward as to just how egregious the evasion of practicing real science in terms of AGW has been. Fantastic evidence is provided today by the Science and Public Policy Institute in a report titled "United States & Global Data Integrity Issues." (Hat Tip to Tamron in LGF's spinoff links)

The report discusses the in depth research being done on a voluntary basis by Anthony Watts, which you can view for yourself at and at Watts is in the process of discrediting the actual source data that has been compiled from over 1,200 temperature stations across the United States. He's currently two-thirds of the way through cataloguing their locations and histories, and so far the vast majority of the stations have been showed to be located in spots that are excessively and abnormally hot, such as in the middle of asphalt parking lots, or next to air conditioning unit condensers. In some cases, the histories of the units show that as the concept of AGW began to be politicized, the units were actually moved from more appropriate grassy locations to these abnormally hotter locations.

We are beginning to find that, much more than being just a movement with religious overtones, that the concept of AGW has been an outright lie even from the start. The concept of GIGO (garbage-in, garbage-out) applies to any dataset analysis, no matter how large. And this is even further reinforced by Al Gore and his people today.

Timothy Birdnow points to a CCNET report today about a debate over AGW, sponsored by Christchurch's Avenues magazine, that featured Gerrit van der Lingen and Bryan Storey. The main part of Birnow's post is the following:

In Dr van der Lingen’s argument, he made the observation that Al Gore refuses to debate the points in his film, An Inconvenient Truth. In Professor Storey’s response he said, quote:

“Our professional bodies recommend that we do not publicly engage in debates over climate change as it gives a platform for the vocal minority to express their views, often scientifically incorrect or carefully selected to distort a longer term trend. This will undoubtedly be the advice that the former US Vice President Al Gore will have received, influencing his decision not to engage in televised debates.”

Now, I haven't had to do experimentation via the scientific method in a while, but I'm pretty sure I distincly remember that if you get results that are debatable, you're supposed to discuss the different options as much as possible and rethink your tests. Looking it up, it seems my recollection is correct:

The most important part in that chart is that if your hypothesis is false or only partially true, you're supposed to stop, think, and try again. It is scientifically irresponsible, immoral and unethical to manipulate your data to achieve results that "prove" your hypothesis. This puts ego in front of fact and does an extreme disservice to science and one's audience.

Bryan Storey suggests that his professional bodies, the gatherings of members of the scientific community that regulate the way these scientists practice their professions, are the ones directing them not to follow the scientific method. The scientific method is the very first thing we learn as children about how to experiment objectively. This indicates that the fallacy of AGW runs to the highest levels of the scientific community, and that politics (and the money gained therefrom) is ultimately what is driving the decisions being made. This indicates that the majority of the scientific community, and their prophet of catastrophe, Al Gore, has decided not to stop, think, and try again when they might not be on solid ground.

But when you've got a multi-million dollar carbon-trading scheme to maintain, I guess it's too much for me to expect that anyone should actually think.

Pass the Stimulus!

UPDATE: Pardon my premature exuberation. According to the document linked at, the Senate's version of the bill does not contain the language I discussed below.

Looks like we will have to count on our Senators to do the right thing...

It's almost enough to turn me religious...except that

If you pray hard enough, water will run uphill. How hard? Why, hard enough to make water run uphill, of course!

— Robert A. Heinlein


Now, now, now!!!


None of the funds provided by this Act may be made available to the State of Illinois, or any agency of the State, unless (1) the use of such funds by the State is approved in legislation enacted by the State after the date of the enactment of this Act, or (2) Rod R. Blagojevich no longer holds the office of Governor of the State of Illinois. The preceding sentence shall not apply to any funds provided directly to a unit of local government (1) by a Federal department or agency, or (2) by an established formula from the State.

And now for your reading pleasure, Amendment 10 of the Constitution.

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.
This bill as it stands currently sets a precedent that the Federal Government can dictate via coercion what the states are allowed to do within their own governments, which is explicitly against Amendment 10.

It doesn't make any difference whether Rod Blagojevich is removed by then or not, it's a dictation by the federal government into the operational actions of state government. That's to say nothing of the fact that it explicitly pronounces Blagojevich as assumed guilty before he has even been officially indicted, which in and of itself wreaks havoc with at least the Fifth Amendment, if not also some combination of the Sixth, Seventh and Eighth Amendments.

Pass the bill as it stands for the fact that it's grossly unconstitutional and would have to be declared unconstitutional under Judicial Review!

Take the advice of White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs. We can't afford to wait! We have to act! We can't be expected to weed out all these silly constitutional issues!

That's the Supreme Court's job!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

A Filthy Shame

Dick Morris wrote yesterday that the GOP should "fight the stimulus" by pushing free enterprise.

How does he propose that the GOP should do this?

The answer is for the Republicans to caucus and come up with a Free Enterprise Amendment to add to the stimulus package. The amendment should spell out what the government may not do in influencing the policy of private banks. It should, for example, make it illegal for the feds to urge certain lending policies on banks or to suggest specific loans that might be granted. It should enjoin the feds from intervening in decisions on who should manage various aspects of bank operations. The idea would be to cordon off large parts of the private sector, even in subsidized institutions, to bar public federal government influence.

A well-drawn amendment would be akin to the protections in the Bill of Rights against government intervention in certain activities such as religion, press, speech, petitioning and assembly. It would lay down markers indicating what the feds may not do.

If you had any question about the status of our Constitution, this should seal the deal for you.

Amendments 9 and 10 already pretty well expressly prohibit the US Government from doing anything they've done with the Fed buying up portions of banks as it is.

What else would such an admendment to the stimulus bill serve, other than to indicate to the world and the American people that we, the People of the United States indeed no longer care about the Blessings of Liberty for ourselves or our Posterity?

While I can't particularly argue with Morris' reasoning here, as there needs to be some kind of impediment to these disgusting socialist slimeballs that are squirming through the halls of Washington these days, it's a filthy shame that the ideals our country was built on should need to be spelled out to impede such actions at all.

A Better Healthcare Solution

Yesterday I took a look at the universal healthcare bill introduced onto the floor by Representative Conyers a few days ago. There are a myriad of things wrong with it that I detailed fairly extensively in that post.

Conyers and company have been working on it for two years now and apparently decided, in what is actually a fairly brilliant political move, to bring it to the floor while the hugely debated economic stimulus plan is battling head-to-head with Rod Balgojevich for every headline in the land.

The tactic has worked, as a bill that should be garnering more attention than God on Sunday is slipping largely under the radar, with a first page Google search of "universal health care bill" yielding only the slim Huffington Post article I initially referenced as the highest profile "news source" reporting on the bill's introduction.

In the current anti-free market fervor that is encapsulating those that would rather not actually think about the way markets really work, indeed most everybody, and in conjunction with a largely supremely far left Congress and a supremely far left President, this bill seems like it might actually stand a chance to pass this time.

This would be a travesty, in my opinion. But that doesn't mean I'm against everyone having affordable health care. So what is a better solution?

The Cato Institute provides a great analysis here, calling for and explaining in a brief and straightforward manner how deregulation and a move toward corporatizing healthcare would be the best option in terms of delivery.

The basic argument is made in the executive summary:

The traditional model of medical delivery, in which the doctor is trained, respected, and compensated as an independent craftsman, is anachronistic. When a patient has multiple ailments, there is no longer a simple doctor-patient or doctor-patient-specialist relationship. Instead, there are multiple specialists who have an impact on the patient, each with a set of interdependencies and difficult coordination issues that increase exponentially with the number of ailments involved.

Patients with multiple diagnoses require someone who can organize the efforts of multiple medical professionals. It is not unreasonable to imagine that delivering health care effectively, particularly for complex patients, could require a corporate model of organization.

At least two forces stand in the way of robust competition from corporate health care providers. First is the regime of third-party fee-for-service payment, which is heavily entrenched by Medicare, Medicaid, and the regulatory and tax distortions that tilt private health insurance in the same direction. Consumers should control the money that purchases their health insurance, and should be free to choose their insurer and health care providers.

Second, state licensing regulations make it difficult for corporations to design optimal work flows for health care delivery. Under institutional licensing, regulators would instead evaluate how well a corporation treats its patients, not the credentials of the corporation’s employees. Alternatively, states could recognize clinician licenses issued by other states. That would let corporations operate in multiple states under a single set of rules and put pressure on states to eliminate unnecessarily restrictive regulations.

Cato suggests that medical project managers be implemented into the system to act like general contractors in construction, planning the treatment process and utilizing separate specialists like subcontractors as and when they are needed.

As someone who works in construction management for a general contractor myself, I really couldn't agree more with this approach. When you have a lot of specialized subcontractors, you need to direct each one of them to do the correct amount of work, so that one doesn't do too much, or that between two of them, something doesn't get done that should have.

Conyers' bill wants our country as a whole to go to a single-payer system similar to Medicare, which Cato outlines is prohibiting efficiency by making it so that each individual is more likely paid directly, rather than being employees paid by a corporation.

Here's hoping some people with some much better ideas, like this one, start paying a little bit more attention to what's going on right under their noses!

Porn Industry Stimulus

Politico reports this morning on Chuck Grassley's probe into the National Science Foundation's addiction to porn on the job.

In one particularly egregious case, the report says one NSF “senior official” was discovered to have spent as much as 20 percent of his working hours over a two-year interval “viewing sexually explicit images and engaging in sexually explicit online ‘chats’ with various women.”
Politico doesn't talk about whether or not these people were fired, but hey, they're government employees, so I doubt it. They're probably getting tax-payer funded therapy or something.

Just for kicks, Obama's Stimulus Package © is providing $3 billion to the NSF. At a 20% clip, that's $600 million going towards porn.

Looks like Larry Flynt and Joe Francis are going to get their bailout after all!

A Disgrace to His Position - Phil Gingrey

UPDATE 2: This slimeball continued to grovel today, trying to cozy up to Rush personally today. I hope his constituents in Georgia are paying attention and throw his disingenuous ass out come the next go-round.

UPDATE 1: HotAir follows up on their story from earlier and brings us Phil Gingrey's flimsy apology coming hot on the heels of the Republicans' decision to go party-line on the "stimulus" bill, and after much blowback for his making himself and his party look like a bunch of limp-wristed, yellow-bellied lowlifes, as I addressed earlier today (seen below). What a joke.

In all the uproar over Rush Limbaugh's comment that he hopes Obama's socialist policies fail, we seem to find ourselves with a president that has embroiled himself in an idealogical war, not only with Rush, but with about half of the American people.

Yesterday, HotAir commented on the following quote from Representative Phil Gingrey:

“I think that our leadership, Mitch McConnell and John Boehner, are taking the right approach,” Rep. Phil Gingrey said. “I mean, it’s easy if you’re Sean Hannity or Rush Limbaugh or even sometimes Newt Gingrich to stand back and throw bricks. You don’t have to try to do what’s best for your people and your party."
Now far be it from me to be simple-minded about the role of a Representative while he's supposed to be doing his job in Congress, but isn't Gingrey supposed to be doing what's best for his constituents?

Now, of course he mentions "his people" so I'll assume that's who he was referring to. But he's not supposed to be there to do what's best for his party. I'm sure his constituents could give a good god damn which party he's a member of so long as he's in Congress fighting to do what's right for them as Americans.

According to his Congress page, Gingrey opposes the stimulus plan. It's pretty apparent from his comments, however, that he's opposed to it for the sake of political posturing, and not because he cares about fighting the ideals that are being put forth in the plan, those being ever-bigger government and ever more control over the American people. You can see further evidence of the fact that he's going to go whichever way the political winds blow him here:

If you can get through the whole thing without throwing up in your mouth, my congratulations to you.

You would imagine that a man who has held his seat in the House since 2003 would be confident enough in the security of his position to take a stand politically based on his ideals. You would imagine that a man who has the political savvy to understand his opposition would realize that Barack Obama is an uncompromising idealogue, especially since he flat out told the Republicans, "I won."

Obama does not negotiate. Well...he does actually...just not with Republicans.

Phil Gingrey is why the Republican Party is dying. He and everyone else in the House and the Senate with an "R" next to their name had better start looking themselves in the mirror to identify their own ideals, so that they can govern and lead this country with some purpose.

We need our representatives to fight for our liberties and for our freedoms. There is no compromise in liberty. There is no compromise in freedom. Every day the government grows larger, we lose our liberties and we lose our freedoms.

The Republican Party used to fight for smaller government, to promote our liberties and to protect our freedoms. Phil Gingrey's Republican Party is merely in the business of being reelected.

Unfortunately, while they're busy trying to get reelected, the Democrat Socialist Party is spreading its long fingers around the throats of the American people and waiting to squeeze.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The Insanity of the "Stimulus"

When confronted with the common sense approach, which dictates we should take our lumps and move on, the general reaction is panic as seen here.

Kudos to Ron Paul for his ability to weather the storm of what amounts to a bunch of whiny children begging not to be grounded.

Hat Tip: LewRockwell

Destruction Through Universal Health Care

For anyone who missed it yesterday, and I can't see why you wouldn't miss it, considering it's been relatively buried so far underneath the Blago circus and the Stimulus, Conyers & Co. introduced their Universal Healthcare Bill.

The text of the bill can be found here.

Eliminating Private Health Insurance

The gist of the whole thing is to eliminate the private insurance for healthcare industry altogether. For-profit insurers are given the option to convert to not-for-profit organizations if they wish. All things considered I can't imagine why they'd want to.

The bill goes on to make it illegal to offer private health insurance for anything not considered to be "medically necessary" under the terms of the bill. Essentially the industry will be limited to providing insurance for cosmetic surgeries and laser vision correction. The bill covers everything else.

The bill recognizes that this will eliminate a tremendous number of jobs, and therefore gives the people working those jobs 2 years of unemployment benefits and first crack at the newly minted government positions filling the void.

Also created in the bill is a centralized electronic database for medical records. Considering the creation of this system, one wonders how many fewer jobs there will be for admin/clerical positions due to the lessened amount of paperwork. This will undoubtedly not be a one-to-one replacement of private workers with government workers.

Start Up Costs

The bill addresses paying for the "start-up" costs of eliminating an entire tax-paying industry and replacing it with tax funded employees. How do they plan to do it? Well by inflating the dollar and backing it with Treasury Bills of course! Who buys these Treasurys? Foreign countries. For those not paying attention to why this is currently a ridiculously tenuous strategy at best, I'll point you to Peter Schiff.

Paying the Freight

Aren't we in a massive recession? How will we pay for it? Here's how (from Section 211):

A. Existing sources of Federal Government revenues for health care.

Yeah, umm, OK I'm going to doubt this one is lending anything at all to this program considering the "stimulus" wants to pile $87 billion extra into Medicare already.

B. Increasing personal income taxes on the top 5 percent income earners.

Since it happened over the weekend, potentially you may have missed the news that Obama now officially has every intention of ending the Bush Tax Cuts. Plenty has already been made of how stupid this is, and Heritage does a good job of talking about why. This bill, if approved, by its own language, would not go into actual effect until after the Bush Tax Cuts have expired. This means that the top 5 percent income would go from paying about 17.5% back to paying over 20% tax rates, and then plus some indiscriminate amount more to pay for the universal health care plan.

The cutoff for the top 5% is somewhere in the vicinity of $150,000, meaning that anyone making over $150,000 is already looking at paying an additional $3,750 a year after the BTC's get rolled back. And we have no clue how much more their taxes will be raised after those taxes get rolled back.

The top 5% of the income earners are already paying the freight on over 60% of federal taxes. Looks like we're heading for even less people paying the freight on even more federal tax. And this is to say nothing of the fact that eventually, in the long run, who is going to actually want to be in the top 5%? I could imagine a lot of people preferring to hover just underneath the bracket for the sake of not having to pay the extra tax, further disincetivizing individual growth, along with the overall growth of the country.

C. Instituting a modest and progressive excise tax on payroll and self-employment income.

I saw some commenter on the HuffPo article linked above state that he knew so many people that were going to start their own businesses now that they wouldn't be tied to a job just for the sake of affording insurance. I wonder how much more these people will pay in these progressive self-employment taxes than they would have just paid out of pocket for their own health insurance anyway?

Obviously nobody in Congress is going to do that kind of analysis for us.

D. Instituting a small tax on stock and bond transactions.

Does it strike anybody but me as completely ridiculous that we would start taxing stock and bond transactions smack in the middle of the worst recession we've seen since the Great Depression? Businesses need venture capital right now more than anything. Even the people at HuffPo recognize this. So why in the world would we disincentivize the purchase of stocks and bonds by taxing them more?

The bill also claims "system savings" as a source of financing, stating that creation of the much talked about centralized electronic medical records system would vastly reduce paperwork. Additionally the program calls for centralized bulk purchasing of medications as providing savings.

What the bill doesn't acknowledge, however, is that these can only be applied once in any cost-benefit analysis, and only as present value discounts against the up front costs. Any projected savings are likely to be infinitessimal over the life of such a program.

Promoting Mediocrity

Ultimately, though perhaps currently unintentionally, this bill is going to marginalize the amount of money a physician that works for a participating entity can earn. The bill offers that fees paid toward physicians will be negotiated up front. This means the baseline budget will be established based on current salaries. Many doctors will be unlikely to feel any difference up front.

However, Section 202 tells us that the "budget shall be negotiated anually, based on past expenditures, projected changes in levels of services, wages and input, costs and proposed new and innovative programs."

State Directors will be in charge of determining how much physicians are paid, and these State Directors will ultimately answer to a National Board.

Overall, this will eventually lead to a pay-grade system similar to that of federal government employees. The ever evil "profit motive" will disappear from the medical field as an incentive for doctors to aspire to great things, and the system as a whole will descend into mediocrity.

Doctors will be able to opt out of the federally reimbursed system in order to set up their own private practices, in which they can be paid in full via private transaction. These doctors, driven by the aforementioned profit motive, will ultimately become the best, not to mention most expensive, doctors in the country. Think James Andrews, of pro football shoulder surgery fame.

The only problem with this, obviously, will be that only the rich who can afford it out of pocket will be able to afford the best service, and the rest of us will be left to mediocre doctors who could care less who walks in the door next.

Personally I really think I'd rather my doctor's office not turn into the DMV.

About that National Board

The National Medical Board will be 100% coercive in nature, and will be appointed strictly at the discretion of the President. It will be made up of 15 members, and will contain a minimum of one of each of the following:

A. Health Care Professionals
B. Representatives of Institutional Health Care
C. Representatives of Health Care Advocacy Groups
D. Representatives of Labor Unions
E. Citizen Patient Advocates

I have no problem with a board made up of some combination of A, B, and E, but C and D are unconscionable. Health Care lobbyists and Labor Unions should not be allowed to have any presence on a national board of directors determining what is or is not good for our health care.

Back to Reality

I think a lot of people who read this bill will think it makes a lot of sense. The problem with those people is that they don't actually think about long term effects of such a bill.

It sounds great to someone who can't afford their own health insurance to be told they'd have "free" healthcare. They feel like they're being given a leg up in life in general, and some may feel vindicated that the "rich" are being forced to pay the freight for them. The problem in that outlook is that you haven't taken anything back from the "rich," you've just given them more power to make decisions over your life. Since you're not paying anything, you don't care what the government does, so you don't bother to pay attention. But the people paying the freigh most certainly care, and they're going to get what they want for their money. Nothing in the system changes other than the way the power is concentrated, and it only gets concentrated higher up.

Do we, as a country need to aid the health care industry in becoming more efficient? It's undoubtedly a great debate. There appears an urgency growing to do something about an industry that is being painted as criminally inefficient and overly profitable.

I would hope one would realize what a contradiction that is. Criminally inefficient companies simply cannot be profitable, much less overly profitable, because other, more efficient companies come in and get the business instead. The only entity that can be as inefficient as it pleases and still charge us whatever it wants is the federal government.

This bill wants to take 15 years to phase this plan in. Since an air of emergency and bile against an industry that is perceived as inefficient is what drives the yearning that the federal government replace the industry altogether, I ask you, the reader, if you feel 15 years is an acceptable phase-in period. I sure don't.

I think the industry should be more efficient, yes. But I don't believe for a second that it isn't already as efficient as the market allows it to be. I think, if anything, the government would be better off to incentivize the industry to expand its electronic capabilities as far as record keeping via grants or tax breaks. Rest assured, I sure as hell don't believe the government could ever make the health care industry more efficient.

Incalculable start up costs? Even further incalculable operational costs? Stifling of economic growth via over-taxation to support those incalculable costs? Disincentivizing personal and overall growth? Mediocre, DMV-like service at the doctor's office? Lobbyists and Unions determining Health Care Policy? Further concentration of political power at the highest levels?

Count me out.

UPDATE: See my follow up post about what a reasonable solution would be.

Nobody Likes You

You're ugly.

And your mommy dresses you funny.

Now smile ya fuckin' douche.

I was thinking the other week about behavioral psychology [specifically
this talk] and how much my life sucked. "I'm 21, a civil-environmental engineering student at a high-rated school, I've got Satellite TV, high-speed broadband (to be used with my high-performance gaming rig and tablet pc, as well as my recently acquired G1) all in my own bedroom in a downtown apartment that's waaaay too nice for someone like me to be living in, I'm in good health, decently good looking (as made apparent by my beautiful and loving girlfriend) and I have a swarth of marketable skills and talents, I'm capable, smart, and dagnabbit, people like me." waitaminute. Why am I saying this sucks? My life is awesome.

So I stopped and asked "well, what's the deal self?"

to which myself replied "Well, maybe if you weren't such a mopey prick all the time you'd stop, count your toes, and realize that you're actually pretty happy."

"Hmmm, good point self. But what do you mean 'count your toes?"

"That's just an expression I thought of for this experiment. It's like the athiest's version of 'count your blessings.' If you can count your toes, it means - that for one, you can see them so you're not morbidly obese, AND you're not blind (despite your parent's warnings of what that adolescent hobby of yours would do) and that you have some kind of home in which you can take off your shoes and look down - or even better that you live in a tropical or sub-saharan climate and don't need to wear shoes. If you can count them it means you're at least partially intelligent, and if there's still 10 of them it's just a little bit of a cherry on top."

"That's awefully clever of you, self."

"Still keeping up with that hobby I see."

"Oh, screw you."


And with those closing words to my inner sociopath I decided to preform an experiment. I would spend a month smiling, and see if it changed my overall attitude towards life, the universe, and everything. I promptly spent three days smiling then overslept one day, forgot about the whole thing, and went back to being sour until I found a scrap of paper and remembered my experiment and the post I was going to make about it.

So Dear Readers, I level my challenge thusly. Mark today as the beginning of your own month of smiling. Put a note on your door or TV or something [it helps to set reminders, especially if you see them after your morning coffee] and we'll meet back here in a month and discuss any effects we've noticed.


(No, you can not take singles awareness day off)

Time To Get Exploited!

Ok kids -

I've had an idea knocking around my noodle since an offhand comment made at a noodle house after emptying my pockets, and I'd like to make use of you, dear readers, to expand on it. Take a moment, grab your camera, and take a quick pic of the contents of your pockets. Go ahead and post the pic here or email it [and please do leave a comment here saying you did so] to Go ahead and list your sex [hehe] and age, and profession if you really want.

Ladies, if wearing pocketless pantaloons [or skirts for that matter] then grab the items from your desk/coat/purse/Sherpa team that you would carry with you on a casual trouser/jean/khaki wearing day.

It will only take a minute, it will lead to further interesting reading, and as always - remember It's for Science!

I'll get us started.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Real Men of Genius

Nothing quite like the collective genius of Democrats.

Let's debate the extreme urgency of passing a trillion dollars in new spending to save our so-called crumbling economy, and at the same time, why don't we pass new legislation that completely wipes out the entire private healthcare insurance industry?

Sweet god almighty.

Finally Catching On

Malkin and HotAir are finally catching on about all the nonsense in the stimulus. HotAir points us to a fantastic site called

I've got good summary breakdowns of the initial stuff here.

I haven't got access to comment on their posts since they never seem to open up registrations.

One of Hot Air's commenters mentions he'd like to put a spreadsheet together.

I've already got one put together with most of the spending portion in it, posted here.

Not sure if anybody else might be able to direct the HotAir people to work that's already done to make the resistance more efficient!

Obama's Millions

JWF discusses Obama's new executive order, which places mandates on the automotive industry. Subsequently, GM announces they will be cutting 2,000 jobs since they need to readjust to market demand.

This is in response to Obama's telling the country that
"It will be the policy of my administration," he said, "to reverse our dependence on foreign oil while building a new energy economy that will create millions of jobs."

JWF poses the extremely pertinent question, in the face of the 2,000 jobs lost in response at GM alone:
No doubt forcing mandates on the auto manufacturers will cost jobs. Where are these millions of jobs the government is going to allegedly create come from?

Well the answer is easy there.

Of the $363 billion in the "stimulus" intended for "direct injection" into the economy, $33.4 billion is directly set aside for Government Employee Salaries and Program Expenses. Beyond that, every section of the bill tells us that over and above that $33.4 billion, 3% of the other allocated monies may be used for further administration of the funds. That's an additional $9.89 billion that will be available to the government for administrative purposes, giving us a grand total of $43.29 billion for government employees.

If we go by the University of New Mexico's numbers for average salary and round up to $40,000, then apply a heavy benefits multiplier of say, 1.5, to account for government benefits, then we see that each government job probably costs, on average, about $60,000.

At that value, $43.29 billion pays for 721,500 government employees.

We're on our way to a million there.

Just a shame none of those will produce anything.

Shocker - HuffPo Writer Has No Integrity

Ryan Grim at the Huffington Post started what appears to be an avalanche of liberal outrage around the blogosphere over the weekend when, on Friday night, he decided he'd write an "article" that "exposes" the Congressional Budget Office's report on the stimulus bill as a complete fake.

Apparently we are supposed to take his accusation at face value, despite the fact that we can read and understand immediately that he has absolutely no clue what he's talking about. Grim writes of the CBO's report:

Because it dealt with just a part of the stimulus, it estimated the spending rate for only about $300 billion of the $825 billion plan. Significant changes have been made to the part of the bill the CBO looked at.

The CBO numbers were given to a small number of congressional Democrats and Republicans, but were not posted online because they're not an official CBO product. (Media outlets, while reporting widely about the "report," have declined to post it online. Here's the whole thing.) Democratic aides say they are certain that the GOP leaked it to the Associated Press in order to undercut the spending portion of the stimulus.

One hopes the reader would recognize the hypocrisy of starting an article by saying the report doesn't exist, and then actually providing the report. However, like Doc Holliday in Tombstone, liberal hypocrisy knows no bounds.

Grim would have us believe that the CBO's analysis is woefully short of the full amount of the stimulus. For anybody that's been paying attention however, that "only about $300 billion" he talks about, is pretty much all of the actual spending that would be going into the economy. I broke this down previously here. There's $360 billion in spending to "inject" into the economy, and ten percent of that is government salaries to implement the programs. So there's your "about $300 billion" in spending that was correctly analyzed by the CBO.

Since Grim didn't bother to look up the initial report that the CBO did when Congress began mulling over the Economic Recovery Act, I went ahead and took the 30 seconds to do it myself. Wouldn't you know it, here's the report he says doesn't exist, or at least attempts to discredit as bad information.

It's not a report on exactly what the stimulus bill is now, since it was a cost analysis done in the infancy of the bill, and Congress has subsequently shuffled parts and pieces around and added more wasteful provisions.

Nonetheless the report exists. It is not a lie spun by Republicans to railroad the stimulus bill.

The CBO's analysis of how long the spending money will take to make it into the economy isn't going to change just because the amounts may have changed slightly.

Facts are facts, and you can't misrepresent them forever.

But obviously that doesn't stop the Huffington Post from publishing whatever tears down Republicans, even when they're proving to be arguing what is right for the country.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Real Economists Shred the "Stimulus"

I began this blog with five simple words: I am not an economist. I went on to discuss how I spend my days determining how much it costs to build construction projects, and I felt I had a good idea of how things should work. I have a very simple approach to my own personal economics, that being if I cannot afford it, I don't buy it. I have a mortgage I can afford and a car loan I can afford, and some small student loans I have incurred in pursuing a graduate degree. The last arose from my own laziness in not pursuing graduate grants or scholarships.

I feel "if you can't afford it, don't buy it" is a good rule of thumb in regards to spending money no matter if it is my own personal spending, or spending on the national level in trillions of dollars of taxpayer money. Since that first entry where I claimed myself "not an economist" it seems I have done almost nothing but rail on and on about the economy, whether it be the propping up of failing public transportation via the stimulus, the fact that the stimulus can never achieve a true payback, how we shouldn't trust our money to a government that can't even tell us where it's going, or how the stimulus will do nothing but grow government while aiding a few specialized companies all without actually stimulating anything.

You can imagine, then, that I've felt like some of my ranting and raving might seem to you, the reader, to be fairly sanctimonious, given that I am indeed not an economist. I have hoped that I have not come off as some schmo trying, but failing, to know what he's talking about. Imagine my relief then, in coming across this piece by David Henderson at the Library of Economics & Liberty (hat-tip to Liberty & Power) where three professional economists from the University of Chicago are making many of the same kinds of arguments that I have been making.

The economists are John Huizinga, Kevin Murphy and Robert Lucas, and they host a panel discussion that lasts an hour that you can find for your own viewing pleasure here. If you're going to watch it, I highly recommend first downloading Huzinga's and Murphy's PDF's of their overhead slides so you'll better follow some of their math.

Huizinga begins the discussion by asserting that we are being told that "the reason we need this stimulus policy is that we're in extraordinary times, so all the rules of regular economics need to be thrown out the window, and things are just inherently different." He goes on to tell us that "being the kind of numbers guy I am, I figured I better look at a few numbers and see just how different things really are.

Huizinga's main point emerges that we are indeed NOT in extraordinary times at all. He urges that we must look at the job losses that are occurring right now from a percentage basis rather than a raw numbers basis. One would think this would automatically be the case given that we have over 100 million more people in the country now than we did in our previous monster recession in the early 1980's, but this has not been the case. Obama and his people have been playing the politics of fear with the economic downturn by ignoring percentages and using only numbers. Huizinga astutely points out that we could even DOUBLE the number of jobs lost so far and this would still not be the worst recession in the post-war era. In short, his assertion is that Obama's people are calling this an "unprecedented" recession based on a very pessimistic forecast.

This pessimistic forecast is made by Christina Romer, who claims that jobs will continue to be lost steadily over the course of the next two years, putting us in a Great Depression-like 36 month continuous fall. Huizinga points out that the previous record for any post-war recession was 17 months. He seems to think that Romer's forecast, more than double that, is dubious. Personally, I think I'd call it top shelf political fear mongering.

Kevin Murphy continues the discussion and briefly discusses the proposed "tax cuts." He quickly points out that the plan does not cut marginal rates, but rather ties benefits to income in a means-tested way. This means that you only get the benefits if your income is below some threshold. When you move up in income level, you no longer receive a benefit. He tells us, which is obvious at this point, that we actually see an implicit INCREASE in rates due to this, essentially eliminating any kind of stimulus that we are aiming for.

Murphy goes on to discuss the actual government spending and gives us a relatively simple equation:
f(1-λ) > α+d

The parts and pieces of this equation are explained in better detail in Murphy's PDF that I referenced earlier, if you're interested. Essentially what he gives us with this equation is a way to evaluate in numbers the effectiveness of direct government spending. The left side represents the value obtained from marketplace output due to government spending, and the right side represents government inefficiency plus deadweight government costs. The equation means that we must achieve a higher output in the market than what we know the government spends to create it.

In this math, f can be assumed to be the ever mystical Keynsian Multiplier which tells us that for every dollar the government spends, the market gives back more than that dollar, while the λ is a fraction signifying the relative value of idle resources. Keynsians in general like to assume that the f is always very high. Obama's people in particular are pegging it at about 1.5, and also then assume that λ is very low, or zero, because it pleases them to believe that every dollar they put in creates a brand new job for somebody that wasn't already working. As I pointed out yesterday in my post about government construction jobs, this simply isn't the case. According to Murphy, Romer's analysis for Obama also simply ignores the d in the equation, further improving her outlook on projected stimulus by eliminating inconvenient parts and pieces.

On a side note, maybe we should put Christina Romer and James Hansen together for a lunch date. I'd bet they'd hit it off, especially if we got them talking about ethics.

Overall, Murphy asserts that because the deadweight value is around 0.8, and that government inefficiency in spending is also very high, the right side of the equation is going to be a large number that cannot be overcome by the output of the economy on the left.

Kind of sounds a lot like "if you can't afford it, don't buy it," huh?

Lucas goes last and doesn't really offer much in the way of detailed analysis, and rather stumbles over much of what he's trying to say, which becomes distracting, but his main point is that he feels rather than stimulating, the government spending will move around already working resources, bolstering Murphy. Therefore, he asserts that the spending is completely moot, and we need to focus instead on monetary policy, meaning actual tax incentives.

This sentiment is backed up by other economists as well. In an article for Forbes, Bruce Bartlett points us to the words of UC-Berkeley (apparently they're not all communists after all) economist Hal Varian:

Private investment is what makes possible future increases in production and consumption. Investment tax credits or other subsidies for private sector investment are not as politically appealing as tax cuts for consumers or increases in government expenditure. But if private investment doesn't increase, where will the extra consumption come from in the future?

Or in my own words from yesterday:

The government bubble has to burst eventually. They can't expect to dig a hole and then fill it back up again forever. At some point they have to stop, lest they bankrupt the country completely.

Here's "hoping" our voices, and the voices of these real economists reach our senators, and can "change" their minds about blindly supporting the ruinous spending policy The One has placed before them.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Why the "Stimulus" Won't Stimulate

I think the easiest way to look at why the "stimulus" package won't actually stimulate anything is that all of the money they are intending to be injected into the marketplace will be directed at the construction industry.

Everybody is hemming and hawing over how huge the unemployment rate is in the construction business. What nobody wants to point out, however, is that the construction business had an artificially high number of people working in it over the past few years, due to the amount of overlending taking place and the housing bubble.

So what does the government do about this "emergency situation?" They see an unemployment rate in construction that is very high, and decide to inject money into construction.

Nobody thought to ask about why the rate was so high in the first place. The answer is that demand for new jobs in construction was made high by the housing bubble. That bubble burst and so too did the construction bubble. One leads the other. For the government to inject money into the construction industry does nothing but attempt to prop up the construction industry that had boomed on the heels of the housing bubble, by creating a government construction bubble.

But here's the major problem: Government construction is NOT residential construction and the companies, therefore subsequently the people they hire, that do government construction DON'T DO residential construction. Government work is very paperwork intensive, and very oversight intensive. Therefore the companies that do government work are very adapted to doing it. They are staffed up for it, and have experience doing it. They have also done prior government work, which wouldn't you know it, is a proposal requirement for doing new government work.

Many of the companies that sprang up to do residential construction throughout the country were what we call "pickup truck contractors." They are guys that see the opportunity to make a fast buck doing simple construction work, and they get in on the business. They don't look to do quality work, nor do they care to grow a real business, but rather they care to take advantage of a glut market.

You will not find any pickup truck contractors doing government projects. Government requirements simply won't allow it to happen. Neither will you find the people they employed ending up building government buildings. The certifications that must be produced and the background checks that must be performed before a worker is allowed on a government site are many. Needless to say, the workers that have clean backgrounds and the required certifications are already employed by contractors that do government work. They are valuable resources and therefore likely are not standing in unemployment lines.

The gist of it is that the stimulus money for government projects will be going to companies and people that are either already doing other government projects, and will simply be moving on to the next ones, or had expanded their businesses to do commercial and large residential as well as governmental work.

The governmental work is only going to end up going to the companies and people that already do governmental work. Perhaps over the course of the next several years, those companies will train and hire more people in the realm of government work. However, the problem then becomes, after the government work goes away, what comes next?

The government bubble has to burst eventually. They can't expect to dig a hole and then fill it back up again forever. At some point they have to stop, lest they bankrupt the country completely.