Saturday, December 05, 2009

Small Business: The Real Enemy of the State

This may come as a shock to some of you, but to Obama, America's real enemy isn't terrorism, Al Qaeda, or the Taliban: It's Small Business. Last weeks' dog and pony show known as the jobs summit is all the proof we need. Obama's own words prove my point:

Despite the progress we've made, many businesses are still skittish about hiring. Some are still digging themselves out of the losses they incurred over the past year. Many have figured out how to squeeze more productivity out of fewer workers. And that cost-cutting has become embedded in their operations and in their culture. That may result in good profits, but it's not translating into hiring and so that's the question that we have to ask ourselves today: How do we get businesses to start hiring again?

For those who do not yet know how to interpret this President, let me translate:

Many businesses have lost money over the last year. And now, they're so concerned with making a profit that they're taking advantage of their poor, oppressed employees by squeezing more productivity and/or hours out of them. They're mercilessly cutting costs and benefits to increase their profits. So, how can we get businesses to realize that they exist to hire and serve their employees? Without banning or capping their profits, how can we get small businesses to sacrifice their profits for the good of the oppressed (and the Country)?

Since the real enemy of the state is Small Business (and the profits held by the Private Sector in general), it's no wonder the Senate Health Care bill (in its current form) intentionally increases insurance premiums for the self-employed and the small business owner. Only by increasing the risk of taking an entrepreneurial venture can America truly eliminate the entrepreneurial spirit that has helped make this country great. And only by eliminating the evil profits from the private sector can we create the conditions for economic growth. And only by sacrificing the good of the one can we secure the good of the many.

This is the world, according to Obama. Personally, I subscribe to the view of Adam Smith: (my paraphrase): FWhen individuals were free to pursue their own self-interest, the good of the many is the natural result.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Senate Health Care Bill Increases Premiums for Self-Employed

The Washington Post is revelling in the news that the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has released an analysis of the Senate Health Care Bill, claiming that "the measure would leave premiums unchanged or slightly lower for the vast majority of Americans" (emphasis mine). They'd like you to stop reading at that sentence and assume that this bill does the job of reducing health insurance premiums for those who need it most. But, who is not included in the "vast majority"?

The answer may surprise you. In fact, in my opinion, this legislation does the least to reduce insurance costs for those who can use the most help: the self-employed. According to the CBO, "the measure would have its most dramatic impact on the individual market. Becuase they are not part of a workforce or other group that can pool its risk, consumers tend to pay more for policies with fewer benefits." Moreover, the CBO concludes that "premiums [in the individual market] would be 10 to 13 percent higher, on average, than under current law, climbing to $5,800 a year for individuals and $15,200 for family coverage."

So, while the Democrats in Congress would like you to believe that this report is a victory for their bill, it's really a huge failure. This bill raises health insurance rates the most for those who need the help the most. And, because the self-employed are the entrepreneurs of America, what this bill really does is to discourage the entrepreneurial spirit that contributes to the greatness of America.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Michelle is so Valuable, Nobody Can Replace Her

Yes, that's right folks: Michelle Obama is so valuable, she can't be replaced. Her former employer, the University of Chicago Medical Center, found that she did so much to earn her $317,000 annual salary (in only 20 hours a week), that they decided not to fill the position when she resigned.

Now, call me a cynic, but I can't help but think that they're not filling the position for one reason: she already did what they paid her to do. You see, one of the very few things Barack Obama did while a United States Senator was to request a $1 million earmark for the University of Chicago Medical Center. I guess she did earn her keep. Or she would have if the earmark had passed the Senate! Since she failed, though, I can't help but think that they ought to sue for breach of contract.

(Note: This is old news, originally covered by the American media in January of 2009. But leave it to the Canadian media to bring up such juicy information that the American media just glossed over it. And despite the fact that this is old news, it still illustrates the both the level of corruption that has invaded our White House, and the ability of our Media to gloss over a story that doesn't help advance their agenda. HT: @KatyinIndy.)

Monday, November 09, 2009

Europe: "America, Don't Repeat Our Mistakes"

The Center for Freedom and Prosperity just put out a amazing tool for use in defeating the attempts to overthrow our health care system. In about 5 minutes, the video lays out a number of facts about the nature of American health care spending, and the leading contributor to high health care prices (hint: it involves government and spending). It's well worth your time. (And even more worth your Liberal friends' time!)

HT: Dan Mitchell at

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Obama's Really a War Hawk

I bet you've never thought of him that way, but Obama is really a war hawk. Or, one would think that based on his pell-mell rush to lead us into a full-scale (potentially nuclear) mid-east conflict. That is the conclusion (one conclusion among many) of the piece,
Lose Afghanistan, Lose Pakistan, Lose Iran, Lose It All, by Jason Lewis in today's American Thinker.

The stakes in the Middle East are higher than they've ever been, and Obama's foreign policy failures just push us closer to the brink of a war we may not be able to avoid. Two particular areas are of particular concern: In Afghanistan, "Gen. McChrystal wants more troops. Obama doesn't want to send them because he needs the money to promote his socialist take-over of America. You can't have both." And in Iraq,"Ahmadinejad will have nuclear weapons too, and he already has enough radioactive materials for a dirty nuke, a low-tech weapon that can spread terror everywhere in the world". Some have speculated (and I believe) that Iran will have a nuke within one year.

Until then, we have a deadlock of sorts:
"If Israel attacks Tehran, the Iranians will try to retaliate, either by a missile strike or by local attacks using Hezbollah and Hamas. If Israel does not attack Tehran, the Iranians will try to attack Tel Aviv anyway, because it is the key plank in their ideological doctrine, the one they have been chanting about for thirty years. For Israel it's just in the difference in the timing of an inevitable war. It's damned if you do, damned if you don't. So it makes more sense for Israel to attack first, and expect to defend immediately against Iranian retaliation. It is far, far better to do that before the Iranians get actual nukes."
[But,] Will the United States back Israel in a preemptive war? If so, and if preemptive strikes succeed, we can keep the rogues in their place. Beating down Iranian nukes will signal to the other rogues that nuclear weapons are not the ace in the hole they think it is.

That is why Afghanistan and its neighbor Pakistan, AfPak, is a historic watershed moment. If we lose in Afghanistan and the Taliban win, and they can combine with their brethren in Pakistan to get control over a nuclear weapon, and we will see an Al Qaeda look-alike with nukes. That's what Cheney and Bush were warning us about. India can't afford that, and they are quickly arming up. China can't afford it either.

The same logic applies to Iran. Ahmadinejad has been threatening not just Israel and the United States, but the Saudis and Gulf States. The Saudis have financed Pakistan's nuclear program to be able import them instantly, as soon as Tehran gets its own.

It is the United States that keeps its finger in this dike. Pull that finger out, and we'll see a flood.

So we lose, and the world does, too, if we don't beat down the threat. If we succeed in defending the world in alliance with other countries, we will survive and the gangster regimes will be held back."

Right now, our best bet is to keep the nukes out of the hands of terrorists like Ahmadinejad, and to defeat the terrorists in Afghanistan. But, Obama's refusal to stand up to anyone on the national scene leaves me with but one conclusion: He's really a war hawk, driving us ever-closer to war with his own ineptitude.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Health (Insurance) Reform is Ill-Conceived

Keith Hennessy, Michael O. Leavitt, and Al Hubbard wrote an Op-Ed in the Wall Street Journal that supports the assertion I made earlier this week. in my post Health insurance is the problem. Since all appearances currently indicate that the so-called Government-Option is dead, many of our legislators are scraping the bottom of the barrel to find the policies that have broad bipartisan support, in hopes of passing some type of health insurance reform before the end of the year. Unfortunately, because of the urgency of passing something quickly (so that we all have time to forget what they've done to us before we have to opportunity to throw them out on the street), some of the provisions are subject to little debate.

The Op-Ed explains exactly how two of these provisions, Guaranteed Issue and Community Rating, "would create a massively unfair form of income redistribution and create incentives for many not to buy health insurance at all." (Not to mention that they would lead to dramatically higher health insurance rates for all of us!) Since their explanation is clear and succinct, I'll let you get it right from the horse's mouth, instead of repeating it.

In addition to having a number of unintended consequences, these two policies completely fail to recognize that the widespread use of insurance is part of what keeps health care costs increasing. Until we can separate health insurance from the issue of health care, we can not really achieve the goal of making quality health care affordable for all Americans, which is one of very few of Obama's (stated) goals with which I can agree.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

More Evidence: Global Warming is a Hoax

Senate Stooges Boxer and Kerry have unveiled the latest strategy to get the ill-conceived cap and trade bill passed, despite the fact that Obama's Treasury department has concluded that it will cost American households more than $1700 a year! (That's the equivalent of an annual 15% increase in the federal income tax!) So, what's their grand scheme? Change it's name: Instead of calling the legislation "Cap and Trade", they've decided to start calling it "Pollution Reduction and Investment", or PRI. So, we'll just dress it in some new clothes to cover up the smell.

New clothes indeed, considering that Steve McIntyre over at Climate Audit presented a recent report which effectively puts to death the famed "hockey stick" graph that is a perennial bad penny that keeps popping up in any climate change discussion. AJ Strata, in his analysis of the findings, is pretty direct in his conclusions:

The real professionals ... have discovered that the source of all the recent global warming is not CO2, but bad data used in climate models which forces the models to show recent warming – where OTHER DATA shows there is no recent warming.

Let me repeat this. The statistical models used by the High Priests of Global Warming are using a newly identified and specific data set which wrongly produces decades of warming where none exists in the raw temperature data 0r other data sets.


I will let the authors be more reserved, but I find the results damning. To summarize, the infamous Hockey Stick (HS) warming trend that supposedly shows man made CO2 forcing the Earth’s temperature higher is in fact an artifact of one set of bad data.

These guys are going to have to do more than just give the policy a new name to sell us on it. To paraphrase Shakespeare: "A pile of horse manure by any other name is still just as smelly." It'll take more than just a new name to make this bad policy come up roses.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Health Care: Insurance is the Problem

The current debate regarding the future of our health care system in America is inherently flawed. Many of our politicians and the public at-large seem to be overlooking the biggest contributor to escalating health care costs, and as a result, the proposed solutions (from both sides of the aisle) utterly fail to address the source of the problem. Current attempts to reform health care focus on decreasing the cost of insurance* (or changing the source of insurance). But they fail to recognize that, in general, insurance is the problem! A system driven by insurance is a classic example of a Third-Party Payer System. If you're not familiar with the term third-party payer, let me explain:

A Third-Party Payer System exists any time a person paying for a product/service is different from the person who gets (or demands) it. Health insurance fits this definition nicely: After you purchase insurance, you can go to the doctor and pay some pre-arranged co-pay (or percentage of the cost of the office visit). The insurance company pays the remaining cost of the office visit. Thus, the insurance company is the third-party payer. Now why is this a problem? Well, consider the classic Supply/Demand curve from ECON 101. I've prepared a sample for you if you don't remember the beastie:

From the graph, we have this scenario: The insurance company covers your doctor's office visit for a $10 co-pay. At a cost of $10, you would demand 90 "units" of service. If you were paying the full amount for those "units" of service, you would have to pay the doctor $90. Yet, the doctor probably won't get $90. They'll probably accept some reduced compensation (because of a reduced rate negotiated by the insurance company), say $75 -- your $10 co-pay, plus $65 from the insurance company. Yet even at a rate of $75 in compensation, your doctor is only willing to provide 75 units of service -- not the 90 units you demand. Overall, the system is out of equilibrium (if it were at equilibrium, the quantity supplied would be equal to the quantity you demand, which would be 50 units, and you would pay $50 for it.) Because the system is out of equilibrium, and demand exceeds the supply, the price level increases in an effort to reach equilibrium.

Take this to its logical conclusion: because the price level for health care increases, the price level for health insurance is also rising. (The insurance company pays more money out in benefits, so they have to recoup those costs somewhere, typically in premiums.) Thus, we have an expensive cycle of increasing health care costs, and increasing health insurance costs.

Based on this evidence, I believe that Insurance is the biggest reason for the increase in health care costs. When people pay less than market-value for any service, they'll demand more of it, pushing the price up. (This is a principle that is widely accepted among economists.) Only by making the party who demands services also pay for those services (and giving them a means to do so) can we begin to apply downward pressure to the price level of health care (without compromising quality or rationing care). If we can do this, we will have a true market-based solution to the problem.

What do you think? Is my analysis correct, or is there another cause for high health-care costs? Is there another "elephant in the room"? Let me know your thoughts -- I'm interested in having a constructive discussion of the issue that can lead to solutions.

* Note that I am using the word "insurance" which would generally include all types of insurance policies. The astute observer would realize that my argument really only applies to health insurance policies with very low deductibles, or those whose first dollar of coverage begins with little or no out-of-pocket expenses. While I'm using the all-encompassing word, I mean to refer to the aforementioned insurance policies. For purposes of my argument, the term "insurance" does not include plans that have a high deductible (like catastrophic coverage).

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Analyzing the President's Pitch

I haven't had much to write about the "healthy debate" that's currently going on regarding the President's cornerstone issue of his Presidency: Health Care. Now, those of you who've spent more than about two seconds with me in person know that I can't stop talking about it, and that (as with most things), my opinion runs deep. (I figure my silence on this blog is due to me heeding my mothers' advice: "if you can't say something good, don't say anything at all".)

On August 11, the President suggested that our disagreement about health care should [be]
... over things that are real, not these wild misrepresentations that bear no resemblance to anything that’s actually been proposed.
In an effort to be fair, and focus on what the President's actually proposed (forgetting for a moment, the discrepancy between what he claims he's proposed and the actual legislation that exists), I want to draw your attention to a blog post by Keith Hennessey, former economic advisor to President George W. Bush. Keith has expertly taken the claims that the President made in his "Sales Pitch" for Health Care in Portsmouth, NH, and dissected them, providing a clear contrast between reality and the fantasy land enjoyed by Barack Obama. Check out the post here.

For those wanting a summary, here are a few key points:

1. The President overpromises that everyone can keep their health plan.
According to [Congressional Budget Office] CBO, the President’s statement is incorrect for a portion of these 6 million people who as a result of the House bill would lose employment-based coverage they would otherwise have under current law.

6. The House bill would increase short-term, 10th year, and long-term budget deficits
  • CBO says the House bill would increase federal deficits by $239 B over the next ten years.
  • CBO says the House bill would increase the deficit in 2019 by $65 B, meaning the bill fails the President’s “10th year test.”
  • CBO says the House bill would result in increasing deficits beyond 2019, because the new spending would grow faster than 8% per year, while the offsets would grow only about 5% per year.
  • The House bill would not just slow Medicare growth, but would also raise taxes on high-income individuals and small business owners.

7. AARP opposes the bill
After the town hall, AARP issued a statement including the following sentence:
AARP: While the President was correct that AARP will not endorse a health care reform bill that would reduce Medicare benefits, indications that we have endorsed any of the major health care reform bills currently under consideration in Congress are inaccurate.

9. Medicare is not a good example of government-run health care because Medicare is fiscally unsustainable
...Medicare is fiscally unsustainable. The President already said that earlier in the discussion. So Medicare is not a successful model for a new system, because we can’t afford it.

12. The pending bills would move more cost-benefit decisions from insurers to people chosen by the government
...Someone must have authority to decide whether additional care is “worth it.” That person must control the dollars. Ultimately, the health policy debate comes down to the question: Who should make the cost/benefit decision? The pending legislation would move some of those decisions from insurers to the government.

13. Guaranteed renewal and guaranteed issue
[I strongly recommend checking this one out. So much so that I'm putting a link to this specific item.]
Guaranteed issue + community rating + individual mandate = hidden income/wealth redistribution from the generally healthy to the generally sick.

17. The President trashes the U.S. Postal Service and undermines the case that government can run a complex health system.
He undermined the case for more government control, and especially for a public option, by pointing out that the government cannot deliver the mail and stay on budget.

20. There are 46 million people who are technically uninsured, but the target population is probably one-third to one-half that size.
Of those 45.7 million (uninsured) people:
  • 6.4 million are enrolled in Medicaid or S-CHIP and just gave the Census taker the wrong answer. I’m serious. This is called the Medicaid undercount.
  • Another 4.3 million are eligible for Medicaid or S-CHIP and have not enrolled. If they need care, the hospital or clinic generally enrolls them. They are protected against risk even though they don’t show up on the rolls as insured.
  • Another 9.3 million are non-citizens. Different people come to different conclusions about what portion of this group should receive taxpayer-subsidized health insurance.
  • Another 10.1 million have income more than three times the poverty line.
  • Leaving about 15.6 million remaining uninsured, of whom about 5 million are childless adults.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

How do we Restore the Concept of Citizen Legislators?

Last summer, I and my family visited Mount Vernon (George Washington's estate). I was struck by the fact that he didn't want to be President. After the Revolution, he wanted nothing more than to return home to Mount Vernon. He was a farmer at heart, yet when elected, he served his country out of a sense of duty instead of a desire for personal gain, as some of today's legislators have done. He was the quintessential Citizen Legislator (despite not being in Congress).

Nowadays, our politicians do their best to make sure they don't have to suffer the consequences of any laws they pass. (Case and point: Health Care legislation that explicitly exempts Congress from participating in the plan the rest of us are forced into.) But, instead of merely pointing out problems with "the system", I feel it my duty to propose solutions. So, let me ask (rhetorically, for the moment), how can we restore the concept of citizen legislators?

I think that career politicians are one source of the problem. Many of today's politicians don't have another job to which to return at the end of their service, so they don't want to leave the halls of Congress. Many of the rest of us actually have jobs that we'd have to quit just to run for office. (I sure wouldn't be willing to quit my job to run for office, even if I wanted to be in Congress.) So, I think we need a way to forcibly inject some fresh candidates into Congress, while eliminating some dead weight. What follows is my proposal, which I believe is one way to accomplish this: The Legislative Draft.

The Legislative Draft

We currently require 18 year-old males to register for Selective Service. So, let's require that every 25 year-old take a Civil Service (or other) exam to determine eligibility for the draft, as you want legislators to have a degree of intelligence. (25 is the minimum age that you can be elected to the House of Representatives. One wouldn't be eligible to serve in the Senate until age 30.) We would have to establish a minimum score for eligibility for the Draft (a detail which could be determined later).

Now, we need some seats in each legislative body to be filled by the draft. I propose expanding the size of each body by (roughly) one third: add 50 Senators, and 150 Representatives. (This also has the side effect of diluting somewhat the power of each existing legislator, and providing more legislators to represent the people.) And, of course, we have to add some more legislative districts.

And now that we've established the seats to be filled by the draft, we now need to address the manner in which the draft will be conducted. In my opinion, the best way to do this is by lot. Randomly select, from the pool of eligible candidates in a given congressional district (considering both scoring on the above-mentioned exam, as well as existing Constitutional requirements for eligibility), the individuals to serve. When your number comes up, you go and serve your Country for your term. When your term is complete, you can either run for the seat you just held, or you can return to your old life. (With laws requiring that your employer make your position available at the end of your (first) term, if you wish to return.)

I need to wrap up with one final detail: The above plan does nothing to give the career politicians the boot. So, I add one additional requirement: The seats filled by lot are rotated so that every seat in Congress is filled by lot every third term. This creates a de facto three-term limit, without expressly creating term limit legislation.

So, there's my grand plan, in a nutshell. Does it have it's flaws? I'm certain it does. (One being that getting this to pass would be nearly impossible.) But, I hope that maybe I got you thinking a bit. And I'd hope that maybe it could be the beginning of a constructive dialogue. We can't just point out problems without offering solutions. How can my idea improved? What other ideas can we put forth to help restore accountability (and make it easier to elect qualified individuals who want to serve) to Congress?

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Thank God for (some) Democrats

I never thought I'd utter the words of the title of this post. (And I certainly hope that they aren't premature.) However, I believe there is some encouraging news on the Obamacare front: The Hill reported yesterday that some 21 "Blue Dog" Democrats signed a letter drafted to Nanci Pelosi opposing her income surtax on the wealthy to fund the Health Care package. And, as I understand it, there are enough of these 21 Democrats in key positions that their opposition to the bill could be enough to kill it in its tracks.

As I ponder this, I am reminded that our battle is not necessarily against a particular party -- but against the ideas that are most typically held by a particular party. In other words, Democrats aren't necessarily the enemy here -- liberal ideology is. (Granted, I realized that typically Democrats typically have more liberal ideology, and so they tend to be squarely identified as "the enemy"; but not always.) And, given the fact that Democrats can push this through without a single Republican vote means that Democrat opposition to this bill is currently far more important (and effective) than Republican opposition.

Overall, let us hope that these 21 do not cave on Obamacare the way that many Democrats did on the energy bill. And, in the interest of intellectual honesty, I will provide the names of the individuals who signed this letter below. If they represent your Congressional district, please let them know that you approve of their actions -- and urge them to hold fast to the principles they expressed in the letter.

Those who signed the letter:
Jared Polis
Eric Massa
Glenn Nye
Harry Teague
Frank Kratovil
John Boccieri
Steve Drichaus
Parker Griffith
Jim Himes
Tom Perriello
Bobby Bright
Dan Maffet
Mike Quigley
Paul Hodes
Gerry Connolly
Gary Peters
Betsy markey
Michael McMahon
John Adler
Ben Ray Lujan
Walt Minnick
Dina Titus

Friday, July 17, 2009

Congress: Put YOUR Health Care Where Your Vote Is

Health Care reform is big news these days, and I ran across an interesting detail on the current draft version of the legislation that will be voted upon in the next couple of weeks. The legislation contains a curious exemption: Members of Congress are exempt from participation in the lauded "public option". This "public option" whereby you and I can purchase our "low-cost" health insurance directly from the United States Government is supposed to be the answer to all of our health care woes. And yet, members of Congress will never have to deal with the effects of the legislation.

Fortunately, one member of Congress, John Fleming, seems to have his head screwed on straight. He has offered a resolution giving members of Congress the same "opportunity" we have to participate in this "public option". I think this is a great resolution, and I hope it is ultimately successful.

Either way, to Congress, I have the following to say: Put your health care where your vote is! If this "public option" is good enough to force the rest of us to use it, then I expect you to lead by example and enroll in it yourself.

Please join me in demanding accountability from Congress: that they live by the laws they pass for the rest of us.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Why Did Senate Democrats Defy Obama

So, Senate Democrats have done the unthinkable: They've defied Barack Obama, and denied funding for his efforts to close Club Gitmo. So, for the moment, I must commend the Senate Democrats! Bravo! (Of course, I realize that the lack of funding is only temporary -- the Dems merely want detailed plans for closing Gitmo.)

However, a thought occurs to me: With Obamas "soaring" approval rating, why would the Senats Democrats defy the President like this? There has to be a reason for it. Really, this is the first (and only) issue that they have broken with the President. They've been in lockstep on the numerous bailouts, ballooning spending, and now on his efforts to take over the health care system. Why suddenly break on such a specific issue?

I have a theory: I think the Senate Democrats were acting with Obama's blessing, and at his request. Obama has finally figured out that it's not feasible to close Gitmo. Nobody will take the detainees. We don't want them in American prisons. And he simply doesn't know what to do with these guys. Yet, Obama can't break a campaign promise, even though the media would certainly let him get away with it. So, he needs someone to take the fall -- If the Senate blocks funding. then he can't keep his promise and he still hasn't broken it.

What do you think? Is there a better explanation?

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Stop Spending Our Future

I found an exceptional blog post over on Change We Can Believe In. The highlight of the post was the following video. It is worth your time to check it out. (It is under 3 minutes.)


This is a great way to help understand the magnitude of spending proposed by this administration. Most Americans deal with annual budgets in the tens of thousands of dollars, so it is difficult for most of us to have a proper perspective when thinking about figures like $597 Billion, or $3.6 Trillion. Even removing the words "billion" and "trillion", it's still difficult to really comprehend the meaning of $597,000,000,000.00 and $3,600,000,000,000.00. Yeah, there are a few more zeroes -- but in the grand scheme of things, what do three more zeroes really mean?

Our future, that's what.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Obama on Success and Self Interest

President Obama shared his supremely wise (and interesting) thoughts on success at Arizona State University's commencement address(video here).

Isn't it interesting... Obama seems to define success as a total lack of self-interest. And yet, he was elected by a bunch of self-interested people, each looking to get all they can from their government.

As a person of faith, I find it hard to disagree with his sentiments of serving others. But, I think Obama demonstrates a shallow understanding to say that if you seek to maximize your pay, position, or title then you are inherently selfish and can't possibly have anyone else in mind. Zig Ziglar once said, "If you help enough people get what they want, you will get what you want."

As evidence, I want to look at a historically momentous achievement and ask what the result of self interest was. Think, for a moment, about the invention of the light bulb. Was Thomas Edison looking to feed the hungry, poor, or disenfranchised by inventing it? While I won't claim to speak for his motivation, I'll let the fact that he commercialized his invention by starting General Electric (a company which now owns NBC -- one of Obama's biggest fans) speak for itself. (For those of you in the back of the class, he intended to profit from his invention.) And yet, that arguably self-interested invention has made the world a much better place.

What Obama fails to understand is that when people act in their own self-interest, the world is often improved as a result of their actions. And while that statement is not always true (sometimes some bad apples do act to the detriment of all), the converse is rarely true: When people are only allowed to act in the interest of others, most people lose all motivation to work at all.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Leaked Memo: CO2 is not a Pollutant

There is a pretty big leak in the Obama White House, and I am sure that somewhere, heads are rolling. The White House, the Obama Administration, and the EPA are all fully aware that there is not sufficient scientific evidence to conclude that CO2 is a pollutant.  I don't know how, but Senator John Barrasso (R-WY) got ahold of an Obama Administration memo marked "Attorney-Client Priviledge".  Watch as he bats EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson over the head with the Administration's own words:

Interesting, isn't it?  The Administration knows full well that the CO2 is not a pollutant, and that regulating it under the Clean Air Act will have a detrimental effect on small businesses, small communities, and the economy at-large.  Moreover, the determination that it is a pollutant is based on a political agenda -- not on sound science.  And this is just a precursor to Cap and Trade. Check out Obama's own words about Cap and Trade:

In case you didn't hear it: Obama admitted that his plan will cause electricity prices to skyrocket. So, it makes you wonder what the Administration stands to gain by knowingly harming the economy? The answer is simple: Control.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Blame it on the Oil

I love it when new research confirms that my deeply-held beliefs (or mere suspicions) are correct. The article I want to share with you today is an instance of just that. And I'm trying to behave myself and not type those 5 little words which comprise the title of Rush Limbaugh's second book.

I have been saying for some time that I believe that the high oil prices that reigned in the domestic markets (and newscasts) for the better part of 2008 were biggest cause of the economic downturn that reached "crisis proportions" by October. Economist James Hamilton agrees, in a reprise of a paper in which he detailed his study of several economic models that demonstrate the effect the oil price spike had on our Gross Domestic Product (GDP).  One sentence in his article stands out to me as quite striking:
"Although the approaches are quite different, they all support a common conclusion: had there been no increase in oil prices between 2007:Q3 and 2008:Q2, the U.S. economy would not have been in a recession over the period 2007:Q4 through 2008:Q3."
Did you catch that?  Our banking system wasn't fundamentally flawed.  Our housing market wasn't in need of porkulus.  Had the oil prices not shot through the roof, we would not have been in a recession for most of 2008.  In fact, the role of home prices in bringing about our economic malaise is less significant than many of us thought, in that
"housing had already been subtracting 0.94% from the average annual GDP growth rate over 2006:Q4-2007:Q3, when the economy did not appear to be in a recession. And housing subtracted only 0.89% over 2007:Q4-2008:Q3, when we now say that the economy was in recession."
Hamilton also notes very plainly that "the biggest drops in GDP come significantly after the oil price shock itself."  While the jobs lost by our economy were real, they were a result of families having to spend more of their once-discretionary income on gas.  That deprived some sectors of the economy of income (and hence jobs).

The paper rightly concludes:
"The evidence to me is persuasive that, had there been no oil shock, we would have described the U.S. economy in 2007:Q4-2008:Q3 as growing slowly, but not in a recession."
The reasons for the high oil prices are probably numerous, and I don't want to debate them (now).  I will merely state, with this article presented as evidence, that oil is the lifeblood of this economy.  If we want a stable and growing economy, our supply of oil (until we no longer need it) must be kept stable (preferrably expanded).  We need a meaningful energy policy that includes both increasing our supplies of oil for the near future, and developing alternate energy sources for the more distant future.  To ignore our present need for oil in the name of finding other energy sources is just plain dumb.  And I wonder which one our current administration will likely ignore?  Perhaps this statement, made by Obama on the campaign trail, may answer the question:
"I think that I would have preferred a gradual adjustment [in gas prices]. The fact that this is such a shock to American pocketbooks is not a good thing."

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The Newest Democrat: Benedict Arlen

Today, we've seen the birth of America's newest Democrat, as (Benedict) Arlen Specter supposedly succumbed to 5 years of wooing by the British -- I mean Democrats. In a press conference this afternoon (covered by the New York Times), Benedict Arlen made several comments I'd like to present for your perusal, along with my own analysis.

"I now find my political philosophy more in line with Democrats than Republicans."

That's really an interesting statement, particularly considering that this news comes on the tails of recent polling data showing that Specter trails Pat Toomey, currently his only challenger in the Republican Primary, by a 15 percent margin. In what amounts to a pre-emptive admission of his impending defeat, Specter claims:

"...I am unwilling to have my twenty-nine year Senate record judged by the Pennsylvania Republican primary electorate."

Isn't this attitude bothersome to anyone else? He's unwilling to be held to account by the very people who elected him!

On the whole, it's clear that he's making this move just to win re-election. Most pundits seem to agree that his re-election is all but certain in the leftward-moving state of Pennsylvania. But let's look a little deeper, and see how his story has changed over the past two weeks. The following comments were made 13 days ago, when Arlen adamantly denied that he would ever leave the GOP:

"If we lose my seat they have 60 Democrats, they will pass card check, you will have the Obama tax increases, they will carry out his big spending plans. Those 41 [Republican] seats are the only thing standing between a Democratic avalanche of higher taxes, more spending, and card check."

Okay, so let's get this straight: Arlen understands all of these bad things will happen if the Dems get 60 seats -- and he clearly sees the seriousness of these policies for America. Yet, he still chose to place his own re-election interests above those of his nation, moving the Dems one seat closer to their holy grail of 60 seats. Yes, I dare say... it's only his first day, and he's already acting far more like a Democrat than a Republican.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Obama-Care is Coming...

This is slightly old news -- but in the light of the recent developments concerning the rise of swine flu, the facts are now even more concerning than they were before. Last week, Fox News ran a story discussing Democrats' use of a parliamentary procedure known as "reconciliation" to push through Health Care legislation under rules that do not require a cloture vote in the Senate. Now, to be honest, I don't know the details of the specific legislation in question. This may be the full Obama-Care we were promised during the campaign or something less. But, the details of the legislation don't matter much. The fact is, they are shoving this legislation through in a manner that limits debate, and virtually eliminates the possibility that the minority would be able to block it, amend it, or propose alternatives to it.

Have no doubt that Democrats on Capitol Hill remember what happened to Hillary Clinton's Health Care plan more than a decade ago, when she was merely married to the President. And they are not so dumb as to fail to learn from the past. (A brief refresher: She released a ton of details on her plan, and they were available for public scrutiny for quite some time. Needless to say, the availability of clear information gave opponents plenty of ammunition to defeat the measure during debate.) Being clever enough to learn from the past, today's Democrats will not repeat the same mistake. Given the fact that this legislation is very controversial, it will be pushed through rapidly, with minimal debate.

Now, consider that analysis in conjunction with the seeming newfound panic over this Swine Flu, and remember the mantra of Rahm Emanuel (White House Chief of Staff):
You never let a serious crisis go to waste. And what I mean by that it's an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before.

Believe me: If this serious situation escalates into a full-blown crisis, I can guarantee you that it will be used to induce a panicked claim that we "need" to Nationalize Health Care NOW, just like Congress "needed" to pass a 1000+ page Stimulus bill less than 8 hours after its language had even been agreed-upon, without so much as 5 hours of debate. We've already seen the Obama Administration's masterful use of panic-induced urgency to shove bad laws down our throats without debate. I don't know about you, but it sure leaves a bad taste in my mouth. This one, unlike the stimulus bill, is not too late to stop.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Free Market: Greener Than You Think

The Free Market is the best producer of big, evil corporations who love to pollute, pillage, and destroy our environment for the sake of the almighty dollar and profits galore. Or so some people would have us believe.

But John Tierney of the New York Times posted an interesting piece, titled The Richer is Greener Curve. The piece outlines some recent research into the correlation of a country's GDP per capita and the country's pollution rates. The cornerstone of the piece is this graph:

Each line is an environmental Kuznets curve for a group of countries during the 1980s. The levels of sulphur dioxide pollution (the vertical axis) rise as countries becomes more affluent (the horizontal axis). But then, once countries reach an economic turning point (a gross domestic product close to $8,000 per capita), the trend reverses and air pollution declines as countries get richer. In this analysis by Xiang Dong Qin of Clemson University, the green line shows countries with strong protections for property rights; the red curve shows countries with weaker protections.

You can see his article for an explanation for the phenomenon. There is another observation in this graph that I'd like to point out.

Note that there are two different colored lines, indicating two different government attitudes towards private property rights. Since a free market cannot exist without strong private property rights, it stands to reason that the green line probably corresponds to democracies with strong protection for private property. By contrast, the red line probably corresponds to dictatorships and/or communist regimes, where private property rights are either trampled by their government or don't exist.

It is interesting to note that both curves follow the same general shape. But, the green line is consistently lower at all points along the curve. To me, the reason is pretty straightforward: If you own it, you probably don't want to pollute it, pillage it, or destroy it.

Yet isn't it interesting that most people, (political) parties, and politicians who claim to be "green" also do the most to restrict property rights?

Friday, April 17, 2009

Obama Succeeds: Restores Respect for America

While on the campaign trail, Obama promised that he would "Restore [the world's] respect for America." So, how's he doing so far? Let's look at just a few things he's done in the foreign policy arena since taking office:
  1. Snubs the United Kingdom. Not once or twice, but three times!
  2. Bows to a foreign monarch (Saudi King Abdullah).
  3. Flirts with Cuba, lifting travel restrictions, and limitations on monetary transfers to Cuba.
  4. Allows North Korea to fire a test missile over one of our allies without anything more than a wimper that "they didn't play by the rules".
So, barring my personal commentary on the above items, let's look at the world's reaction to these items:
  1. The British Media (which apparently has better memory than American Media) are outraged.
  2. French President Sarkozy mocks Obama. (It should be noted that it's almost as rare for a head of state to publicly mock the head of another state as it is for one head of state to bow to another.)
  3. Venezuela's "President" Hugo Chavez tells Obama "I want to be your friend".
This raises a few thoughts for me: I think he's certainly done a great job of restoring respect for America -- at least among Communist Thugs (like Chavez & Castro). And since C&C apparently "love" us now, I'm left wondering what Kim Jong Ill thinks of America now. The Administration took two weeks to garner sufficient support in the U.N. Security Council to pass a resolution condemning North Korea's missile launch. And while Obama claims that "there will be consequences", I would ask "consequences for whom?" Our lack of decisive action on that front may ensure that our children will have to deal with a nuclear North Korea.

But, I digress ever so slightly. Compre the list of nations (and heads of nations) who have responded favorably to Obama's performance thus far with the list of those who have criticized it. I think anyone who loves America should be really worried that we are garnering the praise and support of those who hate our country, while we snub those who have long been our allies in the defense of Democracy. Perhaps we should ask why C&C suddenly love us. Do they heartily approve of the new Socialist agenda? Or do they like the unsustainable spending that will one day bankrupt us? Or do they just want to gain our trust so they can stab us in the back? Maybe they just love the fact that he's giving them everything they've ever asked for (and then some). Or maybe they're hoping to learn from the man who has done more to advance Socialism in less than 100 days than they have in years? Any other ideas? I'd love to hear them.

Monday, April 13, 2009

NO More!

It's just around the corner... two days away, in fact... The grand American tradition: Tax Day!

Just in case you've forgotten, you still have two days to finish adding up your receipts in a vain attempt to coerce your government to return some meager portion of the money they forcefully confiscated from your paycheck throughout the year. If you still have not completed this years' installment of the annual tradition, I wish you luck! And if you, like me, have already completed this year's trial-by-fire, then I truly do feel your pain (unlike a certain former President who comes to mind).

In either case, I want to take this opportunity to urge you to attend one of the many Tax Day Tea Parties that are undoubtedly going on in your area. For far too long, our government has abused the power we've vested in it. It's time that we stand together and say
"Enough is Enough! The Era of deficit spending, running up massive debt, confiscatory and punitive tax rates, printing money to pay for pet projects, and Big Government running our lives is over! We won't stand for any more tax hikes, bailouts, or needless spending!"
Both Republicans and Democrats have been complicit in doing the things listed above. Both parties are to blame, while you and I (and ultimately our children) are left with the bill. Enough is enough! We need to stand together, and begin to take back our country from those who have held it hostage for far too long. It's time we take back our country, and restore the principles that our Founding Fathers believed in: Liberty, Personal Responsibility, and most of all, Freedom -- the freedom to succeed without fear of punishment, and the freedom to fail.

To find a tea party near you, look at Join me in saying "No More"!

Monday, April 06, 2009

Ladies First...

So, President Barack Obama's first trip around the world -- the "I Hate America" express -- continues. I should be used to it, and I should probably even expect it; but I must admit: I am quite surprised that in every country he visits, the first official order of business is to seek the largest doting crowd he can, in front of the most microphones and video cameras possible -- to issue his official apology on behalf of the insideous country and the "arrogant" and "dismissive" people who elected him. (I only wish this didn't require two 747's, twelve teleprompters, and 500 staffers -- all graciously provided by the same "arrogant" and "dismissive" taxpayers who elected him.)

An interesting contrast can be drawn between Barack and his "ever-lovely" wife, who made the following claim on the campaign trail in February 2008:
“For the first time in my adult life, I am proud of my country..."
One of the first things every American child learns in school (even in our union pandering educational system) is the phrase "ladies first". Michelle at least claims to be proud of her country. Assuming that statement wasn't a careless "slip of the tongue", she's at least publically admitted that she's proud of her country. While I certainly doubt that Obama will every truly be proud of (or truly love) his country, perhaps we can at least hope for some lip service from him. At least that would be better than the Jeremiah Wright sermon we're getting.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

In Passing

Rarely can bumper sticker slogans share intelligent political discourse. However, there is one that I saw today that does:


French Democracy in Action

While this blog is typically America-focused, I think it is worthwhile to keep an eye on world events, as they sometimes will demonstrate a threat to Democracy. I ran across this blog post that is just such a case. Since the post is a translation from a French article, let me summarize (as opposed to quoting directly):

It seems that French President Sarkozy felt that he could not count on the Democratic Process (the Will of the People) to advance The Will of Sarkozy. Sarkozy wanted a hotly-disputed piece of legislation passed, so he resorted to abusing the process of Democracy to get his own way. When a vote on the legislation wasn't expected until next week, he had the French Secretary of State push the National Assembly to vote on the measure. At 10:45 at night! And only 16 people present, because many had gone home for the night! Of course, the measure passed with 75% of the vote of those present. What an abuse of Democracy! Anytime our elected officials feel they have to resort to measures like this to advance their agenda, they threaten Democracy and Liberty.

Meanwhile, America's own, very dear, President Barack Hussein Obama (the Destroyer of Wealth) feels it his duty to apologize to Europe for America's "arrogance" and "dismissive" attitudes towards Europe. This gushing (and disgusting) love poem is a clear demonstration that Obama wants America to become more like Europe: more socialized, more regulated, less wealthy, and less Free. These European "qualities" are the very reasons that lovers of Freedom, like myself, sometimes view Europe with a certain amount of disdain. There need be no apology for the "arrogance" to step in and defend Democracy -- especially on behalf of those who trample on it.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

April Fools' Day

It's April Fools' Day. What an appropriate day to re-launch my long-idle blog and resume soap-boxing. Or at least attempt to do so. How appropriate, given that what has coerced me to act is a deep-seated concern for the direction that our new President and his ilk in Congress have begun to take my beloved country. I can no longer sit idly by and allow these idiots to destroy my country without warning my fellow Americans of where I see these guys, gals, and fairies taking us. Thus, this blog is resurrected as my warning sign: If we do not act to take back our country from the radicals driving us over a cliff, we may not be able to save our nation.


And thus, this blog is re-born on April 1, 2009. Dedicated to the August Statesmen... nay... I mean April Fools who have smitten my lethargy and resurrected my will to do something. May they evoke the same desires in all of us.