23 September 2012

47%

So Romney is getting into trouble for at one point in time observing the verifiable fact that 47% of Americans don't pay personal income taxes. (Or, to state it more accurately, 47% of Americans did not have any income tax liability.)  Perhaps now would be a good time to observe that 47+% of Americans do not pay corporate taxes either.

15 September 2012

A Losing Strategy

Kathleen Parker:
Notwithstanding the dazzling performance of Condoleezza Rice and the GOP’s raucous affection for her, African Americans are scarce in the party of Abraham Lincoln. Republicans can honestly boast of having once been the party of firsts. The first Hispanic, African American, Asian American and Native American in the Senate were all Republicans. But that was before the GOP went south, banished its centrists and embraced social conservatives in a no-exit marriage.

The impression that Republicans don’t welcome blacks and other minorities is, however, demonstrably false. Note the number of minority Republican governors recently elected: Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, Nikki Haley of South Carolina, Brian Sandoval of Nevada and Susana Martinez of New Mexico. Even so, the party is undeniably and overwhelmingly white, and minorities (and increasingly women) don’t feel at home there.
Here’s the thing: black people love free handouts from the government. That’s the main reason they vote Democrat. The Dems unabashedly promise black people money (although they couch in terms of “welfare,” Medicare,” “School Breakfast Programs,” and other such things that black people—who have lower intelligence and shorter time-preferences—are likely to take advantage of). The backbone of the GOP, though, consists primarily of white folk who want reduced government spending. Now, simple math would indicate that pissing off a large section of the majority to potentially capture a small portion of a minority is a very stupid thing to do politically. Thus, if black folk have made it abundantly clear that they want nothing to do with your political party (and they have), it may be best to simply leave them alone, and focus instead on shoring up the base. But what do I know? I’m just a young white male who has never run a political party.

It Takes One to Know One



Some hack calls out FoxNews for lying about unemployment:

During a segment criticizing the Obama administration for its messaging on the economy, a Fox & Friends graphic claimed that the "real unemployment rate" had increased from 7.8% in 2009 to 14.7% now:

But in order to make the claim that unemployment had increased from 7.8% to 14.7% during Obama's time in office, Fox had to conflate two different statistics and completely distort Obama's jobs record.

The 7.8 percent figure is the official unemployment rate from January 2009. This statistic reports on people who are unemployed and actively looking for a job. But as of the latest report, the official unemployment rate is 8.1 percent (0.3 percent higher than it was in January 2009), not 14.7 percent.

The 14.7 percent figure is a completely different measurement of the unemployed, which in addition to those who are actively looking for work, also counts people who are unemployed and discouraged from looking for a new job, part-time workers who prefer full-time employment, and more. This alternative measure of unemployment, which conservatives often call the "real" unemployment rate, was 14.2 percent in January 2009 -- 0.5 percentage points lower than it is today.

So, it sounds like unemployment hasn’t gotten that much worse during the course of Obama’s administration,* doesn’t it?  Oh, wait…

* As if the president is primarily responsible for every last aspect of the economy anyway, but that’s a post for another day.

Here Comes QE3!

Satan’s retarded cousin (“Ben Bernanke,” as he’s known to many in the public) has apparently decided that the dollar just is not yet close enough to worthless:
The Federal Reserve's announcement today that is launching a third round of quantitative easing validated widely held expectations that the central bank would provide more monetary stimulus in an effort to speed the economic recovery.

The Fed said it will purchase $40 billion a month in mortgage-backed securities and extended its guidance on interest rates. Rates will stay low through mid 2015 instead of 2014, the bank said. The additional Fed easing, along with its intention to continue reinvesting the proceeds from principal payments from its holdings of financial assets, will increase its inventory of securities by approximately $85 billion each month through the end of the year. These actions, which are more aggressive than many analysts expected, "should put downward pressure on longer-term interest rates, support mortgage markets, and help to make broader financial conditions more accommodative," according to a Fed statement.
The Fed, like all central banks, can only ever do one thing as a matter of policy: debase the currency. That is the only solution they can give to any problem. Economy not growing fast enough? Debase the currency! Economy growing too fast? Debase the currency (but only to a limited extent)! Unemployment too high? Debase the currency? Stock market crashing? Debase the currency! President got the sniffles? Debase the currency!

Now, some are claiming that QE3 is happening because the Fed panicked. Some might be inclined to argue that QE3 is happening because the Fed is at its wit’s end. It might even be true that the Fed is panicking, and/or at its wit’s end. But the only reason why QE3 is happening is because the Fed’s only tool is debasing the currency. That’s it. That’s all it can ever do. Like all other central banks in history, the only tool at its disposal is inflation.

And when you all have is a hammer…

Some Links

DW on whining.

Bob Lefsetz on character.

Chuck and Sonic Charmer on this turd of an argument on banning private schools.

More from Chuck on the accident of birth.  Some good stuff, really.

Bruce Charlton on the prerequisites of being a reactionary.  Thought-provoking, and worth a read of you're a reactionary.  Worth a read even if you're not.

John Hawkins on voter fraud.  I suspect the main reason, though, why the GOP opposes voter fraud is because, relative to the Dems, they are considerably worse at it.  (And that's the problem with winning over the moral majority:  a good portion of them are actually moral, and therefore do not make good accomplices to fraud.)


13 September 2012

Another Greedy Capitalist



Her name is Gina Rinehart:

Now, the Australian mining heiress, worth $19 billion and earlier this year thought to be the world's richest woman, has sparked another controversy in her latest column in Australian Resources and Investment magazine. (Yes, I am a registered reader online.) Rinehart rails against class warfare and says the non-rich should stop attacking the rich and go to work.

"There is no monopoly on becoming a millionaire," she writes. "If you're jealous of those with more money, don't just sit there and complain. Do something to make more money yourself - spend less time drinking, or smoking and socializing and more time working."

I don’t disagree with these sentiments at all.  Rather, where I have a problem is with things like this:

Union bosses are fuming that the government has approved a scheme to allow mining magnate Gina Rinehart to bring in 1700 overseas guest workers for her Pilbara iron ore project, without making proper attempts to find local workers first.

Immigration Minister Chris Bowen told the National Press Club today that the government had approved the first Enterprise Migration Agreement - which allows "mega" resource projects to negotiate temporary migration needs up-front - and that it would be for Mrs Rinehart's $9.5 billion Roy Hill project in Western Australia.

And:

The part of Mrs Rinehart's speech that drew the widespread criticism was: "The evidence is inarguable that Australia is becoming too expensive and too uncompetitive to do export-oriented business.

"Africans want to work, and its workers are willing to work for less than $2 per day. Such statistics make me worry for this country's future."

It’s one thing to say that people should work harder; it’s another thing to advocate and enact policies that negate the effects of hard work.  In this instance, Mrs. Rinehart wants to expand the Australian labor pool to include impoverished Africans.  The mere expansion of the labor pool drives down wages generally, but when said labor pool includes extremely marginal labor like this, it drives down wages quite a bit.

What Mrs. Rinehart faces is the corporatist’s conundrum.  She espouses socially productive views (her advice to work harder and take care of one’s self is good advice, especially when you add getting a basic education and not getting pregnant out of wedlock to the mix), but she pursues socially destructive policies.  She doesn’t really believe in hard work or freedom; what she really believes in is having slave labor, or its cheapest alternative.  That’s why she imports African workers, and that’s why she tries to shame her country men into working harder.  Ultimately, her policy is to encourage materialism (“if you want to be a millionaire…”), which should expand the labor pool (more people working more jobs) while simultaneously encouraging the free movement of labor, also expanding the labor pool.  The net effect of both of these policies is to drive down her labor costs.  What’s sickening is how she dresses this personal greed as patriotism.

One lesson that conservatives should take from this is that it is a foolish idea to link conservative principles (hard work, taking proper care of oneself) with political policies that are harmful to one’s fellow countrymen.  If Mrs. Rinehart had told her fellow citizens to work harder and then offered them 1700 decently paying jobs, her message might have been received a little bit better.  But when she told them to work harder and then offered 1700 jobs to Africans to work at slave wages, well, the resulting controversy could hardly have been avoided.

It calls to mind what God says in Malachi 3:5 (“And I will come near you for judgment… Against those who exploit wage earners…”).  Conservatives often want to condemn the poor for being lazy, but often neglect to condemn employers who constantly try to exploit their workers.  The reality of the matter is this:  Employers ought to do what is best for their employees, and pay them fairly (and before anyone accuses me of being a Socialist, no I don’t think ensuring that employees are paid fairly requires government intervention).  Employees ought to be honest and work hard.  And these two messages ought to go hand-in-hand.  And until conservatives start demanding that employers treat employees fairly, conservatives will likely fins that their call for people to “work harder” will go unheeded.

Let’s Hope They Fire the Rest




Wells Fargo Home Mortgage (WFC) has fired a Des Moines worker over a 1963 incident at a Laundromat involving a fake dime in the wake of new employment guidelines.

Richard Eggers, 68, was fired in July from his job as a customer service representative for putting a cardboard cutout of a dime in a washing machine nearly 50 years ago in Carlisle, the Des Moines Register reported Monday.

Warren County court records show Eggers was convicted of operating a coin-changing machine by false means. Eggers called it a "stupid stunt," but questions his firing.

Big banks have been firing low-level employees like Eggers since new federal banking employment guidelines were enacted in May 2011 and new mortgage employment guidelines took hold in February, the newspaper said. The tougher standards are meant to clear out executives and mid-level bank employees guilty of transactional crimes — such as identity theft and money laundering — but are being applied across the board because of possible fines for noncompliance.

If using a fake dime is worthy of firing, then what penalty should await those who launder* billions of fake dollars on behalf of the Federal Reserve?  It is simply reprehensible that Wells Fargo would fire a man for using a fake dime yet not dismantle their own company for laundering at least $2 billion* of fictitious money.  This goes beyond mere irony, and even beyond hypocrisy.  This is pure evil, and all those who work at Wells Fargo should lose their jobs, while those who are/were the heads of the company should go to jail for defrauding the American people, and the company should have its corporate status revoked and be disbanded.

* Wells Fargo received about $25 billion from TARP.  The federal budget for 2008 was $2.9 trillion, while the deficit was $240 billion.  This means that, proportionally, at least $2 billion of the $25 billion that Wells Fargo received from TARP was from the deficit.  The federal deficit is nothing more than monetized debt, since federal services are paid for, but not always by the money from tax receipts.  To make up the deficit, the federal treasury sells debt (issues bonds), which are then bought by investors, foreign nations, and the federal reserve.  The federal reserve is the largest holder of US bonds, and the sale of US bonds to the federal reserve is referred to as monetizing the debt, because federal debt is converted into money, and the money is created out of thin air.  Therefore, a significant portion of the federal debt is actually realized as inflation.  And therefore it can be accurately claimed that Wells Fargo launders fictitious money because it receives funds that are nothing more than monetized debt, which is really money created out of thin air.

Television and Children




I've never been very impressed with sitcom families especially the weak fathers that so often populated them. While the Cosby Show was enjoyable, I never understood why such a smart man couldn't have crafted a role that was more respectful and more respected. Let's face it: Claire Huxtable had the brains and she called all the shots as Dr. Huxtable yukked it up.

Family Ties was somewhat of an improvement but not much. Alex Keaton's mother seemed to have more respect for his father than Claire Huxtable did for Dr. Huxtable, but Mr. Keaton didn't have much of a spine either. Roseanne was a different story. Though annoying herself, her hubby was somewhat of a leader and authority figure and in some sense commanded respect. Home Improvement and Everybody Loves Raymond had strong but lovable wives, but their husbands still didn't command respect. And then there was Married With Children, the worst offender of all.

I wanted my girls to have a window on a healthy relationship and skipping over the aforementioned, stumbled across it in Little House On The Prairie and the changes in their behavior stunned my wife and I.

Shortly after they began to watch it, we noticed that they began to refer to us as Pa and Ma and the tone in their voices grew increasingly respectful. That's when I began watching with them and noticed, that though the girls on this TV show loved their parents and felt secure, and there was also a respect for their parents that I had never found in modern sitcoms.

So, the lesson to be learned in this is that television is very effective at propagandize children.

For those who are too lazy to actually parent their kids, I suppose the application to be made from this is that you should carefully select the propaganda you’re going to show your kids so as to ensure that they start modeling the behaviors you want.  At the very least, don’t let them watch the utter garbage that passes for children’s programming.  And definitely make sure that you don’t let them watch the utter garbage that tries to pass as adult programming.

For those who truly care about their children, the application to be made from this is that you get rid of your TV.  Or, if you don’t have one, don’t ever make plans to buy one.

A Dream Come True



Back in June, in the city in which I live,* there was a pretty terrible storm.  It was bad enough to leave large portions of the city without power for a couple of days.  And this meant no traffic lights.

I’ve been wondering for a couple years what would happen if there were no traffic laws in place, and the storm gave me a small glimpse at what that was like.  Contra to the possible expectations of whiny statists, gridlock did not occur.  (Except in cases where roads were blocked by serious obstructions, like downed trees.  Of course, that sort of gridlocked would have occurred even if the traffic lights were working, so this a moot point.)

In fact, the reality of life without traffic lights was that traffic moved faster.  Intersections became four way stops, which became four way yields.  You could even blow through darkened lights if no one else was around.  I commuted from home to church in under fifteen minutes, a process that normally takes over twenty-five when the traffic lights are on.  Navigating intersections became a matter of interacting with other drivers instead of looking at some light.  You actually to think for yourself, be aware of your surroundings, and pay attention to what you were doing.

Additionally, my gas mileage improved.  I filled up the second day lights were out at one of the few operational filling stations, then filled up again the day the lights came back on.  I went from 21 MPG to 24 MPG city.

Also, driving was fun again.  It was, to me at least, quite exciting to blow through intersections where no other drivers were around.  I did slow down to check for traffic, of course, but if it was obvious that no one was around, I’d blow through intersections at 30 MPH.  Plus, it was fun to not have to wait three minutes for a light cycle to run through so I could turn left at certain intersections.  It was nice to (hypothetically, of course) pass slowpokes and blow through stop signs, secure in the knowledge that the fuzz was too busy with other things to worry about enforcing measly traffic laws.

Basically, the five days my city was without power was a libertarian wet dream come true for me.  Everything was better in the absence of traffic lights.  Driving wasn’t as time-consuming, my fuel efficiency increased, and subsequent costs decreased.  Hopefully there will come a day when traffic lights go off permanently.

* Fort Wayne, for those who are interested.