Category: The Economy

Friday Roundup: Guns, Money and Gag Orders

A few stories to close out your week:

  • Following on Alex’s post on the attempt to squash free speech at Reason, the Best Magazine on the Planet has gotten the gag order lifted and broken their silence. What they relate is appalling. Not only did the USA try to get personal information on Reason’s commenters, they got a gag order to try to prevent Reason from notifying those commenters that the government was seeking their information (Reason had already notified them by the time the order came). It’s a must-read on a government that is determined to shred any semblance of privacy.
  • Earlier this week, Treasury announced that the new $10 bill will have a woman on it, although it’s not clear who that will be or how she will “share” the bill with Alexander Hamilton. As someone who favors a radical overhaul of which faces are on our currency, I’m moderately in favor of this. But I much prefer the idea of putting a woman on the $20 for reasons articulated by Jillian Keenan (namely that Jackson was a racist slaveholding genocidal shredder of the Constitution). Still, there are lots of women we could honor: Harriet Tubman, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Eleanor Roosevelt, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, Sally Ride, Clara Barton. I would take all of these over Jackson. And I wouldn’t mind if we took all the politicians off our currency.
  • How bad was the security at OPM that led to the huge data breach? Really really bad. And they won’t fix it. Change we can believe in!
  • If you’re having trouble finding delicious barbecue, blame government. They are literally outlawing the kind of slow-cooking methods that make for such deliciousness. And it’s not really clear why other than “because they can”.
  • It will come as no surprise to readers of this blog that Paul Krugman and the Keynesians are full of it again. They are citing Iceland an example of how expansionary fiscal policy can save an economy. The problem? In this thing called reality, Iceland endorsed a severe austerity, with significant spending cuts and tax hikes.
  • The blamestorming for Charleston has already begun. Here is a quick refresher about the media’s desperation to blame horrific acts of violence on the Right Wing.
  • And finally, Reason has a feature on a college student who was busted with pot, turned informant and was murdered. No one is accountable, as usual. I’ll spare you my usual War on Drugs rant, in favor of my other favorite one: when dealing with cops and prosecutors, always get a lawyer. Never negotiate on your own.

Obamacare did that..

Who woulda thunk that there would be rate hikes on health insurance caused by the stupidity of the progressive unicorn fart sniffing crowd that passed Obamacare so we could find what was in it? Well, some of us not only predicted this, but warned others this was the pan from the start:

Major insurers in some states are proposing hefty rate boosts for plans sold under the federal health law, setting the stage for an intense debate this summer over the law’s impact.

In New Mexico, market leader Health Care Service Corp. is asking for an average jump of 51.6% in premiums for 2016. The biggest insurer in Tennessee, BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee, has requested an average 36.3% increase. In Maryland, market leader CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield wants to raise rates 30.4% across its products.

And on and on. Because this thing wasn’t just flawed, but set up to fail and do exactly this to those of us that actually produce and pay for these things. Since Obamacare was passed, my rates have gone up over 30%. And I was not one of the people directly impacted by the individual mandate because I had an employer sponsored plan for which the marxists behind this debacle kept pushing out the date the rules would kick in for fear of the political damage it would cost. Well, the 2014 elections are done, and the chickens are coming home to roost.

And speaking of employers: my employer has done a lot of talking about how they will not stop offering healthcare because they care about employees. This much bloviating is a red flag to me. Too much effort when they could just not even bother. Someone in the industry will sooner than later drop company provided insurance, that’s because the penalty is cheaper than paying for the insurance, and every single company in the industry will follow suit because their competitiveness is impacted – by design, mind you – to dump everyone on the government rolls.

This thing was designed to destroy the worlds most effective and efficient healthcare system – based on the medical capability and access, and not on the bullshit stats progressives like to push such as who gets care at other people’s expense – so the left could pass a single payer system that would give them even more control over the life of the serfs under them. Of course, people that have already used other branches of the government to punish dissenters, political enemies, and anyone they feel disrespected them – from the IRS to the DOJ, or the EPA – would never decide to use healthcare as a weapon against their enemies when they control it.

The left will always resort to tyranny, because that’s the natural and logical conclusion of what they believe in always leads to. The over 100 million murdered and billions made to live in misery, in the name of social justice of all things, during the last century of progressive power has not served to dissuade low information, brain washed, mushy headed idiots from voting for the people preying on their jealousy and envy.

Don’t you know that we need to break a shit ton of eggs for this giant shit omelet they want to feed us, you evil individualist! Power to the nanny state! Get ready to pay a lot more, for less, and have to wait a long ass time to get whatever mediocre service you can get. And don’t you dare complain that you though they would bleed someone else to give the slackers more free shit in return for their votes. Sad to have to admit it, but the only reason I feel justice is happening is the army of idiots that pushed for this monstrosity and are now going to take it up the ass (not that there is anything wrong with that if you are into that).

Thomas Sowell deconstructs Obama and the left’s bullshit

I love Thomas Sowell. This man gets economics and the way the real world works. So as soon as I heard he had a new article discussing the stupidity of another Obama “You didn’t build that” and “Pay your fair share you evil capitalists” moment, I had to go check it out. As usual, Thomas Sowell cleans the floor with the stupid shit liberals say> Here’s an excerpt:

In a recent panel discussion on poverty at Georgetown University, President Barack Obama gave another demonstration of his mastery of rhetoric — and disregard of reality.

One of the ways of fighting poverty, he proposed, was to “ask from society’s lottery winners” that they make a “modest investment” in government programs to help the poor.

Since free speech is guaranteed to everyone by the First Amendment to the Constitution, there is nothing to prevent anybody from asking anything from anybody else. But the federal government does not just “ask” for money. It takes the money it wants in taxes, usually before the people who have earned it see their paychecks.

Despite pious rhetoric on the left about “asking” the more fortunate for more money, the government does not “ask” anything. It seizes what it wants by force. If you don’t pay up, it can take not only your paycheck, it can seize your bank account, put a lien on your home and/or put you in federal prison.

So please don’t insult our intelligence by talking piously about “asking.”

And please don’t call the government’s pouring trillions of tax dollars down a bottomless pit “investment.” Remember the soaring words from Barack Obama, in his early days in the White House, about “investing in the industries of the future”? After Solyndra and other companies in which he “invested” the taxpayers’ money went bankrupt, we haven’t heard those soaring words so much.

Then there are those who produced the wealth that politicians want to grab. In Obama’s rhetoric, these producers are called “society’s lottery winners.”

Was Bill Gates a lottery winner? Or did he produce and sell a computer operating system that allows billions of people around the world to use computers, without knowing anything about the inner workings of this complex technology?

Was Henry Ford a lottery winner? Or did he revolutionize the production of automobiles, bringing the price down to the point where cars were no longer luxuries of the rich but vehicles that millions of ordinary people could afford, greatly expanding the scope of their lives?

Most people who want to redistribute wealth don’t want to talk about how that wealth was produced in the first place. They just want “the rich” to pay their undefined “fair share” of taxes. This “fair share” must remain undefined because all it really means is “more.”

Once you have defined it — whether at 30 percent, 60 percent or 90 percent — you wouldn’t be able to come back for more.

Obama goes further than other income redistributionists. “You didn’t build that!” he declared to those who did. Why? Because those who created additions to the world’s wealth used government-built roads or other government-provided services to market their products.

And who paid for those roads and other government-provided services if not the taxpayers? Since all other taxpayers, as well as non-taxpayers, also use government facilities, why are those who created private wealth not to use them also, since they are taxpayers as well?

The fact that most of the rhetorical ploys used by Barack Obama and other redistributionists will not stand up under scrutiny means very little politically. After all, how many people who come out of our schools and colleges today are capable of critical scrutiny?

And that’s the point though, isn’t it? You target envious low information voters with a head full of leftist mush for support to give pretense to robbing the productive, all while stealing tons of that money, under the pretense of helping those less well off. Now if we had anything like a honest media, they would point out how much money these class warriors bag while peddling this liberal nonsense, no matter what the medium chosen to gain acceptance of thing sane people would never go with, while selling the snake oil.

What is missing from this revelation?

Yesterday I had a post about how a communication by the NAVY Sec Mabus clearly showed that the military was about to lower standards for access into some of the most demanding and dangerous combat specialties due to the demands from the PC political class. Today we have a revelation form retired Marine Corps Gen. James Mattis about how horrible the current US foreign policy landscape looks.

Because the United States lacks a global strategy, “volatility is going to get to the point that chaos threatens,” a former Central Command (CENTCOM) commander told a Heritage Foundation audience Wednesday.

Speaking in Washington, D.C., retired Marine Corps Gen. James Mattis said, “the perception is we’re pulling back” on America’s commitment to its allies and partners, leaving them adrift in a changing world. “We have strategic atrophy.”

Again the missing item here is what? I am not even gonna bother with a long lead up and just point out that the elephant in the room is that the idiots that were going to stop the rise of the oceans, heal the rift that warmonger devil Boosh caused with his cowboyism between us and every civilized nation on the planet, and show the world that the dog that rolls over and exposes it’s neck and belly to the aggressors would garner their sympathy and get them to stand down.

Yes, this for me is an opportunity to again point out that I told you so. In my wildest nightmares I couldn’t think anyone would do more harm than Carter did, but Team Obama has usurped that title with panache and certainty. People forgot how dismal democrats are at anything that has to do with the real world, and it reflects, not just in the current economic and political climate at home, but in our foreign policy and the disasters of the last 6 years, as well. I wonder if that Nobel Peace Committee has thought about asking Obama to return the prize they gave him to spite Boosh? I am certain that all the other idiots around the globe that rooted for an Obama win – with the exception of the ones in countries such as China, Russia, Iran, North Korea, Cuba, and Venezuela amongst a long list of rogue nations that were salivating at the chops for another weak ass in chief – and the subsequent “maturity” in the new US foreign policy are kicking themselves these days.

Our enemies get treated like a hooker afraid of pissing off her pimp, while our friends get treated like the hooker by her pimp. It’s a shame and a travesty. The world is now a more dangerous place because the supposed adults have been in charge and have done a “reset”. The consequences of having these in charge will be felt for a long time, and we have not yet seen the worst of it.

Yeah, because this worked so well before

As I predicted when the global housing market collapse in 2008 dragged us all into a depression that despite the left and their lackeys in the LSM’s 6+ year campaign to convince us was ended still is going on, we are right back where we started. That collapse, which the left desperately wants to blame on “evil profiteering by Korporashuns”, all while giving the political class that set up this disastrous framework that allowed this crisis to come about a pass, was yet another in a long string of evidence that you ignore the laws of nature, economics, and reality at your own peril. Irresponsible people, be they the homeowners, the money lenders, or the politicians scheming, will keep making irresponsible and bad decisions, and no amount of “law making” will curb that.

When Dodd and Frank, the architects of the framework that precipitated this economic collapse, demanded they be allowed to “fix it”, I pointed out that the left not only learned the wrong lesson from this terrible debacle that burned up trillions of dollars of wealth, cost the US tax payer a few trillion so the government could fulfil it’s side of the Faustian bargain it made with the “Too big to fail” to get them to go along with their idiotic plans, and ravaged the middleclass and the world’s economy, but that it would double down on the stupid that caused it. I pointed out that there would not only not be any real attempts to address and prevent a repeat of the problem, but that sooner than later these idiot leftists would be back to pushing the same idiotic ideas and follow on politics that caused the problem in the first place. And we are there yet again!

For the majority of American homeowners, their house is their single largest asset. Despite the crash in home values in the last decade, that still holds true.

That crash, however, created a much larger share of renters, and these Americans are not enjoying the new wealth that now-rising home prices afford. Ninety percent of metropolitan housing markets have seen a decline in their homeownership rates, while home values are rising and incomes are flat, and that is widening the wealth gap, according to a new study by the National Association of Realtors, which looked at homeownership, home values and income growth from 2000 to 2013

“Homeownership plays a pivotal role in the U.S. economy and has historically been one of the primary sources of wealth accumulation for middle-class families,” said Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the Realtors.

“Unfortunately, due to an underperforming labor market, insufficient housing supply and overly stringent underwriting standards since the recession, homeownership has plunged to a rate not seen in over two decades,” Yun added. “As a result, the country has become more unequal as the number of homeowners has fallen while the number of renters has significantly risen.”

The argument being made, again in a vacuum, is that homeownership helps people build wealth, while renting doesn’t. So the logical conclusion by the people that continue to misinterpret the Constitution’s premise that we should all have “Equality of opportunity” to mean “Equality of outcome”, is to rig the game to make more of that happen. See, this time they will get it right and make rules that not only will encourage lenders to make loans to people that because that have proven to be bad risks, but magically will make those bad risk people and lenders suddenly become good stewards of this undeserved rewards. Somehow they will find a way that doesn’t defy the laws of economics and human nature, and get lenders not to charge higher interests on riskier loans. At the same time they will make people that are prone to bad decisions when they chase instant gratification suddenly stop doing just that and become responsible citizens well aware of the privilege they have had bestowed on them,

Here is the problem that these SJW seem to either be unable to grasp or simply want to ignore: the majority of people, with that number going up every day, looking at a world where some 50 years of progressive social engineering has created a system where perverse incentives actually encourage bad decisions and behavior, simply will never be disciplined enough to own a home. In fact, the argument has successfully been made – by the very crisis we saw in 2008 – that making homeownership easier will actually result in people having less of a reason to buy what they can actually afford and to then when they buy a home, pay it off as well. Wishful thinking will not change that reality.

Homeownership is actually a privilege and reward, earned by those that show the needed discipline to save the money needed for the down payment and setting up the track record of steadfastly adhering to sound economic principles. Sound decision making and savings, especially when done in an economic environment where government has so muddled and undermined these practices with insane and perverse incentives that reward bad behavior and actually levies penalties in the form of taxation on doing the right things, is not something you can ignore in this equation. When you ignore that reality and simply jump to the conclusion that what you need to push is more home ownership to give people an opportunity to build wealth, you basically set us all up for another costly and devastating round of failures.

Lenders, especially those that paid attention to the last cycle, should resist coercion pushing them to make loans that will eventually kill them without building in some mechanism to guarantee their survival. This means that government will again need to allow them to create higher interest vehicles to mitigate the risk and then back that up with promises of tax payer funded bailouts when the inevitable collapse happens. The bulk of the people likely to step up when we start pushing this stuff again will be those that already proved they shouldn’t be put in a position where their irresponsibility and lack of discipline will leave them holding the bag for a financial debt that shouldn’t have ever been placed on them. Games will be played to hide the inevitable cycle of bad loans made (like the bundled Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae subprime CDS) by these lenders to high risk people. And sooner than later we will see a repeat of the collapse as the whole house of cards comes tumbling down.

But they mean well, so the fault is everybody else’s but theirs…

The Senate finally passes a budget!

If I get this correctly, we finally have a republican controlled Senate for the first time in over 5 years passing a budget.

As was to be expected, the left, furious because this budget doesn’t continue the trend established under their control of massive deficit spending on the programs the left depends on to buy votes, resulted in democrats voting against the budget in both the House and Senate. Obama has also balked at any budget that doesn’t put the US in deeper debt to buy democrats more votes.

I still think this budget has not made deep enough cuts in the nanny state programs democrats buy votes from. And I think it is high time we see action from Congress to halt the current plan democrats have of allowing illegal aliens to bolster the army of dead voters and repeat voters democrats count on to win steal elections. This country now has over $18 trillion in debt, because of the left’s deficit spending agenda, a fake 5.5% unemployment that really is more like 15-20% if you count people that dropped off the roll count, a devastating blow to land on the productive sector as more Obamacare rules go into effect, abuses of power by government at all levels, and an army of illegals at a time where jobs are scarce and the ever shrinking pie needs to be split to buy more of their votes, all to pretend their policies have not devastated our economy.

Only a complete moron can’t see that the “Fundamentally changing America” promise by Obama has served to allow the rich to get richer, the poor to get even more money from the productive, the middle class to be decimated, and the things that made America successful to be done away with. The left’s dream of making America an impotent two-bit socialist nanny state, as punishment for the crime of exposing the crimes of communism and halting its cancerous growth, is closer than ever thanks to this Manchurian candidate and the party of the insane.

Oh, and the republicans are not without fault in this decline, but they can’t hold a candle to the destructive nature of the left. And anything to halt the left’s mad dash off the cliff should be viewed a s a victory for the American people that still care.

That Thing That Wasn’t Supposed to Happen

For years, the Left Wing has been agitating for hikes in the minimum wage. When conservative and libertarian critics have pointed out that raising the minimum wage increases unemployment, they respond that “studies” prove this not to be the case (said studies usually being deeply flawed and having little connection to reality). As I’ve said before: you’re going to have to go a long way to convince me that the law of supply and demand is magically suspended when it comes to wages.

Last year, Seattle raised their minimum wage to $15 an hour. How’s that working out?

Seattle’s $15 minimum wage law goes into effect on April 1, 2015. As that date approaches, restaurants across the city are making the financial decision to close shop. The Washington Policy Center writes that “closings have occurred across the city, from Grub in the upscale Queen Anne Hill neighborhood, to Little Uncle in gritty Pioneer Square, to the Boat Street Cafe on Western Avenue near the waterfront.”

Of course, restaurants close for a variety of reasons. But, according to Seattle Magazine, the “impending minimum wage hike to $15 per hour” is playing a “major factor.” That’s not surprising, considering “about 36% of restaurant earnings go to paying labor costs.” Seattle Magazine,

According to the Washington Restaurant Association, restaurants currently spend 36% of their income on labor. This hike could send that as high as 47%. Very few businesses operate with that massive a profit margin. They either have to fire employees or raise prices to compensate.

Restaurant owners, expecting to operate on thinner margins, have tried to adapt in several ways including “higher menu prices, cheaper, lower-quality ingredients, reduced opening times, and cutting work hours and firing workers,” according to The Seattle Times and Seattle Eater magazine. As the Washington Policy Center points out, when these strategies are not enough, businesses close, “workers lose their jobs and the neighborhood loses a prized amenity.”

Right now, this “grand experiment” is producing panic. We’ll see how things look in a year. Keep in mind that increased prices will move many of the poor out of the city completely, which may dim the impact of this on paper. But even with that cushion, this is looking very bad.

Told ya so.

UNEXPECTEDLY! They spend a shitload again

We have had discussions here about the fact that the Obama administration has presided over an unprecedented growth of deficit spending and US debt. Most of us have pointed out things are not good and heading in the wrong direction. Some have argued otherwise. This administration looks like it wanted to settle the argument once and for all:

WASHINGTON (AP) — The federal government ran a bigger deficit in January, pushing the imbalance so far this budget year up 6.2 percent from the same period a year ago.

The Treasury Department said Wednesday the deficit for January stood at $17.5 billion compared to $10.3 billion a year ago. For the first four months of the budget year that began in October, the deficit widened to $194.2 billion from $182.8 billion during the same period last year.

The budget deficit has gradually narrowed since 2012, which was the fourth straight year in which it topped the $1 trillion mark. The improvement reflects the country’s economic recovery from recession. The government is seeing higher tax revenues as people go back to work and smaller payments for safety-net programs such as unemployment assistance. It also represents efforts by Congress to control deficits through higher taxes and across-the-board spending cuts.

First off, the AP political hacks are full of shit when they pretend there has been an economic recovery of any kind. These assholes have been playing fast and loose with the numbers for 6 years now to convince people that the idiotic tax and spend, big government nanny-state, central planned practices favored by the collectivists in charge, actually work. But the facts are that the only people doing well are the super-rich and the freeloaders. And of course the political class has really raked in the dough and drastically expanded their ability to lord it over us serfs. The middle class however, is getting hammered. The number of employed people in this country is at an all-time low, and the trending shows that it will go lower despite all the efforts to pretend otherwise. The number of freeloaders has also hit a new record, and the trending shows that it will continue to go up. The really rich, the people the left loves to pretend to hate, are raking in the cash. The country is being invaded, by design, and with help from the nanny-state entities in our government that want to fundamentally change the balance of power by making the freeloader class undefeatable at the polls. That’s “social justice” and the signs of an economic recovery for the left I guess.

Recovery my fucking ass. And the government is raking in a ton of cash in taxes despite their actions and efforts, mostly by fucking over businesses and the upper middle class. The point that should never be lost is that the left will never lower spending. These excuse makers responsible for this propaganda piece masquerading as news all but admit that they are cool with the insane jump in spending, because the tax revenue is up! The label “Tax and spend” is absolutely accurate. I bet they saw a projected 3% jump in revenue, so they did a 6.2% jump in spending. That’s what leviathan does.

We need to get rid of the collectivists and dismantle the “vote for a living” state they have created before the whole house of cards comes tumbling down.

Too big to fail uber alles!

Why would anyone be surprised to find out that collectivists pretending to be solving a financial problem opted to implement more of the too big to fail and centrally planned solution, despite the fact we have history showing this approach will lead to trouble and failure?

A new study by Marshall Lux and Robert Greene reports that since the enactment of Dodd-Frank community banks have lost market share at twice the rate that they did prior to Dodd-Frank.

The authors note that many of the regulations implemented pursuant to Dodd-Frank are not linked to the size of the institution, thus there are economies of scale in regulatory compliance. Thus, regulatory costs tend to fall proportionally heavier on smaller banks, which, in turn, tends to promote consolidation of the industry (as I noted several years ago when I predicted that Dodd-Frank would promote industry consolidation).

The study has lots of interesting data on the industry patterns of lending by various types of banks as well, most notably that large banks tend to make fewer agricultural loans than community banks.

This result was to be expected and is only news to people that believe doing the same old dumb pseudo-marxist shit will suddenly produce a different result. If anything, history, replete with examples of how this stuff fails, stagnates, and breeds inefficiency and trouble, shows us that the statists on the left believe in an unholy alliance between state and big business. In their minds it provides them with the ability to micro manage and centrally plan. That it only serves to create a monopolistic environment where innovation and cost reduction are destroyed by ever growing protectionist regulation and that the people forced to deal with these entities lose out, seems to escape these moron’s ability to cogitate.

The demcorats created the “too big to fail” entities they then successfully managed to convince an ill informed and low information based public was Boosh’s fault. Dodd-Frank upped the ante here. Those of us that pointed that out were told that it was needed to curtail evil people in the financial industry, as if the problem wasn’t with the system, the rules, and implementation of contradictory and bad regulations that encouraged the bad behavior in the first place. People should not be surprised that what we end up with will be giant unresponsive, bloated, inefficient, and costly financial conglomerates, in bed with our own government, and a system that remains fragile and prone to costly and painful implosions.

But don’t worry. The democrats responsible for the problem in the first place will be more than happy to throw oodles of tax payer dollars, syphoned from the productive, at the problem. Then they will blame the rich, the financial sector, republicans, and anyone they can conveniently scapegoat instead of themselves and their wealth redistribution schemes and scams. They will demand the right to fix the problem they conveniently blame on others, like they did when they created Dodd-Frank. And when their regulation results in even more of the same, but just on steroids, they will rub their grubby hands together and laugh at the envy and jealousy driven idiots that will go along with them yet again.

Collectivism sucks.

Real world intrudes on stupid collectivist’s delusions

My state, “The People’s Republic of Connecticut”, overrun with moochers and other blue staters that have been living large on the work of the few productive, is in dire economic straits now that its government has done what the left always does: mismanage their tax & spend agenda. So now, with skyrocketing taxes and an orchestrated class warfare campaign backfiring on them they are worried about the super rich moving:

“There are probably a handful of people, five to seven people, who if they just picked up and went, you would see that in the revenue stream,” said Kevin Sullivan, the state’s commissioner of the Department of Revenue Services.

I hope these people move. Even if the collectivists that are running the place into the ground would then just solve the problem by jacking up taxes on the middle class, yet again. It would be worth watching their anguish. How dare people do what is in their best interest when collectivists with their own idiotic agenda want things from them? And I bet that everyone of these super rich are democrat donors and voters. Fucking idiots.