Questions and Observations

Free Markets, Free People


Economic Statistics for 24 Apr 14

Durable goods orders rose 2.6% in March, while orders ex-transportation rose a very positive 2.0%.

Weekly initial jobless claims rose 24,000 to 329,000. The 4-week average rose 4,750 to 316,750. Continuing claims fell 61,000 to 2.680 million.

The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index rose 3.7 points to -25.4 in the latest week.

The Kansas City Fed manufacturing index fell 3 points to 7 in April.

The Fed’s balance sheet rose $12.4 billion last week, with total assets of $4.296 trillion. Total reserve bank credit rose by $7.8 billion.

The Fed reports that M2 money supply rose $25.2 billion in the latest week.


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Pretending there’s a way out of our mess

Drew over at Ace of Spades encapsulates what many of us are feeling:

…there’s no need to leave for Red State or anywhere else to join the “Let-it-burn crowd” because it’s everywhere.

Note the actual phrase begins with “let”. It’s a passive word. No one is saying “Start a fire and burn it down”. It is burning already.

Out of control entitlement spending, zero political will to control discretionary spending and an unchecked debt is the fuel that is feeding this fire.

You want to know who is actively fanning the flames of this fire? Mainstream Republican candidates and office holders, not tea party fanatics or people who simply have lost interest in trying to stop the conflagration.

I have sometimes thought about responding to people such as Charles Cooke and Jay Nordlinger at National Review when they tell us that the establishment GOP isn’t that bad, and they really deserve our support, and other rationalizations. They’re just fooling themselves. Responding does no good, however, because if someone can’t see reality at this point, it means they are willfully blind to it and can’t be argued with.

It’s just too painful for them to think about the essential reality: the establishment GOP is never going to change. They are never going to fight for limited government. They are never going to shrink government at all.

They are never going to willingly turn over the power they have amassed to people who do intend to do those things (i.e. Tea Party types and other limited government advocates). They are going to fight those people with every weapon at their disposal – including the dirty ones.

They are the first obstacle that must be removed before any reclamation of freedom from the federal government can be attained.

Many of us on the right figured that out a long time ago. The civility junkies, the excuse makers, the cocktail party attendees, and the “why can’t we all get along” wafflers can’t seem to see what’s right in front of their face. This fight is on. Choose your side.

If you choose based on your principles, you will choose those who are dedicated to reducing government, knowing that their first actions will be to fight hard against the establishment GOP in order to eventually fight the Democrats on an equal footing. If you choose based on who you’ve met as soirées, who posed with you for pictures, and who radiates power because the control the GOP today, then you are effectively casting your lot with those who want to grow government indefinitely, until the debt mountain finally collapses. Because that’s what the establishment GOP is going to do, whether you like it or not.

You will never change their minds, so you better start lining up with the people who already believe in the principles you espouse.When the burning starts accelerating in earnest, they are the ones who might be able to build some firewalls to contain the damage, and repair things afterwards. Squishes such as Boehner and McConnell will look at the flames in horror, and then let the Democrats amass as much power as they ask for. The sooner they lose control of the GOP, the better the implications for freedom and limited government.  

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Why it pays to be an environmental skeptic

Because, you know, their track record is sooooo good.  In the wake of Earth Day, yesterday, let’s revisit another Earth Day – say the first one in 1970 – and take a look at all the predictions we were then treated too in order to scare the devil out of us:

  1. “Civilization will end within 15 or 30 years unless immediate action is taken against problems facing mankind.” — Harvard biologist George Wald
  2. “We are in an environmental crisis which threatens the survival of this nation, and of the world as a suitable place of human habitation.” — Washington University biologist Barry Commoner
  3. “Man must stop pollution and conserve his resources, not merely to enhance existence but to save the race from intolerable deterioration and possible extinction.”New York Times editorial
  4. “Population will inevitably and completely outstrip whatever small increases in food supplies we make. The death rate will increase until at least 100-200 million people per year will be starving to death during the next ten years.” — Stanford University biologist Paul Ehrlich
  5. “Most of the people who are going to die in the greatest cataclysm in the history of man have already been born… [By 1975] some experts feel that food shortages will have escalated the present level of world hunger and starvation into famines of unbelievable proportions. Other experts, more optimistic, think the ultimate food-population collision will not occur until the decade of the 1980s.” — Paul Ehrlich
  6. “It is already too late to avoid mass starvation,” — Denis Hayes, Chief organizer for Earth Day
  7. “Demographers agree almost unanimously on the following grim timetable: by 1975 widespread famines will begin in India; these will spread by 1990 to include all of India, Pakistan, China and the Near East, Africa. By the year 2000, or conceivably sooner, South and Central America will exist under famine conditions…. By the year 2000, thirty years from now, the entire world, with the exception of Western Europe, North America, and Australia, will be in famine.” — North Texas State University professor Peter Gunter
  8. “In a decade, urban dwellers will have to wear gas masks to survive air pollution… by 1985 air pollution will have reduced the amount of sunlight reaching earth by one half.”Life magazine
  9. “At the present rate of nitrogen buildup, it’s only a matter of time before light will be filtered out of the atmosphere and none of our land will be usable.” — Ecologist Kenneth Watt
  10. “Air pollution…is certainly going to take hundreds of thousands of lives in the next few years alone.” — Paul Ehrlich
  11. “By the year 2000, if present trends continue, we will be using up crude oil at such a rate… that there won’t be any more crude oil. You’ll drive up to the pump and say, ‘Fill ‘er up, buddy,’ and he’ll say, ‘I am very sorry, there isn’t any.’” — Ecologist Kenneth Watt
  12. “[One] theory assumes that the earth’s cloud cover will continue to thicken as more dust, fumes, and water vapor are belched into the atmosphere by industrial smokestacks and jet planes. Screened from the sun’s heat, the planet will cool, the water vapor will fall and freeze, and a new Ice Age will be born.”Newsweek magazine
  13. “The world has been chilling sharply for about twenty years. If present trends continue, the world will be about four degrees colder for the global mean temperature in 1990, but eleven degrees colder in the year 2000. This is about twice what it would take to put us into an ice age.” — Kenneth Watt

Yes, that’s right dear friends … then all this pollution was going to spawn a new Ice Age and we were all going to starve in the cold.

Now add in a dash of Al Gore and a few others and you can see why they’ve been so interested in quelling skepticism.   It goes against the n0nsense they’ve been trying to sell for 50 plus years.  Note all the appeals to authority (Demographers almost unanimously agree?) that came to naught.  Look and the dire conclusions presented without caveat that were just flat wrong.

There is nothing new among the enviro radicals today except we’re headed for a heat wave instead of an Ice Age.  The “science?”  Just as flaky now as it was then.  But their belief in the correctness of what they’re pumping out there now?  Just as total as it was then.

Their only problem, as usual, is reality continues to bitch slap them.   Meanwhile the skeptics are the one’s called names.

~McQ

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Economic Statistics for 22 Apr 14

ICSC-Goldman reports weekly retail sales rose 0.4%, and were up 1.9% on a year-over-year basis. Redbook reports a 3.7% rise in retail sales over last year.

The FHFA House Price Index rose 0.6% in February, with a year-on-year rate at 6.9%.

Sales of existing homes weakened, down -0.2% in March, to a 4.59 million annual rate.

The Richmond Fed Manufacturing Index rose from -7 in March to 7 in April.


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ObamaCare and the Big Lie

Peter Morici gives a little ground truth to the hyperbole of the left who’ve decided the best defense of ObamaCare is … to lie about it.

With 8 million Americans enrolled in health insurance through federal and state exchanges, President Obama has declared the Affordable Care Act a success. That’s disingenuous and big changes are needed to make the law work well.

Overall, the ACA’s goals were to provide reasonably priced medical care to the 45 to 50 million uninsured and slow health care cost increases. It is hardly clear those goals will be accomplished.

[...]

Many of the 8 million enrolled to replace individual and small business policies, canceled thanks to ACA rules, or to obtain federal subsidies only available through the exchanges.

So if the goal was to proved care to the ’45 or 50 million’ uninsured, how does enrolling 8 million, many of whom had lost their insurance due to the ACA, constitute success?

Well in the real world it doesn’t.  Only in Oz or Fantasyland do the rules of reality not apply (even if they really do and what those living there do is deny it) and allow them to make these claims with a straight face.

It’s election prep.  We’ve seen it countless times before.  It is an attempt to make lemonaide out of the lemons this abomination of a law has handed its creators.

This is just another version of the Big Lie that this particular administration has raised to an art form.  And with a compliant media to help them along (a media that seems without curiosity at the most important times) the Big Lie gets plenty of press.

Of course now that the press has helped spread the lie, the Dems will point to those media stories as “the truth” and use them to assure the usual left leaning low information voters that a) they need to turn out because ObamaCare is a “good thing” and b) if they don’t those mean old Republicans will take it away.

You can just see it coming.

Meanwhile, for most of America, the really bad stuff is being unilaterally put on hold until after the election – the most blatant display of partisan politics I’ve seen in some time:

The ACA requires health insurance policies to pay for a wider and more expensive scope of services than many individual and small business policies covered prior to the law.

In many counties, only a few insurers chose to offer policies on exchanges. Absent competition, insurers lacked incentives to bargain as hard as before with hospitals and other providers, further raising premiums and out of pocket costs.

The bronze, silver and gold policies offered by exchanges mostly vary in their deductibles. Folks selecting bronze and silver plans with high deductibles are now paying the full cost of doctor visits that only set them back a $20 or $30 dollar co-pay prior to the ACA.

Simply, for many families the ACA raises the combined cost of premium and out-of-pocket expenses.

About 50 percent of Americans are eligible for premium subsidies, but taxpayers are footing the bill and the burden of health care on the economy — already 50 percent higher than in Germany and Japan — is making it tougher for American businesses to compete and destroying jobs — something the Congressional Budget Office doesn’t bother to calculate.

But then, this was all predicted prior to passage and only a few bothered to listen.

Now we get to live with the “success”.

~McQ

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Lighten Up Francis…

During my usual effort to get good and stressed before sunrise, I was reading the news this morning -

President campaigns for Health Care Enrollment

Where I came across this photo, which I proceeded to doctor and make mock of.     I thought it was from the White House Easter Egg ceremony of 2014 – and then found out it was from 2009.

Hardly current.   Buggers.

I wandered back to the real 2014 gallery to find some others.  Maybe there was another photo that my hostile imagination could play with.

Heh.

Who needs to play with things when the real thing is so much more entertaining.

The real White House egg hunt photos from 2014.   Step right up, this is the real thing folks, accept no substitutes.

So now we can all try and figure out what kind of people think this is funny enough to make part of the National history of what should be a lighthearted thing for kids.

Here’s the caption “Our heavily armed snipers are dressed in kid-friendly bunny attire”.

Oh, ha ha ha.   You kidders, your heavily armed snipers are kid friendly heavily armed snipers.

Swell.

This made me to wonder if we’ve ever lightheartedly made jokes about needing snipers on the White House roof before.

The gallery of previous years, even post 9/11, seem remarkably short of references of this kind.  You know, no cute photos of MANPAD equipped agents dressed as Harvey the Pooka who will magic Easter Jihadi’s out of the air  (to cascade down in flaming bits over the streets and buildings of the capital, but I digress while expressing thanks that I have neither the job of pulling the trigger or the job of giving the command to do so…).

All in all the previous years have been pretty tame, except for this alligator display there in 2008….don’t be trying to find and eat these eggs kids.

But the real prize for this year goes to this one -with the caption – “Colorful Easter eggs are tossed off the White House roof at special targets below.”

Special targets?    Honestly people.

Given the death from above philosophy I think this humor a little macabre as well.

How about some nice photo shots of the kids and people at the parties as we did in previous administrations?    No?

Readers can feel free to tell me to “lighten up Francis,” I won’t mind.

If it were new behavior from this administration, I’d just think it was a little weird.  As it is, I’ve come to accept this kind of thing as fairly normal.

That is to say, bizarre.

If you’re at all inclined to go look you might want to do so before some adult becomes aware and sanity takes hold and they clean this, yet another, clueless, tone deaf, gawdawful mess up.


UPDATE – 2014-04-21 – 15:00 Central Time

8-O    If you go to the White House web page I linked to, you’ll see a bunch of little eggs floating around the screen, and…..a fly.     A fly?    A fly walking around the screen?

The Easter Fly?   Is this some tradition I don’t know about?

A FLY? Easter? The Easter Fly? What?

Does someone need to remind these people this is the White House or what?   The Residence of the President of the United States of America…

Yeah yeah, I know, lighten up Francis.

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Economic Statistics for 17 Apr 14

Weekly initial jobless claims fell 4,000 to 300,000. The 4-week average fell 4,250 to 312,000. Continuing claims fell 11,000 to 2.739 million.

The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index rose 2.8 points to -29.1 in the latest week.

The Philadelphia Fed Survey rose from 9.0 to 16.6 in April.

The Fed’s balance sheet rose $39.8 billion last week, with total assets of $4.284 trillion. Total reserve bank credit rose by $39.7 billion.

The Fed reports that M2 money supply rose $41.5 billion in the latest week.


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Gallup says only 4% “newly insured”

To make it even worse, of those 4%, only 2.1% got them through exchanges:

All of this … mess … for 2.1% (the rest likely got theirs when they found a job)?  All of this intrusion and incompetence and frankly, fascism (see IRS involvement in the ‘new’ system) for a percentage that is essentially insignificant.  We would have gotten off a lot cheaper and disrupted a few million less lives if we’d have just paid for it (I’m not suggesting we should have, just pointing out how ridiculous the “solution” was/is).

Makes one want to pound their head on something, doesn’t it?

Oh, and probably the most unsurprising thing about the “newly insured?”

All of the newly insured are more likely to identify with or lean toward the Democratic Party than the overall national adult population. Those who signed up through exchanges are the most likely to tilt Democratic and not Republican.

I’m shocked, shocked I tell you …

~McQ

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