Free Markets, Free People

Daily Archives: August 18, 2009

Ducati Execs Do the Right Thing

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It’s no secret that the recent worldwide economic downturn has seriously affected motorcycle sales, sending them plunging by a third.  Now here in the United States, it’s become a common thing to see executives at big firms take huge bonuses, even when the company isn’t doing so hot.  The most egregious example of this was when failed insurer AIG took billions of dollars in Federal money for a bailout of the company, then promptly paid off millions and millions in executive bonuses with it.

Apparently, things are different in Italy, where senior executives at Ducati, faced with slumping sales, did the right thing.

Senior executives at Ducati have taken a 10 per cent cut in their pay and will not receive any bonuses because of the decline, while [Ducati CEO] Mr [Gabriele] Del Torchio said he had taken a 20 per cent pay cut.

Let’s leave aside any legalistic or other arguments about whether the executives should be compensated or not.  At the end of the day, when you’re cutting production, and laying off staff, it seems only right that the pain should be shared by everyone else in the company, all the way to the top.

Kudos to Ducati for setting an example of shared sacrifice.

Comments

OK folks – we’ve had numerous complaints about the comment system and it is our considered opinion that it is a problem with one of the plug-ins. So I’ve disabled the plug-in.

That means that you need to use html tags if you want bold, italic or blockquotes.

It looks like spacing will work without html tags. If we find a plug in that works with WP or the one we disabled is updated to work with this version of WP, we’ll hook it back up

~McQ

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A Majority Of Americans Say Stimulus Not Working

Speaking of skeptical Americans, there’s not much of anything this administration is saying that they believe. For instance, in a new USA Today/Gallup poll, 57% of them say the stimulus isn’t working:

Six months after President Obama launched a $787 billion plan to right the nation’s economy, a majority of Americans think the avalanche of new federal aid has cost too much and done too little to end the recession.

That’s a pretty stark number, and I would guess the administration knows that it is more likely to go up rather than down considering how the stimulus funds were to be disbursed over the years.

75% said they were very worried or somewhat worried that the stimulus funds were being wasted. 60% think the plan will have no effect or actually make things worse. 81% believe that in the short run the plan has made their own financial situation worse or had no effect, and 70% believe the plan will make their financial situation worse or have no effect in the long run.

That is a glaring lack of confidence in government. It is also another indication of why I continue to say that the anger you see at townhall meetings isn’t just about health care. For decades through the administrations of both parties we’ve seen the metaphor about the frog in slowly heated water acted out.

But what happened late last year was the heat under the frog was turned up to high and the frog finally noticed it and didn’t like it. Bailouts and “stimulus” in the trillions with money we don’t have. The government takeover of banks, financial institutions and auto companies. Deficits exponentially larger than any in history and extending into the future as far as the eye can see. And then the attempt to regulate emissions in the face of unsettled and dubious “science” through cap-and-trade, and the final straw, the health care grab.

The frog has jumped out of the pot and is yelling “WTF!”

And folks, that’s a good thing.

~McQ

Skeptical Americans Continue To Say No To Democratic Health Care Plan

Rasmussen reports:

Just 27% of all voters agree with the senior House Democrats [Pelosi/Hoyer] that if the health care reform being considered by Congress is passed, it will mean more patient choice. Forty-nine percent (49%) disagree and do not believe more patient choice is likely, and 24% are not sure.

Among voters who have health insurance, the majority (52%) says the plan, if passed, will not mean more patient choice, while 25% say it will.

Democrats like to blame that disparity in support on “misinformation” circulating out there as well as “un-American” protesters keeping them from getting the “facts” out at townhalls.

But, in actuality, their “facts” and their message has been getting out. The president has held three “townhalls” not to mention an op/ed in the NY Times in which he has, without interruption, been able to lay out both the message and the Democrats version of the facts. And the polls continue to tank.

That’s because the message is one that most don’t believe. That’s primarily because a majority of Americans believe the “facts” upon which it is based are dubious at best. For instance, as Peter Ferrara points out:

At his town hall meeting on health care on Saturday in Colorado, President Obama told the audience:

“I just want to be completely clear about this; I keep on saying this but somehow folks aren’t listening — if you like your health care plan, you keep your health care plan.”

That is, unless your health care plan is Medicare Advantage — the private insurance options that almost one-fourth of seniors have chosen for their coverage under Medicare. Republicans enacted this choice for seniors, and many, many seniors have chosen one of these private insurance options because they get better benefits from it than from standard Medicare.

President Obama’s health plan targets these Medicare Advantage private plans for $177 billion in cuts in what he misleadingly calls “subsidies”and “sweetheart deals for insurance companies that don’t make anybody any healthier.”At a minimum, these cuts will force these plans to cut back on the benefits they provide to seniors. Or the Medicare Advantage plans may just go out of business altogether, dumping all the seniors who have made that choice because they think they are getting a better deal from those plans.

Seniors know what that means and are rejecting the glib assurances from Obama that he isn’t really saying what he’s saying.

And that rejection of the president’s mantra doesn’t even touch on the effect of the ‘public option’ which various experts say would see 10 to 80 million shifted into it from their present plans.

If one of the targets of this plan is private insurance companies and the goal is to “keep them honest”, it doesn’t take Stephen Hawking to figure out that the chances are very good your private plan may go away.

Back to seniors. They’ve also seen through Obama’s assertions, given as “fact”, that there won’t be any reduction in Medicare benefits:

In these town halls, President Obama has repeatedly denied that his health overhaul scheme includes any cuts in Medicare. But besides slashing Medicare Advantage, the Congressional bills cut over $300 billion more from the program, which the Congressional Budget Office has scored. When arguing that his health overhaul is paid for, he wants credit for these cuts. But when challenged, he wants to deny before the whole country — in broad daylight — that he is doing it. I can’t recall any precedent for such a presidential disconnect from reality.

The disconnect comes from his unfamiliarity with the bill and the fact that he’s turned over the responsibility for it to Congress. Consequently he is out touting something that doesn’t exist. He may actually desire that Medicare not reduce benefits, but that’s not what the bill says. Those “savings” have got to come from somewhere, and since the administration loves to assert that Medicare is so much more efficient than private insurance, that leaves the benefits area from which to reap those savings.

Again, you don’t have to be a MIT grad to figure that out. And seniors have figured it out. That’s they’re rejecting Obama’s assurances.

Obama also continues to claim that overall this plan will save health care dollars, and, magically, eliminate the unfunded future liability in Medicare.

In Colorado on Saturday, President Obama suggested that his health overhaul scheme would “bend the cost curve,”reducing “health care inflation”so much that the enormous long term deficit of Medicare (unfunded liability: $89 trillion) would be eliminated! Otherwise, he said, “We’ll either have to cut Medicare, in which case seniors then will bear the brunt of it, or we’ll have to raise taxes, which nobody likes.”

But the CBO has not confirmed anything like that. What it has said, again, is just the opposite, that Obama’s health plans will not reduce costs, but, rather, will increase federal spending by close to a trillion dollars.

Since, as is pointed out, the CBO said nothing of the sort and, in fact, said precisely to opposite, what does that leave us? Well once you know that CBO said this plan would increase cost, we are left with the reality of Medicare cuts and tax increases.

That’s right: “…cut Medicare [benefits], in which case seniors then will bear the brunt of it, or we’ll have to raise taxes…”, or both. The cuts in Medicare, as mentioned, are already in the plan. Taxes going up is inevitable if this gets passed. He’s asserting a fantasy based on a lie and using the Medicare cuts and tax increases as a scare tactic to get the fantasy passed.

And of course, finally, after having this officially denied by AARP, he continues to say, at two townhalls after the denial, that AARP is “onboard” with their plan. That continued unfounded assertion is costing AARP thousands of members quitting in disgust.

In other words, it isn’t that the message isn’t getting out there, but that most Americans don’t agree on who is doing the mischaracterizing. It appears they believe that it is the Democrats and the president who are attempting to sell a program which they are mischaracterizing as something it is not.

In return for their refusal to be duped, Americans are being called all sorts of names by the hired help. It is an amazing spectacle in which the servant calls the master names because the master doesn’t like the servant’s crack-pot ideas and doesn’t believe their talking points.

The irony, of course, is much like the Republicans when they lost the Congress in 2006, the Democrats have yet to figure this out. They’re lost in the belief that their problem lies in messaging and if they just do a better job of delivering it all will be fine. What they don’t realize is the message is out there and it has been rejected.

Most voters (54%) now say no health care reform legislation this year would be better than passage of the bill currently working its way through Congress. This does not mean that most voters are opposed to health care reform, but it does highlight the level of concern about the specifics now being discussed in Washington.

The message from the majority? Slow down, there is no rush, drop this mess and rethink it. If Democrats don’t listen and ram something through, they do so at their own peril and there will be consequences.

~McQ

DNA Evidence Can Be Faked

Apparently, according to some scientists, you can engineer a crime scene in such a way as to leave DNA evidence to convict whomever you want:

The scientists fabricated blood and saliva samples containing DNA from a person other than the donor of the blood and saliva. They also showed that if they had access to a DNA profile in a database, they could construct a sample of DNA to match that profile without obtaining any tissue from that person.

“You can just engineer a crime scene,” said Dan Frumkin, lead author of the paper, which has been published online by the journal Forensic Science International: Genetics. “Any biology undergraduate could perform this.”

Obviously few if any crime scenes will be engineered, at least in the near future, but I could see a criminal business popping up where such fabricated DNA might be useful.

But fear not – there’s a reason this has been announced now:

Dr. Frumkin is a founder of Nucleix, a company based in Tel Aviv that has developed a test to distinguish real DNA samples from fake ones that it hopes to sell to forensics laboratories.

I’ll be he does.

Heh … the market works – see a need, fill it and the world will beat a pathway to your door. Well maybe not the world, but at least a few odd forensic labs.

~McQ