Free Markets, Free People

Daily Archives: December 1, 2009

Life Lessons

Usually, the kind of story that’s roiling around Tiger Woods right now is not the kind of thing we comment on.  But it is instructive in some ways.

This is Tiger Woods’ wife.

Elin Nordegren

Elin Nordegren

The lesson is this:  As hard as it may be to believe, there is one unchangeable truth about relationships.  No matter how hot the girl is, no matter who she is…there’s a guy out there who’s tired of her sh*t.

I’d really like to see the math on that…

So, the CBO today, in surveying the success of the American Recovery and Re-investment Act (ARRA,. or as we call it, “the stimulus”, makes the following claim:

Economic output and employment in the spring and summer of 2009 were lower than CBO had projected at the beginning of the year. But in CBO’s judgment, that outcome reflects greater-than-projected weakness in the underlying economy rather than lower-than-expected effects of the ARRA.

:roll:

Um.  OK.

It’s kind of hard to argue with that kind of “judgment”.  Your “judgment” may vary, of course.

Not that it matters, because neither you, nor the CBO, have the math to back it up.

Economic output and employment in the spring and summer of 2009 were lower than CBO had projected at the beginning of the year. But in CBO’s judgment, that outcome reflects greater-than-projected weakness in the underlying economy rather than lower-than-expected effects of

Obama’s Return To Reality

I guess we’re fresh out of unicorns and rainbows and claims to have improved America’s standing in the world today.  As you recall, while in China and during an interview there, Obama made the claim that he had changed the world’s attitude about the US.  And his claim was based on some poll which apparently reflected that.

Well given that the poll he cited was good enough for him to make the assertion then, I’d be interested in how he’d describe this poll’s results (Pew Global Attitudes survey) in probably the most important region to the US right now (remember this is a survey the left loved to deploy annually telling everyone how detrimental GW Bush was to our “image” abroad):

Now those surveys of 2009 bring findings from the world of Islam that confirm that the animus toward America has not been radically changed by the ascendancy of Mr. Obama. In the Palestinian territories, 15% have a favorable view of the U.S. while 82% have an unfavorable view. The Obama speech in Ankara didn’t seem to help in Turkey, where the favorables are 14% and those unreconciled, 69%. In Egypt, a country that’s reaped nearly 40 years of American aid, things stayed roughly the same: 27% have a favorable view of the U.S. while 70% do not. In Pakistan, a place of great consequence for American power, our standing has deteriorated: The unfavorables rose from 63% in 2008 to 68% this year.

Eventually the left is going to learn that anti-Americanism isn’t a function of who is in the White House or what party is in power. It is a deep seated resentment in which whoever is in the White House or whichever party is in power is irrelevant.  They simply become the new face of the same nation the world despises. The reasons are varied and mostly irrational. The sentiment is fed by powerful internal political forces who have a vested interest in the continuation of anti-Americanism as one tool for maintaining power in their country. Such sentiment ranges from blatant anti-Americanism (Venzuela and Iran) to more subtle forms (France and Germany) but it persists whether a Republican or a Democrat is in office.

Obama’s return to reality (and hopefully the left’s) – given these numbers – should see him take a more pragmatic and nationalistic view of foreign policy than he has to this point. Words, as those numbers reflect, have failed him – and they were his greatest strength. Despite the favorable press he received as he made his world apology tour, the numbers have pretty well remained unchanged. A smart man would understand that lesson and learn from it. A leader would reorient his foreign policy when it becomes clear his first policy hasn’t achieved its goal (as if a reasonable foreign policy goal should ever be “to make others like us more”). Obviously putting the rest of the world before the US – while fine with the rest of the world – doesn’t change their perception of the US, but instead simply feeds their anti-Americanism. They do like a weaker US.  But that still doesn’t mean they like the US any better.

Obama’s job -should he ever decide to take it- is to put America first in everything he does in the foreign policy arena. He’s not done that and it has not paid off for either him or the US. As I’ve said any number of times, in the anarchy that is international politics, it is much more useful to be feared and respected than to be liked. It’s time the US got back to “feared and respected”. “Liked”, as always, is a bust.

~McQ

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Health Care’s Giant New Bureaucracy

One of the persistent memes with this current round of health care reform is the counter-intuitive belief that adding 30+ million to the health care insurance roles and subsidizing them is going to save money. Another is that there won’t be more bureaucracy – that, in fact, this reform will streamline health care and again “save money”. Just as we’re supposed to “trust” the climate scientists who’re apparently not trustworthy, we’re supposed to believe a Congress which cranks out 2,000 page bills when they say it won’t be a bureaucratic nightmare.

But:

“The legislation lists 1,697 times where the secretary of health and humans services is given the authority to create, determine or define things in the bill,” said Devon Herrick, a health care expert at the National Center for Policy Analysis.

For instance, on Page 122 of the 2,079-page bill, the secretary is given the power to establish “the basic per enrollee, per month cost, determined on average actuarial basis, for including coverage under a qualified health care plan.”

The HHS secretary would also have the power to decide where abortion is allowed under a government-run plan, which has drawn opposition from Republicans and some moderate Democrats.

And the bill even empowers the department to establish a Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation that would have the authority to make cost-saving cuts without having to get the approval of Congress first.

That’s right – we’re supposed to believe that this huge shift in power and authority to the HHS will be done without adding a single worker, panel, council, department, “task forces” or agencies. There will be no new commissioners, advisors, council, staffers or contract employees. None.

But:

Haislmaier said one the greatest powers HHS would gain from the bill is the authority to regulate insurance. States currently hold this power, and under the Senate bill, the federal government would usurp it from them. This could lead to the federal government putting restrictions and changes in place that destabilize the private insurance market by forcing companies to lower premiums and other charges, he said.

Health and Human Services … doesn’t have any experience with this,” Haislmaier said. “I’m looking at the potential for this whole thing to just blow up on people because they have no idea what they are doing. Who in the federal government regulates insurance today? Nobody.”

The health care reform legislation would rely on the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force for recommendations as to what kind of screening and preventive care should be covered.

By the way, the U.S Preventive Services Task Force is the one which recently told women under 50 they really don’t need mamograms. Yeah – preventive services. They’ll try to prevent you from taking advantage of such services it seems.

And then there’s this:

Critics of the bill said this was an example of how the new bill could empower HHS to alter health care delivery, but Democrats argue they would rather have the government making these decisions.

“There’s an insurance company bureaucrat in between the patient and her doctor right now,” Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., said on ABC’s “This Week.”

Yes, because everyone knows that government bureaucrats are so much more efficient and caring than insurance bureacrats – which explains the reason Medicare denials are much higher than insurance company denials.

If you want the equivalent of the Post Office or DMV running your health care in the future, support the Democrats and this bill. Because if you are satisfied with what they’re trying to pass, you’ve already bought into the idea that spending a trillion dollars will save money and lower the deficit and that government is always more efficient than the market in delivering anything.

~McQ

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Climaquiddick: Follow The Money

One of the favorite rebuttals of the alarmists – especially when a skeptical scientists scores a point on them – is to point to the scientist’s funding (“he’s paid by oil companies) and attempt to dismiss the science by claiming a bias. The Wall Street Journal’s Bret Stephens does a little digging into the money trail on the warmist side and, unsurprisingly, finds plenty of reasons for the alarmist cause to find what is has found:

Climategate, as readers of these pages know, concerns some of the world’s leading climate scientists working in tandem to block freedom of information requests, blackball dissenting scientists, manipulate the peer-review process, and obscure, destroy or massage inconvenient temperature data—facts that were laid bare by last week’s disclosure of thousands of emails from the University of East Anglia’s Climate Research Unit, or CRU.

But the deeper question is why the scientists behaved this way to begin with, especially since the science behind man-made global warming is said to be firmly settled. To answer the question, it helps to turn the alarmists’ follow-the-money methods right back at them.

Consider the case of Phil Jones, the director of the CRU and the man at the heart of climategate. According to one of the documents hacked from his center, between 2000 and 2006 Mr. Jones was the recipient (or co-recipient) of some $19 million worth of research grants, a sixfold increase over what he’d been awarded in the 1990s.

19 million. A sixfold increase in funding. And all for being on the side that found what the alarmists wanted found – a human hand in the warming trend. But what’s incredible is how small, in terms of “research grants” the money paid to Jones and CRU was in the big scheme of payouts. There’s gold in that thar “settled science:

Thus, the European Commission’s most recent appropriation for climate research comes to nearly $3 billion, and that’s not counting funds from the EU’s member governments. In the U.S., the House intends to spend $1.3 billion on NASA’s climate efforts, $400 million on NOAA’s, and another $300 million for the National Science Foundation. The states also have a piece of the action, with California—apparently not feeling bankrupt enough—devoting $600 million to their own climate initiative. In Australia, alarmists have their own Department of Climate Change at their funding disposal.

All totaled, about 5 billion in research money out there for the scientist who is able to “prove” what the politicians want proven. And that’s just the beginning of the gravy train:

And all this is only a fraction of the $94 billion that HSBC Bank estimates has been spent globally this year on what it calls “green stimulus”—largely ethanol and other alternative energy schemes—of the kind from which Al Gore and his partners at Kleiner Perkins hope to profit handsomely.

And you wondered why Al Gore had essentially gone silent at this point? Why talk any more when what you’ve schemed to have happen is beginning to happen. One thing a good con artist knows is when to shut up.

Stephens makes the most important point:

Supply, as we know, creates its own demand. So for every additional billion in government-funded grants (or the tens of millions supplied by foundations like the Pew Charitable Trusts), universities, research institutes, advocacy groups and their various spin-offs and dependents have emerged from the woodwork to receive them.

[...]

All of them have been on the receiving end of climate change-related funding, so all of them must believe in the reality (and catastrophic imminence) of global warming just as a priest must believe in the existence of God.

None of these outfits are per se corrupt, in the sense that the monies they get are spent on something other than their intended purposes. But they depend on an inherently corrupting premise, namely that the hypothesis on which their livelihood depends has in fact been proved. Absent that proof, everything they represent—including the thousands of jobs they provide—vanishes. This is what’s known as a vested interest, and vested interests are an enemy of sound science.

Science is not an ends for these eco-religionists, but a means. The “settled science” is faith based, not reality or science based. It’s what they believe. Al Gore, otoh, is simply a grifter who recognized that propensity toward blind faith, fed it and now stands to profit from it.

Which brings us full circle to the CRU and their horrible and scandalous misbehavior. As Stephens concludes:

This is not the sound of settled science, but of a cracking empirical foundation. And however many billion-dollar edifices may be built on it, sooner or later it is bound to crumble.

Or said another way, the alarmists are denying the scandal because of the vested interests so many have in those “billion-dollar edifices” they’ve built over the years of scamming the world about the supposed imminent catastrophe of man-made global warming. There is no settled science regardless of what the White House claims (speaking of vested interests). In fact, it is beginning to appear there’s no science at all to under-gird the hypothesis of man-made global warming. Just some cooked-data that can’t be checked produced by a group of “scientists” who appear to have benefited handsomely from the funding alarmists were paid to help push this scam on the world.

To see this denial in full action, stay tuned to Copenhagen. It is when those who love to describe themselves as members of the “reality-based community” will be on full display – and just as fully engaged in denying reality.

~McQ

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