Free Markets, Free People

Daily Archives: April 8, 2011


The Government Is A Wanton Slut

So we’ve reached an agreement. I’m not surprised. The entire argument — over money, of course — was nothing more than a prelude to an inevitable act.

Foreplay, if you will.

Oh sure, the back and forth was heated at times, but was there ever any doubt that the money-spenders would arrive at a deal? I mean, you cut off a gold-digger from the credit cards and concessions will inevitably be made. Not at first of course (even whores have their pride), but once it becomes inevitable that the spigot will be cut off, even the lowliest scum whores will come to obeisance. It’s what they do.

Without the sweet ambrosia of federal income, the power brokers — a.k.a. your elected officials — would lose all of their power, ephemeral as it may be. And powerless whores are the lowliest whores of all.

Why are they (i.e. Congress, the White House) whores? Because no matter what, regardless of any consequences, our “betters” have declared themselves to be more concerned with maintaining their ability to lord their will over our money (being realistic, our credit), than they are with protecting our ability to spend it as we see fit. Their main worry is that they won’t be able to control how we spend that money, and — most importantly — that it won’t go to the “correct” people. Frankly, if they can’t control our income/wealth/money, then they can’t control us. Indeed, without access to our tax dollars, congress-critters will have no influence at all. And that will not abide for too many if them.

Whatever the deal may be, the only certainty is that, like any John, we’re screwed. And that we will still be paying maximum price for that pleasure.

I don’t mean to make light of the fact that the House was able to wrestle some budget cuts away from the opposition. Kudos are definitely due. But they are paltry … i.e. cuts of $39,000,000,000 in the face of a $1,650,000,000,000 deficit just for this year, which is about a 2.4% cut. Seriously? Who cares?

The unfortunate answer is, “your representatives of all stripes and colors.” Because they need that money to dole out the gifts that keep them in power. A government shutdown means that there will be no incoming money to buy the power and influence our rulers crave. They may whinge about seniors dying and children crying, but what they truly care about is the power of the purse. With that power they can pay off favored constituents whom they will eventually call to account for the government’s distribution of largesse (witness the current fear-mongering about budget-cutters wanting to “kill women” and starve the elderly). They are simply using our tax dollars to buy their own power.

Our elected money-spenders will always bleat in earnest when their source of power is interrupted. So, of course a budget deal was cut. Like a wanton slut, they will always strike a deal to keep the money flowing.


Meanwhile in Libya …

As we watch the politicians dance around about government shut down and play their political games, a little aside for the quickly forgotten war in Libya.

This week NATO managed to take out 13 more … rebels.  Apparently NATO didn’t know the rebs planned on using some captured tanks and paid the price.

That’s led to a little friction between NATO and the rebs:

Outside Ajdabiya, rebel fighters slapped peach-colored paint on their vehicles to try to distinguish from the pro-Qaddafi units.

"We are painting the trucks so NATO won’t hit us," said Salam Salim, a 29-year-old rebel militiaman.

Tensions between the rebels and NATO were flaring even before the latest accident, with the fighters criticizing the alliance for doing too little to help them.

A NATO official, meanwhile, said there is growing frustration with the rebels’ perception that NATO is acting as their proxy air force. The U.N. mandate calls only for international air power to enforce a no-fly zone and prevent attacks on civilians — although Qaddafi’s ground forces remain a primary target.

"We’re trying to get messages back to them about what we’re doing and what we’re trying to achieve," said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity under standing NATO regulations.

I can just see Gahdafi’s men slapping peach paint on their vehicles now.

Meanwhile, the promised “no boots on the ground?”   Not so firm apparently:

The United States may consider sending troops into Libya with a possible international ground force that could aid the rebels, according to the general who led the military mission until NATO took over.

Army Gen. Carter Ham also told lawmakers Thursday that added American participation would not be ideal, and ground troops could erode the international coalition and make it more difficult to get Arab support for operations in Libya.

Ham said the operation was largely stalemated now and was more likely to remain that way since America has transferred control to NATO.

He said NATO has done an effective job in an increasingly complex combat situation. But he noted that, in a new tactic, Muammar Qaddafi’s forces are making airstrikes more difficult by staging military forces and vehicles near civilian areas such as schools and mosques.

Adaptation.

But back to the point – why would we consider “sending troops into Libya?”  I mean we’re there to enforce a no-fly zone and protect civvies, right?

Only one reason to even be considering troops on the ground and that is the real end result desired – regime change- doesn’t look like it will happen without them. 

Like I said before, “mission creep”.

Worth noting – SecDef Gates said there’d be no US boots on the ground “as long as I’m in this job.”  He may be leaving sooner than we think.

~McQ


For wind power advocates, reality delivers bad news

Again I feel compelled to say, “hey, if we can develop a feasible and affordable clean alternative to petroleum, I’m all for it”.  But, we’re not even close in most areas, such as wind power.  Obviously I and everyone else hope we can develop this particular technology to take advantage of a natural phenomenon to generate power, but for then next few decades we really need to be exploiting what works – oil and gas. 

Why?

Well here’s a little wind power reality:

A new analysis of wind energy supplied to the UK National Grid in recent years has shown that wind farms produce significantly less electricity than had been thought, and that they cause more problems for the Grid than had been believed.

The report (28-page PDF/944 KB) was commissioned by conservation charity the John Muir Trust and carried out by consulting engineer Stuart Young. It measured electricity actually metered as being delivered to the National Grid.

So, as usual, theory and predictions were “significantly” off base.  The assumption, and probably the selling point, was that wind power would deliver 30% of its maximum capacity over time.   But it hasn’t:

Average output from wind was 27.18% of metered capacity in 2009, 21.14% in 2010, and 24.08% between November 2008 and December 2010 inclusive.

Apparently the new target output should be figured around 25% over time or worse.  And note it has gotten worse over time.

Another critical part of this is when it delivers power.  You’d want it at peak use periods wouldn’t you? 

At each of the four highest peak demands of 2010 wind output was low being respectively 4.72%, 5.51%, 2.59% and 2.51% of capacity at peak demand.

The way UK wind farmers make money and stay in business is through Renewable Obligation Certificates (ROC) or what we would call carbon offsets.  They sell them to more traditional power generators who need them and the trade is quite lucrative for the wind farmers (in fact, ROCs make up the bulk of their income).  The end result is higher prices electricity, both from wind power and the added cost to traditional power generation the ROCs impose.

And – Catch 22 – high electricity prices make the conversion to electric transportation, heating and industrial use less feasible and affordable. 

~McQ


Democrats, after a year’s hiatus, finally come up with a budget

Funny what actually producing something – a budget plan to bring government deficits and eventually debt under control — will see the other side produce.  After a year in which the Democratic Congress was unable to produce a budget, suddenly the Progressive Caucus in Congress has an answer to the Ryan budget proposal produced by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI).

And, as you might imagine, it is, definitely snort worthy.  However, if you remember what group I said had produced it, it shouldn’t surprise you. Phillip Klein brings you the “good news”:

Next week, the group of progressives plans to introduce its alternative to Ryan’s proposal, called "The People’s Budget." Based on an advanced peek provided by a senior Democratic aide, it promises to return the nation to surpluses by the end of the decade and reduce the debt, only with a much different approach from Ryan’s.

To extend the long-term solvency of Social Security, it would propose dramatically increasing payroll taxes on both the employer and employee side, and funneling the money into even more generous benefits.

Payroll taxes are economically destructive, because they make it more expensive for employers to hire new workers, meaning lower real wages and higher unemployment.

Yet the tax increases wouldn’t end there. The People’s Budget would rescind last year’s tax deal to raise rates on higher income levels, boost taxes on capital gains and dividends, increase the estate tax, institute three "millionaire tax rates," with the highest reaching 47 percent, tax corporate foreign income, impose a "financial crisis responsibility fee," and institute a "financial speculation tax."

Overall, taxes would rise to 22.3 percent of the economy, compared with 18.3 percent under the Ryan proposal.

The plan would also build on Obama’s most notable initiatives. It includes an additional $1.45 trillion in economic stimulus spending. On health care, the plan would add a government-run plan, or "public option," to Obamacare and have the government negotiate drug prices.

Yet while other parts of government would grow, the defense budget would be gutted. The proposal would "reduce baseline defense spending by reducing strategic capabilities, conventional forces, procurement, and R&D programs."

File this under “they just don’t get it”, for starters.  And, if you didn’t get a horse laugh out of the “People’s Budget” (VolksBudget?) then your sense of black humor is a bit lacking.  These fools, and I haven’t a better word for them, would absolutely ruin the country if given an opportunity.  They’re ignorant of economic, ignorant of reality and just flat dangerous.  If nothing else, the GOP ought to make this available far and wide – this is what these freaks will do if they get control of Congress again.  If you think the debt and deficit are bad now, let this crew pass their “People’s Budget” and we’ll all wave goodbye to life as we know it.

However instead of waiving this off, people need to study these two contrasting approaches to government advance by Paul Ryan and the Progressive Caucus.

Oh, and Megan McArdle, doing some back of the napkin figuring, isn’t buying the “22.3%” of the economy nonsense:

A 47% federal tax rate on top incomes, plus increases on estates, capital gains, and dividends, and all you get is . . . 22.3% of GDP?  A bare 1.3% above the collections envisioned by Simpson-Bowles?

And she asks for a little honesty:

No, if you want to get the budget under control without meaningfully cutting into entitlements, you’re going to need to hike taxes substantially on the middle class.  I’m waiting for the first politician to say this out loud.

Well, it won’t be the Progressive Caucus, you can count on that.  Instead, they’re all for making entitlements even more generous.  National defense – we don’t need no stinkin’ tanks.

Meanwhile the left has been savaging Ryan’s proposal (and so far the “People’s Budget” is the best they can throw back).  But serious people, like Charles Blahaus of e21 find it pretty refreshing (read the whole thing).  And he makes a point or two I’ve been making recently:

Yesterday’s release of the draft Ryan budget offers a vision for repairing the federal budget. Thus far, this vision for fiscal repair remains the only serious legislative alternative to fiscal catastrophe. President Obama’s submitted budget, by contrast, contains no significant effort to repair the federal fiscal outlook. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has shown that it would leave federal finances on a clearly unsustainable trajectory. Health care reform, long touted by some as being the real key to fiscal reform, turned out to mean expanding federally-subsidized coverage rather than fiscal correction. Last year the Congressional Democratic leadership declined even to pass a budget at all. If there is a responsible left-of-center alternative to the Ryan proposal, we have yet to learn what it is.

Well sir, it won’t be the People’s Budget for the People’s Republic of Fantasy Land, I’m sure of that.

~McQ

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