Free Markets, Free People

Monthly Archives: February 2012

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Economic Statistics for 29 Feb 12

The following statistics were released today on the state of the US Economy:

The Commerce Department revised fourth quarter GDP growth up to 3.0% from the initial estimate of 2.8%. Mainly, the change stemmed from upward revision to nonresidential fixed investment, a downward revision to imports, and an upward revision to personal consumption. Interestingly, inflation, as measured by the GDP price index, was revised upwards to 0.9%. That’s quite a drop from 3Q, where it was measured at 2.6%, despite 3Q growth being significantly slower at 1.8%

The Mortgage Bankers Association reports mortgage applications fell by -0.3% last week as refinance apps dropped -2.2%. Purchase apps jumped 8.3%, though MBA isn’t impressed with that gain.  They note, "Purchase application volume increased over the week, but remains within the narrow and anemic range of activity we have seen since the expiration of the homebuyer tax credit in May 2010."

The Chicago Purchasing Manager’s Index rose sharply to 64 from 60.2 last month. The Production, New Orders, and Employment sub-indexes were all up sharply. The Chicago PMI is widely seen as a predictor of the national ISM Index, which is due out tomorrow.

The Feds "beige book", which compiles anecdotal evidence on economic conditions from each of the 12 Federal Reserve districts, is due out later today. This document generally serves as a guide to Fed policy makers at the regular meetings of the FOMC, which determine the Fed’s monetary policy moves.

~
Dale Franks
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Obama’s UAW speech fantasy, Kaus’s auto industry reality

Trying to justify the unjustifiable with a pep-rally like political speech to the UAW, Obama points to what he contends are the favorable results of his decision to intrude into the auto market and rearrange the bankruptcy process to favor his cronies.

I know our bet was a good one because I had seen it pay off firsthand.  But here’s the thing.  You don’t have to take my word for it.  Ask the Chrysler workers near Kokomo — (applause) — who were brought on to make sure the newest high-tech transmissions and fuel-efficient engines are made in America.  Or ask the GM workers in Spring Hill, Tennessee, whose jobs were saved from being sent abroad.  (Applause.)  Ask the Ford workers in Kansas City coming on to make the F-150 — America’s best-selling truck, a more fuel-efficient truck.  (Applause.)  And you ask all the suppliers who are expanding and hiring, and the communities that rely on them, if America’s investment in you was a good bet.  They’ll tell you the right answer. 

Of course Chrysler is now owned by a foreign auto company, courtesy of the Obama administration, Ford took no federal money and, had normal bankruptcy proceeded, taxpayers wouldn’t be out $80 billion dollars (still unpaid despite claims to the contrary) and a leaner, more competitive GM would be in existence.   Those suppliers would still be supplying and after the shakeout a more viable corporation would have come into existence.

uaw-gmInstead, the same GM is in existence boosted by taxpayer money.  As Micky Kaus points out, “You’d be successful in the short run too if the government gave you $80 billion dollars.”

Speaking of those GM workers in Spring Hill, TN, Kaus lays out another reality that the president doesn’t present:

Toyota and Honda are coming back online after the tsunami and Southeast Asia floods crippled production. VW is building roomy American-style cars in Tennessee using $14.50/hour non-union workers instead of $28/hour UAW workers. Hyundai is expanding rapidly. Competition is going to be vicious–it’s widely believed there’s still overcapacity in the industry. A new oil price spike could crimp sales of high-profit trucks. Will GM still be making money in 5 years? Or, I should say, will GM still be making money building cars in the U.S. (as opposed to importing them from China) in 5 years? I’m skeptical. I don’t think deficient corporate cultures change that easily. Normally we rely on the market to simply kill them off.

The two points to be made here are important.   One, GM’s current “success” is a result of huge infusion of taxpayer money.  Its problem was/is its corporate culture and its unions.  Neither problem have been addressed or fixed.  Instead, like Solyndra, they’ve simply been given an extension via the taxpayer that will eventually run out.  Secondly, as competing auto companies  using non-union labor continue to locate in right to work states and pay a competitive wage (but not the high end union wage), they will continue to take market share from GM, who is still stuck with that toxic corporate culture and grasping unions.

But, of course, Obama won’t care because he’ll be out of office.  This is the usual short term vote buying, just on a grander scale than we’ve ever seen it before.  Crony capitalism at its worst.

Long term viability?

Who cares?  Certainly not President Obama.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO


Georgetown law students prefer YOU pay for their contraception so they can use their money for their priorities

Unbelievable.  This is so indicative of the mindset of many today.  It would be hilarious if it wasn’t so telling and serious.

A Georgetown co-ed told Rep. Nancy Pelosi’s hearing that the women in her law school program are having so much sex that they’re going broke, so you and I should pay for their birth control.

Speaking at a hearing held by Pelosi to tout Pres. Obama’s mandate that virtually every health insurance plan cover the full cost of contraception and abortion-inducing products, Georgetown law student Sandra Fluke said that it’s too expensive to have sex in law school without mandated insurance coverage.

Seriously, when you listen to Sandra Fluke talk, that’s precisely her argument:

Apparently, four out of every ten co-eds are having so much sex that it’s hard to make ends meet if they have to payartificial contraception for their own contraception, Fluke’s research shows.

"Forty percent of the female students at Georgetown Law reported to us that they struggled financially as a result of this policy (Georgetown student insurance not covering contraception), Fluke reported.

It costs a female student $3,000 to have protected sex over the course of her three-year stint in law school, according to her calculations.

"Without insurance coverage, contraception, as you know, can cost a woman over $3,000 during law school," Fluke told the hearing.

Oh, my … $3,000?  No wonder you should pay for it, that’s a lot of money for a law student, isn’t it?

Of course, reality, using her numbers, points to something I’m sure she didn’t intend:

At a dollar a condom if she shops at CVS pharmacy’s website, that $3,000 would buy her 3,000 condoms – or, 1,000 a year. (By the way, why does CVS.com list the weight of its condom products in terms of pounds?)

Assuming it’s not a leap year, that’s 1,000 divided by 365 – or having sex 2.74 times a day, every day, for three straight years.

And they want YOU to pay for it for heaven sake because they’re going broke.

A Georgetown law student arguing it is the responsibility of others to pay for her birth control because she and the 40% would prefer to spend their money on other things (can’t wait for that generation of lawyers to hit the courts, can you?).

Craig Bannister comes to one serious and one tongue-in-cheek conclusion:

  1. If these women want to have sex, we shouldn’t be forced to pay for it, and
  2. If these co-eds really are this guy crazy, I should’ve gone to law school

More important is the point to be made by watching this testimony and realizing that this supposedly intelligent woman has been so conditioned in her life to accept that others should pay for her indulgences.

THAT is the real lesson and problem (watch the video at the link).

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO


Economic Statistics for 28 Feb 12

The following statistics were released today on the state of the US Economy:

Durable goods orders fell -4.0% for January, but were still 8.1% higher than a year ago. Ex-transportation, orders fell -2.3% for the month, but were up 5.7% over last year.

Home prices are still falling, as Case-Schiller reports prices dropped a steep -0.5% in December. That’s down -4.0% from last December.

Consumer confidence jumped more than 9 points to 70.8. That’s still below the February 2011 index of 72.0, however.

The Richmond Fed Manufacturing Index jumped sharply, up 8 points to 20, indicating a strong increase in manufacturing in the district. This continues the trend of strong regional manufacturing reports we’ve been seeing, but is at odds with the weak durable goods orders data also released this morning.

State Street’s Investor Confidence Index says institutional investors may be getting skittish, as the index dropped to a very weak 86.5 in February.

In retail sales, Redbook reports a strong 3.4% year-over-year increase in same store sales. Conversely, ICSC-Goldman’s same-store sales index fell a big -1.0% for the week, and the year-over-year 2.7% increase is the lowest in three months.

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Dale Franks
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PETA: People Exterminating Thousands of Animals

peta-2

You have to just shake your head at these hypocrites:

Documents published online this month show that People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, an organization known for its uncompromising animal-rights positions, killed more than 95 percent of the pets in its care in 2011.

The documents, obtained from the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, were published online by the Center for Consumer Freedom, a non-profit organization that runs online campaigns targeting groups that antagonize food producers.

It is amazing to me how they suck in all these gullible celebrities to do their publicity stunts for them and in the meantime they’re slaughtering animals right and left.

Consider this:

Fifteen years’ worth of similar records show that since 1998 PETA has killed more than 27,000 animals at its headquarters in Norfolk, VA.

In a February 16 statement, the Center said PETA killed 1,911 cats and dogs last year, finding homes for only 24 pets.

Really?  24?  That’s it?  They could only find homes for 24 animals out of 1,935?  A .01% success rate.

Yet they have the chutzpa to go after others about the “ethical” treatment of animals?

Next time you see a group of these yahoos, ask them about the slaughter house they maintain in Norfolk, VA.  Ask them about the thousands of animals they kill each year.

Don’t expect a coherent or rational reply in return.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO


Issues that unite: Opposing “tax the rich” and class warfare

Despite what Democrats thing and despite the fact that they’ve doubled down on this theme, the “tax the rich” meme of their class warfare agenda isn’t at all as popular as they think it is, as the Hill reports:

Three-quarters of likely voters believe the nation’s top earners should pay lower, not higher, tax rates, according to a new poll for The Hill.

The big majority opted for a lower tax bill when asked to choose specific rates; precisely 75 percent said the right level for top earners was 30 percent or below.

The current rate for top earners is 35 percent. Only 4 percent thought it was appropriate to take 40 percent, which is approximately the level that President Obama is seeking from January 2013 onward.

So this is another issue in which the GOP would be able to find majority support.

And on corporate taxes, much the same thing:

The Hill Poll also found that 73 percent of likely voters believe corporations should pay a lower rate than the current 35 percent, as both the White House and Republicans push plans to lower rates.

The Hill tires to argue that the results of their poll is counter to what other recent polls have found.  But in reality, it isn’t:

The new data seem to run counter to several polls that have found support for raising taxes on high-income earners. In an Associated Press-GfK poll released Friday, 65 percent said they favored President Obama’s “Buffett Rule” that millionaires should pay at least 30 percent of their income. And a Pew poll conducted in June found 66 percent of adults favored raising taxes on those making more than $250,000 as a way to tackle the deficit.

Again, note the percentage number in the AP-GfK poll – 30 percent or the percentage they’re now paying.  When you ask voters to put a tax-the-richpercentage to the nebulous “the rich should pay more” meme, you find the majority of voters consider 30% more than fair.  The fact that many may not know that the so-called “rich” are paying that amount is means the GOP needs to do a little educating and informing, but it is clear that voters find the 30% threshold to be more than enough taxation.

So while the Democrats continue to try to push 40% as “fair”, most voters don’t see it as that.  The majority of votes seem to think that fairness in the amount of taxes paid is found at the 30% level.   That’s information to exploit and use against the class warfare Democrats.

Additionally the AP-Gfk polls shows majority support for spending cuts over tax increases.  That’s a winner for the GOP.

What the GOP can’t do is allow the Democrats to take the issue and frame it as Timothy Geithner tired to do the other day:

“…the only way to achieve fiscal sustainability is through unacceptably deep cuts in benefits for middle class seniors, or unacceptably deep cuts in national security."

That’s patent nonsense, but the usual scare tactics employed when anyone talks about significant cuts in spending. Always threaten the security of a large body of voters with false choices.  There are literally thousands of different ways to work toward sustainability before either of those programs would have to be touched (and yes, those programs should be “touched” as well). 

So what do Republicans have to do?

“It might be that people are underestimating how much the rich pay now,” said Bruce Bartlett, a former Reagan adviser and Treasury official under President George H.W. Bush.

The data could indicate a challenge to Obama’s push to increase taxes on the wealthy. The White House’s fiscal 2013 budget request included a number of tax hikes targeting the nation’s wealthiest. In addition to the “Buffett Rule,” it calls for raising taxes on family income above $250,000 in 2013, and returning the top individual rate to 39.6 percent.

But as Obama continues his push to allow the higher-end Bush tax cuts to expire at the end of the year, the poll suggests it might be difficult to persuade voters to buy in when it comes to hard numbers.

Start talking hard numbers and percentages.   Point out that our problem doesn’t revolve around the “rich” not paying enough in taxes, but instead with our politicians spending money we don’t have. 

The sustainability problem has never been a problem of revenue.  It has always been a problem of overspending.  And it is that which has to stop.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO


Don’t ever call Buzz Aldrin a “liar and a coward”

Buzz Aldrin is 72 years old.  He’s also a national hero.

Watch this this  moon landing denying D-bag harass Aldrin (and tell me that jerk doesn’t remind you of a cleaned up Michael Moore).  Watch him get in Aldrin’s face and call him a “liar” and a “coward”.

Finally, watch the result:

 

Consider it your "feel good" vid of the day.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO


Marcellus shale — a job boom brought to you by drilling, drilling and drilling

This could be happening on federal land as well, if the Obama administration would get out of the way.  The Marcellus shale formation, found in Pennsylvania and New York, is reviving parts of the Rust Belt and providing good paying jobs for the area and much needed energy for the nation.  The article is from the Pittsburg Tribune-Review:

Largely because of energy sector growth, including drilling for gas in Marcellus shale, life is changing for people in Washington County. Its job growth ranked in the top five nationally when federal statistics trackers compared the first and second quarters of 2011 to the year prior.

Butler County, bolstered by Westinghouse Electric Co.’s move from Monroeville, ranked near the top nationally in job and wage growth, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

The drilling industry has helped people across Pennsylvania, said Kurt Rankin, an economist with PNC Financial Services Group, Downtown.

"It’s like found money," Rankin said. "It does have a secondary spillover effect in that the jobs that are created there are relatively high-paying jobs. That brings an entirely new income base to those counties."

From 2000 to 2007, the state recorded 17,000 to 20,000 workers in mining and logging, Department of Labor records show. That has jumped by more than 50 percent, largely since May 2009. More than 33,000 Pennsylvanians worked in that sector as of November.

MshaleThis is waiting to happen in many areas, but government and environmentalists continue to block much of it, especially on federal lands.  Despite Obama’s claim that “all-of-the-above” is his energy policy, his administration’s actions have hardly enabled this sort of growth in areas controlled by the federal government.  Sen. John Thune outlined the reality of the President’s energy policy and it doesn’t match the President’s rhetoric:

Over the past three years, the president has systematically discouraged new energy exploration and development. His proposed five-year offshore lease plan sharply restricts the sale of leases for energy exploration and bans energy development on 97 percent of the available offshore areas. Since Obama issued his six-month deepwater moratorium in 2010, the number of permits issued for offshore energy development has declined a staggering 40 percent to 50 percent.

As a result of the president’s policies, energy production in Alaska and the Gulf of Mexico is projected to decline. Energy production in Alaska is threatened to such an extent that the future viability of the Trans Alaska Pipeline System, a vital source of domestic oil, is now in question.

The president is also restricting energy production on federal lands. While energy production from federal areas was relatively high in 2010 and 2011, almost all of that production was from leases issued before he entered office. Under the Obama administration, the issuance of new drilling leases and permits to drill on federal lands has declined by 44 percent and 39 percent, respectively.

Is it any wonder that his only fallback position when confronted by higher gasoline prices is to look toward tapping the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (which is not there to help lower gas prices)?

All-of-the-above?  Another myth brought to you by the master of doublespeak.  Remember that when you’re pumping $5 a gallon gasoline this summer.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO


Obama in trouble? Time for racial scare tactics …

And from all people, the purveyor of more racial hatred than the KKK, Louis Farrakhan:

In a fiery lecture to thousands of followers of the Nation of Islam on Sunday in Chicago, Minister Louis Farrakhan warned that racial hatred could lead to attempts to assassinate President Barack Obama.

Farrakhan spent much of his oration decrying what he cast as Satan’s influence over racist forces in politics and society before asking a pointed rhetorical question: "Do you think they’re wicked enough to be plotting our brother’s assassination as we speak?"

Wow, there’s Satan again. And there’s the racial scare.

So who is he talking about? Oh wait, here it is:

Farrakhan drew a distinction between noble Jews and followers of "the synagogue of Satan," and he pointed to a recent incident in which the publisher of a Jewish magazine suggested Israeli security forces could help preserve Israel by killing Obama.

Got it.  The Joooooooooosssss!  Well the ignoble Jews anyway (i.e. anyone in or associated with Israel, a country which, apparently, actually rules the world and dominates our politics).

Our guy also addressed many other timely topics:

He spoke for more than three hours on a broad array of topics, excoriating U.S. foreign policy, suggesting that the 9/11attacks were a government-planned pretext for war in the Middle East, lamenting recent extreme weather and attacking mothers for serving their children food from McDonald’s. He also returned repeatedly to a topic that has attracted intense controversy in the past: the influence of Jews in politics and media.

Truther, warmist, and anti-Semitic with a swipe at Mickey D’s.  A trifecta with a daily double thrown in. 

Look, he’s an 78 year old kook.  Got it.  But trust me on this … it is a harbinger of things to come and a preview of accusations and tactics you’ll see in the near future.  Perhaps not trotted out as blatantly as this and probably not blaming Israel or Jews (domestic right wing will do), but you can count on seeing racial scare tactics in the near future as Obama’s numbers, which are relatively high right now but nothing to brag about, begin to slip.

The usual suspects will begin the drumbeat of racism and attempt to divert the public’s attention from the real problem in this election – Obama’s dismal record.

Oh, and in honor of Black History month, an image from a series at All American Blogger where Duane Lester provides a historically correct lesson and reminder of the real history blacks should know but the left tries to avoid during this month:

 

twoplatforms

 

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO


Economic Statistics for 27 Feb 11

The following statistics were released today on the state of the US Economy:

The National Association of Realtors reports the Pending Home Sales Index rose nearly 2 points to 97.0. Year-on-year, pending sales were up 5.6%.

In the Dallas Fed’s manufacturing survey, the business activity index rose to 17.8, and the production index rose to 11.2.

~
Dale Franks
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