Free Markets, Free People

Bruce McQuain

The age of job automation

It’s closer than you think.  Last Friday I put a bit up in Stray Voltage about Dominos testing a robot delivery service in New Zealand.  And I intimated that that sort of automation would be something that would displace labor if labor got too expensive – like $15 for the minimum wage.

Over the weekend I happened across a couple of more articles.  One featured the CEO of Hardee’s and Carl Jr.’s talking about an automated restaurant he’d seen in San Francisco.  And, sure enough, his focus was on labor savings ($15 minimum wages specifically):

The CEO of Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s has visited the 100%-automated restaurant Eatsa — and it’s given him some ideas on how to deal with rising minimum wages.

“I want to try it,” CEO Andy Puzder told Business Insider of his automated restaurant plans. “We could have a restaurant that’s focused on all-natural products and is much like an Eatsa, where you order on a kiosk, you pay with a credit or debit card, your order pops up, and you never see a person.”

Pudzer’s interest in an employee-free restaurant, which he says would only be possible if the company found time as Hardee’s works on its northeastern expansion, has been driven by rising minimum wages across the US.

“With government driving up the cost of labour, it’s driving down the number of jobs,” he says. “You’re going to see automation not just in airports and grocery stores, but in restaurants.”

Good old government.  Helping out again, aren’t they (another way to make you more dependent on them)?  As Pudzer says:

“This is the problem with Bernie Sanders, and Hillary Clinton, and progressives who push very hard to raise the minimum wage,” says Pudzer. “Does it really help if Sally makes $3 more an hour if Suzie has no job?”

Well no, it doesn’t. And then there’s this:

“If you’re making labour more expensive, and automation less expensive — this is not rocket science,” says Pudzer.

Well no, it’s not – er, except to Bernie supporters.  But then it isn’t necessarily easy to automate everyone’s jobs either.  But it is getting easier as technology develops.

Take the restaurant that Pudzer was talking about:

“I would call it different than a restaurant,” said David Friedberg, a software entrepreneur who founded Eatsa. “It’s more like a food delivery system.”

Last week, I was in a fast-moving line and browsed on a flat-screen monitor the menu of eight quinoa bowls, each costing $6.95 (burrito bowl, bento bowl, balsamic beet). Then I approached an iPad, where I tapped in my order, customized it and paid. My name, taken from my credit card, appeared on another screen, and when my food was ready, a number showed up next to it.

It corresponded to a cubby where my food would soon appear. The cubbies are behind transparent LCD screens that go black when the food is deposited, so no signs of human involvement are visible. With two taps of my finger, my cubby opened and my food was waiting.

The quinoa — stir-fried, with arugula, parsnips and red curry — tasted quite good.

And he saw no one other than other customers.  Says the author of the article:

Whether a restaurant that employs few people is good for the economy is another question. Restaurants, especially fast-food restaurants, have traditionally been a place where low-skilled workers can find employment. Most of the workers are not paid much, though in San Francisco employers of a certain size must pay health benefits and in 2018 a minimum wage of $15.

Ironic, isn’t it?  That the prototype “food delivery system” is established in a city in which government has decided it will set the wages.  The laws of economics, or “rocket science” for the Bernie supporters, begs to differ.  There’s no real advantage in terms of labor savings, if the market sets the minimum wage, but mandated wages?  Well, then it comes down to viable alternatives – and cost-wise, this is suddenly viable.  The lower wage job holders of America say – thanks government.

And beyond the obvious, there are advantages to automating:

By not hiring people to work in the front of the restaurant, he said, they save money on payroll and real estate. (There will always be at least one person available to help people navigate the iPads and to clean up.) The kitchen is also automated, though he declined to reveal how, and the company is experimenting with how to further automate food preparation and delivery.

And, fewer to call in sick, give benefits, sick days and paid vacations too.  Make an employer’s job easier, more efficient and more enjoyable and the employer will take that route every time.

“We can sit and debate all day what the implications are for low-wage workers at restaurants, but I don’t think that’s fair. If increased productivity means cost savings get passed to consumers, consumers are going to have a lot more to spend on lots of things.”

Consumers have a choice – spend more for the same thing to help someone else have more money or spend less for the same thing and have more to spend on other things they want or need.  Wal-Mart says they will choose the latter.  So do those pesky laws of economics.

The food industry isn’t the only industry that’s going to see this though:

Automation is transforming every industry. Business owners look to substitute machines for human labor. It happened to blue-collar workers in factories and white-collar workers in banks and even law firms. With self-driving vehicles, it may happen in the taxi and trucking industries. Robots and artificial intelligence machines are expected to transform health care.

Coming sooner rather than later … possibly sooner than we think.

Nowhere is the potential for job automation so obvious as it is in the on-demand economy, where many startups have grown fat with venture capital despite poor unit-economics. Uber is spending heavily to hasten the development of driverless cars. Instacart, Postmates, and other delivery-heavy startups are unlikely to stick with humans once machines—which don’t take sick days, need bathroom breaks, or threaten to unionize—can do the same jobs.

But even if you don’t work in the on-demand economy, chances are high that you or someone you know will eventually be in the same position as Fox-Hartin. Machines already exist that can flip burgers and prepare saladslearn and perform warehouse tasks, and check guests into hotels. Companies like WorkFusion offer software that observes and eventually automates repetitive tasks done by human workers. And automation has also crept into knowledge-based professions like law and reporting. When in 2013 researchers at Oxford assessed whether 702 different occupations could be computerized, they concluded that 47% of U.S. employment was at risk of being lost to machines.

~McQ

Stray Voltage

I’d love to tell you this comes as a surprise, but in reality, yeah, not so much.  As I’ve been saying for years, I’m fine with solar power as a concept, but in execution, it’s not at all ready for prime time.

A federally backed, $2.2 billion solar project in the California desert isn’t producing the electricity it is contractually required to deliver to PG&E Corp., which says the solar plant may be forced to shut down if it doesn’t receive a break Thursday from state regulators.

This is the one that burns birds out out of the sky.

PG&E PCG, -0.02%   is asking the California Public Utilities Commission for permission to overlook the shortfall and give Ivanpah another year to sort out its problems, warning that allowing its power contracts to default could force the facility to shut down. The commission’s staff is recommending that it grant the extension Thursday.

You can probably count on it getting a “break” since a) it’s California and b) government only requires accountability from the little people and c) … solar! (Turn a blind eye to those burnt birds littering the ground.  Environmentalism and animal rights are only important when greedy corporations stand to profit.)

Meanwhile, elect Hillary, she’ll get rid of the coal mines and coal miners jobs and then we’ll simply die in the dark.

Welcome to machine world!  Robots are going to soon be taking over all those “$15 minimum wage” jobs soon:

Domino’s have developed possibly the greatest use for robots yet – safe and secure pizza delivery in what the company claims is a world first.

The company is testing pizza delivery by robot in New Zealand, known as the Domino’s Robotic Unit (DRU). The three-foot tall battery-powered unit contains a heated compartment for storing up to 10 pizzas, and is capable of self-driving up to 12.5 miles, or 20 km from a shop.

Economic reality says that when labor prices itself out of business and there is an cheaper viable alternative, people usually go with the alternative.  That’s because economic law is based in human nature, not pie-in-the-sky social justice.

You may have heard of the results of the YouGov survey that showed Millennials have a much higher regard for socialism than capitalism.  No, well, look at the Bernie camp and figure it out.  Helen Raleigh says we have to “educate” the generation about the perils of socialism because they’re to young to have seen it in action and seen the results.

She says:

So if you are a survivor of socialism, whether from the former Soviet Union, China, Cuba or Venezuela, speak up and share your stories. Don’t limit yourself to just your families and friends. Make yourself available to your community, especially neighborhood schools. Contact the local high schools and ask them if you can come to their social science or history class and speak to the kids directly. I’ve spoke at several high schools before. Rather than telling them that 20-30 million Chinese people died during the three famine caused by Mao’s disastrous policy, I shared with them the story of an uncle I never met. He was born during the famine. My grandmother was too hungry to produce any milk to feed him, and there was no baby formula available. He died in my grandmother’s arms. While I was sharing this story, those teenagers were spell bound. No one was checking their iPhones. Many of them came to shake my hand afterwards and said “thank you.” It was a rewarding experience for me.

One problem, Helen.  Where this is really needed would likely find you booed off the stage, while The New Red Guard demonstrated and called you a racist and hate monger.  Other than that, you’re precisely right.

Melissa Click, the asst. Professor fired by the University of Missouri because of her conduct, just won’t go away and has a new whine now:

As a Media Studies scholar, I understand how the increased surveillance resulting from advances in technology like digital recording and wireless broadband has come to mean that our mistakes will be widely broadcast — typically without context or rights of rebuttal — exposing us to unprecedented public scrutiny.

But I do not understand the widespread impulse to shame those whose best intentions unfortunately result in imperfect actions. What would our world be like if no one ever took a chance? What if everyone played it safe?

It has nothing to do with “shaming”, Ms. Click.  It has to do with accountability.  Intentions don’t mean squat.  Actions do.  Welcome to the real world.  Now, go away.

And finally, this visual pretty much says it all, doesn’t it?

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Have a good weekend!

~McQ

A corrupt, inept and bullying government is cause for change

Glenn Reynolds makes the following observation while talking about Merkel’s refugee debacle (one with which I agree):

Fascism, like communism, is an opportunistic infection of the body politic, one that occurs when the institutions — and officeholders — of liberal democracy are too corrupt, or too weak, or both, to sustain business as usual. If you don’t like this outcome, don’t be weak and corrupt.

We’re headed over the same waterfall.  Over the years, we’ve seen our republic sink into political cess pit of the worst sort.  Corruption, cronyism, selling of political favors, governmental bullying, factionalism .  Add to that uncontrolled and unpunished bureaucratic over reach, government infringements on rights to a previously unheard of level, the law used as an oppressive tool instead of a protective one and uncontrolled spending resulting in massive debt.

The government, as first designed, has ceased to function that way.  The lines of separation between the 3 branches of our government have become so muddled and indistinct that that the government is almost unable to do its most basic job.   What we’ve seen is the willful ignoring of the Constitution by all three branches that has brought us to the point that those in power are now thought of more as enemies of the people than representatives.

Paul Rahe points out one of the reasons we’re where we are today:

The truth is that modern liberty depends on the power of the purse. All of the great battles in England in the 17th century between the Crown and Parliament turned ultimately on the power of the purse. The members of Parliament were elected at least in part with an eye to achieving a redress of grievances, and that redress was the price they exacted for funding the Crown. Our legislature has given up that power. Our congressional leaders claim – once the election is over – that they have no leverage. If that is really true, then elections do not matter, and a redress of grievances is now beyond the legislature’s power. Absent that capacity, however, the legislature is virtually useless. Absent that capacity, it is contemptible — and let’s face it: the President and those who work under him have showered it with contempt.

That basic contempt for the law, the demonstrated weakness when it comes to doing their job, their capitulation to special interests and greed and their ignoring the fact that the vast majority of people, on both sides of the political isle, are fed up with them and what they’ve built is where the electorate’s rage is grounded.

Tell me, does this remind you of any period or periods in history?  Certainly faint echoes at least.  Many of the dynamics at work then don’t exist now, but the fact that government wasn’t working for the majority in those two instances can also be said about what is happening here now.  Why else would a billionaire reality TV show star and a clueless socialist be as popular as they are?

It is another cry for drastic change in the way our representatives do their job and the way our government is run.  Obama was the same thing.  Now the choice is even worse.

Lump that all in with a historically and economically illiterate citizenry and it is a dangerous mix.

This is all headed for a showdown somewhere down the road, either soon or in the near future.  The question is, what will survive the event when it happens?  And is it possible that we can somehow see a leader emerge who can articulate the building rage (Sanders and Trump can do that) and actually LEAD us to reforming government to the point that it is again on the track it was originally supposed to be on?

For the first question, I have no idea.  As for the second, I have no confidence that such a person exists at this point and if he or she does, that this is at all recoverable.

~McQ

The GOP’s plan to have a brokered convention

Or, let’s pretend we follow the rules when it is to our advantage, but let the people believe they’re a part of the process otherwise:

Political parties, not voters, choose their presidential nominees, a Republican convention rules member told CNBC, a day after GOP front-runner Donald Trump rolled up more big primary victories.

“The media has created the perception that the voters choose the nomination. That’s the conflict here,” Curly Haugland, an unbound GOP delegate from North Dakota, told CNBC’s “Squawk Box” on Wednesday. He even questioned why primaries and caucuses are held.

Haugland is one of 112 Republican delegates who are not required to cast their support for any one candidate because their states and territories don’t hold primaries or caucuses.

Even with Trump‘s huge projected delegate haul in four state primaries Tuesday, the odds are increasing the billionaire businessman may not ultimately get the 1,237 delegates needed to claim the GOP nomination before the convention.

That last line, of course, is the out.  No 1,237 delegates, no automatic nomination, regardless of what the majority of the electorate want.  Of course, that electorate is largely ignorant of “the rules”.  As for the 112 “at large” delegates, also known as the “fudge factor”, anyone want to guess who names those delegates and to whom they’re beholding?  Clue: it isn’t a candidate the establishment doesn’t want.

So:

This could lead to a brokered convention, in which unbound delegates, like Haugland, could play a significant swing role on the first ballot to choose a nominee.

Ya think!

And this is where the smugness creeps in (like this fellow really wanted the rules “to keep up”):

“The rules haven’t kept up,” Haugland said. “The rules are still designed to have a political party choose its nominee at a convention. That’s just the way it is. I can’t help it. Don’t hate me because I love the rules.”

Of course, if Trump hits the delegate total before the convention, it’s all moot.  But, the Republican version of the Democrat’s Super Delegates build in a fudge factor that could be the difference between a Trump nomination and a brokered convention.  And once the convention gets past the first ballot, it is anyone’s ballgame … well, except Trump.  The establishment, would again, rule. The people?  Well, get over your frustration, your betters will decide what’s best for you … by the rules!

So?  So anyone who thinks that the parties would really leave the choosing to “the people”, get a clue.  Both sides have “rules” that help the process deliver an acceptable candidate to the established party.

Because, well, you’re not to be trusted with such a decision.

~McQ

 

Watching the Trump protest thing

There’s something very interesting going on in conjunction with the Trump protests recently in Chicago, St. Louis, etc.  It reveals how intolerant the left is, again, and it also points to where this sort of vile and violent behavior is born:

College students now are growing up on campuses strongly influenced by the radicals of the 1960s, which has been fertile ground for an increasingly illiberal and disorderly definition of “peaceful protest.” . . .

Trying to silence speakers they don’t like, along with using human chains and other protest tactics to take over central spaces, violates a norm cherished all the way up to the Supreme Court: that a person who has rented an auditorium has a right to speak, no matter how atrocious the sentiment expressed.

Well, except when lefties are “triggered” by the speech.  Then the speech is deemed illegitimate and rightfully, as they see it, suppressed. The irony, of course, is they and the media call Trump Hitler while it is the protesters demonstrating all the foul attributes of the Nazis.

Interestingly, it comes as as surprise to some members of the media that Trump’s supporters see through the media spin on this and aren’t blaming the left’s actions on Trump.  They think it has to do with ignorance or agreement.  Instead, it likely has to do with seeing through the charade that both the media and the left have put together.

Now it is certainly one thing to protest a candidate peacefully (everyone has that right), but when protesters are committed to violence and confrontation, they’re likely to find it.  You have to remember, the protesters had to travel to the Trump rally to get what they wanted.  No one sought them out for that.  The protesters have also admitted organizing to shut down Trump.  Again, they made a conscious decision to interfere in the other side’s right to hear their candidate.  And they did it precisely like they’ve done it countless times on the college campus where someone had the temerity to invite a speaker who disagreed with their views.

Heather MacDonald lays out the case for the left being the source of the divisiveness we now suffer and are suffering during this political season.  It’s just in their DNA it seems, and as pointed out above, it has its roots in radical academia:

To the mainstream media, Black Lives Matter’s claims and academic identity politics are not “divisive,” they are simple truth. But if you don’t accept those truth claims — and the data refute them — the vitriolic anti-cop rhetoric of the last year and a half, and its underpinning in academic victimology, easily match the alleged divisiveness of anything that Trump has said.

Anyone … from whence were most of the “media” birthed?  Of course they don’t see them as a problem for the left.  They’ve been raised in the culture of left academia and leftist propaganda is their “normal”.  Naturally they don’t see anything inflammatory in the rhetoric of the left or the left’s political candidates.

The rhetoric of Democratic presidential contenders is just as incendiary. Hillary Clinton says it’s a “reality” that cops see black lives as “cheap.” Bernie Sanders says the killing of unarmed black people by police officers has been going on “decade after decade after decade.” In fact, among the 36 “unarmed” black men killed by the police last year (compared with 31 unarmed white men), a large percentage had been trying to grab the officer’s gun, were pummeling the officer with his own equipment, or were otherwise so viciously fighting with the arresting officer as to legitimately put him in fear for his life.

This is the result of the Bill Ayres faction taking over our colleges and universities.  They’ve spawned “The New Red Guard”, and The New Red Guard is now moving out into the streets.

~McQ

Stray Voltage

Interesting:

Just west of Midway Airport, in the bungalow belt dominated by Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, some Democrats are defecting to The Donald.

“Right here, I’m a Donald Trump voter,” says retired city plumber Tom Izzo.

“So many Americans are out of job, but we got all these illegals working here. Something’s got to happen,” he says.

Izzo represents a bit of a trend. In 2008, just 6 percent of Chicago primary voters selected Republican ballots. This year, it’s up to 10 percent. And that’s not far away from the 13 percent back in 1980, the year Ronald Reagan attracted so-called blue collar Reagan Democrats.

I’d agree … there is certainly some of that.  But there is also a good bit of voting for Trump in the primaries with no intention at all of voting for him in the general election, but instead, for Hillary.  That said, among blue collar workers, the illegal immigration issue is where both parties are completely disconnected from their voters – or at least those voters who make up the bulk of their base.  You know … the one’s from “flyover” land.

Meanwhile, the pot (and plot) continues to simmer:

Former Hillary Clinton IT specialist Bryan Pagliano, a key witness in the email probe who struck an immunity deal with the Justice Department, has told the FBI a range of details about how her personal email system was set up, according to an intelligence source close to the case who called him a “devastating witness.”

Yeah, we’ll see.  Right now it’s only “devastating” in the media.  We’ve all but been warned that the DoJ is not eager to pursue this at all. And, of course, to this administration specifically, and Democrats generally, the “rule of law” is an inconvenience.

You remember Margaret Thatcher famously saying that socialism worked fine until you run out of other people’s money?  Well, a disbelieving Venezuela is learning the truth of that statement the hard way:

Thatcher’s axiom did eventually catch up with Venezuelan socialism. Even when oil prices were hovering above $100 per barrel, the government’s finances went increasingly into the red. Now that a barrel of Venezuelan crude is trading at only $25, the situation has reached a breaking point. External debt has gone up by 115 per cent in the last decade and inflation is out of control: the IMF says it will reach 720 per cent this year. The situation is so bad that the government recently had to use 36 Boeing 747 cargo planes to import five billion notes of its worthless currency.

Behind the macroeconomic figures is a deepening humanitarian crisis. The government lacks the dollars to pay for imports which, compounded with price controls and their devastating effect on production, has caused widespread shortages. People queue for hours only to find empty shelves in government-run supermarkets. Even if they’re lucky, they can only buy a few products— in return for which they must undergo fingerprint scanning under the country’s rationing system. A national poll found that the percentage of Venezuelans eating two or fewer meals a day increased by more than 10 percentage points last year. Looting is now a common occurrence.

The economic crisis is having a particularly nasty impact on healthcare. According to the Venezuelan Pharmaceutical Federation, only 20 per cent of the drugs that doctors require are available. People must rely on social media to scout the country for medications for their loved ones. The lack of spare parts means that much medical equipment is useless: 86 per cent of X-Ray machines are out of service, for example. “Babies born prematurely are dying like little chicks” was a February headline of El Nacional, Venezuela’s last independent daily. It quoted a resident doctor in one of the public hospitals saying that, due to the shortages, they cannot save the lives of all patients. “We are operating under war conditions,” she said.

So, despite all the examples and all the warnings, things go exactly as they were predicted to go in that country.  Meanwhile, in this country, we have a significant portion who feel that “free stuff” is their entitlement and are feeling the “Bern”.  To me, given all the examples of what they want that have failed in the world, this say a lot about their intelligence … or lack thereof.

The Obama blame game … again:

Barack Obama has sharply criticised David Cameron for the UK’s role in allowing Libya to become a “shit show” after the fall of the dictator Muammar Gaddafi, in an unprecedented attack on a British leader by a serving US President.

Mr Obama said that following a successful military intervention to aid rebels during the 2011 Arab Spring revolt, Libya was left to spiral out of control – due largely to the inaction of America’s European allies.

In a candid US magazine interview, Mr Obama said: “When I go back and I ask myself what went wrong… there’s room for criticism, because I had more faith in the Europeans, given Libya’s proximity, being invested in the follow-up.”

Well one thing he didn’t ask himself is “what would a real leader do”, because he has no idea what leadership entails.  But he knows a lot about casting blame for failures in which he should have been leading.  And, of course, real leaders don’t do that.

Radley Balko points to another encroachment on liberty:

A while back, we noted a report showing that the “sneak-and-peek” provision of the Patriot Act that was alleged to be used only in national security and terrorism investigations has overwhelmingly been used in narcotics cases. Now the New York Times reports that National Security Agency data will be shared with other intelligence agencies like the FBI without first applying any screens for privacy.

Yes, that’s right, the NSA is sharing data domestically now … and it has nothing to do with either national security or terrorism … as initially promised.

Anyone surprised?

And a final update about “The New Red Guard” involves Western Washington University where TNRG wants control:

Students at Western Washington University have reached a turning point in their campus’s hxstory. (For one thing, they’re now spelling it with an X—more on that later.) Activists are demanding the creation of a new college dedicated to social justice activism, a student committee to police offensive speech, and culturally segregated living arrangements at the school, which is in Bellingham, up in the very northwest corner of the state.

Seems legit. No totalitarian tendencies showing there, are there? Well, maybe, just a tiny bit:

At the heart of this effort lies a bizarrely totalitarian ideology: Student-activists think they have all the answers—everything is settled, and people who dissent are not merely wrong, but actually guilty of something approaching a crime. If they persist in this wrongness, they are perpetuating violence, activists will claim.

The list of demands ends with a lengthy denunciation of WWU’s marginalization of “hxstorically oppressed students.” The misspelling is intentional: “hxstory,” I presume, was judged to be more PC than “history,” which is gendered, triggering, and perhaps violent. It’s easy for me to laugh at these clumsy attempts to make language obey the dictates of political correctness—but I laugh from a position of relative safety, since I am not a WWU professor.

On the other hand, if a member of campus were to insist on the proper spelling of the word, would he or she (or xe) have to answer to the Committee for Social Transformation?

Of course they would. But seriously, knowing this sort of nonsense is rampant at this University, why would any parent want their child to go there? That’s a question the University of Missouri is trying to answer as we speak.

Oh, and one more thing to note – “Student-activists think they have all the answers—everything is settled, and people who dissent are not merely wrong, but actually guilty of something approaching a crime.”

Sound familiar?  Yeah, think RICO and “climate deniers”.  Gee, wonder where they learned that?

Have a great weekend!

~McQ

This should anger and terrify any freedom loving person

This is just something that shouldn’t be “discussed” at all, much less “discussed” by law enforcement:

During Lynch’s testimony at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) said that he believes there are similarities between the tobacco industry denying scientific studies showing the dangers of using tobacco and companies within the fossil fuel industry denying studies allegedly showing the threat of carbon emissions…

Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.)… concluded his comments by posing a question to the country’s top law enforcement officer.

“My question to you is, other than civil forfeitures and matters attendant to a criminal case, are there other circumstances in which a civil matter under the authority of the Department of Justice has been referred to the FBI?” he asked.

“This matter has been discussed. We have received information about it and have referred it to the FBI to consider whether or not it meets the criteria for which we could take action on,” Lynch answered. “I’m not aware of a civil referral at this time.”

Seriously?  As flawed as the data is and as broken as the models have been shown to be, there is certainly nothing “settled” about anything to do with “global warming” or carbon.  Nothing.

But that’s not the point is it?  This is about shutting up dissent.  And why would anyone want to shut up dissent?  Well, frankly, for the usual reasons – power and control.  You have a group of true believers (or at least those who claim to be) who have positions of power and want to use it to control how you live your life.  They’ve been looking for a way for quite some time and have finally, thanks to Al Gore and the boys, found what they believe is a fail-safe way to kite more money from taxpayers and “evil corporations” and they can’t stand to have a group out there shooting their “science” in the keister with facts.  The “electricity rates are going to jump under my plan” ideologues aren’t going to pass up this chance to cripple the fossil fuel industry and they have just the pseudo-science with which to do it if they can shut these dissenters up.

Thus a US Congressman questioning the nation’s chief law enforcement officer about whether or not that officer is discussing means and  methods of doing just that.  If every anyone deserved to be impeached and thrown out of Congress, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse is the candidate of choice in my estimation.  And to be Number 1, you have to be pretty damn bad (we could instead settle for a little tar and feathers and running him out of town, I suppose).  As I see it, any call to quash dissent by a government official acting in his official capacity is grounds for removal – unless you’re in Communist China, perhaps.

Power and control.  That’s what this is all and it is why there is anger and frustration on both sides of the political spectrum.  People have had it with both sides.

~McQ

News you might otherwise miss

Because, you know, the current political circus has sucked all the air out of the coverage of anything else … or maybe it has distracted everyone so much they aren’t paying attention. But this story is one that is and has been inevitable since the debacle of Obamacare was passed and instituted:

Federal health officials are seeking to deny medical reimbursements to doctors and hospitals that have served patients insured by failed Obamacare health insurance co-ops, according to a Daily Caller News Foundation investigation.

Instead, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) are insisting it, not medical providers, has the first right to any remaining funds as 12 of the 24 co-ops go through the liquidation process.

A legal showdown is expected over who pays for the co-op debacle that to date has lost at least $1.4 billion in federal solvency loans. The failures have forced the cancellation of health insurance policies for at least 800,000 customers.

The confrontation now pits medical providers against CMS bureaucrats who claim the federal government should be first in line to get any leftover funds.

The government’s plan has failed, those who trusted the government to implement it properly so they’d be reimbursed have been stiffed, and who is it trying to muscle their way to the front of the line for any money available?  Why the same institution that set up this enormous scam, of course.

That’s what you get when you pass laws no one has read with policies written for and by bureaucrats and special interests, and haven’t a clue as to how any of it will work in the real world.  And no one should forget, this is all on the Democrats, who wrote it, passed it and signed it into law. Every bit of it.

And now, the institution that brought about all this failure is putting those it is supposed to serve at the back of the line for reimbursement.  Of course we’ve seen this before, haven’t we? Think GM bankruptcy and bailout.  Yeah, creditors … back of the line.

Mandy Cohen, CMS’s chief operating officer, was the first Obama administration official to assert the federal government would preempt reimbursements to local or state medical providers. She did so during a Feb. 25, 2016, House oversight subcommittee hearing on health care.

“For federal loans, there is an order of repayment,” Cohen said. “I believe we are at the very top of all of the creditors.”

Well, except for a little thing like the Supreme Court saying the opposite:

Cohen’s testimony also puts CMS on the record as ignoring a 1993 U.S. Supreme Court verdict that held the federal government is next-to-last in line for payment in insurance cases and policyholders are first. Cohen claimed the Justice Department will enforce the CMS policy.

Same bullying government, same guy (and party) in charge.  And of course the Justice Department will enforce “CMS policy” even if “CMS policy” is contrary to the law, because, the law is selectively enforceable under this administration, isn’t it?

~McQ

Let’s make the US like Germany … er, Mississippi?

The “social democracy” or “democratic socialism” model that many of the left want so badly is showing it isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.  For instance:

Since Sweden is held up as a sort of promised land by American socialists, let’s compare it first. We find that, if it were to join the US as a state, Sweden would be poorer than all but 12 states, with a median income of $27,167.
Median residents in states like Colorado ($35,830), Massachusetts ($37,626), Virginia ($39,291), Washington ($36,343), and Utah ($36,036) have considerably higher incomes than Sweden.
With the exception of Luxembourg ($38,502), Norway ($35,528), and Switzerland ($35,083), all countries shown would fail to rank as high-income states were they to become part of the United States. In fact, most would fare worse than Mississippi, the poorest state.
Oh, my!  Say it ain’t so, Bernie!
Germany, Europe’s economic powerhouse, has a median income ($25,528) level below all but 9 US states. Finland ranks with Germany in this regard ($25,730), and France’s median income ($24,233) is lower than both Germany and Finland. Denmark fares better and has a median income ($27,304) below all but  13 US states.
And Mississippi? Well, when adjusted for purchasing power, we find a funny thing (heh … I couldn’t help myself):
Now that we’ve accounted for the low cost of living in Mississippi, we find that Mississippi ($26,517) is no longer the state with the lowest median income in real terms. New York ($26,152) is now the state with the lowest median income due to its very high cost of living.
More importantly, when the European countries are adjusted for purchasing power, they fare even worse:
Once purchasing power among the US states is taken into account, we find that Sweden’s median income ($27,167) is higher than only six states: Arkansas ($26,804), Louisiana ($25,643), Mississippi ($26,517), New Mexico ($26,762), New York ($26,152) and North Carolina ($26,819).
We find something similar when we look at Germany, but in Germany’s case, every single US state shows a higher median income than Germany. Germany’s median income is $25,528. Things look even worse for the United Kingdom which has a median income of $21,033, compared to $26,517 in Mississippi.
So? So, myth busted.  If you want everyone to be the equal of  … well, now, New York … just listen to the siren song of social democracy. High taxes, marginal benefits and low purchasing power.  When you can’t even point to them being better than Mississippi in terms of median income, maybe it would be better not to hold up European social democracies as something to “strive” to be like.
~McQ

Stray Voltage

Power Line calls it “Desperately Seeking Islamaphobia“.  Seems there was a burglary at a mosque there this week.  And oh my goodness, it had to be a result of “Islamaphobia”, because, you know, CAIR shilled for it to be considered as such:

A burglary this week at a Minneapolis Islamic center prompted the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) to issue a statement of concern Friday.

Jaylani Hussein, director of CAIR-MN, said surveillance video captured images of a man breaking into the Umatul Islam Center on Lake Street and 2nd Avenue S. between 11 p.m. and midnight Wednesday.

[…]
He said the break-in is the first major incident involving a mosque in the Twin Cities since comments made by Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump touched off a wave of anti-Muslim commentary and some incidents of harassment nationwide.

Overreaction time!

Gov. Mark Dayton met with about two dozen Muslim community leaders and imams Sunday morning at the Umatul Islam Center in south Minneapolis and commiserated with them about a break-in and vandalism at the mosque last Wednesday.

And the Gov even held a press conference. Turns out it was a well known burger who randomly targeted the mosque.

Meanwhile, in other Twin City news (Mar 1):

Computer equipment, electronics and musical instruments known as “Singing Bowls” were stolen from two Minneapolis churches on the night of March 1, prompting a warning from police for religious institutions.

And no, the Governor didn’t show up to console the Christian leaders at these churches or hold a press conference to condemn them, because  …. ?

Meanwhile, “The New Red Guard” has found another unreliable sort. This one was so bad she screwed up in her “self-criticism” session:

We students in the class began discussing possible ways to bring these issues up in our classes when COMS 930 instructor Dr. Andrea Quenette abruptly interjected with deeply disturbing remarks. Those remarks began with her admitted lack of knowledge of how to talk about racism with her students because she is white. “As a white woman I just never have seen the racism… It’s not like I see ‘Nigger’ spray-painted on walls…” she said.

That’s what you get on campus now when you try to discuss any topic The New Red Guard (in this case, at KU) deems taboo or you use a taboo word even as you are describing your “white privilege” and didn’t aim it at anyone.  Their answer is to purge the offender.  So they’re boycotting her class.  But, as usual, there is probably a much simpler reason – bad grades.  And Dr. Quenette had the temerity to point out that perhaps some of those people of color weren’t dropping out because of “racism” but instead of bad grades:

This statement reinforces several negative ideas: that violence against students of color is only physical, that students of color are less academically inclined and able, and that structural and institutional cultures, policies, and support systems have no role in shaping academic outcomes. Dr. Quenette’s discourse was uncomfortable, unhelpful, and blatantly discriminatory.

Or said another way, the spoiled children didn’t like being confronted with an uncomfortable truth.  And they want their participation trophy … now!

On another SJW front, the University of Pittsburg is still recovering from having to endure a visit by a  … conservative!

The University of Pittsburgh’s Student Government Board held a public meeting on Tuesday to discuss the traumatizing visit the night before from “dangerous” homosexual and Breitbart Tech Editor Milo Yiannopoulos, during which students described themselves as feeling “hurt” and “unsafe.”

Now don’t forget the most important thing about this event. It was a non-compulsory and extracurricular event featuring a gay journalist expressing a difference of opinion from the mainstream at the college.

Yeah, that was it. Read the whole thing to see how badly traumatized these special social flowers were because of it and how the whole earth, or at least much of Pitt, is being moved to accommodate this “hurt”.  Simply amazing.

Hey Bernie, how you going to pay for all that “free” stuff?

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders has proposed $15.3 trillion in tax increases, according to a new report, and would raise rates on virtually everyone, including the politically all-important middle class.

Not surprisingly for a candidate who has made income inequality his central issue, Sanders’s plan would wallop the rich, an analysis released Friday by the Tax Policy Center shows.

[…]

But Sanders, going where few politicians dare, would also raise taxes on middle- and low-income families, with those in the dead center of the income spectrum facing a $4,700 tax increase. That would reduce their after-tax incomes by 8.5 percent, the report said.

Wait!  I thought you said it would be “free” for me!?

Hey, guess what?  He lied.

And, finally, the one silver lining if there is ever a Trump presidency?  Miley Cyrus will leave the US:

“We’re all just f—ing jam between his rich ass toes!” she wrote. “Honestly f— this s— I am moving if this is my president! I don’t say things I don’t mean!”

Hmmm … almost makes one reconsider, huh?  Yeah, but I’ll only reconsider if she takes Kanye West, the Kardashians and Rosie O’Donnell with her.

Have a great weekend!

~McQ