Free Markets, Free People

Dale Franks

Dale Franks’ QandO posts

Observations: The QandO Podcast 21 Oct 16

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The last debate is over…FINALLY! We now cruise towards an election with Trump losing badly in traditional polls, but ahead in the tracking polls. Is there a hidden silent majority for Trump? We’re not betting on it. Dale is reading a lot about Rome, and makes a lot of tendentious parallels between Ancient Rome and modern America. The Cubs may do something no Living American has ever seen. Football will disappear within 20 years. Michael talks about golf, and Dale’s attempt to have fun with that goes terribly wrong, making the last five minutes of the podcast unlistenable.

This week’s podcast is up on the Podcast page.

Economic Statistics for 19 Oct 16

Atlanta Fed’s Business Inflation Expectations Survey show businesses expect 1.7% inflation over the next 12 months.

Housing starts fell a sharp -9.0% in September, but it was all concentrated in multi-family units. Single family units rose a strong 8.1%. the overall total rate was an annualized 1.047 million. Building permits rose 6.3% to a 1.225 million annual rate.

The MBA reports that mortgage applications rose 0.6% last week, with purchases up 3.0% and refis down -1.0%.

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Economic Statistics for 18 Oct 16

Consumer prices rose 0.3% in September, though prices less food and energy rose only 0.1%. On a year-over-year basis, the CPI is up 1.5% overall and 2.2% at the core.

Net foreign demand for long-term US securities rose $48.3 billion in August, mainly on $30.4B in foreign buying.

The housing market index fell -2 points to 63 in October, keeping most of September’s 6-point gain.

Redbook reports that last week’s retail sales growth rose to 1.0% on a year-ago basis, from the previous week’s 0.5%.

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Observations: The QandO Podcast for 15 Oct 16

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Donald Trump is a boor, which we already knew. The media has abandoned any pretense of objectivity, and gone all in for Hillary Clinton. How do you fix a biased media? You dont. Not easily, anyway. Meanwhile, Milwaukee sheriff David Clarke says a riot is an ugly thing, but it’s about time we had one. The US looks like it collapsing slowly, in the same way the Roman Republic did…we’re just waiting to see who our Julius Caesar is. But, maybe, just maybe, we can avoid that with a Constitutional Convention. How much of the GOP’s decline can be based on the Entertainment Wing? Oh, also, Russia and China are dangerous.

This week’s podcast is up on the Podcast page.

Economic Statistics for 14 Oct 16

Producer Prices for Final Demand (PPI-FD) rose 0.3% in September. PPI-FD less food and energy rose 0.2%, and 0.3% less food energy and trade services. on a year-over-year basis, PPI-FD is up 0.7% overall, 1.2% less food and energy, and 1.5% less food energy and trade services.

Retail sales rose a solid 0.6% in September, with sales less autos up 0.5%, and sales less autos and gas up 0.3%.

The Treasury’s budget showed a $33.4 billion surplus in September, but the FY2016 deficit rose 34% to $587.4 billion. Receipts rose only 0.6% as corporate income taxes fell 12.9%. and individual income taxes rose only 0.3%. Spending rose 4.5% in the year, led by an 8.8% rise in Medicare.

Business inventories rose 0.2%, in line with a 0.2% rise in sales that left the stock-to-sales ratio unchanged at 1.39.

The University of Michigan’s Consumer Sentiment Index plunged -3.3 points to 87.9 for September.

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Economic Statistics for 13 Oct 16

Import prices rose 0.1% in September, while export prices rose 0.3%. On a year-over-year basis, import prices fell -1.1% while export prices declined-1.5%.

Initial weekly jobless claims fell 6,000 to 246,000. The 4-week average fell 3,250 to 249,250. Continuing claims fell 16,000 to 2.046 million.

The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index rose 0.7 points to 42.1 in the latest week.

The Fed’s balance sheet fell $-1.7 billion last week, with total assets of $4.458 trillion. Reserve bank credit fell $-0.9 billion.

The Fed reports that M2 money supply fell by $-8.0 billion in the latest week.

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2016 California Ballot Propositions

Once again, it’s time to look at the ballot propositions the special interests…er…voters of California have gotten on the ballot for the Voters to approve.


Authorizes $9 billion in general obligation bonds for new construction and modernization of K–12 public school facilities; charter schools and vocational education facilities; and California Community Colleges facilities.

NO. California voters are suckers for every single school bond issue, even though it takes up most of the state budget, and we spend loads on schools. Which, essentially, graduate illiterates.


Extends indefinitely an existing statute that imposes fees on hospitals to fund Medi-Cal health care services, care for uninsured patients, and children’s health coverage.

NO. This is a sleight of hand deal that keeps the fees, but removes the requirement that the $3 billon collected be spent on health care.


Requires statewide voter approval before any revenue bonds can be issued or sold by the state for certain projects if the bond amount exceeds $2 billion.

YES. Not that it’ll do any good, given the voters’ propensity for approving bond measures, but ineffectual fiscal constraints are better than none.


Prohibits Legislature from passing any bill unless published on Internet for 72 hours before vote. Requires Legislature to record its proceedings and post on Internet. Authorizes use of recordings.

YES. The CA Democratic Party opposes it, so I assume it’s an unalloyed good. Also, it’ll stop last minute gutting and amending.


Extends by twelve years the temporary personal income tax increases enacted in 2012 on earnings over $250,000, with revenues allocated to K–12 schools, California Community Colleges, and, in certain years, healthcare.

NO. These increased taxes were supposed to sunset in 2018, but Democrats, being good Democrats, think they can spend your money better than you can. Beside, if you’re rich, you probably don’t deserve it anyway. Well, I say, screw the commie bastards.


Increases cigarette tax by $2.00 per pack, with equivalent increase on other tobacco products and electronic cigarettes containing nicotine.

NO. Go back to 1670, you self-righteous Puritan jerks. I don’t what’s worse, the Puritanism, or the greed to extract every possible cent they can from the populace. Oh, also, only 13% of the money goes to smoking cessation programs. The rest goes to health insurance companies.


Allows parole consideration for nonviolent felons. Authorizes sentence credits for rehabilitation, good behavior, and education. Provides juvenile court judge decides whether juvenile will be prosecuted as adult.

YES. But kind of an ambivalent yes, because some “non-violent” offense classifications actually…aren’t. Overall, though, I’m not sure why non-violent offenders need to be kept in prison, so I’m for it, on balance, even though I know the CADoC will find some way to screw it up.


Preserves requirement that public schools ensure students obtain English language proficiency. Requires school districts to solicit parent/community input in developing language acquisition programs. Requires instruction to ensure English acquisition as rapidly and effectively as possible. Authorizes school districts to establish dual–language immersion programs for both native and non–native English speakers.

NO. Basically everything the paragraph above says is untrue. What it actually does is eliminate all of the restrictions on the legislature to alter California’s English-only policy. In other words, under the guise of preserving English-language instruction, it gives the legislature the power to repeal it by a simple majority vote.


Asks whether California’s elected officials should use their authority to propose and ratify an amendment to the federal Constitution overturning the United States Supreme Court decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission.

NO. Basically, this a proposition that authorizes the CA legislature to ask Congress to overturn Citizens United. California Democrats love this, because they’re stupid.


Requires adult film performers to use condoms during filming of sexual intercourse. Requires producers to pay for performer vaccinations, testing, and medical examinations. Requires producers to post condom requirement at film sites.

NO. Both the California Democratic Party and California Republican Party oppose this measure, because no one wants to see porn ruined. Oh, and also, no one wants to lose that nice porn tax money to Florida.


Prohibits state from buying any prescription drug from a drug manufacturer at price over lowest price paid for the drug by United States Department of Veterans Affairs. Exempts managed care programs funded through Medi–Cal.

NO. In the real world, what will happen is that the price cuts the VA gets will simply disappear, and medicine prices for veterans will increase, rather than prices decrease for all Californians. The VFW, American Legion, AMVETS, and Vietnam Veterans of America all oppose it.


Repeals death penalty and replaces it with life imprisonment without possibility of parole. Applies retroactively to existing death sentences. Increases the portion of life inmates’ wages that may be applied to victim restitution.

YES. I have no objection, philosophically, to the death penalty. But we do an awful job in California of imposing it. I don’t trust this state with the power to kill me.


Requires background check and Department of Justice authorization to purchase ammunition. Prohibits possession of large–capacity ammunition magazines. Establishes procedures for enforcing laws prohibiting firearm possession by specified persons. Requires Department of Justice’s participation in federal National Instant Criminal Background Check System.

NO. This is another attempt to effectively repeal the 2nd Amendment. I will never compromise on this.


Legalizes marijuana under state law, for use by adults 21 or older. Imposes state taxes on sales and cultivation. Provides for industry licensing and establishes standards for marijuana products. Allows local regulation and taxation.

YES. Being of a libertarian bent, I don’t think it’s any of the government’s damn business if I want to smoke vegetable matter. Oh, and the war on drugs has been a practical failure, and has done much to restrict liberty.


Redirects money collected by grocery and certain other retail stores through mandated sale of carryout bags. Requires stores to deposit bag sale proceeds into a special fund to support specified environmental projects.

NO. So, this is confusing. In an effort to reduce plastic bag sales, the Legislature mandated that grocery stores sell paper carryout bags, but allowed them to keep the money from these sales. A “Yes” vote on this proposition would keep the bag requirement, but take away all the sales revenue and give it to the general fund. It’s another money grab by Commies.


Changes procedures governing state court challenges to death sentences. Designates superior court for initial petitions and limits successive petitions. Requires appointed attorneys who take noncapital appeals to accept death penalty appeals. Exempts prison officials from existing regulation process for developing execution methods.

NO. The opposite of Prop 62, this initiative will make killing convicts a bit easier and quicker. So, I guess we’ll see if Californians want the state to stop killing people, or do it faster. Or—and this is possible—both. (Though, obviously, if Prop 62 passes, this proposition becomes irrelevant, even if it passes.)


A “Yes” vote approves, and a “No” vote rejects, a statute that prohibits grocery and other stores from providing customers single–use plastic or paper carryout bags but permits sale of recycled paper bags and reusable bags.

NO. I use these plastic bags to clean dog poo from my back yard.  A “Yes” vote means each bag will cost me ten cents. Screw that. Oh, and food poisoning from reusable cloth/paper bags will kill some number of children and elderly people each year.

That’s this election’s ballot measures, and glimpse into what political life is like in California.