Free Markets, Free People

Monthly Archives: May 2011


Why are we fat and what should we do about it?

That’s a collective “we” and I’m talking about the so-called “obesity epidemic” in this country.   We’ve heard all sorts of theories and reasons for our steady weight gain – the sedentary “couch potato” lifestyle, TV, fast food, etc.

The newest study on this now includes the workplace as a partial source as well.  As we’ve transitioned form more labor intensive and active manufacturing jobs to more sedentary jobs in an office environment, that too has helped expand our waistlines.

OK.  I see no problem with that particular theory.  The study says the change in our workplace activity has, on average, seen a decline of 120 to 140 calories a day in job related physical activity.

Sounds like something those interested in losing weight need to consider and remedy, right?  

“If we’re going to try to get to the root of what’s causing the obesity epidemic, work-related physical activity needs to be in the discussion,” said Dr. Timothy S. Church, a noted exercise researcher at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, La., and the study’s lead author. “There are a lot of people who say it’s all about food. But the work environment has changed so much we have to rethink how we’re going to attack this problem.”

Really?  See here’s where today’s “science” and I diverge.  Thank you for the information Dr. Church, but while you may have hit upon something solid as a reason for increased obesity, and that information is useful to me, I don’t need anyone “attacking” the problem for me.  So you can leave the “we” out of it.  Because we all know what that usually means.  And you can see it in the words of those who’ve taken an interest in this aspect of fighting obesity:

Researchers said it was unlikely that the lost physical activity could ever be fully restored to the workplace, but employers do have the power to increase the physical activity of their employees by offering subsidized gym memberships or incentives to use public transit. Some companies have set up standing workstations, and marketers now offer treadmill-style desks. Employers can also redesign offices to encourage walking, by placing printers away from desks and encouraging face-to-face communication, rather than e-mail.

“The activity we get at work has to be intentional,” Dr. Ainsworth said. “When people think of obesity they always think of food first, and that’s one side of it, but it’s high time to look at the amount of time we spend inactive at work.”

It shouldn’t be up to employers to have to provide incentives or subsidies.  What happened to American willpower?   Look, I lost 40 pounds and have kept it off (a year next month).  While I wasn’t “obese” in the clinical sense, I was heavier than I needed to be and was starting to have a sugar problem (diabetes runs in my family).  I started walking every day.   I now do about 4 miles a day (day off every 5th day).   That’s approximately 500 calories burned during a walk and I just finished up a physical where my doc said “you’re in great shape, I don’t need to see you for a year”.  Seriously, it just wasn’t that hard.  Blood pressure is down, weight is appropriate, cholesterol in the 130s, sugar in the green, all the right things.  

And people, claiming that you’re just too busy or can’t make that sort of time is nonsense.  You can.  You just don’t want too.  And if you can’t make the time to walk around your neighborhood for 30 minutes, you’ll certainly not have time to take advantage of a “subsidized” gym membership, will you?

The point, of course, is it is your (speaking collectively) responsibility to monitor and do something about your weight if it is a problem.  Not business and certainly not government (whose solution is usually some one-size-fits-all abomination that penalizes everyone).  The way to “attack” the problem is to recognize it and do something about it – not rely on others to do things for you.   We all know that regardless of what others will spend to give you the opportunity to lose weight, for instance, unless you’re willing to make the lifestyle changes to do what is necessary, it is a waste of money and time.

You go to work to work, not lose weight.  That’s on you.  Not business. 

My rant/pep talk for the day.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO


China drives the price of commodities and inflation waits in the wings (update)

As China’s middle class expands and as its business and manufacturing sector continue to grow, it is driving the price of commodities higher because of increased aggregate demand for relatively scarce commodities:

While China’s GDP is only 9.4% of the global economy, and its population is 19% of the world population…

  • Cement demand represents 53.2% of global demand
  • Iron ore = 47.7%
  • Coal = 46.9%
  • Pigs = 46.4%
  • Steel = 45.4%
  • Lead = 44.6%
  • Zinc = 41.3%
  • Aluminum = 40.6%
  • Copper = 38.9%
  • Eggs = 37.2%
  • Nickel = 36.3%

Some of that demand is relatively stable, like food consumption. The world’s largest country has a middle class that can afford meat for the first time…..

Obviously this means that competition for these commodities will push prices higher and higher.  It is these sorts of numbers that cause me to doubt seriously those who claim inflation is not a threat.  Certainly the price for commodities is going to go up based on nothing more than China’s demand.   And if it costs more for those commodities, that means costs for products based on them are going to rise as well – everywhere.    Add in the money supply woes (i.e. literally dumping trillions in dollars into the economy to no real effect) and debt problems and you have a mix of reasons why, while it may not be evident just yet, inflation seems to be a certainty in our near future.

UPDATE: More on food commodities.  Interesting article.  Much that is produced in China in terms of grain is going toward feeding livestock.  So that puts even more pressure on costs for grain, etc.

China was until recently self-sufficient in soybeans, for example.  But now they are producing the same amount as they always have (15 million metric tons) but importing 3 times that to keep up. Corn, wheat and rice are headed in the same direction:

Xiaoping said that most of the land in China that can be farmed profitably is already under cultivation and that available land is actually shrinking in the face of development. In addition, yields are beginning to plateau, he said, with little expectation of major gains.

He said he expects China to increasingly import corn to keep up with demand resulting in part from dietary changes and its use in producing biofuels.

That means upward pressure on prices for everyone.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO


"Hope and Change" have come to equal "Cronyism"

President Obama promised a new sort of presidency.   And he’s delivered – Chicago politics in DC:

If Obamacare is so great, why do so many people want to get out from under it?

More specifically, why are more than half of those 3,095,593 in plans run by labor unions, which were among Obamacare’s biggest political supporters? Union members are only 12 percent of all employees but have gotten 50.3 percent of Obamacare waivers.

Emphasis mine.  12% get 50%  of the waivers.  Got a “gold plated health benefit package” but don’t belong to a union?  Tough.

Pure and simple, this reflects who makes up the Democrats real constituency.  The NLRB reflects it as well – see the Boeing stupidity and the attack on right-to-work states and the attempt to deny non-union workers their jobs.

But back to the waiver point.  One of the things I constantly harp on is the fact that we supposedly are a nation that abides by the rule of law, not the rule of men.  And that means something:

One basic principle of the rule of law is that laws apply to everybody. If the sign says "No Parking," you’re not supposed to park there even if you’re a pal of the alderman.

The special dispensation granted through 50% of the waivers to this point to a favored constituency seems to clearly point out that the law is at best being selectively applied (and the reason seems pretty obvious).

As for the NLRB":

Another principle of the rule of law is that government can’t make up new rules to help its cronies and hurt its adversaries except through due process, such as getting a legislature to pass a new law.

Chicago cronyism on a national level.  And, you can be sure the unions will spend their members money to re-elect the politicians who favor them.

Yes friends, “hope and change” have taken on a new distinctly Chicago machine sort of air, haven’t they?

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO


Libya: The illegal “days, not weeks” war is in its third month

And mission creep continues apace because, as most military experts would have told you, you can’t change a government with a “no-fly zone” and only airpower.

So?  So …

French and British officials said this week that they were sending more than a dozen attack helicopters to allow for more precise ground attacks, particularly around Misurata, where loyalist forces continue to fire mortars and artillery despite rebel gains and heavy air attacks.

With no troops on the ground, NATO planners and pilots acknowledge that they often cannot pinpoint the shifting battle lines in cities like Misurata. “The front lines are more scattered,” said Col. L. S. Kjoeller, who commands four Danish F-16s flying eight daily strike missions from Sigonella air base in Sicily.

Unsaid in those two paragraphs, but reported elsewhere, are that groups of special operations types will be inserted to do targeting for the helicopter attack assets.  Yes, “boots on the ground”.

And why is this supposed war of days taking months if not longer?  Well, they obviously underestimated their foe and overestimated their capabilities.  Also, they planned for one mission and tried to execute another (no-fly and regime change) and don’t have the assets necessary to accomplish that real mission).  We’re now seeing them begin to understand that they may have bitten off more than they can chew – at least as they’re presently arrayed.

Adm. Samuel J. Locklear III, the overall commander of NATO forces in the Mediterranean, said from his office in Naples that the allied mission has largely achieved its goal of protecting civilians, especially in eastern Libya, and has seriously damaged the Libyan military.

“Qaddafi will never be able to turn a large army on his people again, because it’s gone,” said Admiral Locklear, noting that the air campaign has wiped out more than half of Libya’s ammunition stockpiles and cut off most supply lines to forces in the field.

But the admiral acknowledged Colonel Qaddafi’s resiliency, and said that without sustained political and economic pressure as well, “the military piece will take a very long time.”

Not really  – if its mission is to establish and enforce a no-fly zone as we were told in the beginning.  And as is obvious, Adm. Locklear certainly isn’t talking days or weeks anymore.  He’s talking months and possibly longer.   Meanwhile, British papers are reporting the war of “days not weeks”, that their present visiting guest talked them into, is in the $1 billion to 1.5 billion pound range – a cost the debt ridden country can ill afford.  Makes you wonder how much longer they’re willing to wage it (even as they escalate their presence with attack helicopters).

Nice mess you’ve got there Mr. Obama.  So much for being against “dumb wars”,  huh?

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO


Beware of broad conclusions about NY 26 by pundits

Because they’re all over the place.   Many of them are trying to nationalize this very local special election by claiming it is a referendum on the GOP’s Medicare plan because a Democrat won.  But it you look closely at the race, it was more of a Republican debacle than much to do with Medicare.   As has been the case in many elections, competing Republicans managed to get in each other’s way (the Dem won 47% while the GOP candidate garnered 43% and the Tea Party candidate 9% – thus guaranteeing the Dem win with a plurality).

As for the Medicare portion of this, yes it was demagogued by Democrats.  But as a reason for the win?  Tentative at best.  But it does point to a messaging problem for the GOP.  I thought I understood Ryan’s plan (and, despite the usual inflammatory Democratic rhetoric, it doesn’t end Medicare at all) but to satisfy myself, I went out looking for his explanation.  I found this:

 

 

How awful, no?  Patient centered (bureaucracy removed), means tested, and competition.  In fact, as he says, the program would be “just like the one Congress has”.

Well, wait, wasn’t that a promise of ObamaCare?  Wasn’t that something we were supposed to want?  Wasn’t cutting costs supposed to be the “big promise” in ObamaCare?

So here’s the plan to deliver that (oh, by the way, nothing changes for those 55 and older, so they’re grandfathered in) and the Democrats are savaging it as only Democrats can (dead grannies and the live one’s eating cat food).

If NY 26 turned on Medicare – and I don’t really believe it did – I think the GOP needs to get this video out there prominently.  When I went to YouTube to find something I noticed this vid had been watched by 111 others.   Not exactly viral. 

You tell me – which plan makes more sense?  I know which I think fulfills the promises of making health care more affordable and competitive.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO


Israel’s bottom line

If President Obama is actually serious about an Israeli/Palestinian accord, he better review the speech Benjamin Netanyahu gave before a joint session of Congress today.

He said that to reach a deal, Palestinians must agree to live with a Jewish state that would include areas in the suburbs of Jerusalem and around Tel Aviv.

Jerusalem, he said, “will never be divided,” and Israel’s army would remain along the Jordan River.

While some land where Israelis have settled would lie outside its final borders, he said, the borders would not be identical to those of 1967 and before, which he once again called indefensible. Palestinian refugees and their descendants, he said, would have to find their homes outside these borders, limiting their right of return to old homelands — long a sticking point.

That’s the Israeli bottom line and it isn’t going to change much even if Netanyahu is no longer the Prime Minister.  This is it – this is what that state, after years of fighting for its life, has determined is the minimum conditions it must insist on for its self-defense.  Essentially, these particular positions aren’t negotiable.

Obama claims his policy and position isn’t new.  Obviously the Israelis disagree.  There, laid out for everyone to see is Israel’s position.  In the meantime, I’d also add, were I Netanyahu, that until Hamas and the Palestinians recognize Israel’s right to exist and renounce violence against Israel, that Israel has no interest in any process.  That’s such a basic requirement I’m surprised it has to repeated endlessly.

Netanyahu says he is willing to make painful concessions on behalf of Israel – including some settlements in occupied lands.  But he’s not willing to concede any of the above – and it it time for this administration to get a clue if it is serious about the peace process.  I simply don’t think it is, and the new conditions laid out by Obama are a way of putting the onus and blame on Israel for being “intransigent” in the face of decades of Palestinian intransigence.  This is Obama’s way of saying “not my fault that the peace process I so highly touted fell apart”.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO


More of the ObamaCare false flag operation

Rick Ungar is the latest flag bearer:

Recent data provided by the nation’s largest health insurance companies reveals that a provision of the Affordable Care Act – or Obamacare – is bringing big numbers of the uninsured into the health care insurance system.

And they are precisely the uninsured that we want– the young people who tend not to get sick.

The provision of the law that permits young adults under 26, long the largest uninsured demographic in the country, to remain on their parents’ health insurance program resulted in at least 600,000 newly insured Americans during the first quarter of 2011.

Of course, most will  be gone at 27 for any number of reasons – unless they’re forced by law to buy it on their own.

But again, the problem going in isn’t necessarily “uninsured” as the left continues to insist.   Surprise, the ERs didn’t magically empty as promised under RomneyCare in MA as promised, but became even more crowded – with insured.

Why?  Because there’s a shortage of Doctors and health care providers willing to take on new patients, especially those on Medicaid.  In fact, there’s a shortage of doctors, period.

But the fantasy lives:

For starters, every one of the young immortals we add to the rolls of the insured is one less young adult who will turn to the emergency room to fix a broken leg and then find themselves unable to pay the bill – leaving it to the rest of us to pay the tab.

See, false flag.  It isn’t about being “stuck with the bill” – the mythical “free rider” problem.  It is about being seen and receiving care in other than an ER, and that’s just not going to happen under this law unless doctors are forced to do so.  Our problem isn’t that we’re going broke because of ER costs.  Our problem is that government insurance has made those who hold it so unattractive to doctors that most don’t want too many of them in their patient mix.

Doctors most likely take this “young blood” as Ungar calls them as they’ll rarely if ever see them, and besides they’ve most likely been seeing them under their parents insurance for years. 

And I’m sure the insurance companies are very happy with the result of the new law which extends coverage to family members up to age 26.  More profit, little payout.  Those that are under the age of 26 probably are fine with it too since they’re most likely not paying the bill.

We can insure everyone in America, and I’m sure that’s the eventual goal.  But unless we increase the size of the health care force exponentially, it won’t mean a thing.  It isn’t an insurance problem, folks, it’s the usual problem of supply and demand.   And government intrusion in the market has made the market less attractive to those who would be the suppliers – as usual.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO


Wee’eer baaaack! (update)

I have no idea what happened but we were lights out since last night.  I think it may have been a problem with our service provider because all the Monday posts have disappeared.  That says to me that they may have had to recover from a known point – like Sunday night.

I’ll pop the Monday posts back up here (life in the semi-fast lane I guess) and QandO is back on the air.  Thank you for your patience.

UPDATE: OK so I won’t be posting Monday’s blog posts.  Apparently I forgot to save local drafts soooo .. welcome to Tuesday which feels like a Monday.

~McQ


Observations: The QandO Podcast for 22 May 11

In this podcast, Bruce and Dale discuss the president’s middle east speech, Obamacare waivers, and fiscal policy.

The direct link to the podcast can be found here.

Observations

As a reminder, if you are an iTunes user, don’t forget to subscribe to the QandO podcast, Observations, through iTunes. For those of you who don’t have iTunes, you can subscribe at Podcast Alley. And, of course, for you newsreader subscriber types, our podcast RSS Feed is here. For podcasts from 2005 to 2010, they can be accessed through the RSS Archive Feed.


Netanyahu is not impressed

In his response to Obama’s fantasy-based speech about Israel returning to the 1967 borders, Netanyahu basically says that’s a non-starter.

In an unusually sharp rebuke to Israel’s closest ally, Netanyahu told Obama his endorsement of a long-standing Palestinian demand to go back to Israel’s 1967 boundaries — meaning big concessions of occupied land — would leave Israel “indefensible.”

“Peace based on illusions will crash eventually on the rocks of Middle East reality,” an unsmiling Netanyahu said as Obama listened intently beside him in the Oval Office.

As usual, it’s the clever Reuter’s wordsmithing that amuses me:

Netanyahu’s firm resistance now raises the question of how hard Obama will push for concessions he is unlikely to get, and whether the peace vision he laid out on Thursday will ever get off the ground. [Emphasis mine]

I don’t really think “vision” is the word that reflects reality here. “Hallucination” would be a lot closer.

michael kors outlet michael kors handbags outlet michael kors factory outlet