Free Markets, Free People

Monthly Archives: August 2012


Obama: The government will buy meat and drive the price up, okay?

Seriously, does this man even have a clue?  Here he is in Iowa using taxpayer money to, well, drive the price of meat up to consumers and, of course, buy the votes of farmers:

President Barack Obama, campaigning in Iowa today, announced $170 million in government meat purchases to help farmers struck by drought, helping to send hog prices to a one-week high.

The purchase of as much as $100 million of pork, $50 million of chicken, and $10 million each of lamb and catfish come on top of $30 million in assistance announced last week. Farmers and ranchers are struggling with the worst combination of heat and dryness since the 1950s, the administration said.

Obama said he also directed the Defense Department to speed up purchases and hold the meat for later use. The buying will help farmers, and the government will get a better price on products than if they were bought later, he said.

Now what do those pesky economic laws of supply and demand say?  That’s right, price adjusts to supply.  More supply, prices normally go down.  Less supply, higher price.

And you naysayers trying to wave this off:

Hog futures rose today following the government announcement, Smith said. The October contract climbed as much as 2.7 percent to 77.6 cents a pound on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, the highest price in a week. Cattle gained as much as 0.9 percent.

So, anyone?  What will be the result of a massive meat buy by the United States Government?  See above.

And who will pay the price?

But don’t call it a tax on the poor, okay?

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO

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The Todd Aiken fiasco and right ideologues

Missouri Representative Todd Aiken made one of the most ignorant and foolish statements of the year concerning rape and abortion has quickly spread across the nation.

Full stop.  That’s the story.  There’s little if any real debate that what he said was uninformed and ignorant.

For the most part, the right has condemned and disassociated themselves with Aiken’s statement.  Many have ask him to step down (I say that’s up to the voters of Missouri – if they want to punish the man, they can do so in November).  He’s likely given Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill another 6 years in the Senate.

There’s no avoiding the fact, at least for honest people, that what Aiken said was abysmally ignorant and not at all supported by science.  One has to wonder where in the world he got such an idea (and why he’s seemingly held it for so long).

But what has me torqued about the incident is nonsense like this:

Two top officials from the Family Research Council said the Missouri congressman is the target of a Democratic smear campaign and chided those Republicans who have condemned Akin.

Connie Mackey, who heads the group’s political action committee, said the group "strongly supports" Todd Akin.

"We feel this is a case of gotcha politics," Mackey told reporters in Tampa, where the Republican National Committee was gathering ahead of the party’s convention next week. "He has been elected five times in that community in Missouri. They know who Todd Akin is. We know who Todd Akin is. We’ve worked with him up on the hill. He’s a defender of life."

"Todd Akin is getting a really bad break here," she added. "I don’t know anything about the science or the legal implications of his statement. I do know politics, and I know gotcha politics when I see it."

Gotcha politics?  This wasn’t a case of “gotcha politics”.  This was ignorance that caused an unforced error.  Had he simply stated his opposition to abortion for any reason, he might have taken some heat from the other side, but it’s a stance he’s had for the 5 terms he’s been in Congress and it’s no big deal, politically.

But he chose to elaborate on the point with this faux-scientific nonsense about the body knowing if it is “legitimate rape” (instead of some playfully rough sex one assumes) and disallowing any chance of pregnancy.

The right, even the pro-life right for the most part, threw up their hands and said, “whoa, sorry, we can’t support that because it’s just not true”. 

Except for the boobs above.  Instead they “strongly support” Aiken. 

Really?  How!?  By flinging equally uniformed political poo and looking like total fools?  Even Aiken doesn’t support what Aiken said (given his apology):

Family Research Council president Tony Perkins fired back at Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown, a leading moderate voice in the GOP who called Akin’s remarks "outrageous" and encouraged him to drop his challenge to Democrat Claire McCaskill.

"He should be careful because based on some of his statements there may be some call for him to get out of his race," Perkins said of Brown. "He has been off the reservation on a number of Republican issues, conservative issues I should say. His support among conservatives is very shallow."

Mackey said that Republicans calling on Akin to apologize or drop out should get "backbone."

A “backbone”?  The kind of blind and ignorant backing they call for is what causes many to call GOP the “stupid party” (of course it’s not the only reason).  One has to be an ignorant ideologue to support such a ridiculous call.  And that’s precisely what Perkins and Mackey portray themselves as (and call for the rest of the party to emulate). 

One final thing – again social conservative issues, which aren’t even on the public’s political issue radar screen, are being forced to the front and tripping up Republicans.  This sort of nonsense allows the left to dictate the topic du jure and avoid the economic elephant in the room.

Refusing to acknowledge the stupidity of the statement and throwing down on those within the GOP who’ve condemned it only prolongs the stupidity surrounding the incident and hands the left what it wants – distraction.

But that doesn’t matter to unthinking ideologues, does it?

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO

Facebook: QandO


The coming government made healthcare crisis

I’ve mentioned it before but a reminder (yes, it’s that nasty combination of human nature and economic laws being ignored that is about to assert itself):

Once the new healthcare law fully takes effect, all Americans will be entitled to a long list of preventive services with no out-of-pocket costs, but the healthcare system won’t have enough doctors to provide them. The shortage will create longer waiting periods that some patients will be able to cope with better than others. Lower income patients will be worse off, according to Independent Institute Research Fellow John C. Goodman.

And where will those who need more immediate care go?  Why emergency rooms, of course.  Wait, wasn’t the overload on emergency rooms touted as one of the primary reasons we needed this law?

So, we are going to add millions to the insured list and give them “free” stuff and expect doctors to maintain the level of care they now have with their patients (which many think could be better) and carve out time to administer the free stuff too?

I’m sure the government solution will be something like redefining an hour to 40 minutes and make each day 36 hours, huh?  Problem solved.

Reality?

No additional doctors, millions of new patients and free stuff – what could possibly screw up there?

The other questions is how will doctors react?   Well here’s how some are already reacting:

Many patients who can afford to do so will sign up for concierge care—medical practices in which patients pay a retainer fee for more personalized and responsive service, such as same day or next-day appointments. Physicians who open a concierge practice typically take about 500 of their patients with them, leaving behind 2,000 former patients to find a new doctor. (Those figures come from MDVIP and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, respectively.) “So in general, as concierge care grows, the strain on the rest of the system will become greater,” Goodman continues. “We will quickly evolve into a two-tiered health-care system, with those who can afford it getting more care and better care. In the meantime, the most vulnerable populations will have less access to care than they had before ObamaCare became law.”

Or said another way, the emergency rooms will be full to bursting and the fact someone has insurance will mean nothing unless a doctor is willing to take them on – something that will be less likely in the near future than it is now.

Finally, in case it slipped your mind, here are the 18 new taxes found in ObamaCare – something to remember when he and his flacks are out there claiming that he’s never raised taxes by a dime (his promise in 2008) on the middle class.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO

Facebook: QandO


Obama and the “New Normal”

The  President is in trouble, so the “New Normal” is what he’s trying to sell now, according to James Pethokoukis:

Even a talker as talented as President Obama can’t do the impossible: Persuade Americans that the three-year-old economic “recovery” is anything other than pathetic.

Growth is sinking back toward the recession red zone and unemployment’s firmly stuck at over 8 percent for 42 straight months.

It’s no wonder a new Gallup poll finds 75 percent of us “dissatisfied” with the direction of the country. Or that a CNN survey finds that twice as many Americans (39 percent) think the economy is still mired in recession than think it recovering (19 percent).

So Obama isn’t even trying to make the “Morning in America” case for his re-election. He now concedes that “the economy isn’t where it needs to be” and that “we have a lot more work to do.” But he’s quick to add that the Not-So-Great Recovery isn’t his fault, saying: “Throughout history, it has typically taken countries up to 10 years to recover from financial crises of this magnitude.”

Obama, you see, is a believer in the “New Normal,” a phrase popularized on Wall Street, where gloomy economists cite the slow growth, high unemployment and high debt that supposedly afflict countries after severe banking crises.

The two implicit points Obama wants those who buy into (and I use “buy into” purposefully, because this is political snake-oil) this paradigm are a) he’s not at fault and b) it takes a long time to climb out of these sorts of holes so he should be given more time as well.

Well, it may not be his fault per se, but that’s irrelevant.  He’s had 3 plus years to do something about it and his efforts to this point have been an abject failure.  In fact, it does a disservice to the word “abject” to characterize them that way since abject doesn’t begin to describe the depth of that failure.   This president and his administration are clueless and incompetent.  When you add the desire to push their ideological agenda regardless of the economic circumstances it becomes even worse.

Instead of concentrating on the economy for the first two years of his presidency, he used that time and the energies of an all Democratic Congress to pass … health care?   And then, when voters kicked his political rear and that of the Democrats by putting Republicans in the majority in the House in 2010, suddenly everything was the GOP’s fault.

As for the second point, yes, relatively speaking it does take a long time to climb out of these sorts of holes.  That is unless you are ignoring the economic first law of holes – if you’re in a hole quit digging

This administration has made recovering from this crisis infinitely worse than it had to be.  For instance, instead of turning to proven fuels, an infrastructure that exists to exploit them, and creating jobs,  he and his administration played the “green card” and threw billions at companies that soon went under or created jobs at multiple millions of dollars spent per job.  Meanwhile, federal land was closed to oil and gas production and the Keystone XL pipeline was shelved.

As for shovel ready infrastructure jobs … well ask the Chinese how well they’re enjoying your tax dollars while Obama prattles on about “outsourcing jobs”, ok?

There is absolutely no reason to buy the snake-oil he’s trying to sell or accept this as the "New Normal”.  That’s failure talking, and we simply don’t have to accept it.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO

Facebook: QandO


Economic Statistics for 20 Aug 12

T

his will be a light week for economic statistics, with the only releases of importance being home sales on Wednesday and Thursday for existing and new homes respectively, and Friday’s Durable Goods Orders release. The remainder of this weeks releases are the regular weekly numbers.

For today, there is only one release. The Chicago Fed National Activity Index rose slightly to -0.13 from last month’s -0.15, thought the negative number indicates the economy is still below trend. This is the fifth consecutive negative number, and the 3-month moving average fell slightly to -0.21.

~
Dale Franks
Google+ Profile
Twitter Feed


Indicators: WaPo poll says majority thinks government too big

As Dale points out in the podcast, while the election polls have yet to reflect it, the atmospherics of this electiongovtintrusion don’t bode well for Obama.  For instance, you have huge crowds turning out for Romney/Ryan events and you have the Obama campaign trying out “we purposely limit crowd size” on the media to excuse the comparatively paltry turnouts they are experiencing.  And then there’s the Newsweek cover story by Niall Ferguson telling Obama it’s time he hit the road.  It is almost like Newsweek is attempting a return to legitimacy by distancing itself from Obama.

Another indicator, much like the Gallup issues poll in which Obama had a 36% approval rating on the economy, is a Washington Post poll concerning the size and intrusiveness of government.

Call it a mood poll if you wish.  But again, taken with all the other polls, it does indeed begin to outline the “atmospherics” surrounding the election.  In this poll, a good majority of those polled said that government was both too big and too intrusive … not to mention way to expensive.  CNS has the story:

The poll asked: "Would you say you favor a smaller federal government with fewer services, or larger federal government with many services?"

Among all those polled, 55 percent said they wanted a smaller federal government and 40 percent said they wanted a larger federal government.

Among just the registered voters in the poll, 58 percent said they wanted a smaller federal government and 37 percent said they wanted a larger federal government.

The poll also asked: "Do you personally agree or disagree with the following statement. Government controls too much of our daily lives."

Among all those polled, 60 percent said they agreed and 39 percent said they disagreed. Among just the registered voters in the survey, the results were almost identical, with 60 percent saying they agreed and 38 percent saying they disagreed.

CNS points out that the Washington Post analysis says:

“… [T]he results show a deep partisan divide in America. "Partisan polarization presents a potentially insurmountable barrier to governing for whomever wins the White House in November."

Funny how the percentage of those who are for a larger and more intrusive government are at about the same percentage as the Democrats in the poll (35%).  So if it is “partisan polarization”, it would seem that the Democrats are losing the battle.  It would seem that the big middle is headed to the right.

Now we all know it’s easy to say you want smaller government with fewer services when it costs you nothing but an answer on a poll.  And we also understand that most people are fine with real cuts, as long as they effect someone else’s benefits and not theirs.  But that doesn’t change the fact that the mood of the country is inclined toward smaller and less intrusive government.

And that doesn’t bode will for big government Democrats – like Obama.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO

Facebook: QandO


Observations: The QandO Podcast for 19 Aug 12

This week, Bruce, Michael, and Dale talk about the election.

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.


Style Evolves

As you can see, the blog, once again, has changed. It seems as we go along it keeps getting cleaner, less cluttered, and less graphic intensive. It’s even less banner-y now, mainly because the Ammo guys’ one-year ad buy expired 2 weeks ago, as did the CWTT fundraising drive, several months ago.

The overall trend for web design seems to be getting cleaner and plainer. It’s funny, the web started as plain pages with no graphics, got hugely over-designed, and now is trending towards a simple, more content-centric design model. At this rate, in another couple of years, everything on the web will be plain white pieces of paper.

Another thing I’ve done is changed the width to a screen percentage, rather than a fixed 1000 pixels. It should fill 90% of the screen no matter what your resolution. There are also only two font, Georgia and Verdana, so text should look exactly the same on…well…every computer that exists, since those are the two universal fonts, whether you’re on Linus, Windows, or OS Civet cat, or feline incarnation Apple is currently in.

I wasn’t going to change the template tonight, but I did something I tell my clients NEVER to do. Never upgrade WordPress. If everything’s working let it work. But, no I decided to update some plug-ins and, lo and behold, they all work with the newest version of WordPress, but not this one. And I can’t upgrade to the newest version of WordPress, because it uses a newer PHP version than is installed on this server. And I can’t move the site to a new server, because then I’d have to upgrade all the old version of QandO to the most recent version of SQL Server. Which means I’d have to go in a reprogram the data connections for the old version of the site, which runs on .Blog, the ASP.NET blogging platform I created back in 2004.

So, I just whipped out Artisteer and created a new template. That opened a whole new can of worms. Trying to edit the PHP to add back in the Google+ buttons, the author pics, Google Ads, etc., became an enormous pain. Because I had a new version of Artisteer that wrote the PHP files for the template differently, doing things the way I did them in the old template blew up this new one. So, then I had to re-learn how to edit the right PHP files, which got so frustrating that about halfway through, I said, "Screw it", and switched back to the old template. Then, I thought, there’s no way I’m going to let PHP beat me. I’m a professional software developer for cripes’ sake. So I dove back in, figured it out, and finished it.

So here we are with the new, minimalist QandO. I’m not going to say "I hope you like it", because it’s now 2:21am, and I’ve been working on this for 6 straight hours. There’s no way I’m going to change it again after putting myself through all that.

Not with what you guys are paying me, anyway.

So here it is. Like it. Or Not. I don’t care. I’m sleepy and grouchy.

~
Dale Franks
Google+ Profile
Twitter Feed


Time to “like” QandO on Facebook

OK, guys, you’ve delayed long enough.  Head on over to Facebook and like QandO  (it didn’t kill Kyle8).

We’re actually calling it QandO Plus because we’re popping up links to content you don’t find over here.

So?

So go do it (we’re trying to get over 100 today and over 200 by the weekend … so help out, will ya?).

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO

Facebook: QandO


Finland prepares for Euro-zone breakup

This is not good news by any stretch.  But it is a prudent step.  My guess, however, is it isn’t being well received in Brussels.

The Nordic state is battening down the hatches for a full-blown currency crisis as tensions in the eurozone mount and has said it will not tolerate further bail-out creep or fiscal union by stealth.

“We have to face openly the possibility of a euro-break up,” said Erkki Tuomioja, the country’s veteran foreign minister and a member of the Social Democratic Party, one of six that make up the country’s coalition government.

“It is not something that anybody — even the True Finns [eurosceptic party] — are advocating in Finland, let alone the government. But we have to be prepared,” he told The Daily Telegraph.

“Our officials, like everybody else and like every general staff, have some sort of operational plan for any eventuality.”

We’ve talked about the cascade effect many times before.  What normally causes that effect is some sort of tipping point. So far, it seems, Europe has avoided that tipping point.  One has to wonder if it might be  Finland that tips the scales.  To this point, the subject of the Euro-zone breakup has been pretty much tip-toed around.

Now you have a country that is actively preparing for it and making those preparations public.  Note too what they’re saying – Finland has said it “will not tolerate further bail-out creep or fiscal union by stealth.”

That’s pretty final.

Additionally, if such a plan should be put forward:

Like other member states, Finland has a veto that could be used to block any new bail-out measures. However, unlike some states, its parliament would have to approve each future measure of the eurozone rescue, including a full bail-out of Spain.

And, as you read the article, you’ll see that’s not very likely to happen.

So … hold on.  My guess is the ride in Europe is about to encounter severe turbulence.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO

Facebook: QandO

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