Questions and Observations

Free Markets, Free People

Observations: The QandO Podcast for 06 Jan 13

The holiday hiatus is over! This week, Bruce, Michael, and Dale discuss the Fiscal Cliff, Debt, and gun control.

The direct link to the podcast can be found here.

Observations

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Economic Statistics for

The following US economic statistics were announced today:

Factory Orders were unchanged in November.  Non-durable orders fell -0.6%, but on the plus side, durable orders rose 0.8%. Included in that were a sharp rise in capital goods, which suggests future spending is on the way.

The November Employment Situation indicates that there were 155,000 net new jobs created in November, and the unemployment rate rose to 7.8%. Average hourly earnings rose 0.3%, while weekly hours rose slightly to 34.5 hours. The labor force participation rate held steady at a low 63.6%. At historical labor force participation rates, the unemployment rate would be 11.41%, up from 11.23% in October.

The ISM Non-Manufacturing Index rose 1.4 points to a better-than-expected 56.1.

~
Dale Franks
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Should we ban “assault” hammers?

Because they kill more than all rifles each year, including “assault rifles”.

In 2005, the number of murders committed with a rifle was 445, while the number of murders committed with hammers and clubs was 605. In 2006, the number of murders committed with a rifle was 438, while the number of murders committed with hammers and clubs was 618.

And so the list goes, with the actual numbers changing somewhat from year to year, yet the fact that more people are killed with blunt objects each year remains constant.

For example, in 2011, there was 323 murders committed with a rifle but 496 murders committed with hammers and clubs.

Where is DiFi when you need her.   License hardware stores. Register hammers. And get those nasty looking “assault hammers” off the market.

And by the way, there is no right to a hammer, is there?  No Second Amendment for hammers or clubs. Where are the Democrats on this?

By the way, I assume you can do the math concerning the minute number of deaths in the US by rifle and figure out that for the most part it would be considered statistical noise if we were talking about anything else.

~McQ

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Economic Statistics for 3 Jan 12

The following US economic statistics were announced today:

The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index rose 0.3 points this week to -31.8, an 8-month high.

Chain stores are reporting December sales today, and it seems to be a mixed bag, as some retailers are lowering earnings guidance, while others are raising it. Many report the month got off to a slow start, forcing retailers to offer greater discounts.

The MBA reports that mortgage applications fell -21.6% last week, with purchases down -14.8% and refinancings down -23.3%.

The Challenger Job-Cut Report shows only 32,556 layoffs in December, the lowest since August.

The ADP Employment Report shows a strong 215,000 gain in private payrolls for December. We’ll see if that’s reflected in tomorrow’s Employment Situation.

Initial claims for unemployment rose 10,000 last week, to 372,000. The 4-week moving average rose 3,250 to 360,000, Continuing claims rose 44,000 to 3.245 million. The improvement last week is now gone due to a sharp revision upward 12,000  to 362,000.

~
Dale Franks
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And now the “rich” will pay…

I hate to say “I told you so”, but it isn’t just the rich who will be paying increased taxes. And what should be clear to anyone with the I Q of a turnip, is that this will cost people their jobs.

The compromise called for taxes to rise to 39.6% from 35% on personal income above $400,000. In a 2011 study, the Treasury Department found that raising taxes on incomes over $500,000 would affect roughly 750,000 small businesses organized as S-Corps, partnerships and other small entities.

Of course, you remember the Democrats claiming that this wouldn’t affect small businesses. Well, that was a flat out lie. But then we live in an era of lies which, if there political apparently, we’re willing to overlook. While most of us are. I just had to be one of those who isn’t.   Not that Democrats are the only political liars, but they seem to be the most prolific and the most blatant. Especially when it comes to budget, deficit, and financial matters. They are the quintessential “snake oil” salesman.

And they have sold us are huge bottle of snake oil.

Couple these tax increases with the Obamacare taxes that kicked in on the 1st, and you have two reasons for 750,000 small businesses not to hire. And you can bet none of them will go over 50 employees, and some may even reduce staff to get under that number.

These are your “rich”. They happen to be the “rich” would generate jobs, or what have, if they hadn’t been hit by two new taxes this year.

Your government at work.

~McQ

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Economic Statistics for 2 Jan 13

The following US economic statistics were announced today:

In weekly retail sales, Redbook reports a below-plan 2.9% increase from the previous year. ICSC-Goldman reports a relatively strong weekly sales increase of 0.6%, and a 2.7% increase on a year-over-year basis.

Construction spending in November fell -0.3%, though it was still 7.7% higher on a year-over-year basis.

The Markit Economics’ final December PMI Manufacturing Index is 54.0, up 1.2 points from November’s 52.8.

The ISM Manufacturing Index is a relatively weak 50.7 for December, but is still up more than a point from November’s 49.5.

~
Dale Franks
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“Fiscal cliff deal”: 41:1 tax increase to spending cuts. Great job! [update]

In case you’re looking for an “fiscal cliff” bottom line, here it is in one sentence.

According to the Congressional Budget Office, the last-minute fiscal cliff deal reached by congressional leaders and President Barack Obama cuts only $15 billion in spending while increasing tax revenues by $620 billion—a 41:1 ratio of tax increases to spending cuts.

If there’s any good news in this “compromise” bill, it is that the Democrats will get their tax on the rich, and it will make absolutely no difference in the debt.

As we’ve been saying for years, it’s not a revenue problem, it is a spending problem.

In  fact going over the fiscal cliff is not been avoided, the chasm has just been deepened. Or said another way, the can has been firmly kicked down the road.

The word of the day?

“Disgust”.

UPDATE: In case you were wondering what this means in nice round numbers in terms of debt:

The fiscal cliff deal approved by Congress will increase deficits over the next decade by close to $4 trillion, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

Like I said, in full sarcasm mode, “great job!”

~McQ

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Gun grabbers: How extreme?

If you’ve ever wondered how extreme the gun grabbers can get, here’s a nice little example:

The thing missing from the debate so far is anger — anger that we live in a society where something like the Sandy Hook Elementary massacre can happen and our main concern is not offending the NRA’s sensibilities.

That’s obscene. Here, then, is my “madder-than-hell-and-I’m-not-going-to-take-it-anymore” program for ending gun violence in America:

• Repeal the Second Amendment, the part about guns anyway. It’s badly written, confusing and more trouble than it’s worth. It offers an absolute right to gun ownership, but it puts it in the context of the need for a “well-regulated militia.” We don’t make our militia bring their own guns to battles. And surely the Founders couldn’t have envisioned weapons like those used in the Newtown shooting when they guaranteed gun rights. Owning a gun should be a privilege, not a right.

• Declare the NRA a terrorist organization and make membership illegal. Hey! We did it to the Communist Party, and the NRA has led to the deaths of more of us than American Commies ever did. (I would also raze the organization’s headquarters, clear the rubble and salt the earth, but that’s optional.) Make ownership of unlicensed assault rifles a felony. If some people refused to give up their guns, that “prying the guns from their cold, dead hands” thing works for me.

• Then I would tie Mitch McConnell and John Boehner, our esteemed Republican leaders, to the back of a Chevy pickup truck and drag them around a parking lot until they saw the light on gun control.

And if that didn’t work, I’d adopt radical measures. None of that is going to happen, of course. But I’ll bet gun sales will rise.

Yes friends, they are out there. I’m sure if asked this yahoo would tell you that much of this is simply venting. You know the new “civility “.  What’s “obscene”, to use the writer’s language, is as profound and studied stupidity. Here’s a man who makes comparisons that are dubious at best, and if he weren’t  so serious, would be laughable. But he’s serious about comparing the NRA to the Communist Party. He thinks he’s clever. He thinks he has an argument.

And he is certainly serious about repealing the Second Amendment. The Constitution continues to get in the way of gun grabbers like this. So a simple, “let’s revoke the right and outlaw the organization that  guards it” is the sum total of his argument. And  he claims that it is the NRA that is like the Communist Party?

Yes, we call this “projection”.

~McQ

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Welcome to your Orwellian future

Anyone who doesn’t think that this is the future of government run healthcare just hasn’t been paying attention. The UK is our future. Once Obamacare fails and the liberals and Democrats convince the American people that government run single-payer is the way to go, here’s what you can expect:

Up to 60,000 patients die on the Liverpool Care Pathway each year without giving their consent, shocking figures revealed yesterday.

A third of families are also kept in the dark when doctors withdraw lifesaving treatment from loved ones.

Despite the revelations, Jeremy Hunt last night claimed the pathway was a ‘fantastic step forward’.

A “fantastic step forward”. If that isn’t Orwellian we need to redefine the term. If you’re not familiar with the Liverpool care pathway, it is ” extreme rationing”.

By that I mean “caregivers” make unilateral decisions about when your life ends, because you cost too much. You may not be particularly ill, but you are a burden. If you are ill, that’s all the more reason to withdraw lifesaving treatment in their estimation. “First do no harm?”  Forget about it …

Records from 178 hospitals also show that thousands of people on the pathway are left to die in pain because nurses do not do enough to keep them comfortable while drugs are administered.

An estimated 130,000 patients are put on the pathway each year.

Concerns have been raised that clinical judgments are being skewed by incentives for hospitals to use the pathway.

We say here often that incentives drive performance. That holds true for bureaucracies as well.  As you can see here, this isn’t some isolated instance of a few hospitals or region or two doing this on their own. This is government policy. And as you can imagine you really have no recourse.

You are looking at our future.

~McQ

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Feinstein’s attempt to grab your guns

Sen. Dianne Feinstein is laid out the guts of her bill to ban certain weapons. In it she plans to “grandfather” in those weapons that would be in violation of her new requirements. Among those requirements are certain characteristics that would make a gun an “assault” weapon.  She has narrowed it down to a one characteristic test, and would ban magazines that hold over 10 rounds. But where she makes the greatest attempt at tightening gun control is found in the “grandfathering” of weapons which would violate the new law.

Here’s the summary of that portion:

Protects legitimate hunters and the rights of existing gun owners by:

 Grandfathering weapons legally possessed on the date of enactment
 Exempting over 900 specifically-named weapons used for hunting or
sporting purposes and
 Exempting antique, manually-operated, and permanently disabled weapons

However, it also:

Requires that grandfathered weapons be registered under the National Firearms
Act, to include:

o Background check of owner and any transferee;
o Type and serial number of the firearm;
o Positive identification, including photograph and fingerprint;
o Certification from local law enforcement of identity and that
possession would not violate State or local law; and
o Dedicated funding for ATF to implement registration

That’s right, it will require any owner of such a weapon to undergo a background check, register the weapon with authorities, and then undergo a certification requirement.  Same would apply if you sell it to anyone.

Note too the attempt to ignore the self-defense function of owning a weapon by contending the law protects “legitimate hunters” and “sporting activities”. As we all know, the Second Amendment says nothing about either of those pursuits.

Liberals, as Rahm Emmanuel once said, never like to let a crisis go to waste. They view the Newtown massacre as an opportunity to further limit the freedoms of Americans. My guess is that any attempt to require federal registration and certification will be met by massive civil disobedience. And deservedly so.

~McQ

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