Questions and Observations

Free Markets, Free People

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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Accountability? Not with this administration

After a scathing after action report we the public were told that four individuals at the State Department were being held responsible for security the debacle in Benghazi. Supposedly all four were being forced to resign.

However, it now appears, that is untrue.

The four officials supposedly out of jobs because of their blunders in the run-up to the deadly Benghazi terror attack remain on the State Department payroll — and will all be back to work soon, The Post has learned.

The highest-ranking official caught up in the scandal, Assistant Secretary of State Eric Boswell, has not “resigned” from government service, as officials said last week. He is just switching desks. And the other three are simply on administrative leave and are expected back.

The four were made out to be sacrificial lambs in the wake of a scathing report issued last week that found that the US compound in Benghazi, Libya, was left vulnerable to attack because of “grossly inadequate” security.

State Department leaders “didn’t come clean about Benghazi and now they’re not coming clean about these staff changes,” a source close to the situation told The Post., adding, the “public would be outraged over this.”

This is typical of our government today. Few if any top government officials are held accountable for their actions or the result of their actions. In this case we were simply lied to. Straight up, in-your-face lies. There apparently was never any intention of actually firing anyone. The deaths that resulted from these peoples gross incompetence are to be ignored.

Until we began to demand that heads roll when this sort of incompetence is encountered, there is no penalty for being incompetent. There is also no lesson learned, or applied. Consequently, you can expect pretty much the same result in other areas.

All of this is a result of the politics of today. The unwillingness to admit a mistake and take proper corrective action because such an admission would reflect poorly on the party in power. No thought or concern about the country. Those responsible for security lapses that led to the death four good men in Libya -men who were depending on their higher ups to do their job – deserve to at a minimum lose their jobs and be forced out of civil service. That’s obviously not going to happen.

If I were a member of the family of one of those men, I be considering a civil lawsuit against those responsible for the failed security that ultimately led to their deaths. It may be a poor alternative to these people being sacked (and likely an alternative that would be a long and expensive process), but I’d be damned if I’d let them get away scott free with being responsible for the murder of my loved one.

Back to the main point, however – this is an example of a government that is both imperious and out-of-touch – more concerned with the health of the bureaucracy than justice and certainly more concerned with party vs. country.

~McQ

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Economic Statistics for 27 Dec 12

The following US economic statistics were announced today:

The Conference Board’s consumer confidence index plunged 6.4 points this month to 65.1, as fiscal cliff worries begin besetting consumers.

The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index fell slightly from -31.9 to -32.1.

Initial claims for unemployment fell 12,000 last week, to 350,000. The 4-week moving average fell 11,250 to 356,750, Continuing claims fell 25,000 to a new recovery low of 3.219 million.

New home sales for November rose 4.4% to an annual rate of 377,000. The annual rate has risen slowly all year, from 340,000 in January.

~
Dale Franks
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