Questions and Observations

Free Markets, Free People

Whether you agree or disagree with Chick-fil-A, government has no role in the debate

Frankly, I think Chick-fil-A has jumped the shark by taking a position at all on a social issue.  The purpose of their business, I assume, is to sell sandwiches. 

However, they have taken one and it is controversial.

Viva la free speech.  Welcome to America.

What is just as controversial however, are government entities deciding to take action based on the company’s exercise of its right to free speech.

This is where I totally disagree.  This is none of any government’s business.  None.

I think Mike Krempasky has it just about right, and this is one of those “let’s put the shoe on the other foot” moments where you have to do a little thinking about how you’d react if such a thing was done to an entity which said something you agree with:

For those of you cheering the mayors of Boston and Chicago for taking such a courageous stance against the creeping horde of Chick-fil-A stores because of the speech and beliefs of its leadership – WHAT THE H#!! IS WRONG WITH YOU?

I presume you’d be outraged and maybe even scared of your government if some arch-conservative mayor or city manager just declared that Ben and Jerry’s stores would no longer be granted building permits.

I’m sure you’d head to the barricades if a governor of state decided that only Republicans or only Democrats were allowed to operate businesses in that state just because of how the voters choose politicians.

If *you* don’t like the values of a company, than *you* shouldn’t shop there. And then you should spend your energy, attention, and yes – money (yay Citizens United!) to encourage your friends and community not to shop there. But enlisting the help of government to punish your competitors, your enemies, or even just those you find distasteful? Rewarding the politicians willing do so so? Might as well just start distributing Little Red Books.

I disagree with the Chick-fil-A stance (and from a business standpoint, find it abysmally stupid, but hey, it is their company and in a free society, they, like Ben and Jerry’s, are free to do stupid things). As Mike points out, I disagree with much of what the owners of Ben and Jerry’s have publicly said.  I also have the ability to do something about that and have.  Because, the right to free speech doesn’t mean there aren’t consequences.  It just means government can’t levy them.

One thing I have never done nor would ever condone is government action or intervention –at any level – in reaction to a social stance by a business.  Instead, I have simply never, ever knowingly put a spoonful of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream in my mouth nor bought a single ounce of it.  I’ll most likely punish Chick-fil-A the same way.  There are lots of choices out there.

But government at any level has no business at all involved in this – none – and anyone who says they should be involved has got to realize the ramifications of such a demand.  It could, at some point, be used against some business you support.  And you wouldn’t have a moral or ethical leg to stand on in protest against such action.

Freedom of speech is there to protect the speaker from government.  Its biggest test comes with speech we don’t agree with.

In the case of Chick-fil-A the calls for government action (and the threats by government against the business) are in contravention of that right and fail that test.

Those calling for government action against speech they don’t agree with be should be ashamed.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO

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Indicator poll: Democratic enthusiasm way down

We’ve talked about it in the past.  Get Out The Vote (GOTV) efforts are best when voter enthusiasm is high.  In a per dollar spent ratio, GOTV efforts are most efficient when voters are enthusiastic. 

Democrats may have a problem this year according to Gallup:

 

voter enthusiasm

In fact, Democratic voters are less enthusiastic than they were in 2004.  GOP voters, on the other hand, are at the same level as 2004 and much more enthusiastic than in 2008.

That’s not to say overall voter enthusiasm is anything to brag about. 

voter enthusiasm1

The point of the above chart is that voters recognize that the choices they face are not at all that pleasing.  Obviously as in past races, voter enthusiasm will pick up in the next three months.  But it seems clear that the politics of this election are not at all compelling to many voters at this point.  The reasons are most likely varied.  However, what is clear is the GOP base is much more motivated at this point, and by a wide margin, than the Democrat base.

No matter how you slice it or attempt to spin it, that’s not good news for Obama.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO

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Economic Statistics for 25 Jul 12

The following statistics were released today on the state of the US economy:

June’s new home sales annual rate of 350,000 is 20,000 below expectations; however, May was revised upwards 13,000 to 382,000, the highest rate in two years. April was also revised up 15,000 to 358,000.

MBA Purchase Applications rose 0.9%, with purchase applications falling -3.0%, but refinancing applications rising 2.0%. Mortgage rates were unchanged, with conforming mortgages going at 3.74%.

~
Dale Franks
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Ice melt in Greenland exposes different ways media treats the story (Update)

According to the Atlantic’s Rebecca Rosen, Greenland is in the middle of an “extreme ice melt”.  You can read the article and consider the point.  I’ll give her credit.  She reports it pretty objectively including this as a reason for the melt:

NASA says that it is normal for Greenland’s ice to melt a bit in the summer; what is abnormal is the extent. Normally, only about half of the ice sheet’s surface sees any melting. This year, that proportion just about doubled. NASA additionally said that its satellites were recording uncharacteristically high temperatures over the island. Those warmer temperatures were brought by a bubble of warm air (a "heat dome"), the latest in a series of such ridges that have moved over Greenland this year.

In other words, a regional event.

She also mentions:

The last such melt event occurred in 1889, according to data from ice cores, and scientists say they would expect such an event about every 150 years. They’ll be monitoring the ice closely in the years ahead to see if this turns out to be a regular aberration, or an irregular one.

Got it.  Thanks for noting the event which appears to have a history (I’ll cover how much of a history below).

The UK’s Guardian kicks it up a notch with the use of the word “unprecedented” in their title.

“Greenland ice sheet melted at unprecedented rate during July”

No.  It didn’t. As we see from the Atlantic’s treatment,  this event isn’t at all “unprecedented.”  In fact, if I have any gripe about the Atlantic’s coverage is it stopped short of noting a longer history of Greenland’s ice melts:

greenland

 

Greenland, as you can see, has seen periods as warm or warmer than now in its history. One could logically assume then that it would have had the same sorts of weather events during those periods as it experienced during the recent week in early July. 

BTW, here’s an explanation of the numbers you see above:

greenland temp history

“Unprecedented” is obviously a incorrect characterization of the event.  Why did the Guardian seize on the word?
Because some scientist conveniently used it:

However, scientists were still coming to grips with the shocking images on Tuesday. "I think it’s fair to say that this is unprecedented," Jay Zwally, a glaciologist at Nasa’s Goddard Space Flight Center, told the Guardian.

Again, no, it isn’t “unprecedented”.  And obviously the Guardian didn’t take the time to find out if it really was.  A simple Wikipedia check would have produced the above graph.

So why the acceptance of the scientist’s characterization without checking?  I think that too is obvious – it’s scarier than admitting it has a long history of occurring,  many times prior to the industrial revolution.  It lends more immediacy to the story.   The fact that throughout its history Greenland has seen a cycle of warmer and colder weather is “inconvenient” to the scare factor related to AGW.  Certainly the Guardian is careful not to come right out and scream global warming, but by noting this “unprecedented” event, it certainly is clear that global warming, and specifically AGW,  is the dot to which they want you to connect this to.

The NY Times, on the other hand, notes the melt and takes a different approach.  While noting the melt and the high pressure ridge, the Times throws this into the mix:

Nonetheless, the scientists said, the melt was significant because Greenland’s ice sheet is unequivocally shrinking as a result of the warming of the world’s oceans, and the event could help broaden their insights into climate change and earth systems.

While they don’t claim that AGW is the cause for warming oceans (don’t worry, there are plenty of others out there that do), they don’t endeavor to explain why oceans have been warming for the past 100 years.

Here’s a pretty significant clue.  It’s a 2,300 year Hallstatt solar variation cycles graph:

800px-Carbon-14-10kyr-Hallstadtzeit_Cycles

Anyone notice what has been rising for the last 1,000 or so years?

In fact, says Sami Solanki, the director of the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research in Katlenburg-Lindau, Germany

The sun has been at its strongest over the past 60 years and may now be affecting global temperatures… the brighter sun and higher levels of so-called "greenhouse gases" both contributed to the change in the Earth’s temperature, but it was impossible to say which had the greater impact.

As it is turning out, it appears it may be the Sun.  CO2 has always been a lagging indicator in warming history until it was recently elevated by some “scientists” to a leading cause.  It has not shown the effect on temperature predicted by warmist models, however.  In fact, it hasn’t even been close even while the ppm of CO2 in the atmosphere has continued to rise. 

The point of all of this?  It appears that those traditionally associated with the AGW scaremongering are toning down their rhetoric even while still attempting, through half-truths, incomplete reporting and implication, to push the AGW agenda, albeit much more subtly now. 

Don’t let them get away with it.

UPDATE: And then, of course, there are those who don’t have a clue and don’t care, especially when they can use this to club the GOP.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO

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Obama plans to carpet the West in solar projects

But open the same amount of federal land to fossil fuel exploration and exploitation? 

Nope.

Instead, we get this:

The Obama administration will open public lands in six Western states to more solar projects as part of a solar energy road map it publicized Tuesday.

The Interior Department set aside 285,000 acres in Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico and Utah for the initiative. Firms can apply for waivers to develop projects on an additional 19 million acres.

Imagine 19 million acres covered in solar installations.  That won’t have any environmental impact on eco-systems, will it?

And if it does, well, they’ll just “waiver” them, because, you know, this is a favored industry.  Regulation?  Yeah, most likely not at all as stringent as those applied to those old “dirty” fuels. 

Which brings us to an ironic point.  Remember in years past when we fought against the dumping of government subsidized products from other countries on our shores.

Guess what?  We’re now the target for much the same argument:

China’s Commerce Ministry said Friday that it is investigating possible solar equipment subsidies by the U.S. and South Korea and their impact on Chinese manufacturers, widening a trade spat at a time of oversupply and weakening demand for solar power equipment.

The ministry has launched an anti-dumping and anti-subsidy probe into polysilicon imports from the U.S., as well as an anti-dumping probe into imports from South Korea, it said in separate statements on its website.

Yes I know, China is as hypocritical as they come, but, apparently, so are we.

It’s called crony capitalism (or as mentioned previously, venture socialism).  Again government, using your money, is subsidizing an industry that can’t make it alone because in reality there’s no market demand for their product. By subsidizing them, government is socializing their losses.  This administration has heavily subsidized the domestic solar industry (and even then we see industry business failures right and left) and is forcing a product on the market to satisfy a political agenda even when alternate and more viable (but unfavored) products are available much more cheaply.

The administration has since approved 17 major solar projects on public lands producing about 6,000 megawatts of power, Salazar said.

“We have made huge strides in the last three-and-a-half years, but we realize we are only at the beginning of this effort and that there’s a lot more to do,” Salazar said. “I have no doubt that the United States will lead the world in solar energy development.”

My guess is those 17 solar projects will end up on more acreage than has been approved by the administration for oil exploration.

“Huge strides”?  Not in any market sense.  What he’s talking about is the administration making “huge strides” in forcing a product into a market that is not in demand by that market, ignoring the environmental impact of such projects (even while being more restrictive on fossil fuel development) and generally playing the “central planning” game.  Government knows better than you and the markets about what we need, or didn’t you know that?

Sort of reminds me of those new light bulbs they forced on us which are now being found to cause skin damage due to UV light leakage.

But hey, I’m just a prole, what do I know?

Oh, and here’s where you have to read between the lines.  Note the spin involved in this sentence:

The areas selected in the plan minimize “resource conflict,” Salazar noted, meaning they avoid regions where solar development would edge out exploration for other natural resources.

What that also means is the administration has successfully exempted up to 19 million acres of federal land from fossil fuel exploration.

And:

The plan released Tuesday would expedite solar project approval while cutting some up-front costs for developers, Steve Black, counsel to the Interior Department, said Tuesday.

Translation: The favored industry will get favored treatment all paid for by your dollars (or borrowed ones, most likely).

Environmental groups?  Forget about it.  You haven’t a chance on this one.  You’’ll be steamrolled just like the rest of the country.  Save your money and effort for something you can tie up and delay – anything to do with fossil fuels.  You know, the life blood of our commerce?

Yeah, concentrate there.  The administration will be glad to help.

Forward.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO

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Obama tries to use the middle class to spin increasing taxes on the “wealthy”

Oh, my … the White House is on the offensive trying to save the middle class, or something:

The White House has launched a new offensive in its fight with congressional Republicans over taxes, arguing 114 million middle-class families will see their taxes rise without action by Congress.

A report from President Obama’s National Economic Council released Monday contends the families would see their taxes rise by an average of $1,600 if the George W. Bush-era tax cuts expire as scheduled at the end of the year.

A) they’re not tax cuts, they’ve been the tax rate for years.

B) Republicans have already made an offer.  They said they are willing to extend the rates for all so it is obviously not a tax increase the middle class must suffer.

Of course, that’s where the rub is, because the Democratic Senate and the White House want to raise taxes on a certain level of income earner.  They’ve staked their class warfare gig on it.

Because, you see, they’re trying to convince everyone that’s only “fair” and to further imply it will solve the insolvency problem.  Well they’re wrong, as usual, on both counts.

Here, take a look at this.  Even those who don’t count economics as their strong suit should be able to figure out what this means:

Bush-Tax-Cuts-Extension-Chart-580

That’s right, the problem isn’t revenue.  The problem has nothing to do with high income earners and their “fair share”.  It has to do with out of control spending which has accelerated dramatically under this president.  And, oh by the way, the increase in taxes on the wealthy would be a mere drop in the bucket of red ink Obama has charted out for the next 10 years.

So while he whines about a $1,600 tax per family if no action is taken, ask him what he’s adding in debt per family with a 10 year plan to spend $46.9 trillion dollars we don’t have, okay?

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO

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Why America is still exceptional (and why I want it to stay that way)

As we monitor the news each day and wonder if indeed our country is in decline, and we worry about her future, it’s often helpful to step back a moment and gain a little perspective.  This wonderful post from Karol at AlarmingNews gives us that on a day at least I need it.  In its entirety (minus a short into):

In 1977, the year I was born and the year my father, his mother, his aunt and many other Jews left the Soviet Union (my mother and I left in 1978), the Soviet propaganda machine began circulating a rumor. It went, roughly: life in America is so terrible that the old people eat cat food.

This was…perplexing.

People didn’t quite get it: they have food specifically made for cats in America? What a country!

A lot of things about America remained beyond their comprehension.

A week after my father arrived in New York, he and a friend were walking around Manhattan in pure wonder. They got to midtown and stood in front of Bloomingdale’s watching well-dressed people come in and out. They discussed it amongst themselves that they would obviously have to show evidence that they had money, or proof of income, or some other paperwork to get inside. Surely this store for the wealthy wouldn’t just let them in. They watched and watched but didn’t see people getting stopped. They walked slowly through the doors and found no one gave them a second look.

There’s a feeling in America today that there isn’t equality until any of us can walk into Bloomingdale’s and buy whatever we want. The two men standing there in 1977 weren’t thinking that it was unfair they couldn’t wear the same clothes as the beautiful people around them, they were just grateful for the opportunity to try. They had left a place where that opportunity simply didn’t exist. You were born poor and you would die poor–everyone would. You could gain influence in your life and that might get you small victories–instead of being assigned to practice your profession in Siberia you might get lucky and get sent to a capital city. Perhaps you, your wife, your child, your parents and other relatives could have your own apartment, one you wouldn’t have to share with another family. Those were your wins.

It’s hard for Americans, even the ones who see America’s greatness and love this country for it, to understand the lack of opportunity that my family left. As Communism retreats into the rear-view mirror of history it’s easy to gloss over the everyday ways that Communism is meant to crush the individual and make everyone equal–equally poor, equally scared, equally hopeless.

If you’ve always lived in a country where companies make food specifically for cats then you’ve known an abundance that my family couldn’t even begin to imagine while they waited to be free. They wanted to say and do whatever they wanted, to live freely, to be allowed to earn as much money as they could, to keep their family safe from murderous ideologies and monster rulers. They just wanted the chance. Success isn’t guaranteed to anyone, and they knew this, but only if you come from a land of opportunity do you ever imagine that it’s even possible.

This year marks 34 years that I’ve lived in America. Even in the toughest times, in its darkest days, the times where we all might feel pessimistic about our collective future, we’re all so blessed to be here. On each July 20th I remember exactly how blessed.

Wonderful.

Oh, and by the way, yes there is something to be pointed out here, something I don’t want to see here and am afraid is in process: “…meant to crush the individual and make everyone equal–equally poor, equally scared, equally hopeless.”

That’s what we have to avoid.  Equality is about opportunity, not outcome in a free country.  In a tyrannical country, its about outcome – and it does indeed “crush” the individual and guarantee a form of equality none of us really want.

I want this place to always be the place that those two men saw in 1977.  A place of wonder and freedom.  A place where they had the opportunity to change their lives without government somehow smothering it or getting in the way.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO

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Worst heat wave ever?! Uh, no …

While the likes of warmist hacks like Paul Krugman and others try to make something more out of this summer’s heat wave and the drought being suffered in one region of the country (btw, here in GA, I’ve not seen it this lush and green in July in probably 10 years or more) into a “global warming” story, history simply doesn’t support their claims.

Worst heat wave ever?

Probably not (Via Pirate’s Cove):

heat waves

Apparently, according to the EPA (yes, that’s right, the EPA), our worst heat waves came in the ‘30s.  You know, the “dustbowl” ‘30s?

Oh.  The ‘30s?  “Dustbowl”?   But, CO2!

Context and history continue to plague the warmists attempts to characterize what seems to be regional weather patterns (like the UK having one of the coolest and wettest summers in memory) into some sort of building global catastrophe.

I guess they’ve never read the story about the little boy who cried wolf too many times.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO

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Economic Statistics for 24 Jul 12

The following statistics were released today on the state of the US economy:

The Richmond Fed manufacturing index contracted sharply in July to -14 versus -3 last month. New Orders fell to -25.

The FHFA purchase only house price index in May advanced 0.8%, following a 0.8% rise in April. The year-on-year rate is up 3.7%, vice 3.0% percent in April.

The Markit Economics’ PMI Flash for the US slowed to 51.8 in July versus the revised 52.5 in June.

In weekly retail sales, Redbook year-year chain store sales growth came in at a disappointing 1.3% rate, due to unseasonably hot weather. Conversely, ICSC-Goldman says cooler weather produced a 1.0% sales increase for the week, with a year-on-year rate of 3.3%.

~
Dale Franks
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A couple of polls

With the shooting in Aurora (lived there as a kid), CO, the usual suspects are calling for the usual remedy – stricter gun control.

How does the American public feel about such measures?  Rasmussen says that in the wake of the mass shooting in CO, the percentages for and against stricter gun control remain pretty much the same, with an overwhelming majority saying stricter control isn’t a solution.

So, to the politics of the incident – how does one make that message, “we need stricter gun control”, a positive in this campaign (or any campaign?)?  They don’t try if they’re smart.

Then there’s another indicator poll.  What this one points out, in my opinion, is the fact that if Romney can keep the debate focused on the economy and off the extraneous nonsense the Obama campaign will try to distract the voting public with, he stands a good chance of winning.

Despite concerted Democratic attacks on his business record, Republican challenger Mitt Romney scores a significant advantage over President Obama when it comes to managing the economy, reducing the federal budget deficit and creating jobs, a national USA TODAY/Gallup Poll finds.

By more than 2-1, 63%-29%, those surveyed say Romney’s background in business, including his tenure at the private equity firm Bain Capital, would cause him to make good decisions, not bad ones, in dealing with the nation’s economic problems over the next four years.

The findings raise questions about Obama’s strategy of targeting Bain’s record in outsourcing jobs and hammering Romney for refusing to commit to releasing more than two years of his tax returns. Instead, Americans seem focused on the economy, where disappointment with the fragile recovery and the 8.2% unemployment rate are costing the president.

So, with questions raised about the Obama strategy, what is a incumbent with a bad economic record he doesn’t at all want to visit if he can help it do if his current attacks aren’t having an effect?  Throw something else extraneous to the real problem he doesn’t want to talk about out there and see if it sticks to the wall.  And count on the media to pitch in and try to help it stick.

That’s how it has worked so far.

I see no reason he’ll alter his tactics.

That said, clearly if Romney can continue to stay on message and get that message out there he has a majority constituency who are with him. 

The poll goes on to say that Obama holds a “likeability” advantage over Romney.  Yeah, well, unsaid is what 4 years of a high “likeability” index have gotten us.  And, as should be clear, most voters don’t like it.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO

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