Questions and Observations

Free Markets, Free People

Harvest time

“Hey, Bxlnar, I see you’re back from surveying that group of hairless bipeds just beginning their civilization. What was the name of their planet again?”

“XP-492-Sol3, but we just call it Earth.”

“So how did it go?”

“They’re interesting animals. Standard amino acid mix, using DNA as the genetic template.”

“Mmm. So they’re biocompatible. Did you take some samples for, heheh, analysis?”

“That’s the interesting part. They are the best long distance runners I’ve ever seen. They actually hunt by just following a prey animal until it gives up and dies. Their muscle tissue has a variety of myoprotein unlike anything I’ve ever encountered.”

“So, it is good?”

“It’s the best thing I’ve ever tasted. Have to baste it with some fat to get the perfect recipe, but it’s worth it. I’m salivating right now, just thinking about it.”

“Well, maybe we could farm them?”

“No, they look difficult or impossible to domesticate. Contrary as all get out. Their hunter-gatherer ancestry makes then intractable.”

“But if they are such a wonderful delicacy, surely there’s something we could do.”

“Well, I’ve been thinking about it. Maybe we should help them along a bit. Insert a few technological innovations to help them increase their population and start spreading out into new territory.”

“Won’t that just get them into wars against each other as population pressure builds up?”

“Yeah, but the standard culturogenetic analysis says they would learn how to get along in about 4000 years. By then they will have filled up the planet, assuming we seed additional innovations at critical points, including use of mechanical power and some manipulation of plant and animal biology to dramatically increase their food supply.”

“So when could we start harvesting?”

“Given the extra fat needed in the recipe to cook them, we need to wait until their technology and food supply have made them indolent. I think a good indicator for harvesting would be when there were more fat ones than skinny ones.”

“OK, I approve the project for it. Let me know when they’re ready.”

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on TumblrShare on StumbleUponShare on RedditPin on PinterestEmail this to someone

Economic Statistics for 4 Apr 16

Factory orders plunged -1.7% in February, with core capital goods dropping -2.5%, indicating trouble for business investment.

The Fed’s Labor Market Conditions Index rose slightly, but remained in negative territory for March at -2.1.

Gallup’s US Consumer Spending Measure reports that American’s self-reported daily spending rose from $84 to $89 in March.


Dale’s social media profiles:
Twitter | Facebook | Google+

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on TumblrShare on StumbleUponShare on RedditPin on PinterestEmail this to someone

When government interferes in a market, results are predictable

And it is neck deep in health care.  So, with the passage of ObamaCare, what is the state of medicine?

Oh, just great:

The doctor is disappearing in America.

And by most projections, it’s only going to get worse — the U.S. could lose as many as 1 million doctors by 2025, according to a Association of American Medical Colleges report.

Primary-care physicians will account for as much as one-third of that shortage, meaning the doctor you likely interact with most often is also becoming much more difficult to see.

Now, 2025 is 9 years away and, the “primary-care physician” is the star of ObamaCare because he or she is the “gatekeeper”.  However, which doctor is the worst compensated of all doctors?

Why the gatekeeper of course.  And, that’s by design.  Government design:

Starting salaries in high-paying specialties can range from $354,000 (general surgery) to $488,000 (orthopedic surgery), while primary-care fields tend to bring a sub-$200,000 starting salary, from$188,000 (pediatrics) to $199,000 (family medicine), according to a Merritt Hawkins report.

Why?

The pay disparities reflect America’s “fee for service” health-care model, which compensates providers based on the number and type of services they complete, and which inherently favors specialists.

Anyone know what entity pushes the “fee for service” model?  Can you say “Medicare”?  And yes, the insurance companies follow their lead. Hence, we have doctors in the primary care field looking at specializing because as gatekeepers, they are mostly the chief “referrer” to the other medical specialties … the ones that get paid more.

Wow … what a surprise then that the field of primary care is looking at a future shortage.  It’s another one of those “human nature” things that central planners simply can’t wrap their brains around.

Then there’s the exacerbation of the problem by ObamaCare:

The shortage is one that’s been stewing for decades but of late was exacerbated by passage of the Affordable Care Act, which increased the number of insured people and along with that the demand for doctor access, experts say.

As we’ve mentioned countless times, having insurance does not equal having care.  And as the number of gatekeepers dwindles, that problem will become even more acute.

Of course everyone knows what the answer that will be put forth by our political leaders don’t they?  Why of course more government.  You know, like the UK, where the former head of the NHS just died because the operation she needed was postponed 4 times.

~McQ

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on TumblrShare on StumbleUponShare on RedditPin on PinterestEmail this to someone

Economic Statistics for 31 Mar-1 Apr 16

31 Mar

The Gallup Good Jobs (GGJ) rate was 44.4 percent in March. 

Challenger reports that the number of layoff announcements fell to 48,207 in March.

The Chicago PMI rose from 47.6 to 53.6 in March.

Initial weekly jobless claims rose 11,000 to 276,000. The 4-week average rose 3,500 to 263,250. Continuing claims fell -7,000 to 2.173 million.

The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index fell -0.8 points to 42.8 in the latest week.

The Fed’s balance sheet fell $-10.0 billion last week, with total assets of $4.483 trillion. Reserve bank credit fell $-6.2 billion.

The Fed reports that M2 money supply rose by $37.5 billion in the latest week.

1 Apr

Motor vehicle sales slowed sharply in March, down -5.1% to a 16.6M annual rate.

215,000 net new jobs were created in March, as the unemployment rate rose to 5.0%. The labor force participation rate rose to 63.0%. Average hourly earnings rose 0.3%, while the average workweek remained unchanged at 34.4 hours.

The PMI Manufacturing Index was only slightly changed, up 0.2 points to 51.5.

The ISM Manufacturing Index rose from 49.5 to 51.8 in March.

The University of Michigan’s Consumer Sentiment Index rose 1.0 point to 91.0 in March.

Construction spending fell -0.5% in February, but the year-on-year rate of spending was up 10.3%.

Dale’s social media profiles:
Twitter | Facebook | Google+

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on TumblrShare on StumbleUponShare on RedditPin on PinterestEmail this to someone

Meanwhile, The New Red Guard carries on …

Under the banner, “you can’t make this stuff up”, enjoy the following bit of idiocy:

Southwestern University in Texas has canceled its annual production of “The Vagina Monologues” because its author, Eve Ensler, is white — and featuring a performance written by a white lady would just not be inclusive to women of other races.

Instead, the school will host a performance of “We are Women,” which promises to “address similar experiences while emphasizing women of color,” according an article in the Megaphone, the school’s official newspaper.

Well, it promotes “similar experiences” except for white women I guess.  Who knew “women of color” didn’t have vaginas?

Yes, this is indeed patently absurd.  The Vagina Monologues was written as a feminist play to emphasize the supposed problems of women.  Thus it was totally inclusive of … women.  But not inclusive enough for The New Red Guard.

In fact:

Cancelling performances of “The Vagina Monologues” has become a bit of a trend on college campuses these days. For example, just last year, all-women’s Mount Holyoke College canceled its own performance on the grounds that the production was not “inclusive” enough to people who identify as women but do not have actual vaginas.

No, really … it’s all about their definition of “inclusivity” and a feminist play, if written by a white woman, just doesn’t make the grade anymore.

You have to laugh at this sort of nonsense to remain sane.  The one sterling good coming out of all of this is at whom many of these attacks are aimed.  Leftists.  Old Guard leftists.  And a more deserving group I cannot imagine.

But the real point here is the implied claim that whites, no matter their gender, have nothing of value to say or add.  This isn’t new by any stretch, it’s just become more common.  For instance, this from early last year from The New Red Guard at, yeah, Berkeley:

We are calling for an occupation of syllabi in the social sciences and humanities. This call to action was instigated by our experience last semester as students in an upper-division course on classical social theory. Grades were based primarily on multiple-choice quizzes on assigned readings. The course syllabus employed a standardized canon of theory that began with Plato and Aristotle, then jumped to modern philosophers: Hobbes, Locke, Hegel, Marx, Weber and Foucault, all of whom are white men. The syllabus did not include a single woman or person of color.

Of course, if you look closely, it’s not just “white men” they’re shooting at, it is the foundational philosophies of the West.  Apparently they believe that if there were women and persons of color writing philosophy during the same eras, they must have had something just as important to say, seeing as how their cultures matured equally with that of the West (and yeah, I know that some of the dead white dudes were not especially enamored of the West’s culture at the time). What the TNRG don’t seem to understand is they live in Western culture and the class is about “classical social theory” and thus likely wouldn’t include philosophers who had no impact on that “classical society” or those who lived outside of it and had no impact.

But this is all about gender and skin color … not context or logic.

Speaking of context and logic, James Lileks adds them:

College, apparently, is now a place where the notions of people freshly matriculated from high school must be handled with oven mitts and lightly buffed with soft cloth lest their orthodoxies suffer the slightest abrasion. Like the school that canceled the annual performance of The Vagina Monologues because it othered non-traditional women who lacked the titular orifice, it’s a delightful example of leftist autophagy. Marx is in foul order in Berkeley not for his ideas, or the heaps of corpses accumulated in his name, but because he had a prostate.

Yes, indeed. Oh, and because he was white.

~McQ

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on TumblrShare on StumbleUponShare on RedditPin on PinterestEmail this to someone

“Occidentophobia”?

Interesting article by a Dutch author that talks about the immigrant problem in Europe.  As always, read the whole thing.  But I was struck by these two paragraphs:

In December 2013, Professor Ruud Koopmans of the Berlin Social Science Center published a study on “Fundamentalism and out-group hostility,” in which he compared hostility among Muslim immigrants with hostility among Christian natives in Western Europe. He writes: “Almost 60 percent agree that Muslims should return to the roots of Islam, 75 percent think there is only one interpretation of the Quran possible to which every Muslim should stick and 65 percent say that religious rules are more important to them than the laws of the country in which they live.” In regards to Christian citizens he concludes: “Less than 4 percent can be characterized as consistent fundamentalists.”

On hatred of Jews and homosexuals among Europe’s Muslim population, Koopmans finds: “Almost 60 percent reject homosexuals as friends and 45 percent think that Jews cannot be trusted. While about one in five natives can be considered as Islamophobic, the level of phobia against the West among Muslims — for which oddly enough there is no word; one might call it ‘Occidentophobia’ — is much higher still, with 54 percent believing that the West is out to destroy Islam.” Recorded rates of Christian hate toward Muslims hover around 10 percent.

I am enamored of the new term because, more than anything, it is a term that can be thrown back at those who like to trot out “Islamaphobia” each and every time anyone attempts to discuss radical Islam.  So what’s the problem with Muslims, aka the “religion of peace”, that so many of them have hatred for the West and Western ways?  Doesn’t that qualify for a “phobia” for heaven sake – especially in the era of being tagged as ___aphobic (fill in the blank) of you disagree about anything the left is invested in.

The article says much of the problem in Europe is that Muslims there aren’t assimilated.  I can believe that.  The question, however, is how much of that is Europe’s fault and how much of that is the immigrant’s fault.  For instance, if you’re not willing to subordinate your culture (religious or otherwise) to the dominant culture, you’re not going to be assimilated.  If that’s the case, and the numbers are as indicated, aren’t then a majority of immigrant Muslims “phobic” about the West?

So, why are they there?

That’s the salient question, if the data is true, and it is one that EU leaders and those in the US, won’t ask or face.

If not to assimilate, what is the purpose of your immigration?

That question likely will see me labeled as “Islamophobic”.  If so, I can live with that.

~McQ

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on TumblrShare on StumbleUponShare on RedditPin on PinterestEmail this to someone

It all depends on how you define “existential threat”

Our Idiot-in-Chief recently opined that we shouldn’t take the JV team very seriously because they’re just not an existential threat.  Of course when I heard that I had to ruefully shake my head and remind myself that January of next year will be here soon. To paraphrase another yahoo that once occupied the Oval office, it depends on what the meaning of “existential” is.

If we’re doing a hand wave and pretending they’re a conventional force, then yes, they are not an “existential” threat.  They have no airforce capable of penetrating American airspace.  Certainly they have no navy.  And they haven’t any airlift capability or conventional weaponry that poses any threat to the American mainland.

But that’s not the war they’re waging is it?

Of course it isn’t.  They are, instead, waging what used to be termed “unconventional warfare”.  They’re using guerrilla tactics.  They’re targeting soft targets in far away lands.  And, according to a new study, they’ve upped the ante by plenty:

The deadly toll of terrorism around the globe has jumped nearly 800 percent in the past five years, according to an exhaustive new report that blames the alarming expansion of Islamist groups across the Middle East and Africa.

The nonprofit Investigative Project on Terrorism found that an average of nearly 30,000 people per year have been killed by terrorists since 2010, when terrorism’s death toll was 3,284. The authors of the study, which tabulated the numbers through the end of 2015, say that the exponential increase shows two troubling trends: More attacks are happening, and they tend to be deadlier than ever.

“Everyone has known that terrorist attacks have generally been increasing yearly since 9/11,” Steven Emerson, executive director of IPT, tells FoxNews.com. “But the magnitude of the increase of the attacks surprised us, especially in the past five years. Even if you look back at the annual reports issued by the most senior analysts in the top five intelligence and counter-terrorism agencies, there is not one report that predicted or forecasted that we would likely see such a massive escalation of attacks.”

The study notes that most of the attacks have been centered in the Middle East and Africa.

In addition to ISIS, groups like Boko Haram in Nigeria and Al Shabaab in Somalia have been on the rise in the last few years. The Taliban has been resurgent in Afghanistan and Pakistan, where it took responsibility for Sunday’s Easter attack on Christians in Lahore; Kurdish-affiliated groups have been blamed for bombings in Turkey; Palestinian terrorists have waged at least two uprisings in Israel and Al Qaeda has continued to be active in Syria and Yemen, among other locations.

The terror groups, particularly those in the Middle East, have new access to deadlier weapons, which they have used to destabilize governments and terrorize citizens, said Emerson.

There is a method to their madness in the regions mentioned.  Many of the countries in which they’ve waged their terror campaigns have become failed states. So using their tactics of choice, they’ve certainly shown themselves to be a proven existential threat to weaker nations.

But we’re apparently not in that category according to our Prez.  And that’s because we’re big, we’re powerful and we are arrogant.  We also apparently don’t think outside the conventional box.

Meanwhile, as we watch and assess conventionally, the enemy moves and executes unconventionally to the point that the kill rate now is 10 times what it was a mere few years ago.

Oh, and it’s moving from the Middle East and Africa … to Europe and Asia:

They also predict that Asia will see more terror attacks as countries like Thailand, The Philippines and India are perceived as soft targets, and that due to the migrant crisis, violence in Europe will increase over the next two years as extremists continue to exploit the immigration system throughout the EU.

Meanwhile, where we are having “conventional” success against them, they are shifting away from there to more amenable soft targets:

“With ISIS losing large swaths of territory as well as key commanders, its center of operational gravity definitely appears to be shifting to Europe, where it can recruit among the more than 30 million Muslims who live in Europe,” Emerson said.

“Add to this mix the fact that thousands of mosques in Europe are controlled by Salfists, Wahabists and the Muslim Brotherhood – which indoctrinate their followers,” he said, “and you have a future recipe for a massive increase in Islamist terrorist violence.”

But remember, we don’t say “Islamic extremists”.  And what we won’t say and won’t acknowledge, we can’t defeat.  And what we won’t address and thus can’t defeat remains a very real existential threat, simply because we won’t confront them in the reality in which they operate.  When a mall or an airport or mass transit station go up in flames here, perhaps Mr. No Existential Threat will finally acknowledge the truth.

…. Nah!

~McQ

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on TumblrShare on StumbleUponShare on RedditPin on PinterestEmail this to someone

Economic Statistics for 29 Mar 16

The Conference Board’s Consumer Confidence Index rose 4 points in March to 96.2.

State Street’s Investor Confidence Index rose 8.1 points in March to 114.6.

The Case-Schiller Home Price Index rose 0.8% in January. On a year-over-year basis, the index is up 5.7%.

Redbook reports that last week’s retail sales rose to a lackluster 1.5% on a year-ago basis, from the previous week’s 0.8%.


Dale’s social media profiles:
Twitter | Facebook | Google+

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on TumblrShare on StumbleUponShare on RedditPin on PinterestEmail this to someone

Buy Dale’s Books!