Questions and Observations

Free Markets, Free People

Imagine a world without SJWs

How out of hand is SJW nonsense?  See the University of Missouri:

The student protest at the University of Missouri began as a response to a serious problem — outbursts of vile racism on campus — and quickly devolved into an expression of a renewed left-wing hostility to freedom of expression. At the protest on Missouri’s campus yesterday, on a space that is expressly open to free expression, protesters barred journalists from covering the demonstrations. In one scene, protesters surrounded and harassed Tim Tai, a photographer with the student newspaper, chanting, “Hey, hey, ho, ho, journalists have got to go.” The scene is captured on a video here, which rewards close watching until the end, where Melissa Click, a professor of mass media working with the protest movement, calls out, “Help me get this reporter out of here. I need some muscle over here.”

It is possible — and, for many sympathizers on the left, convenient — to dismiss these sorts of incidents as just so much college high jinks. “College students have been saying stupid things since the invention of college students,” argues Daniel Drezner, in a passage that attracted widespread support on the left. It is probably true that a strange and sudden new hypersensitivity among young people has produced a widespread expectation of a right to be protected from offense. It is also undeniably true that outbursts of political correctness disproportionately take place in campus settings. In recent weeks, UCLAWesleyan, and Yale have seen left-wing student activism aimed at shutting down the expression of contrary viewpoints.

Even if it were the case that political correctness was totally confined to campuses, it would not make the phenomenon unimportant. Colleges have disproportionate influence over intellectual life, and political movements centered on campuses can spread well beyond them (anti-Vietnam began as a bunch of wacky kids, too). But to imagine p.c. as simply a thing college kids do relieves us of taking it seriously as a coherent set of beliefs, which it very much is. Political correctness is a system of thought that denies the legitimacy of political pluralism on issues of race and gender. It manifests itself most prominently in campus settings not because it’s a passing phase, like acne, but because the academy is one of the few bastions of American life where the p.c. left can muster the strength to impose its political hegemony upon others. The phenomenon also exists in other nonacademic left-wing communities, many of them virtual ones centered on social media, and its defenders include professional left-wing intellectuals.

Now that you’ve read the three paragraphs, can you imagine who wrote them?  National Review, perhaps?

Nope … Jonathan Chait.  If you think the above is surprising, how about this paragraph:

American political correctness has obviously never perpetrated the brutality of a communist government, but it has also never acquired the powers that come with full control of the machinery of the state. The continuous stream of small-scale outrages it generates is a testament to an illiberalism that runs deep down to its core (a character I tried to explain in my January essay).

“Never acquired the powers that come with full control of the machinery of state.”  Well, that’s true … to an extent.  What isn’t true is it is absent.  It certainly exists in our political machinery, one doesn’t have too look very hard to find it.  Simply watch the Democratic presidential candidates kowtow to the absurd #blacklivesmatter crowd to understand that even a marginal group can seem to be more powerful than they are if they play the proper politically correct cards.  And it encroaches more and more daily.  In fact, the past 7 years have been SWJ heaven in terms of growth and effect.

However, it seems to now be consuming itself.

Our job, should we choose to do it, is to help it along.

Now that at least some on the left are beginning to wake up to the “end game” the SJWers demand, they’re beginning to reconsider.  This is a movement that needs to die.  And the only way to do that is to point out the absurdities, but to also point out the intent.  Control.  Complete control of what you say, and an attempt to control what you think.

Just be glad, at least to this point, that the PC movement hasn’t yet fully “acquired the powers that come with full control of the machinery of state.”  If it ever does, I think we can all point to a historic example or two where their utopia existed once … sorta.  And we all know how those ended.


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Economic Statistics for 6 Nov 15

The BLS reports that a higher-than-expected 271,000 net new jobs were created in October, the largest increase since December, 2014. The unemployment rate fell -0.1% to 5.0%. Average hourly earnings rose 0.4% to $25.20, while the average workweek was unchanged at 34.5 hours. The labor force participation rate was also unchanged at 62.4%. 313,000 people entered or re-entered the labor force, while the number of people reporting themselves employed rose 320,000. The number of people not in the labor force declined by -97,000. The U-6 unemployment rate, the broadest definition of unemployment published by the government, fell -0.2% to 9.8%.

Consumer credit surged $28.9 billion in September, the largest increase in the history of this data release. Revolving credit also rose $6.7 billion.

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Stray Voltage

Oh, Canada:

On Wednesday in Ottawa, Justin Trudeau was sworn in as Canadian prime minister. He wasted no time in announcing his newly chosen cabinet of exactly 15 men and 15 women, which fulfilled a campaign pledge he’d made about gender equality. One reporter asked Trudeau why the perfect male-female split was so important to him. The prime minster’s response: “Because it’s 2015.”

Translation – the best qualified for the job is a 20th Century concept.  In the 21st Century, it’s what you have (or don’t have) between your legs that matters.  Heh, yeah, governance won’t suffer.  Trust them.

Hillary Clinton signed a non-disclosure form concerning classified material?  Say, didn’t David Petraeus sign one too?

As the nation’s chief diplomat, Hillary Clinton was responsible for ascertaining whether information in her possession was classified and acknowledged that “negligent handling” of that information could jeopardize national security, according to a copy of an agreement she signed upon taking the job.

A day after assuming office as secretary of state, Clinton signed a Sensitive Compartmented Information Nondisclosure Agreement that laid out criminal penalties for “any unauthorized disclosure” of classified information. …

Meh.  We know this isn’t going anywhere soon, if ever.  And besides, “what difference does it make now.”  She’s a Democrat after all.

One very important reason we need the Idiot-in-Chief out of office as soon as possible:

The picture being painted by Obama’s soon-to-be-former advisors is one of a president paralyzed with indecision. He is being increasingly tested by the world’s bad actors and revisionist powers and has little resolve to act early and decisively. That is an impression that was confirmed by Reuters in October. They reported that the president was similarly incapacitated by the People’s Republic of China’s brazen decision to create new islands that would function as naval and air bases in the middle of the contested Spratly Islands late last year.

* * * * * * *

As the fruits of Barack Obama’s feckless approach to foreign affairs ripen, and the conflicts that he sought to resolve only deteriorate, the president’s advisors are increasingly training their fire on him. In the final year of this administration, that trend is only likely to intensify. If the Obama era is going to be remembered as the period when the seeds of chaos and conflict were sown, surely more creatures of Washington are going to emerge to make sure that they do not take the blame for sowing them. A president who has so perfected the art of throwing others under the bus is about to get the same treatment.

He’ll get a dump-truck load of criticism in the near future as the rats desert the obviously sinking ship.  “Pathetic”, “weak” and “indecisive” will some of the kindest descriptions this man’s legacy will reap.

Camile Puglia calls out the feminists and SJWs on the transgender issue:

“I think that the transgender propagandists make wildly inflated claims about the multiplicity of gender,” she said.

“Sex reassignment surgery, even today with all of its advances, cannot in fact change anyone’s sex, okay. You can define yourself as a trans man, or a trans woman, as one of these new gradations along the scale. But ultimately, every single cell in the human body, the DNA in that cell, remains coded for your biological birth.

“So there are a lot of lies being propagated at the present moment, which I think is not in anyone’s best interest.

“Now what I’m concerned about is the popularity and the availability of sex reassignment surgery, so that someone who doesn’t feel that he or she belongs to the biological birth, gender. People are being encouraged to intervene in the process.

“Parents are now encouraged to subject the child to procedures that I think are a form of child abuse. The hormones to slow puberty, actual surgical manipulations, etcetera. I think that this is wrong, that people should wait until they are of an informed age of consent.

Child abuse as well as abusing any thinking person’s intellect.  They radical left has vastly over reached on this one.  And that’s a good thing.

And what is wrong with the way public policy is formulated today?  Well, it could be as simple as this:

The first lessons I teach my economics students are about means-and-ends and tradeoffs. I tell them that whenever we analyze a policy matter, whether it’s the minimum wage, health care, ivory hunting or abortion, we have to ask ourselves these questions. First, do the chosen policies achieve the desired goals? Second, what tradeoffs do we face with regard to a particular policy; that is, are there alternatives that would yield better results?

These kinds of simple questions often are ignored by policymakers and the public.

Instead, today the party is considered first and foremost and alternatives are hardly ever considered. If it is deemed good for the party, damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead.  Thus the mess in which we find ourselves.

Have a good weekend.


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Economic Statistics for 5 Nov 15

Chain stores are reporting weaker rates of year-on-year sales in October, as warm weather held down sales of seasonals. 

Challenger reports that layoff announcements fell in October to 50,504 vs September’s 58,877.

Non-farm productivity rose only 1.6% in the 3rd Quarter, while unit labor costs rose 1.4%.

The Gallup Good Jobs rate (GGJ) was 45.3 percent in October, about the same as the last two months.

Initial weekly jobless claims rose 16,000 to 276,000. The 4-week average rose 2,500 to 262,750. Continuing claims rose 17,000 to 2.163 million.

The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index fell -1.7 points to 41.1 in the latest week.

The Fed’s balance sheet rose $0.4 billion last week, with total assets of $4.490 trillion. Reserve bank credit fell $-6.6 billion.

The Fed reports that M2 money supply rose by $15.4 billion in the latest week.

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EPA chief wants to clamp down on air conditioning coolant

Because, you see, air-conditioning uses HFCs and she’s convinced that banning them would help lower the global temperature and fight global warming – you know, the pseudo-science that has proven to be unproven … in fact, almost everything the alarmists predicted would happen hasn’t and everything that wouldn’t happen has.

But when you’re really in the redistribution of income business any narrative, no matter how discredited, will do:

EPA Chief Gina McCarthy wants the world to stop using hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) in air conditioners and other consumers products as part of President Barack Obama’s plan to fight global warming.

McCarthy is so determined to make this happen, she’s taking the lead role at an ongoing United Nations summit to expand the current global treaty covering ozone-depleting substances. The EPA chief hopes that her agency’s recent HFC regulations will convince other countries to join the U.S. in limiting the chemicals.

“Because of the importance of taking aggressive action on these chemicals to achieve global climate goals, I will be leading the United States delegation at that meeting,” McCarthy wrote in an oped for The Guardian.

“Over the past year, the US Environmental Protection Agency has completed four separate actions that both expand the list of safer alternatives to HFCs and prohibit them from certain uses in the refrigeration air conditioning, foam, and aerosol sectors where safer alternatives such as hydrofluoroolefins (HFOs), hydrocarbons and lower-polluting blends are available,” McCarthy wrote.

“Solutions are here, and it’s time to amend the Montreal Protocol to reflect that,” McCarthy wrote, adding that phasing out HFCs would avert 0.5 degrees Celsius of global warming by the end of the century.

Total nonsense, of course.  And, a rhetorical question – who will something like this hurt most?  That’s right, those who can least afford it.  This is politics marching to the tune of a bankrupt ideology.  HFO’s cost more than HFCs.  HFCs, by the way, do not deplete the ozone layer and as real science has shown, greenhouse gasses are not having the warming effect on the earth that the “science” of the alarmists have claimed.

So what’s the point?  Zealotry.  Zealotry in the service of ignorance simply because she has the power.  She “believes” this to be true and thus you will conform if she has her way.

Meanwhile in the real world:

A team of European researchers have unveiled a scientific model showing that the Earth is likely to experience a “mini ice age” from 2030 to 2040 as a result of decreased solar activity.

Their findings will infuriate environmental campaigners who argue by 2030 we could be facing increased sea levels and flooding due to glacial melt at the poles.

How long have we been saying the bulk of our climate is determined by that big yellow burning thing in the sky?  You know, the one the alarmists have either ignored or discounted.

Guess who I think has a better chance of being correct in this case?


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Economic Statistics for 4 Nov 15

The MBA reports that mortgage applications fell -0.8% last week, with purchases and refis both down -1.0%.

The ADP Employment Report is calling for 182,000 new net private sector jobs in October. We’ll see, in Friday’s Employment Situation.

September’s international trade deficit came in at $-40.8 billion, compared to $-48.3 billion the prior month.

For the sixth month in a row, Gallup’s U.S. Job Creation Index held steady at 32 in October.

Markit’s PMI Services Index fell -0.3 points to 54.8 in October.

ISM’s non-manufacturing index jumped 2.2 points to a very strong 59.1 in October.

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Houston, we have a solution

And in this day and time, surprisingly it’s “no”.  Michael Walsh writes:

And bathrooms won, as Texas voters said to hell with with “equality and inclusiveness,” which they and the rest of the country are just now figuring out mean a wholesale destruction of cultural norms as the descendants of the Frankfurt School continue their merry work to overturn thousands of years of human history. The war against the Left is partly a fight over the language, which we are losing, and this is a good example. ”Transgender” bathroom “rights” has gone down in Houston. But it will keep coming back until heteronormativity is destroyed.

There’s always a line.  Sometimes it surprises us when it is finally reached and crossed, but you can always count on that happening at some point.    The line is the place in any cause where those who favor the cause push it too far and people finally wake up and say, “you know, this is BS.”  Apparently the “transgender” nonsense is the “cause” that crosses the line.

The Houston Equal Rights Ordinance — Proposition 1 on the local ballot —would have extended bans on employment and housing discrimination based on race, religion, sex, national original and other classifications to gay people, bisexual people and transgender people.

What Houstonians figured out rather quickly is this had nothing to do with “equal rights”.   It had to do with using the force of law to humor a special class who wanted to buck the norm for no good reason other than they could.  Opponents called it the “bathroom ordinance”.  Why?

Under the defeated ordinance, local businesses that discriminate against various classes of people — including transgender people using whatever bathroom they want — would face fines up to $5,000. The failed law specifically exempted religious institutions.

But everyone else?  Well, they were on the hook for that $5k fine if they didn’t establish that men with penises who claimed they felt like a woman would be allowed to use the women’s bathroom.  That idea obviously went over like a lead balloon in Houston:

By the wee hours of Tuesday morning, 95 percent of the ballots had been counted and 61 percent of voters opposed Proposition 1.

It only came to a vote because the Supreme Court ruled that the ordinance required the vote of the people it would effect, i.e. the citizenry.  And the citizenry resoundingly sent a message to city hall.  NO!

This, of course, doesn’t mean the issue will go away.  Once started by the political left, they never seem to go away.  However, they’re going to have to find a new way to approach the cause other than forcing it on people.  Seems few, if any, of their “causes” are popular enough that the people want to enact them by vote.  So control of government is more than just desired, it’s essential.

Anyway, hooray for Houston.  They got this one right.


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Economic Statistics for 3 Nov 15

For the 11th time in 14 months, factory orders fell in September, down -1.0%, as the strong dollar continues to cripple exports.

Motor Vehicle sales surged to an 18.2 million annual rate in October, the highest rate in 12 years.

Gallup’s Economic Confidence Index averaged -13 in October, up just 1 point from the previous month.

Redbook reports that last week’s retail sales climbed to 1.9% on a year-ago basis, from the previous week’s 1.5%.

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