Questions and Observations

Free Markets, Free People

Is Trump worse than that?

Donald Trump – wow, how did we get here?    How do we get to the point where Donald Trump is polling as a serious candidate for President of the United States?

Right out of the gate, “The Donald” would not have been my first choice for a Presidential candidate, or second choice, or, wait, my choice ever. I question his commitments to conservative values, I question his loyalty to smaller government, there’s a whole list of things about him I question, including being a Republican (not that that means much these days anyway). He’s a flamboyant showman. Once I would have ruled him out completely, utterly, as nothing more than a modern P.T. Barnum putting on a show.

Well, that was up until 2015 and my watching Washingtonian showmen for about 50 years. Now he’s certainly starting to sound sensible when he talks about national topics the squishes in the GOP Gentry have been completely talking around, or just plain lying about.

I stood at the sink this morning cleaning the scrambled egg bits out of the cast iron fry pan and it hit me – why the hell not? For a while now I’ve been thinking the whole sordid kleptocratic oligarchy needed to be brought down like the Hindenburg, so why not give Trump a shot at it. The usual critics on both sides have been yelling about how he’s everything I said above and more, implying, sometimes openly saying, only emotional, angry, STUPID, dangerous, low information voters will support him.

I mean, he could…what? Then it hit me. WHAT?????? What was he going to do that was worse than what I already have? – and worse yet, some of which I helped create in voting for people who think they can lie to me every day and I won’t notice.

Could he do a worse job than Barack Hussein Obama has done? Could he be hated by the world and the Democrats more than George W. Bush? Would he be more likely to pocket cash and grant favors and have Oval office sex (not with each other you understand) than Bill and Hillary Clinton? Could he in fact run a more corrupt/lawless government than the one we have at the moment?

Pause for a second.

Ask yourself, is he a bigger joke than the current Democratic candidates? A former governor no one knows or talks about? An avowed Socialist. Or the leader of ‘em all, a woman whose sole accomplishment is notoriety derived from being married to the former Philanderer in Chief of the United States. A woman who shrugs like a 10 year old and pretends the whole secret and secure Secretary of State server/government documents thing is beneath her or too much trouble or too complicated or too inconvenient or just too confusing for her widdle brainy brain. And that’s not even starting on the plethora of pay for play glad-handing arrangements her ‘charity’ is probably involved in and also manages to completely ignore the scandals from a time when her job description was chief cuckquean of Little Rock Arkansas and Washington DC. Exactly what was it again that qualified her to be a US Senator or a Secretary of State aside from her last name?

Has Trump less real world experience than the Marxist constitutional scholar who has worked diligently and consistently over his two terms to degrade the standing of the United States in the world while he invents new Presidential powers? A guy who’s busy using his EPA to screw up something as intrinsic as our electrical grid and our coal production and stops us from achieving full energy independence from the Middle East. The President whose prior positions were largely achieved thru hatchet jobs on his competitors and whose chief qualifications seem to be an affection for golf and the ability to read a teleprompter and speak at the same time without falling over. Do you think Trump is going to go out and disrespect our allies and long standing international friends? Will he appoint tax cheats to head Treasury? Maybe run guns to Mexico? Create the most opaquely transparent administration EVER? Is he going to tell NASA their new job is making casino owners feel better about themselves and their contributions to space travel? Insert himself into local incidents where people with comb overs are involved in altercations with the police?

Think about it! The current President is going to be a tough act to follow! From Lois “the logjam” Lerner in the IRS holding up 501c Non-profit designations, through the alphabet soup Obama government agency thugs to Eric “the Enforcer” Holder in the Justice Department, what would Trump do that was worse? Is Trump going to strong arm us into another National Health Care plan? Screw up the implementation, move the goalposts on it and lie about how well it’s going? Is he going to sign a nuclear treaty with Iran, chief Islamic terrorist enabler in the Middle East? Will he agree to let them inspect their own weapon sites to see if they’ve been working on proscribed weapons? Will he lead from behind in deposing weak foreign governments to curry favor with Islamic fundamentalists?

Is Trump worse than that?

How about the pseudo conservative side then –

Is Trump going to campaign on and then betray conservative values any more so than the 2014 Republican Congress has? Is he likely to be worse than the many RINO clowns in the Republican controlled House and Senate? The guys who said they were going to rein in government, rein in spending, rein in the imperial pen and phone Presidency, if only we’d elect them. Remember they were going to FIX immigration? They were going to dismantle Obamacare? The guys who in fact had hardly convened the new year in Congress before they started acting like Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi? John Boehner, Mitch McConnell? King of the WackoBird Hobbits John McCain?

Is Trump going to, as George Will seems to fret over, single handedly launch nukes at the first country that comments disrespectfully about his comb over? As an aside, does super intelligent George Will really understand how the whole nuclear arsenal checks and balances thing works or is he just confused about Presidential powers these days because no one puts a stop to Preznit Precious when he starts using his pen?

Is Trump going to lead a party that will sabotage its conservative wing with underhanded politics and throw its support to its opponents rather than see an honestly or even pseudo-honestly conservative candidate get the job, will he actively try and break the back of genuinely conservative voting efforts and ‘crush’ their candidates so he can ensure the jobs go to squishy GOP gentry office holders.

Will Trump grant amnesty to millions of people who broke our laws because enforcing those laws is toooo haaaaarrrrdddd and the New York Times columnists, reporters and editorial staff will say Republicans are mean!? Will Trump NOT build the wall that 40 years of previous administrations promised they’d build? Will Trump NOT enforce the laws? Or will he just selectively enforce the laws, as we do now, making sure to punish people who piss him off while rewarding his cronies? Is Trump going to use his position to increase his wealth like the insider traders in the House and the Senate and the former Secretary of State? Will Trump allow himself to be bought by the cool megarich?

Is Trump worse than that?

 

How about the man on the street –

Is Trump more ignorant than the people who twice elected the current disaster? The people who bought into ‘hope and change’ as if they were tangibles and without any evidence apart from an Olympian Temple stage set? Does Trump know less about the economy than an army of government appointees and workers that lie about unemployment every quarter and seem actively engaged in keeping us locked in a recession they pretend we’ve been out of for years? Is Trump less wise than pundits and people who think Hillary is a good candidate, who think Barack Obama has no scandals, who believe we can trust Iran, who think unemployment really IS only 5.3% and that the economy is beginning to surge?

What about the Republican Presidential candidate circus?

If you are hoping for Scott Walker, or Ted Cruz, about the only 2 Republican candidates who I might trust in this crop, forget it. The GOP Gentry have been bought and paid for. They have a donor empire to protect even if it means opening the borders to everyone in Central and South America and spending every last dime in your pockets and your kid’s pockets on ever larger versions of ‘small’ government. By many indications Walker and Cruz are likely to try and do some of the really conservative things they claim they want to do. That isn’t going to be permitted.

 

So if it’s not Walker, or Cruz, and the GOP Gentry will do its damnedest to make sure it’s not… who will it be?

Carson? Drone strikes on our border? And George Will thinks Trump is dangerous?

Immigration flip flop Rubio?

“Act of love” Jeb Bush?

“Skinny dip” Biden?

Hillary Clinton?

Is Trump worse than that?

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Economic Statistics for 20 Aug 15

The MBA reports that mortgage applications rose 3.6% last week, with purchases down -1.0% but refis up 7.0%.

Consumer prices rose 0.1% in July, with the core CPI up 0.1% as well. On a year-over-year basis, the CPI is up 0.2% overall, and 1.8% at the core.

The Philadelphia Fed Survey rose from 5.7 to 8.3 in August, indicating the huge plunge in Tuesday’s Empire State survey was a fluke.

Existing home sales rose 2.0% in July to a greater-than-expected 5.59 million annual rate. Sales are up 10.3% from last July.

The Conference Board’s index of leading economic indicators fell 0.2% in July.

Initial weekly jobless claims rose 3,000 to 277,000. The 4-week average rose 5,250 to 271,500. Continuing claims fell 24,000 to 2.254 million.

The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index rose 0.4 points to 41.1 in the latest week.

The Fed’s balance sheet fell $-2.0 billion last week, with total assets of $4.487 trillion. Reserve bank credit rose $10.5 billion.

The Fed reports that M2 money supply rose by $26.5 billion in the latest week.


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This is how dumb Hillary thinks you are

What a lame, lame, lame excuse – both as a candidate and as an explanation for why everyone should shrug off her possible criminality in the server issue:

Whether the material in her emails that has been flagged as classified is in fact classified is open to debate, Clinton told reporters in Las Vegas Tuesday. “That is not in any way agreed upon,” she said. “The State Department disagrees. That happens all the time in these efforts to say what can go out and what can’t go out. That is a part of the ordinary process.”

Moreover, Clinton said, investigations like the one currently taking place with her emails are nothing new. “Everybody is acting like this is the first time it’s ever happened,” she said. “It happens all the time. And I can only tell you that the State Department has said over and over again, we disagree [that the material is classified]. So, that’s what they’re sorting out and that’s what happens a lot of the times.”

“What you’re seeing now is a disagreement between agencies saying, you know what? They should have, and the other saying no, they shouldn’t,” Clinton concluded. “That has nothing to do with me.”

Well yes it most certainly does.  Because, you see, if you were following instructions to do business on a secure server within the parameters you are required to operate on, Ms. Clinton, the argument would be moot.  You’d be precisely right.  But because you chose to circumvent those safeguards anput an ad hoc insecure server in place outside the system, it is has everything to do with you!

Anyone who swallows this load of Hillary dung deserves to be laughed at when they try to talk about anything seriously.

Because to swallow it, you have to willingly disengage your brain.

~McQ

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Ignorance is bliss – until you’re out of work

The more I watch this ignorant populist desire to raise the minimum wage (as far as I’m concerned, the minimum wage is $0) to $15 dollars, the more I wonder why people don’t actually think about the issue and its ramifications before staking out a position “for” the hike.

Oh, wait … think.  Yeah, never mind.  It simply doesn’t happen anymore.  And by the way, the thinking one must do isn’t rocket brain surgery.  It’s pretty much common sense.  So, given the local burger flipper wants $15 bucks an hour to keep flipping those burgers, what is at risk.  Well, mostly, his or her job:

Many chains are already at work looking for ingenious ways to take humans out of the picture, threatening workers in an industry that employs 2.4 million wait staffers, nearly 3 million cooks and food preparers and many of the nation’s 3.3 million cashiers.

Of course they are.  Why?

“When I first started at McDonald’s making 85 cents an hour, everything we made was by hand,” Rensi said — from cutting the shortcakes to stirring syrups into the milk for shakes. Over the years, though, ingredients started to arrive packaged and pre-mixed, ready to be heated up, bagged and handed out the window.

So what does that mean?

Crowded. That’s how Ed Rensi remembers what life was like working at McDonald’s in 1966. There were about double the number of people working in the store — 70 or 80, as opposed to the 30 or 40 there today — because preparing the food just took a lot more doing.

That’s right, as automation and packaging and pre-mix advanced, fewer workers were needed.  It had nothing to do with wages, per se, it had to do with efficiency.  What produced the most money for the work involved.

How does one make a profit?  Well one way is by being efficient.  I.e. producing product at a lower cost than your competition.  So how is the fast food business doing in that department?  Not so hot.

The market research company IBISWorld has calculated that the average number of employees at fast-food restaurants declined by fewer than two people over the past decade, from 17.16 employees to 15.28. And restaurants tend to rely more on labor than other food outlets: According to the National Restaurant Association, dining establishments average $84,000 in sales per worker, compared with $304,000 for grocery stores and $855,000 for gas stations.

So, raise double the wage and what happens to the already poor efficiency?  Right, it goes down.

Then add to that the fact that no manager is going to work for the same wages as his employees.  So if management is earning $15 an hour now, what does that have to go to in order to keep good people (it is one of the primary reasons unions back all minimum wage increases – because they get an increase too)?  And what does that do to the price of a burger?

It makes it skyrocket.

Given that, what will employers in an already inefficient market likely choose to do?  Well right up at the top of the list is a note to reduce staff.  And then there’s “introduce efficiencies” to keep costs down.

Like:

The labor-saving technology that has so far been rolled out most extensively — kiosk and ­tablet-based ordering — could be used to replace cashiers and the part of the wait staff’s job that involves taking orders and bringing checks. Olive Garden said earlier this year that it would roll out the Ziosk system at all its restaurants, which means that all a server has to do is bring out the food.

Robots can even help cut down on the need for high-skilled workers such as sushi chefs. A number of high-end restaurants use machines for rolling rice out on sheets of nori, a relatively menial task that takes lots of time. Even though sushi chefs tend to make more than $15 an hour, they could be on the chopping block if servers need to make $15 an hour, too.

A service contract is much less costly than payroll benefits and there’s no sick leave or missed days involved.

As technology advances, even more jobs will be eliminated.  Not necessarily because employers want to eliminate them, but because bird-brained idiots want to force them to pay $15 for a $5 job.    Who gets hurt?  2.4 million wait staff, 3 million cooks and 3.3 million cashiers.  Yes, that’s right, the stupidly conceived push for a $15 minimum wage will jeopardize 8.7 million jobs.

And as we’ve been asking for a long time, what is $15 x 0?

~McQ

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Economic Statistics for 14 & 17 Aug 15

A hectic schedule prevented me from posting Friday’s economic data, so here it is, along with the releases from today.

14 Aug 15

Producer Prices for Final Demand rose 0.2% in July, with PPI-FD less food and energy rising 0.3%. On a year-over-year basis, PPI-FD is down -0.8 at the headline level, but up 0.6% at the core. The remaining set of data for PPI-FD are below:

PPI-FD less food, energy & trade services – M/M change: 0.2%
PPI-FD less food, energy & trade services – Y/Y change: 0.9%
PPI-FD Goods – M/M change: -0.1%
PPI-FD Goods – Y/Y change: -3.7%
PPI-FD Services – M/M change: 0.4%
PPI-FD Services – Y/Y change: 0.6%

The Fed reports that industrial production rose by 0.6% in July, while capacity utilization in the nation’s factories rose 0.3% to 78.0%. The prime factor in the month’s jump was a 10.6% surge in motor vehicle production.

The University of Michigan’s Consumer Sentiment Index index fell -0.2 points to 92.9 in August.

17 Aug 15

The Empire State Manufacturing Survey plunged deeply into negative territory for August, falling from 3.86 to -14.92. This is the weakest reding for this indicator since 2009.

The NAHB’s Housing Market Index rose 1 point to 61 in August, as new homes are becoming a source of strength for the economy.

E-Commerce retail sales in the 2nd Quarter of 2015 rose a strong 4.2%, with a year-on-year gain of 14.1%.

A strong dollar was a plus for foreign investment in Jun, as net foreign demand for US securities rose $10.1 billion to $103.1 billion.


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Is China heading us toward another global recession?

I found this interesting:

Chinese policy makers seem unwilling to accept that downturns are perfectly normal even for economic superpowers, as the U.S. has often demonstrated. Over the past century the U.S. economy experienced a dozen recessions and a Great Depression even as it remained the world’s leading economy. But Beijing has little tolerance for business cycles and is now reviving efforts to stimulate sectors that it had otherwise wanted to see fade in importance, from property to infrastructure to exports. Given the over-investment in these areas and the cloud of debt that still hangs over the Chinese economy, these efforts are unlikely to lead to a sustained upturn. While China reported that its GDP grew exactly in line with its growth target of 7% in the first and second quarters this year, all other independent data, from electricity production to car sales, indicate the economy is growing closer to 5%.

That leaves the global economy perilously close to recession territory. In the first half of 2015, global economic output expanded by barely 2%, making it the weakest two-quarter period since the expansion began in mid-2009. Industrial production and world trade growth were flat, developments that in the past have corresponded with global recessions.

Funny how that “5 year plan” reporting hasn’t changed a bit.  And, of course, we too get that sort of reporting from out government too. Don’t believe it?  Just ask Bernie Sanders about the real unemployment rate.

Yup, if it comes to a global downturn again, as with the last time, it will be caused by … government.

~McQ

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Stray Voltage

As Venezuela slowly starves and the economy has all but shut down, guess who the richest person in the country might be?

The daughter of Hugo Chavez, the former president who once declared ‘being rich is bad,’ may be the wealthiest woman in Venezuela, according to evidence reportedly in the hands of Venezuelan media outlets.

Maria Gabriela Chavez, 35, the late president’s second-oldest daughter, holds assets in American and Andorran banks totaling almost $4.2billion, Diario las Americas reports.

The figure would make Gabriela Chavez wealthier than media mogul Gustavo Cisneros, whom Forbes named the wealthiest Venezuelan earlier this year with $3.6billion in assets.

I know … purely a coincidence.  But it does prove, if true, that socialism does pay … those in charge (I’m sure this wasn’t something he saved up from his army pay).  The rest?  They get stores with nothing on the shelves and hyper-inflation.  Brilliant.

Jazz Shaw is thinking Hillary may shrug off email flap (he’s speaking purely in a political sense, not if someone grows a pair and actually arrests and indicts her):

The bottom line is that there are a significant number of Americans out there – mostly Democrats, but not all – who seem to be telling us, yes, you’ve made your point. Hillary is all those things you said she was. But what the heck. I’ll vote for her. And one of the major reasons for this is that this email server story simply isn’t resonating with people.

Well, to be fair, it’s not resonating with those people.  The reason it isn’t resonating with other people is they really haven’t heard much about it thanks to the media.  But for those that have, they want the allegations investigated.  Look, yellow dog Democrats are going to vote for their particular yellow dog – regardless of the cur’s pedigree, problems or evidence against it.  In this case I think Clinton will find a minion to take the fall, and, in effect, will shrug it off.  But that doesn’t change Shaw’s point … even if she’s in prison orange, those people will vote for her.

Megan McArdle talks about the nonsense that is going on at colleges everywhere.  That is the cosseting of the student body who have become so fearful of ideas that they don’t like that they invoke “safety” as their concern.

Students demanding that campus life be bowdlerized to preserve their peace of mind seem to believe that the best way to deal with trauma is to avoid any mention of it. But Lukianoff and Haidt argue that this is exactly backward; chronic avoidance breeds terror. The current climate on campus is a recipe for producing fearful adults who are going to have difficulty coping in an adult world. It’s as if we were trying to prepare the next generation of American citizens by keeping them in kindergarten until the age of 23.

I’m not sure that anyone should be surprised.  These are the kids who come from the era of everyone gets a trophy and we don’t keep score so the other team won’t feel bad.  Why in the world would any one expect anything else from them.  When they finally gain the halls of ivy, they’re conditioned to eschew competition.  So the idea of competing ideas, especially ideas they’re not comfortable with, is terrifying.

They’ll do great in the real world, won’t they?

Meanwhile, on another planet:

If Vice President Joe Biden makes the leap into the Democratic presidential race, he could promise that he would serve just one term in the White House, journalist and author Carl Bernstein said Friday.

“And one thing that I keep hearing about Biden is that if he were to declare and say, because age is such a problem for him if he does, I want to be a one-term president. I want to serve for four years, unite Washington. I’ve dealt with the Republicans in Congress all my public life,” Bernstein told CNN’s “New Day.”

“I think there’s a conversation going on to that effect among his aides and friends,” he said. “It could light fire to the current political environment.”

It would be a back-fire, if anything.  Anyway, the circus could use one more clown.

~McQ

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Economic Statistics for 13 Aug 15

Retail sales rose 0.6% in July, with sales less autos and sales less autos and gas both up 0.4%. May and June sales were revised upwards as well.

July export prices fell -0.2%, while import prices fell -0.9%. Year over year, export prices are down -6.1% and import prices are down -10.4%.

Business inventories rose 0.8% in June, well ahead of a 0.2% rise in sales. The mismatch lifts the inventory-to-sales ratio to 1.37 from 1.36.

Initial weekly jobless claims rose 4,000 to 274,000. The 4-week average fell 1,750 to 266,250. Continuing claims rose 15,000 to 2.273 million.

The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index rose 0.4 points to 40.7 in the latest week.

The Fed’s balance sheet rose $2.9 billion last week, with total assets of $4.489 trillion. Reserve bank credit rose $2.5 billion.

The Fed reports that M2 money supply rose by $1.8 billion in the latest week.


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