Questions and Observations

Free Markets, Free People

Climate change “deal” with China just an excuse for executive action

Given this “deal”, Obama seems to be a used car salesman’s dream, but I’ve come to believe there is a method to this madness.  And it is madness:

President Barack Obama announced Wednesday that the U.S. has set a new goal to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases by between 26 percent and 28 percent over the next 11 years as part of a climate change agreement with China. 

The new target is a drastic increase from earlier in Obama’s presidency, when he pledged to cut emissions by 17 percent by 2020. By contrast, Obama’s counterpart, Xi Jinping, did not pledge any reductions by a specific date, but rather set a target for China’s emissions to peak by 2030, or earlier if possible. Xi also pledged to increase the share of energy that China will derive from sources other than fossil fuels. China’s emissions have grown in recent years due to the building of new coal plants.

“This is a major milestone in the U.S.-China relationship,” Obama told a news conference in Beijing, with Xi at his side. “It shows what’s possible when we work together on an urgent global challenge.”

No.  No it’s not anywhere near a “milestone” at all.  If that’s the “deal”, he was owned by the Chinese premier.  Instead it is another bad deal used to push an ideological desire.  This certainly won’t be ratified as a treaty with a GOP Congress (if it is even submitted as a treaty).  And anyone who thinks China won’t ignore, or unilaterally extend its 2030 peak use simply knows nothing about how China works.

So the “King” will, apparently, do further damage to the economy by using this bit of nonsense as his catalyst for umpteen executive orders because, you know he has a pen, a phone and an ideology.

Thank goodness that only lasts for 2 more years with a GOP Congress (assuming the GOP Congress has any fiscal balls when it comes to defunding the stupidity he commits to his “executive actions”).  If you loved ObamaCare you’re going to rave about this bit of economic stupidity.

In the meantime, grab your wallets and bend over, here it comes again.

~ McQ

 

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Most transparent administration ever …

You’ve probably seen this quote floating around, or at least part of it.  You need to read the whole thing.  It’s about how those without principles, who want something passed into law, calculate how to word it and present it so the American people can be fooled into accepting it. Everything is acceptable in terms of methods.  In this case the person is talking about ObamaCare, aka the ACA:

“You can’t do it political, you just literally cannot do it. Transparent financing and also transparent spending. I mean, this bill was written in a tortured way to make sure CBO did not score the mandate as taxes. If CBO scored the mandate as taxes the bill dies. Okay? So it’s written to do that,” Gruber said. “In terms of risk rated subsidies, if you had a law which said that healthy people are going to pay in, you made explicit healthy people pay in and sick people get money, it would not have passed. Lack of transparency is a huge political advantage. And basically, call it the stupidity of the American voter or whatever, but basically that was really really critical to get for the thing to pass. Look, I wish Mark was right that we could make it all transparent, but I’d rather have this law than not.”

So we have the CBO which is supposed to score bills and tell us how much they’ll cost, whether or not it is a tax, etc.  This crew intentionally wrote it so it couldn’t be construed as a tax.  That gives you a little idea of how hard the Supreme Court had to stretch to make it one, and thereby “Constitutional”.  Most importantly, it was the presentation that was important and about as opaque concerning the facts as possible.

Not everyone was fooled.  Many understood that someone had to pay for this, understood that it was going to be the healthy and said so.  Ignored.

What did the “architects” count on?  “The stupidity of the American voter” – and now they’re crowing about it.  They used it.  They counted on it.

Finally read the last sentence.  This jerk is pleased with the outcome because he’d “rather have this law than not”.   So deceit and trickery are okay. “By any means necessary”.

Is that a principle your government is supposed to represent?

~McQ

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My new book

As many of you are undoubtedly aware, I write regularly on automotive topics. Now, I’ve gathered all of that writing into a Kindle book at Amazon. Yes, The Joy of Automotion is now a Kindle ebook. Which you can buy. Online.


The Joy of Automotion:
Musings From a Vehicular Dilettante

Please buy it. If you like it, please review it.

While we’re on the subject, you can also get my previous book:


Slackernomics:
Basic Economics for People Who Think Economics is Boring

Thanks!


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Time to put government back inside the box

By that I mean, make it a servant of the public again. I don’t know how this “serves the public”:

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -Local 10 first brought you the story of the 90-year-old man who was arrested for illegally feeding the homeless in Fort Lauderdale. Wednesday he was back to continue his cause.

“Illegally feeding the homeless.” No, seriously. It is now a crime, in Ft. Lauderdale, to use your own money, buy and prepare food, search out those in need of nourishment, and feed them.

I can’t get over that phrase – “Illegally feeding the homeless”.

Why? Well here, let this idiot explain:

Mayor Jack Seiler, who supports the ordinance, said he’s gotten massive feedback as well, though not always so positive. But he said the law is meant to help the homeless, not to keep them from eating.

“Mr. Abbott has decided that he doesn’t think these individuals should have to have any interaction with government, that they should be fed in the parks. We disagree,” Seiler said.

I’ll bet he’s gotten “massive feedback”.  My guess is Mr. Seiler is probably Julia’s child. Imagine – not having “any interaction with government”.  Dude, that’s a feature in my book. Who in the hell do these people think they are? So the fact that this little tin dictator disagrees, he’s happy to use the force of government to put a 90 year old feeding the homeless in jail? This is just homegrown authoritarianism.

What is this bit of totalitarianism based on? “Experts, of course:

“It’s a pubic safety issue. It’s a public health issue,” said Seiler. “The experts have all said that if you’re going to feed them to get them from breakfast to lunch to dinner, all you’re doing is enabling that cycle of homelessness. They don’t interact with anyone, they don’t receive the aid that they need.”

Blah, blah, blah … another authoritarian does a little appealing to authority.

They don’t interact with anyone? They interact with those they want to interact with, including the guy feeding them. Not good enough, say the “experts”.

As with most experts, however, their good intentions usually have crap outcomes:

“What the city is doing by cutting out feeding is very simple — they are forcing homeless people to go dumpster-diving all over again,” Abbott said. “They will steal. That’s what the mayor is forcing the homeless to do.”

Well, that’s a little overboard too, i.e. no one is “forcing” anyone to steal. The point, however, is if this is a public safety issue and if it is a public health issue then why in the world would one of the acceptable outcome of this idiotic law be to encourage dumpster diving or theft by removing the ability of the homeless to receive food from someone other than a government official? Why don’t they have a right to do that? Other than this stupid law and this idiot trying to justify it, when did feeding someone less fortunate than you become “illegal”?

~McQ

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Economic Statistics for 7 Nov 14

Consumer credit rose by $15.9 billion in September, $14.5 billion of which was non-revolving credit. Not that anybody cares. What people care about is…

The Employment Situation for October was mixed. A net new 214,000 jobs were created, and the unemployment rate fell -0.1% to 5.8%. Average hourly earnings rose 0.1%, while the average work week was unchanged at 34.6 hours. Overall, the number of people employed rose by 683,000, while the number of people in the labor force increased by 206,00, bringing the labor force participation rate up 0.1% to 62.8%. Using the historical average labor force participation rate, the real rate of unemployment fell by -0.3% to 10.53%.


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Economic Statistics for 6 Nov 14

Chain stores reporting sales for October are citing unseasonably warm weather for sizable slowing in sales growth. This points to a disappointing government retail sales report for last month.

Challenger’s layoff count, at 51,183 in October is up sharply this month, but from a 14-year low in September of 30,477. 

Gallup’s US Payroll to Population employment rate for October was 44.4%, down from 44.8% in September.

Nonfarm productivity growth for the 3rd Quarter rose an annualized 2.0%, while unit labor costs rose 0.3%.

Initial weekly jobless claims fell 10,000 to 278,000. The 4-week average fell 2,000 to 279,000. Continuing claims fell 39,000 to 2.348 million.

The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index rose 0.9 points to 38.1 in the latest week, the second-highest reading since 2007.

The Fed’s balance sheet fell $-0.2 billion last week, with total assets of $4.487 trillion. Reserve bank credit fell $-5.8 billion.

The Fed reports that M2 money supply rose by $33.6 billion in the latest week.


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Lessons?

It seems like every pundit in the world is now ready to give the GOP Congressional majority advice on what they should do for the next two years.  It would be nice if they’d tell the lame duck Dems and President how they should act as well.  But I’m of the opinion these will be a very interesting two months.

The question I have, after the Republican victory, is what lessons they’ve learned from this big win?  Here are  a few that I think they should keep in mind:

1. While this was a big win, it doesn’t signal that the same will happen in 2016.  We heard that sort of “wisdom” spouted after the impressive GOP win in 2010 – momentum from 2010 was sure to sink Obama in 2012. But it didn’t at all translate in the 2012 presidential race.  Lesson: while there may be some momentum, what happens in the next two years is much more important than what happened on Tuesday.

2. Guess who focused on social issues?  Guess who lost?  “The war on women” was beaten to death.  In fact, Colorado’s Mark Udall was being referred too as “Mark Uterus” with his almost singular focus on that. And then there was Wendy Davis’ attempt to cash in on it.  Climate change was also a bust. Republicans were disciplined, focused on ObamaCare, the economy, jobs, etc.  It paid off.  You have to wonder if they’ll remember that.  There are plenty of important and broad issues to campaign on.  You don’t have to resort to divisive wedge issues to rally your base as those type issues tend to alienate badly needed independents.  Lesson: stay focused on broad national issues and present solutions.

3. If I were to take anything from the election, it wouldn’t be Harry Reid’s interpretation.  Reid now thinks everyone should “work together” because, you know, that’s what the American people want.  Of course, Harry Reid knows next to nothing about what the American people want and has proven that time and time again.  Certainly,  if possible, bi-partisan is good.  If not, then screw em.  Yes, I know that with Obama in the White House, most of what they do is likely to be vetoed.  But then it is up to him to explain why nothing is happening, not the Republicans.  He becomes the “obstructionist“. Politics 101.  Of course the GOP has flunked that course many times. Lesson: do your job and make the other party do theirs.  If they do, then it helps build a very nice case that they need to go.

There are probably many more you can think of.  I’m pitching these up here because they seem to me to be common sense lessons from this election.  Yes, impressive win.  Got it.  Now what?  What have you learned?

Well, if history is any indicator, many of the same lessons have been available to the GOP in other elections and they’ve essentially ignored them.  The question of this day is “will they repeat history”?

~McQ

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Economic Statistics for 5 Nov 14

I’m taking a break from my post-election schadenfreude to bring you the same old, boring economic stats. Bruce has already covered the election aftermath well, and I can’t think of much to add, except to note that the President, in his presser this afternoon, assures us that there’s no reason to try and read the tea leaves of this election. It’s true meaning is essentially unknowable. Clearly, there was a lot of anti-incumbent sentiment, but there’s no way for us to really glean any larger implications for the president’s policies from all this. What’s really important now is to learn how the Republicans will reach across the aisle to get things done in a bipartisan fashion.

Anyway, today’s stats:

The MBA reports that mortgage applications fell -2.6% last week, with purchases down -3.0% and refis down -6.0%.

ADP’s estimate for private payroll growth for October is 230,000, which was generally in line with expectations.

Gallup’s U.S. Job Creation Index fell -3 points to 27 for October, down from the six-year high of 30 in September.

The ISM’s Non-Manufacturing index fell -1.5 points to 57.1 in October.

The JP Morgan Global Composite PMI slowed for the third straight month, down -1.3 points to a still-positive 53.6. The Global Services PMI fell -1.6 points to 53.7.

On a side note, I don’t think that both the ADP Employment report, which shows an increase of 17,000 private payroll jobs over last month, and the Gallup Job Creation Index can both be right. We’ll know which one was correct on Friday, with the release of the October Employment Situation.


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