Questions and Observations

Free Markets, Free People

Is Europe moving away from “Social Democracy”?

The “Feel the Bern” gang want to be just like the European social democracies, but as I’ve pointed out before, if any of the European countries were a state in the US, they’d be among the bottom two or so.  And while the benefits are wonderful when you’re living off of other people’s productivity, that can only go on for so long.

France … yes, that’s right, France … seems to be at least figuring it out a little bit.

The French cabinet has given the go-ahead for Prime Minister Manuel Valls to force through highly controversial labour reforms.

An extraordinary cabinet meeting invoked the French constitution’s rarely used Article 49.3, allowing the government to bypass parliament.It came after rebel MPs from the governing Socialist party had vowed to vote down the bill.The reforms will make it easier for employers to hire and fire workers.

[…]

The government says relaxing workers’ protection will encourage businesses to hire more people and help to combat chronic unemployment.

As one is prone to say, “baby steps” are necessary when learning to walk.  And apparently those old nasty laws of economics are finally bitch slapping France enough that they’re at least willing to do something positive to help stimulate business and hopefully then grow their economy.

The American Interest notes:

Valls’ decision is part of a long-running trend: For decades, the decline of the blue social model has been pushing many European countries, including ones we think of as social democracies, to abandon some of the more statist features of their economic agendas. Policies that worked relatively well in closed, stable, national economies of the mid-20th century fail to deliver in the open, dynamic economies of the 21st—and even center-left governments are forced to adapt to this reality once they take power.

Indeed, the “blue social model”, the Bernie Sanders (and to a slightly lesser extent, the Hillary Clinton) model, is, in fact, been running off the rails and not at all delivering what it has promised.  But that seems to be the case with all blue social models and their components (ObamaCare anyone?).

Of course the trending away from that model is being roundly ignored by the left in the US.  Just as the economic wrecks that are Cuba and Venezuela are blamed on “extenuating circumstances.”

The left will never face the reality of their utopian central control’s failure everywhere and in whatever flavor it is tried.  There’s a reason for that.  It goes against everything that actually works.  Without “perfect knowledge” and then the means to implement it in a direct and timely fashion – two things which will never be achieved – it will always fail.  Most importantly, central control simply runs against human nature and therefore authoritarian governance to impose true socialism on the citizens.  And yes, the light form of that is indeed “social democracy” but to become anymore “socialist” requires government to move in a more authoritarian way to enable those sorts of “reforms”.  Instead, what you see in Europe is resistance coupled with a realization that this just isn’t working as advertised.

Thus the “trend” as discussed.  As more of the blue model is scrapped and countries begin to realize gains, other European countries will likely follow suit.

Meanwhile, in the US, we’re apparently considering adopting the model they’re moving away from.  And it certainly will be a rousing success.  They can’t make it work in countries with about one-eighth our population, but with the “competent” politicians and bureaucrats we have here, we’re sure to make it work.

Uh, huh.  Really.

~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 10 May 16

The Fed’s Labor Market Conditions index rose 1.2 points, but remained negative at -0.9 in April.

The NFIB Small Business Optimism Index rose 1.0 points to 93.6 in April.

The Labor Department’s JOLTS report showed a jump to 5.575 million job openings in March, versus 5.445 million in February.

Wholesale inventories rose 0.1% in March, but a 0.7% sales increase kept the stock-to-sales ratio unchanged at 1.36.

Redbook reports that last week’s retail sales growth rose to a still-weak 1.1% on a year-ago basis, from the previous week’s 0.6%.


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

Stray Voltage

I’ve been having internet access problems this week and am awaiting a new router from my provider.  It is supposed to be here today, but the day continues to pass.  Ah, well, such is life.

Speaking of life, I noticed the other day that mention of David Duke and the KKK bobbed to the surface of the media cess pool.  No mention of this that I can find, however:

A prominent leader in the Ku Klux Klan said the group is officially endorsing Hillary Clinton for president and has already donated $20,000 to her campaign.

Klan leader Will Quigg told Vocativ over the weekend, “For the KKK, Clinton is our choice,” adding, “She is friends with the Klan,” Quigg said. “A lot of people don’t realize that. She’s friends with [the late] Senator [Robert] Byrd. He’s been an Exulted Cyclops in the Klan. He’s been King Kleagle.”

The West Virginia senator was the leader of his state’s Klan chapter in the 1940s, according to Vocativ. In 2005, he publicly disavowed his involvement in the KKK, saying it was wrong. Upon his death in 2010, Clinton described Byrd as a “friend and mentor.” Byrd was among the longest serving senators in the body’s history, holding his seat continuously from 1959 until his passing.

Indeed.  And, in fact, he sets the record straight about the Klan:

As for Clinton, “All the stuff she’s saying now, she’s saying so she can get into office, okay? She doesn’t care about illegal immigrants—she’s acting like she does so she can get into office. Once she’s in office, then she’ll implement her policies. She’s a Democrat. The Klan has always been a Democratic organization,” Quigg said.

It certainly has.

John Cleese of Monty Python fame lets us in on his opinion concerning political correctness.  He’s not a fan:

And that’s why I’ve been warned recently, don’t go to most university campuses because the political correctness has been taken from being a good idea — which is, let’s not be mean particularly to people who are not able to look after themselves very well, that’s a good idea — to the point where any kind of criticism of any individual or group can be labelled cruel.

And the whole point about humor, the whole point about comedy — and believe you me, I’ve thought about it — is that all comedy is critical. Even if you make a very inclusive joke — like, “How do you make God laugh? Tell him your plans” — that’s about the human condition, it’s not excluding anyone, it’s saying we all have all these plans that probably won’t come and isn’t it funny that we still believe they’re going to happen. So that’s a very inclusive joke, but it’s still critical.

All humor is critical. If we start saying, “oh, we mustn’t criticize or offend them,” then humor is gone, and with humor goes a sense of proportion, and then, as far as I’m concerned, you’re living in 1984.

Welcome to “1984”, John.

John McCain:

“If Donald Trump is at the top of the ticket, here in Arizona, with over 30 percent of the vote being the Hispanic vote, no doubt that this may be the race of my life,” McCain said, according to a recording of the event obtained by POLITICO. “If you listen or watch Hispanic media in the state and in the country, you will see that it is all anti-Trump. The Hispanic community is roused and angry in a way that I’ve never seen in 30 years.”

Translation: “If Trump’s the nominee, I’m screwed.”

The one and only good reason I’ve found so far for Trump to be the GOP’s nominee.

The meddling of government in the health insurance business is having the predicted results.  Insurers are now considering dropping the “bronze” coverage plans … you know the one’s with the lowest payments and the highest deductibles?  Guess who buys those?  Right … the young and healthy because government has, by force of law, required them to be insured.  So if the bronze plans go the way of the former “if you like your plan, you can keep your plan” plans, what is then predictable?

If insurers do drop their bronze plans, it would have the effect of further destabilizing the marketplace, according to Sean Mullin, a senior director at Leavitt Partners. That’s because such enrollees, which tend to be lower-risk and want the cheapest plans, will likely leave the marketplace altogether, further depleting the exchanges’ share of healthier enrollees.

Because, you see, the fine will be cheaper than the available “silver” plans.

Brilliant.  Great job, Bammy.

Speaking of predicted, here’s another one:

Entry-level McDonald’s jobs will go to self-service kiosks rather than to humans under a $15 minimum wage, a former chief of the fast-food giant has warned.

In a guest article written on the Forbes site, former McDonald’s USA CEO Ed Rensi wrote that instituting a $15 minimum wage would mean “wiping out thousands of entry-level opportunities for people without many other options.”

Arguing that McDonald’s franchisees would not be able to absorb the additional labor costs that would come with a minimum wage of $15, Rensi suggested that the restaurant instead would turn to self-service kiosks to replace some employees. Customers don’t mind the kiosks and they have been successfully implemented in Europe, he said.

Watch the idiots who haven’t a clue about what are called the laws of economic blow a gasket when they discover that math too has laws, and $15 times 0 hours equals … $0.

Ah well, such is life.  Got my new router in while doing this and it makes all the difference in the world.  In fact, the speed test says I’m getting double the mps I was getting before.

At least for a moment, life is good!

Have a great weekend!

~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 6 May 16

Only 160,000 net new jobs were created in April, leaving the unemployment rate unchanged at 5.0%.  The departure of 362,000 people from the labor force drove the labor force participation rate down -0.2% to 82.8%. Average weekly hours rose 0.1 hours to 34.5 hours, and average hourly wearing rose $0.08 to $25.53.

Consumer credit rose a sharp $29.7 billion in March, including a very strong $11.1 billion increase in revolving credit.


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

Economic Statistics for 5 May 16

Chain stores today reported that year-on-year sales rates were weaker than March, which was an already weak month.

The Challenger Job-Cut Report shows that April layoff announcements swelled to 65,141 from 48,207 in March.

Gallup’s Good Jobs Rate rose 0.5% to 44.9% in April.

Initial weekly jobless claims rose 17,000 to 274,000. The 4-week average rose 2,000 to 258,000. Continuing claims fell 8,000 to 2.121 million.

The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index fell -1.4 points to 42.0 in the latest week.

The Fed’s balance sheet rose $2.6 billion last week, with total assets of $4.477 trillion. Reserve bank credit fell $-7.7 billion.

The Fed reports that M2 money supply rose by $62.8 billion in the latest week.


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

So now what?

Now that it seems it will be Trump or Clinton – two sides of the same coin.  No.  Two of the same side of the coin.  What is America, you know the country that the Obama administration left badly listing to port and rudderless, going to do now with that … choice?

As I and many here have pointed out, it’s not the politicians fault that those are our choices, it’s the voter’s fault.  They do what is necessary to get elected and stay there – the voters enable both of those things.  And then don’t pay attention to what’s going on, become party bots and go to the polls to pull one lever or another … as instructed.

I’m also enjoying a bit of irony.  Mainly at the expense of those who, in the past, have always told me that a vote for a libertarian candidate or being not willing to vote for the prevailing GOP candidate is as good as a “vote for the other side”.  Now that it appears that Trump will be the GOP’s candidate, I’m hearing a completely different tune from many of them.

The GOP has been known for quite some time as the “stupid party” and that moniker seems quite accurate and appropriate at the moment.

As for the Democrats, well they have an equally disgusting choice as their candidate.  She’s a criminal and as big a con artist as is Donald Trump.  She is, in the parlance, a grifter.  She, like the joker in the Oval Office at the moment, has never accomplished a thing in her time of “public service”.  In fact, the only thing she has going for her right now is she’s a woman – for the first “woman president” vote.  Of course we’ve just suffered through almost 8 years of that sort of first and apparently the country has a masochistic streak that is yet unsatisfied.

I mean either one of these idiots is an abysmal “choice” so it is clear that if either is elected we’ll again be led poorly and ineptly right toward the abyss.

It’s the perfect ending for a once great republic – regardless of who wins, we’ll end up being led off the cliff by a NY liberal.  How … apropos.

In the meantime, the libertarian party’s membership is booming.  Of course those coming on board are no more libertarian than Donald Trump is conservative.  But then, its about the only reasonably agreeable and calm port the defectors can find in this political sh*t storm.

~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 4 May 16

The nation’s international trade deficit fell to $-40.4 billion, but the month’s -3.6% drop in imports may signal falling demand.

Non-farm productivity fell an annualized -1.0% in the 1st Quarter of 2016, while unit labor costs rose 4.1%.

The ADP Employment Report estimates that only 156,000 private sector jobs were created in April.

Factory orders rose a solid 1.1% in March, following a downwardly revised -1.9% decline in February. 

Gallup’s U.S. Job Creation Index fell -2 points to 30 in April.

The PMI Services Index rose 1.5 points to 52.8 in April. Similarly, the ISM Non-Manufacturing Index rose 1.2 points to 55.7.

The MBA reports that mortgage applications fell -3.4% last week, with purchases up 1.0% but refis down -6.0%.


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

Venezuela: How bad is it?

It’s bad:

Despite breathless coverage of Venezuela’s vanishing supply of condomstoilet paper, and beer, perhaps the country’s most debilitating shortage has been that of food, which appears to be a motivating factor for growing antigovernment sentiment.

“I want the recall because I don’t have food,” one woman told the Venezuelan commentary site Contrapunto, referring to a referendum to recall President Nicolas Maduro that has so far reportedly drawn more than a million signatures in support.

“We want out of this agony — there is too much need in the streets,” another woman told Contrapunto. “We have much pressure because there is no food and every day we have to ask ourselves what we are going to eat.”

Many families have been reduced to one meal a day.  In a verdant and rich country, this is what socialism has brought them too.

And the idiocracy in charge?  Well, they’re reduced to abjectly stupid moves like this in an attempt to forestall the inevitable:

To try to shore up wages, Maduro on Sunday announced a 30% minimum-wage increase, which comes after a 25% hike on March 1 and is the 33rd wage boost since 1999. Beginning this month, workers and pensioners will earn 15,051 bolivars a month — only about $13, based on the black-market conversion rate, according to El País.

That amount may become even more paltry. Venezuela’s inflation rate in 2015 was 180.9%, according to the central bank, and the International Monetary Fund expects inflation in the country to reach 720% this year.

The acquisition of food has become the primary function of Venezuelans:

“I have to leave the house at 5 a.m., facing the risk of being killed, to stand in line all day and only buy two or three products,” Jhonny Mendez said.

Do yourself a favor and look through the pictures of the amount of food several families have in their house in a day that accompany the above article..  

What has happened in Venezuela is criminal … there’s no other word for it.  Chavez was a criminal and his henchman now in charge is also a criminal.  What they’ve done to that country is unforgivable.  And it was all predictable … in fact, it was predicted.  I also have a feeling it isn’t going to end well:

Meanwhile, the return El Niño, a cyclical weather phenomenon, leads to widespread power outages across the country as the authorities’ incompetence and corruption are laid bare. 76 percent of Venezuelans have fallen into poverty and 13 percent eat only twice a day. Maduro’s government is rejected by 85 percent of the population.

Looting last week was contained but the Governor of Lara, Henri Falcón, a former Chavista, noted that “this is a thousand times worse than the reasons that led to the ‘Caracazo.’” He added that, at any moment, the political, social and economic crisis may lead to a conflict of incalculable consequences.

~McQ

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

“Pawternity” leave the next goal of the entitled generation

It seems, this week, that I’m all about proving Shark’s point that “every time I think we’ve reached peak stupid, something new comes along to prove me wrong.”  Well here you go, Shark, the shot:

Bringing my adopted cat, Jameson, home with me in 2014 was one of the happiest days of my life.

Having to go back to work two days later was one of the worst.

While the rest of the country is hung up on the necessity of maternity leave — or even the newly coined “meternity” — one group continues to be overlooked when it comes to paid time off from work: new pet owners.

“Paw-ternity” leave is already a reality in the UK — the US pet-insurance provider Petplan found that nearly 5 percent of new pet owners in the UK were offered time off to care for their four-legged kids. (Not surprisingly, the UK is also light-years ahead of the US when it comes to maternity leave, offering up to 39 weeks of paid leave for new mothers.)

It’s time for the US to hop aboard the “paw-ternity” train. It’s not just because I want to stay home and cuddle on the couch with my new feline (which I do). When I adopted Jameson, he was 6 years old and had spent the previous year of his life in an animal shelter. He was suffering from several health problems after being neglected by his previous owner — and was skittish, nervous and uncertain about why he was suddenly being transported to a strange new home.

And the chaser:

Many pet experts agree that new pet owners should try their best to clear their schedule for the first few days following a new animal’s arrival. Not only can pets benefit from the comfort of being cared for by a loving parent after spending time in an animal shelter, but they require attention to be properly housebroken and trained so they don’t become a public nuisance.

Dear silly young woman who seems to think her choices should be paid for by others.  If you want to stay home with your new pet, companies have a thing called “vacation days.” You might have heard of them.  That’s right, you’re paid and everything.  And it isn’t like you can’t plan this sort of thing out.  You know, “hey, I have 10 days of vacation saved and I want a new pet – perfect, I’ll take vacation and stay home with it”.   Then you can housebreak the little nipper and prevent it from becoming a public nuisance at the same time.  See how that works?

What doesn’t work is this sort of demand that others take up the slack and pay your for time off just because you’ve made a choice that has absolutely nothing to do with them or your work.

But we all know the real bottom line here.  The equating of pets with children gives the entrée into demanding the same sort of treatment that new mothers get.  Because, you know, going to the pet store and pointing to a cat in a cage is just the same as carrying a baby for 9 months and then bearing the child.  So let’s face the truth.  You want time with your pet but you don’t want to spend your vacation days to do that.

What does that make you?  Well mostly a spoiled and entitled child who will one day live in a ramshackle house with 100 cats, living on a pittance of Social Security (because you had difficulty holding on to work) and rail against the world for not giving you the time you demanded when you only had one.

~McQ

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!