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Free Markets, Free People

Economic Statistics for 9 Oct 14

Chain stores today are reporting moderate increases in rates of year-on-year sales growth in September.

A drop in wholesale sales of -0.7% swelled inventories by 0.7%, leading to a hefty stock-to-sales ratio of 1.19.

Initial weekly jobless claims fell 1,000 to 287,000. The 4-week average fell 7,000 to 287,750. Continuing claims  fell 21,000 to 2.381 million.

The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index rose 2 points to 36.8 in the latest week.

The Fed’s balance sheet rose $5.1 billion last week, with total assets of $4.455 trillion. Reserve bank credit rose $3.9 billion.

The Fed reports that M2 money supply fell by $-7.3 billion in the latest week.


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Of homeschooling and purple penguins

So I’m reading Kevin Williams National Review article about the state of Connecticut wanting to pass a law that requires homeschooling parents “to present their children to the local authorities periodically for inspection, to see to it that their psychological and social growth is proceeding in the desired direction.”  This is in the wake of the Sandy Hook killings and implies that the problem was centered in “homeschooling” and not the fact that the killer was a mental case.  Not only that he was a well-known mental case having been in public schools until, as a last resort, he was home schooled.  Williamson then goes on to put forward the real reason the Sandy Hook excuse is being used.  And it is something any life long observer of the “progressive left” figured out years and years ago:

The Left’s model of society is still the model of Marx and Bismarck: one big factory to be managed by experts. The government schools are an assembly line for human widgets, who are in theory there to be taught what the state requires them to know in order to fulfill their roles as workers, administrators, and other bits of human machinery. That is the assumption behind President Obama’s insistence that “if you quit on school, you’re not just quitting on yourself — you’re quitting on your country.” Students are also there to be instructed in the official, unspoken state ideology: submission to official power.

The Left’s organizing principle is control, and the possibility that children might commonly be raised outside of its control matrix is an existential threat from the progressive point of view. Institutions such as free markets and free speech terrify progressives, because they are the result of arrangements in which nobody is in control.

This is just another attempt at exerting control over a segment of society which eschews that control and the indoctrination it entails.  And the thin gruel provided by the Sandy Hook tragedy was all the excuse necessary to try to exert control over this segment.  It also sends a message – “we believe homeschooling may be the bastion of extremists”.

More than anything exerting such control serves both a constituency and an ideology which identified education decades ago as the road to political success.

If you have not followed the issue closely, it is probably impossible for you to understand how intensely the Left and the government-school monopoly hate, loathe, and distrust home-schooling and home-school families. Purportedly serious scholars such as Robin West of Georgetown denounce them as trailer trash living “on tarps in fields or parking lots” and write wistfully of the day when home-schooling was properly understood: “Parents who did so were criminals, and their kids were truants.” The implicit rationale for the heavy regulation of home-schooling — that your children are yours only at the sufferance of the state — is creepy enough; in fact, it is unambiguously totalitarian and reduces children to the status of chattel. That this is now being framed in mental-health terms, under the theory that Lanza might not have committed his crimes if he had had the benefit of the tender attentions of his local school authorities, is yet another reminder of the Left’s long and grotesque history of using corrupt psychiatry as a tool of politics.

But take a moment to fully appreciate the absurdity of the Malloy gang’s assumption. Our public schools are dysfunctional, depressing, frequently dangerous places. Their architecture is generally penal, incorporating precisely the same sort of perimeter control as one sees in a low-security prison, with dogs, metal detectors, and the whole apparatus of control at hand. They are frequently run bynakedly corrupt, self-serving men and women who are not above rigging test scores to pad out their bonuses and who will fight to the end to keep pedophiles on the payroll if doing so serves their political interests, as in the case of California. They cannot even keep their teachers from raping their students, but they feel competent issuing orders that every family present its children for regular inspection in the name of the children’s “social and emotional learning needs.”

Contrary to all of the sanctimony surrounding them, the government schools are in fact the single most destructive institution in American public life, and they are the bedrock of the Left’s power, providing billions of dollars in campaign contributions and millions of man-hours for Democratic campaigns. But they do more than that: They are the real-life version of those nightmarish incubator pods from The Matrix, and home-schooling is a red pill. We entrust our children to the state for twelve or thirteen years, during which time they are subjected to a daily regimen that is, like the school buildings themselves, more than a little reminiscent of the penitentiary: “bells and cells,” as one of my teachers used to call it. They are instructed in obedience and compliance, as though the most important skill in life were the ability to sit quietly and follow instructions; those children who are more energetic than the authorities care for are given psychiatric diagnoses and very often put on psychiatric drugs: Since the 1980s, the rate of antidepressant prescription for children has increased five-fold, while the rate of antipsychotic prescription has increased six-fold. Locking children up for the largest part of the day, in a dreary room with 20 to 30 other children all born within nine or ten months of each other, is a model that make sense — that is something other than insane — only if you think of children as batches — if you believe, as our president and those who share his views believe, that the children are the government schools’ product rather than their customers.

And that “product” is trained and expected to follow its indoctrination – you know, things like this:

A Nebraska school district has instructed its teachers to stop referring to students by “gendered expressions” such as “boys and girls,” and use “gender inclusive” ones such as “purple penguins” instead.

“Don’t use phrases such as ‘boys and girls,’ ‘you guys,’ ‘ladies and gentlemen,’ and similarly gendered expressions to get kids’ attention,” instructs a training document given to middle-school teachers at the Lincoln Public Schools.

“Create classroom names and then ask all of the ‘purple penguins’ to meet on the rug,” it advises. 

The document also warns against asking students to “line up as boys or girls,” and suggests asking them to line up by whether they prefer “skateboards or bikes/milk or juice/dogs or cats/summer or winter/talking or listening.”

“Always ask yourself . . . ‘Will this configuration create a gendered space?’” the document says.

The instructions were part of a list called “12 steps on the way to gender inclusiveness” developed by Gender Spectrum, an organization that “provides education, training and support to help create a gender sensitive and inclusive environment for children of all ages.”

Other items on the list include asking all students about their preferred pronouns and decorating the classroom with “all genders welcome” door hangers.

If teachers still find it “necessary” to mention that genders exist at all, the document states, they must list them as “boy, girl, both or neither.”

Furthermore, it instructs teachers to interfere and interrupt if they ever hear a student talking about gender in terms of “boys and girls” so the student can learn that this is wrong.

“Point out and inquire when you hear others referencing gender in a binary manner,” it states. “Ask things like . . . ‘What makes you say that? I think of it a little differently.’ Provide counter-narratives that challenge students to think more expansively about their notions of gender.”

The teachers were also given a handout created by the Center for Gender Sanity, which explains to them that “Gender identity . . . can’t be observed or measured, only reported by the individual,” and an infographic called “The Genderbred Person,” which was produced by www.ItsPronouncedMetroSexual.com.

But the real problem and danger is among the homeschooled.  Meanwhile, in the public schools, the enculturation continues unabated.  The product, if metaphorically beaten over the head with nonsense like “purple penguins” will learn to eventually pretend reality doesn’t exist and that “gender” is actually a figment of the oppressor’s imagination.  What they can’t risk is individualism – those who will pull the curtain back and reintroduce reality into the world.  Homeschoolers are one segment that threaten that exposure because they reject the indoctrination.  Time to get them under control.  Time to make it more and more difficult for homeschoolers to continue to do what they do.  Because as far as the left is concerned, the future belongs to “purple penguins” – as determined by their betters, of course.

~McQ

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More self-inflicted economic problems on the way

The Obama economy is a mess, with median incomes retreating, fudged employment numbers and generally the usual mess you can expect from a over-regulated and highly manipulated “market”.  In other words, it stinks because of government as much as anything else.  Our betters seem not to understand the very basics of human nature – humans respond to incentives.  So they continue to cobble together more and more feel good projects (i.e. they make the “elite” feel good) that backfire.  Why?  Because humans respond to disincentives as well – and their feel good projects are long on disincentives, something they can’t seem to wrap their heads around.

By design, the next example of that will take place after the November mid-term elections:

Starting this year, the United States’ working population will face three major employment disincentives resulting from the very benefits the Affordable Care Act (ACA) provides: (1) an explicit tax on full-time work, (2) an implicit tax on full-time work for those who are ineligible for the ACA’s health insurance subsidies, and (3) an implicit tax that links the amount of available subsidies to workers’ incomes.

A new study published by the Mercatus Center at George Mason University advances the understanding of how much these ACA taxes will reduce overall employment, and why. It concludes that the reduction will be nearly double that projected by previous analyses. Labor markets ultimately will reduce weekly employment per person by about 3 percent—translating to roughly 4 million fewer full-time-equivalent workers.

4 million more jobs in an economy already suffering one of the lowest labor participation rates in its history.  Why have “middle class” wages stagnated or dropped?  One major reason has to do with disincentives like this.  Its like the $15 minimum wage trope.  Force it on business and they have a “disincentive” to hire people for jobs that aren’t worth that and an incentive to automate or go short handed and double up the work on someone else.

That’s precisely the type of disincentive that ObamaCare is about to inflict on the economy.  We’ll then hear the usual nonsense about greedy and uncaring companies and how the “market” has failed us.  It is as predictable as the next blizzard being somehow blamed on global warming.

Meanwhile, these 4 million that may join the currently unemployed are real people who will suffer real problems because of the disincentive provided by a very poorly thought out law that won’t effect those who passed it.  All Democrats can hope is that enough people will drop off the unemployment roles by the time the next presidential election rolls around that the fudged unemployment stats look acceptable.

What a hell of a way to run a railroad.

~McQ

 

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Economic Statistics for 7 Oct 14

ICSC-Goldman reports weekly retail sales rose 0.1%, and rose 3.9% on a year-over-year basis. Redbook reports retail sales rose 5.4% on a year-ago basis.

Gallup’s Economic Confidence Index rose 1 point in September to -15.

Consumer credit rose a lower-than-expected $13.5 billion in August, as revolving credit slipped to $0.2 billion.


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The lunacy of liberalism

I’m not sure how else to describe actions like this.  Here’s the lede from an article about George Will being uninvited from an appearance at Scripps College:

A prominent conservative political pundit was uninvited from speaking at Scripps College, in a program designed to promote conservative views on campus, because of his conservative views.

Got that?  Yes, it is terribly written, but still, you have to almost laugh at the irony.  Because of his conservative views, he was uninvited from a speaking engagement that was supposed to promote conservative views.

You simply can’t make up half the stuff the left does.  Apparently the trigger was a column Will wrote about campus “rape”.  I put rape in scare quotes because many schools now have such a broad definition of rape that you may be at risk by simply saying “hello” to a woman who doesn’t particularly care for  you.  Like “racism”, rape is being radically redefined on campus and Will had the temerity to address that.

Apparently, those at the college disagree with much of what Will said in the column.  And so, totally untrue to their supposed academic claims, they’ve cancelled Will:

The Elizabeth Hubert Malott Public Affairs Program was established under the belief that “a range of opinions about the world – especially opinions with which we may not agree, or think we do not agree – leads to a better educational experience,” according to the Scripps College website.

That’s certainly one way to discourage “opinions with which they may not agree”, but the cancellation certainly doesn’t lead “to a better educational experience” does it?  In fact it should make it clear that opinions they don’t agree with are not at all welcome at the campus.  Instead of taking the opportunity to challenge Will on their own home ground, they ban him.  It certainly wouldn’t surprise me then, to find out that the college also bans certain books that don’t conform to their orthodoxy.  I mean, why not?

If I were considering going there, that would be a huge warning sign that I would be sure to heed.

Unless, of course, you’ve a desire for indoctrination.  Then Scripps may be the place for you.

~McQ

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Open access will make it harder to control things….

Not narrowly restricting egress of people from West Africa will make Ebola harder to control and will limit unrest.

“Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, part of the National Institutes of Health, said Sunday that a travel embargo on West African countries that are struggling with Ebola would make it much harder for them to control the virus.

“You isolate them, you can cause unrest in the country,” Fauci told “Fox News Sunday.” `’It’s conceivable that governments could fall if you just isolate them completely.”

Here’s the AP article.    Tony is probably a smart guy, probably lots of letters after his name on his stationary and business cards.  Probably from highly touted schools.    Would it be improper of me to ask about the unrest being caused HERE?  Or are we just supposed to suck it up and let ‘our government’ admit anyone they want to (that would be, yes).

Imagine a country where the leadership has let things get bad enough that people want to remove the current leaders and change the government.   Can’t have that.  The Obama administration understands that because they have a wealth of experience garnered through hard work and extremely careful planning in Libya.   Perhaps that’s why the new approach is to use us as the world’s unrest relief valve and let the unhappy people come here instead.

Dr Tom Frieden thinks banning civilian travel would make it harder to get relief to them.

“Frieden added that a travel ban could make it difficult to get medical supplies and aid workers to the affected regions in West Africa.”

“We really need to be clear that we don’t inadvertently increase the risk to people in this country by making it harder for us to respond to the needs in those countries,” he said, “by making it harder to get assistance in and therefore those outbreaks would become worse, go on longer, and paradoxically, something that we did to try and protect ourselves might actually increase our risk.”

Now, I know what he’s saying is those civilian flights can carry medically trained passengers and medical equipment, and medicines.  Yes they can.   And Domino’s or Asia Wok can deliver pizza or sushi directly to people in isolation here and the pharmacies that do prescription delivery can bring them their medications.   They can, but I don’t think they should and I bet the rank and file in the CDC doesn’t think they should either.   Let the government send aid, let WHO send aid.  Let them charter the planes from the airlines that won’t be flying civilian traffic into those locations.

Frieden also doesn’t want to make it harder for Americans or other people who are allowed to enter the US  to return home. You know what?  it SHOULD be harder, they’re coming from a biological HOT Zone.

It’s hard on those 4 people that are in quarantine here in Dallas.  It’s hard on the others that came in contact with Ebola Zero and are under observation to see if they’ve been infected, and it’s hard on the rest of us wondering if the vagrant that rode in the ambulance after Ebola Zero got transported,  might have caught it before the ambulance was taken out of service and isolated.. and before they lost track of the vagrant (they know where he is, now….only 6 days later of course).

Newsflash Mr. head of the CDC – you can test and quarantine them there, or you can test and quarantine them here.  One way, or another.   Personally I think quarantining them THERE, where the disease is already running around is a much better option than quarantining them HERE, where they can elect to go to school a couple days after you’ve told them they’re in quarantine and are not to leave the house.

Why should the rest of us risk potential exposure because someone traveled for business, pleasure or personal reasons to a West African country where Ebola is literally in the streets?

Why should it NOT be more difficult for them?  This epidemic isn’t new.  It started in December of 2013, so we’re just 2 months shy of a year.   Maybe people traveling to West Africa believe in the magic the DHS and CDC have used so far to stop disease from entering the US.  That would be the magic created by letting anyone, and I do mean anyone, into the country.  Oh, okay, I think we might have a special watch list for grannies from Idaho in wheelchairs, but so far I see we’re okay with Central American gang members, Central American kids with EV-D68 and people from Liberia with Ebola.

Clearly at this point anyone traveling to West Africa is kinda comfortable doing so because they do it.   There is a reason I don’t swim in alligator bayous, belly crawl into rattlesnake dens or run into houses on fire; because I’m not comfortable doing those things.   I don’t much care how they accomplish the restriction but from a government that has nearly banned your consumption of trans-fats, you’d think maybe a ban on travel to and from Ebolalaland would be a natural thing.

So, let them be tested there, and quarantined there in accordance with the choices they themselves made to travel there.

There’s a reason you channel access to contagious people and places.  You do it to CONTROL the access, and try and limit the danger.   Not that I have a tremendous amount of faith in government channeling and control right now and it could be because these bozos keep talking like this.

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Seriously Unserious

Reporting from the ‘hot zone’ here in Dallas it strikes me that our Federal government is seriously unserious about the many serious situations confronting the country today.   Maybe it’s selfish, but my main concern right now is the seriously unserious way that Ebola Patient Zero and his immediate “family” and contancts have been dealt with here since before it was confirmed he WAS Ebola Patient Zero.

Hey, the good news is now I’m not as seriously concerned about ISIS sneaking across the border and causing mayhem here in the homeland, but that’s not because the problem went away, it’s because I went from minor worrying maybe about Islamic ‘splodedopes to worrying about being hit by a for real here now biological WMD.

Let’s start with the after the fact assurances we get from the “gentleman” in the White House.  Last night we’re told we’re prepared to stop Ebola from gaining a foothold here in the US.   Weeeeeeeeellllll, I feel so much better now.   They’ll stop it from gaining a foothold.   That’s as opposed to stopping it from getting here, which they told us a couple weeks ago was almost a certainty.   Part of the plan to stop it involved the point of entry at Dulles – which is where Ebola Patient Zero deplanned from Liberia to get on his plane to Dallas 2 weeks ago.  Yep, we’ll stop em at Dulles.   Oh, wait.   Welcome to America, have a nice day sir.

I don’t blame the Federal government for the action of the local hospital sending the guy home after he told them he was from Liberia and had flu like symptoms.   Maybe I should.  I do blame the Feds for letting the guy GET to the local hospital so the second in a long series of screw ups could occur.  I understand medical pros in Dallas  might not make a connection between flu symptoms, and Liberia and Ebola – sadly a lot of Americans don’t know where Liberia is (that’s between France and Italy, right?)  and they are or were probably not tuned in to Ebola because they’re kinda worried about Kendra and Hank right now and there’s just no time for that Ebola stuff which is very unlikely to be a problem here in the US because, as we see now, hope.

I do blame the Federal government for the way those in contact with the guy have been handled – 4 people quarantined in the apartment where the sweaty sheets from Ebola Patient Zero were still on the bed or in plastic garbage bags until yesterday.   It’s like someone is trying to ensure the 4 people in that apartment are infected.  You know, the odds weren’t high enough from them interacting with him, let’s make sure they get it by leaving them in the apartment where his ‘bodily fluids’ are still available to them.   This is a virus.   You can catch the flu when someone sneezes, or wipes their nose, touches a counter, and you wander by an hour later, touch the same counter, and then rub your eyes.   The bodily fluids thing is a form of lie the government keep tossing out to imply that since we probably didn’t have sex with the guy, swap spit with him or shoot up some drugs on a shared needle, we’re pretty much all good, don’t worry.   Just don’t touch that grocery cart handle after he sneezed into his hand and then went to buy Tylenol Cold and Flu, okay?

Now,  the President, who thinks he personally can authorize the admission of several millions of illegal immigrants, tells us that he is NOT going to bar travel from the countries where Ebola is running loose.   That doesn’t seem like it would be that hard to do, or unreasonable. It doesn’t even seem like it would be considered “mean’ if we did so.  They’ve done it in the UK and they’re highly PC these days.  And TSA, the people who won’t let you bring a bottle of water on the airplane, are waving people possibly infected with a virus that has a better kill rate than smallpox off the planes and telling them to have a pleasant stay.

Yesterday, about 5 days after Ebola Zero is confirmed and isolated, they show up to the apartment he got sick in, in HAZMAT suits and seal the place off.   Oh, goody.   It only took 5 days.   Hurrah.   Government pretending they’re serious about the job they claim we need them for.  5 days of serious.

Based on the number of stories, story versions, stonewalling and outright lies that this administration has told us, and I won’t recount them here, again – are YOU feeling real good about the Federal government stopping this?   At this point they have me wondering if someone thinks we don’t have enough patients diagnosed with Ebola, that there aren’t enough situations yet and we need more.   Maybe they think this will sell ObamaCare, maybe they want a crisis they can save us from.

I don’t know, but I do know if I ever trusted them I don’t any more.   I know if I was in a position to hand out bonuses right now we can bet I’d also be in a position to fire people.  Guess which of the two I’d be contemplating.    Most of us who work for a living are expected to be at least marginally good at what we’re paid for.   This isn’t supposed to be rocket science where they have to think on their feet, there are ALREADY supposed to be procedures in place for this.      5 days to HAZMAT the place, 5 days to take the possible vectors to some kind of secure medical facility where I think it’s pretty certain they’re going to come down with Ebola, given their level of contact with Ebola Patient Zero.

Last year in January the DFW area was in the grip of the common flu – over half the area hospitals that were checked by a station doing a news report were claiming they were at capacity for the number of flu patients they could handle.   There had been about 40 deaths at that point.   Now remember flu usually only manages to kill the very young, the old or the immune system challenged.   But it was reported as a crisis, that so many of the hospitals were at capacity dealing with flu patients.

Flu…  Think about that and consider a virus that has a kill rate of somewhere between 40 and 90 percent depending on where you’re being treated and, largely, what facilities and personnel are available to treat you.   Then consider they have 100 people under observation in the Dallas Metroplex with their finger crossed hoping they aren’t already infected with the virus.

Consider one of the 4 quarantined victims went to school last Wednesday after she’d been quarantined.   Consider they were just recently (yesterday) taken from the apartment and placed in a ‘secure’ and ‘secret’ location and the apartment was cleaned and sealed.  Consider President PGA has no intention of halting flights from the Ebola infected countries.

Consider the previous promises that it was unlikely to ever get here, and consider the new promises that they’ll prevent it from spreading.

Seriously, why should we believe them?

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