Questions and Observations

Free Markets, Free People

Economic Statistics for 2 May 16

The PMI Manufacturing Index for April fell -0.7 points to a barely-positive 50.8.

Construction spending rose 0.3% in March, and is up 8.0% on a year-over-year basis.

Right in line with the PMI Index, the ISM Manufacturing index dropped -1.0 point in April to 50.8.

Gallup’s US Consumer Spending Measure for April reports that Americans’ self-reported daily spending rose $6 to $95.


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

Government hands out license to kill to favored industry

One of the important economic truths we who pay attention to markets have learned is the government should never be involved in picking economic winners and losers.  It’s doomed to failure and it is even more doomed when driven by politics – which usually ignores reality for utopian visions they try to pay for with your money.

The recent utopian dream shared by the left and our leftists in government has been “clean energy”.  Like wind turbines and solar.  Why?  Well it would help create a much more clean and healthy environment where the birds and bees and flowers and trees would all be much happier.  And, after all, it is our responsibility to take the necessary steps to protect our wildlife.

You mean, like birds, right?

According to a study in the Wildlife Society Bulletin, every year 573,000 birds (including 83,000 raptors) and 888,000 bats are killed by wind turbines — 30 percent higher than the federal government estimated in 2009, due mainly to increasing wind power capacity across the nation.[i] This is likely an underestimate because these estimates were based on 51,630 megawatts of installed wind capacity in the United States in 2012 and wind capacity has grown since then to 65,879 megawatts. And, at one solar power plant in California, an estimated 3,500 birds died in just the plant’s first year of operation.[ii]

Oh wait, that’s not supposed to happen!  And when it does, don’t the leftist environmental groups go batsh*t crazy (no pun intended).

I mean look how they were when oil was the culprit killing birds:

Over the past five years, about 2.9 million birds were killed by wind turbines. That compares to about 800,000 birds that a Mother Jones Blog estimated to have been killed by the BP oil spill that occurred in April 2010[iii]—5 years ago–despite not all of them showing visible signs of oil.[1] Nevertheless, BP was fined $100 million for killing and harming migratory birds due to that oil spill. In comparison, the nation’s wind turbines killed more than 3 times the number of birds than did the BP oil spill over the past 5 years. And, wind turbines routinely kill federally protected birds and eagles.

Why I’m sure there have been protests and all by environmentalists haven’t there?  And media coverage!  I mean I remember watching hours of oil soaked bird footage on CNN and the other networks.  Where’s the outrage?  And where is the fines for this gross violation of all the leftist environmentalists hold sacred?  Why isn’t the federal government stepping in and doing something?

Oh, they did?  Boy, did they:

The Obama Administration on December 9, 2013, finalized a regulation that allows wind energy companies and others to obtain 30-year permits to kill eagles without prosecution by the federal government. The American Bird Conservancy filed suit in federal court against the Department of the Interior, charging it with multiple violations of federal law. [viii] Nonetheless, the Shiloh IV Wind Project in California, for example, received a permit from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service allowing it to kill eagles, hawks, peregrine falcons, owls and songs birds while not being subjected to the normal prohibitions afforded under the federal Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act and the Migratory Treaty Act.[ix]

Now that, my friends, is truly outrageous.  Different standards for different industries – one fined at the first ruffled feather because it is the unfavored industry, and the other given a license to slaughter what we all believed to be “protected species”.

Your government at work, picking winners and losers and excusing the winners from adhering to the law.  Special treatment.  Is that equal treatment under the law?

Well of course not … but it is how banana republics do things.

~McQ

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

If you like your pistol, you can keep it.

From the same bozo and administration that brought you the highly successful health care insurance scam, I mean plan, now we’re talking about spending tax dollars, your tax dollars, on ‘smart’ guns, uh, for government agencies only though.

The general idea being that if we give cops and DHS and the Army smart guns ‘accidental’ discharges from the ‘unauthorized use’ of   weapons will be reduced.

“These common-sense steps are not going to prevent every tragedy, but what if they prevented even one?”

We’re not doing things for the children any more, now we do things to prevent just one tragedy.

What a pity President bozo and his Secretary of State, madam un-indicted felon didn’t take action to prevent 4 tragedies on September 11, 2012 in Libya huh?

But I digress.

So we’ll dump money, your money, my money, into studies, and subsidize spending on weapons systems and methodologies that allow a firearm to identify the owner before it can be fired.  All sounds like a great idea, who doesn’t want little kids not to get shot, or pets, or whoever gets shot that didn’t sorta deserve to be shot.    How could anyone be against that, right?

Note the usual caveats here – it’s only for government agencies or military weapon purchases and it’s just studies and developing the technology, etc.   So, no fear, they’re not coming for your weapons ‘Merica, nope nope nope.

I wasn’t aware that there were a large number of accidental discharges by military, national, state and local firearm carrying authorities that were causing tragedies, or is there news I’m missing?

Let’s get real shall we?  The study is just the foot in the door that allows the salesmen to develop and sell us the technology, and the weapons, which, I’m sure, will be dirt cheap dontchaknow.  And it’s probably not just pistols we’re talking about here, assume it’s all types of fire arms because unauthorized and accidental discharges have gotta be stopped and since crazy Americans won’t give up their guns, we can at least make them safer, right?

Assume for the moment they are successful.  Certainly not going to happen under bozo’s administration, but it’s a path to be followed, and probably will continue after he’s left office, because this is government, and studies are studies, and hey, it’s not their money so who cares if they drop millions on it.  Chevy Volt owners might buy one if we give them a $7500 tax credit.   And it’s not like we’re going to ask for the money back from the people who we gave the grants or subsidies to, because that’s not how it works.

Alas, there’s only about 357 million problems with this plan.  That would be the current number of weapons in the hands of American citizens that don’ t use this technology.

Believe me, they’ll want you to understand right up front, you’ll still be able to hang on to granddad’s vaunted Colt 1911 even if it means that we might not prevent a tragedy until those old crappy low tech weapons are finally off the street sometime in the far future.  Maybe they’ll even allow you to trade your old junkers straight up for flashy new electrical ones!

Yeah I’m sure, no one will write any laws or regulations that will make the old weapons illegal once they create this cool technology, and make it practical, and workable, and maybe even affordable.

Sure.  If you like your old weapons, you’ll still be able to keep them.

You can trust Barack, right?

 

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

Economic Statistics for 28 Apr 16

The initial estimate for 1st Quarter 2016 GDP came in at a lower-than-expected annualized rate of 0.5%. The GDP price index rose 0.7%.

The Kansas City Fed Manufacturing Index rose 2 points to a still-negative -4.

Weekly initial jobless claims rose 9,000 to 257,000. The 4-week average fell 4,750 to 256,000, the lowest in 42 years. Continuing claims fell 5,000 to 2.130 million which is the lowest in 16 years.

The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index rose 0.5 points to 43.4.

The Fed’s balance sheet fell $15.5 billion last week, with total assets of $4.475 trillion. Reserve bank credit fell $-7.0 billion.

The Fed reports that M2 money supply rose by $16.1 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

Guns rob attackers of their “right to a fair trial”. No. Really.

Yesterday, the Shark said: “Every time I think we’ve reached peak stupid, something new comes along to prove me wrong.”  Well, to prove Shark’s point, I found this:

The Second Amendment is highly contested. There is no doubt that people do have the right to carry and have a stockpile of guns (“the right of the people to keep and bear arms”) and a state has the right to organize a well-regulated Militia. But, the main issue is on the right to self-defend with a firearm.

The main problem with the notion of self-defense is it imposes on justice, for everyone has the right for a fair trial. Therefore, using a firearm to defend oneself is not legal because if the attacker is killed, he or she is devoid of his or her rights.

To say this is probably one of the stupidest things I’ve ever read would be an  understatement.  It is certainly an indicator of how far the left will go in it’s “reasoning” to deny you the use of a gun and your basic right to self-defense.  I said “basic” but self-defense is indeed an inherent right.  You need no one’s permission to exercise it because you own your life and without protecting it, you would obviously cease to exist.

That apparently is lost on this statist rube.  Let’s lay this out a little differently.  This Huffington Post writer is attempting to persuade you that a civil right (an actual societal construct applicable only to a particular society) is somehow superior to an inherent right (a right that is yours without anyone or anything granting it.   It is your existence and its requirements for survival that “grant” it.  The right is applicable to all mankind without exception. It can be violated, but it can’t be taken away.).  We have an idiot here who claims that if you defend yourself your action “imposes on justice”?

Wtf?  Your action, especially if you successfully defend yourself, IS justice!  And how you do it or with what is irrelevant!  Gun?  Knife?  Crowbar?  Throat punch?  Each and every one of those may “impose on justice”, as he defines it and is your right.  But this dolt tries to sell that as a primary reason to restrict the ownership of guns.  Only cops should have guns and you should defer your “self-defense” to them!

This is a person that has no concept of inherent rights, what they mean and why they’re necessary.  So he writes slop like this!  And it gets worse as his “reasoning” stays in the ditch and hits a concrete culvert several times.  No airbags deployed because his ideas weren’t worth spit to begin with and certainly not worth saving.

So Shark … suck it up bud.  We’re not even close to “peak” stupidity.  The stupid machine keeps on churning and the manure keeps on plopping out.

~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 27 Apr 17

Stating that the economy “appears to have slowed” and household spending has moderated, The Federal Open Markets Committee left short-term interest rates unchanged, with a Fed Funds target rate of 0.25-0.50%.

The NAR’s Pending Home Sales Index rose 1.4% in March to 110.5.

March’s international trade deficit narrowed by a sharp -9.5% to $-56.9 billion, with exports down -1.7%, and imports plunging by -4.4%. Consumer goods imports fell -9.1%, indicating decreasing consumer demand.

The MBA reports that mortgage applications fell -4.1% last week, with purchases down -2.0% and refis down -5.0%.


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

Cheerleaders must conform!

Still fascinated by all of this.  This mossy little sub-culture that suddenly sprouted all these oversensitive and whiny little crybabies in the one institution where they ought to be trying on their big boy and girl pants fascinates me.  Kind of like a bacteria culture fascinates a bacteriologist. And besides, what’s to say about Trump and Clinton?  A con man and a crook are likely to be the nominees, brought to you by … “democracy”.

Anyway, now, apparently, there is hell to be paid at the University of Washington because the “cheer team” (what we used to call “cheerleaders”) offended some of the overweight and pasty womyn who populate gender and feminist studies.  They apparently had the gall to notify those who were interested in the “cheer team” what was expected.

Cheerleaders, it turns out, are expected to have a certain look.

“U-Dub” students (hey, that’s just one letter away from U Dumb!) were unloading on social media, crying to counselors and fleeing to safe spaces after the cheer team posted an infographic describing the look to strive for if you’re planning to try out for the squad. (In the routinely craven manner of all universities, the UW spirit program ordered the graphic removed and called in nine tons of smelling salts for those affected.)

I repeat: The graphic was aimed only at young women seeking to be cheerleaders. Pasty-faced Womyn’s Struggles majors attending rallies in shapeless sweatshirts, and black-clad Emily Dickinson fans emoting agonized coffeehouse verse were not the target audience.

So, the graphic apparently “offended” the “uninterested” (i.e. those who had no intention of joining the cheer team but had no problem whatsoever passing judgement on their methods) to the point that they became interested because …

“I can’t believe this is real,” Jazmine Perez, the student government’s director of programming told the Seattle Times. “One of the first things that comes to mind is objectification and idealization of Western beauty,” she harrumphed.

[…]

Signe Burchim, a UW senior, added, “I think it’s really upsetting and kind of disheartening the way it’s basically asking these women who want to try out to perform their femininity — but not too much.” She said men would never be subjected to such a message while trying out for a sport.

The worldly Signe Burchim, UW senior, and person with so much knowledge of what goes on out in the real world absolutely and positively knows this to be a fact … well, according to her woman studies prof.  Men are never asked to meet the standards of some group or team they would like to join (I assume there are men on the “cheer team”).  Ever.

As for Ms. Perez and her attempt to make this about race, sorry, a swing and a miss.  As the NY Post points out:

Contrary to Ms. Perez — who reminds us that college is a place where you pay $50,000 a year to unlearn the obvious — female beauty standards like facial symmetry and waist-hip ratio are pretty much universal. But here’s the thing she missed: The graphic made no demand that cheerleaders be pretty. Everything illustrated has to do with styling and presentation, not your actual attractiveness. And no, it isn’t racist: Race is nowhere mentioned or implied.

Tailoring your look to a group’s standards is how almost everything works. You don’t show up to play baseball in a scuba suit. You don’t show up for a business meeting in board shorts and flip-flops, unless you work in Silicon Valley, in which case you don’t show up in a tie and wingtips. And you don’t wear Goth makeup, “Born To Be Bad” tats and fishnet tights to a cheerleading tryout — unless you’re doing a performance art piece, which might actually be funny.

If you want to be a cheerleader, your hair should have “volume” and your eyelashes should be “false,” because that’s how cheerleaders roll. You don’t like it? Fine, do what everyone who feels the same way has been doing for decades: Sit in the bleachers, roll your eyes, make snarky jokes and stew in your jealousy.

But hey, these precious snowflakes have learned that almost anything that doesn’t make them feel happy is likely to have something to do with the patriarchy, racism, sexism, miscegenation, white privilege or some other yet to be identified shortcoming of the dominant culture.  Don’t believe they learn it at school?  Check out this email from a professor at the University of Missouri before it all went in the ditch:

Dr. Tim Evans, an associate professor in the Department of Veterinary Pathology, writes to his colleagues: “I applaud the support provided to our protesting students who, regardless of whether you agree or disagree with them, are using what they have learned in the classroom and putting it to practice.”

If what Dr. Evans says is true, what a profound disservice the faculties of these schools are doing to their students.  As I’ve said any number of times, they’re letting the inmates run the asylum, and make no mistake, given the level of this sort of nonsense now ongoing at various schools, they more closely resemble asylums than they do institutions of higher learning.

But there’s a backlash building and the University of Missouri is only the tip of that iceberg.  Parents recognized the inmates were in charge and pulled their kids or decided against sending them to that university.  Money talks, SJW BS walks.

It is indeed going to be both fascinating and entertaining watching how this all finally sorts itself out.  But I can’t at all help observe it all with glee as the very people who taught and enabled this generation of whiners and crybabies are the first it consumes.

~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 26 Apr 16

Durable goods orders rose 0.8% in March, though orders are still down -2.5% on a year-over-year basis. Also, ex-transporation orders fell -0.2%, while capital goods orders were unchanged.

Case-Shiller’s home price index rose 0.7% in February, and is up 5.4% on a year-over-year basis.

The PMI Services Flash for April rose 1.1 points to 52.1.

The University of Michigan’s consumer sentiment index fell -2.0 points to 96.2 in April.

The Richmond Fed Manufacturing Index fell -8 points to 14 in April.

Redbook reports that last week’s retail sales growth rose slightly to 0.8% on a year-ago basis, from the previous week’s 0.5%.


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

Two real world examples of socialism and big government that leftist voters ignore

It isn’t like you have to go back ages in history to see governing models that don’t work.  The recent end of the Cold War provided perfect examples.  But they collapsed in the ’80s and our younger generation has no memory of the hardships the people of those countries suffered under socialist totalitarian rule.  They also give indications that they think government is the solution for all our problems instead of understanding that for the most part government is responsible for many of our problems.  It seems they think that if we just had big government, everything would be lovely.

The “Feel the Bern” crowd are enamored with “social democracy”.  They like to point to Europe and pretend that the system is a desirable one.  But instead of pointing to Europe, perhaps they should cast their eyes to the south – to Venezuela.  They might find it, oh, I don’t know, enlightening:

In 1999, Venezuela was taken over by Socialist who promised that he would punish big corporations and redistribute wealth to “the people” to provide health care, education, infrastructure, and even out income inequality. (Sound familiar?) The American Left cheered. Celebrities like Sean Penn and Danny Glover praised his Democratic Socialist economic measures. Chavez systematically nationalized the oil, banking, agricultural, food distribution, telecommunications, and power industries in Venezuela; because running them as social democratic communes would eliminate “greed” and give the people lower cost goods and services. The American Left praised him for “democratizing” the Venezuelan economy. When Chavez shut down opposition TV, radio, and newspapers the American Left defended it as necessary to protect the Revolution.

The American Left likes to pretend now that Venezuela isn’t a real example of Social Democracy; but up until the economy collapsed (as every sensible person knew it would) they were Chavez’s biggest cheerleaders, as the links above (or any Google search) shows.

It is, of course, a horrific example of a socialist takeover, but a typical one.  A once well-off country with the most proven oil reserves in the world reduced to literal poverty.  Food shortages, other commodity shortages, you name it, you can’t get it there.  Oh, and about those oil reserves?  Well it seems that Venezuela has an energy crisis.  And the government’s solution?  Well it said everyone should take Fridays off (yeah, screw productivity – that’s a capitalist construct) and this bit of brilliance:

Last week, his government said it was shifting its time zone forward by 30 minutes to save power by adding half an hour of daylight.

Socialism … in Venezuela’s case they’re actually feeling the burn.

Then there is Brazil.  Brazil is the lover of “big governments” wet dream.  Or as it has now become, a nightmare.  Brazil is a failing state and the primary reason that it is failing is because of the premise under which it has operated for decades.  Big government paternalism:

For all its modernist appeal, it was one more expression of the country’s long and troubled attachment to the concept of a giant paternalistic state, responsible for managing the affairs of the entire society, from its biggest companies to its poorest citizens.

[…]

“The problem is, from time immemorial, Brazil’s political leaders only see one way forward, the growth of the state,” said Fernando Henrique Cardoso, a former leftist intellectual who sought to reduce the size of Brazil’s government while president from 1995 to 2002. “But you need another springboard for progress, that doesn’t exclude the state but that accepts markets. This just doesn’t sink in in Brazil.”

Many wan’t to blame Brazil’s problems on corruption like the corruption scandal now rocking the nation.  But the corruption arises from the base problem … big, unanswerable government:

While many observers of Brazil’s predicament have focused on the country’s corruption, that may miss the point. Brazil’s deeper problem lies in the failures of its Leviathan state, which has perennially reached for the utopian visions embodied in Brasília but instead has produced recurring cycles of boom and dramatic bust.

Of course there a huge lessons to be learned from these two countries that apply to this country and the current political arguments now being made.  All, to some degree or another (with Socialist Sanders being the extreme) argue for both social democracy and bigger government.  We apparently don’t learn from other countries but insist on learning the hard way, by repeating what has already failed any number of times.

That’s because of arrogance and the belief that the only reason any of this hasn’t worked in the past is the right people weren’t in charge.

With the class of politicians we have running today, Hugo Chavez would be a better choice to run their ideas.

And we all know how well he did.

~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!