Questions and Observations

Free Markets, Free People

Venezuela gives new meaning to black (out) Friday

Indeed, not only can you not get any staples at grocery stores in the socialist paradise of Venezuela, now there’s an energy shortage.

Solution!?  Take Friday off for a couple of months (because no one uses electricity at home)!

President Nicolas Maduro said Venezuelans will have “long weekends” in an appearance on state television on Wednesday night, announcing the measure as part of a 60-day plan to fight a power crunch.

“This plan for 60 days, for two months, will allow the country to get through the most difficult period with the most risk. I call on families, on the youth, to join this plan with discipline, with conscience and extreme collaboration to confront this extreme situation,” Maduro said.

Yes, discipline, conscience and extreme collaboration because your government has so screwed the pooch that the poor thing is dying.  And it is your responsibility, dear Venezuelans, to do with out to fix their mess.

You see, they’ve flat run out of yours and other people’s money and they’re now calling on you to sacrifice even more!

And even with Venezuela and Cuba as prime examples of what Senator Sanders is pushing, there is a significant portion of the voting public that is trying to “feel the Bern”.

All the Venezuelans want is to “feel” a little electricity, oh, and milk and toilet paper, and diapers, and vegetables and meat, meat would be nice, and …

~McQ

 

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Being “wonderful” with other people’s money

Or, the definition of politics today (and how Margret Thatcher defined socialism).  Today’s “wonderful” people?  Well they’re all in California.  Example one:

San Francisco on Tuesday became the first city in the United States to approve six weeks of fully paid leave for new parents — mothers and fathers, including same-sex couples, who either bear or adopt a child.

California is already one of only a few states that offer paid parental leave, with workers receiving 55 percent of their pay for six weeks, paid for by employee-financed public disability insurance. The new law in San Francisco, passed unanimously by the city’s Board of Supervisors, mandates full pay, with the 45 percent difference being paid by employers.

That’s right friends, the price of being nice means charging employers 45% more for paid family leave just for the privilege of doing business in San Francisco. Isn’t that just “wonderful”?

Well of course it is … just ask the clueless:

The United States, which guarantees up to 12 weeks of unpaid parental leave, is the only developed country that does not guarantee all new parents paid parental leave. Expectant mothers get 18 weeks of paid leave in Australia, 39 weeks in the UK, and 480 days in Sweden.

That’s right, they do it in … say it with me, Europe!  You know, the group of countries, all of which were they states in the US, would be poorer than Mississippi.  That’s what we want, isn’t it boys and girls!

It is the responsibility of others to pay for our choices! Because, you know, it’s the fault of the employer its employees get pregnant and miss work.  They should pay them for that time.  And what the heck, they can just socialize the payment by raising their prices, can’t they?

And, of course, they can socialize even more with California’s new $15 minimum wage.  Because everyone knows that employers ‘owe’ employees a “living wage”.  However, don’t forget members of California’s various governments up to their necks in giving away other people’s money – employers still have choices, and you can believe when they are feasible and affordable, they will exercise them.

When that happens, Cal Pols, you can hold a math quiz with everyone who finds themselves looking for work because employers took their business elsewhere or automated.

The question?

“What’s $15 dollars times zero hours?

Oh, wait, I forgot  … government run schools.

Never mind.

~McQ

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Economic Statistics for 5 Apr 16

Imports rose 1.3%, while exports rose only 1.0% in February, widening the International Trade gap to $-47.1 billion for the month.

The Gallup Economic Confidence Index rose to -10 from -13 in March.

Redbook reports that last week’s retail sales increase fell to 0.6% on a year-ago basis, from the previous week’s 1.5%.

The PMI Services Index rose 1.6 points to 51.3 in March.

The ISM non-manufacturing index rose a sharp 1.1 points in March to a 54.5.

The Labor Department’s Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey fell to 5.445 million in February, from January’s 5.541 million.


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Harvest time

“Hey, Bxlnar, I see you’re back from surveying that group of hairless bipeds just beginning their civilization. What was the name of their planet again?”

“XP-492-Sol3, but we just call it Earth.”

“So how did it go?”

“They’re interesting animals. Standard amino acid mix, using DNA as the genetic template.”

“Mmm. So they’re biocompatible. Did you take some samples for, heheh, analysis?”

“That’s the interesting part. They are the best long distance runners I’ve ever seen. They actually hunt by just following a prey animal until it gives up and dies. Their muscle tissue has a variety of myoprotein unlike anything I’ve ever encountered.”

“So, it is good?”

“It’s the best thing I’ve ever tasted. Have to baste it with some fat to get the perfect recipe, but it’s worth it. I’m salivating right now, just thinking about it.”

“Well, maybe we could farm them?”

“No, they look difficult or impossible to domesticate. Contrary as all get out. Their hunter-gatherer ancestry makes then intractable.”

“But if they are such a wonderful delicacy, surely there’s something we could do.”

“Well, I’ve been thinking about it. Maybe we should help them along a bit. Insert a few technological innovations to help them increase their population and start spreading out into new territory.”

“Won’t that just get them into wars against each other as population pressure builds up?”

“Yeah, but the standard culturogenetic analysis says they would learn how to get along in about 4000 years. By then they will have filled up the planet, assuming we seed additional innovations at critical points, including use of mechanical power and some manipulation of plant and animal biology to dramatically increase their food supply.”

“So when could we start harvesting?”

“Given the extra fat needed in the recipe to cook them, we need to wait until their technology and food supply have made them indolent. I think a good indicator for harvesting would be when there were more fat ones than skinny ones.”

“OK, I approve the project for it. Let me know when they’re ready.”

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Economic Statistics for 4 Apr 16

Factory orders plunged -1.7% in February, with core capital goods dropping -2.5%, indicating trouble for business investment.

The Fed’s Labor Market Conditions Index rose slightly, but remained in negative territory for March at -2.1.

Gallup’s US Consumer Spending Measure reports that American’s self-reported daily spending rose from $84 to $89 in March.


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When government interferes in a market, results are predictable

And it is neck deep in health care.  So, with the passage of ObamaCare, what is the state of medicine?

Oh, just great:

The doctor is disappearing in America.

And by most projections, it’s only going to get worse — the U.S. could lose as many as 1 million doctors by 2025, according to a Association of American Medical Colleges report.

Primary-care physicians will account for as much as one-third of that shortage, meaning the doctor you likely interact with most often is also becoming much more difficult to see.

Now, 2025 is 9 years away and, the “primary-care physician” is the star of ObamaCare because he or she is the “gatekeeper”.  However, which doctor is the worst compensated of all doctors?

Why the gatekeeper of course.  And, that’s by design.  Government design:

Starting salaries in high-paying specialties can range from $354,000 (general surgery) to $488,000 (orthopedic surgery), while primary-care fields tend to bring a sub-$200,000 starting salary, from$188,000 (pediatrics) to $199,000 (family medicine), according to a Merritt Hawkins report.

Why?

The pay disparities reflect America’s “fee for service” health-care model, which compensates providers based on the number and type of services they complete, and which inherently favors specialists.

Anyone know what entity pushes the “fee for service” model?  Can you say “Medicare”?  And yes, the insurance companies follow their lead. Hence, we have doctors in the primary care field looking at specializing because as gatekeepers, they are mostly the chief “referrer” to the other medical specialties … the ones that get paid more.

Wow … what a surprise then that the field of primary care is looking at a future shortage.  It’s another one of those “human nature” things that central planners simply can’t wrap their brains around.

Then there’s the exacerbation of the problem by ObamaCare:

The shortage is one that’s been stewing for decades but of late was exacerbated by passage of the Affordable Care Act, which increased the number of insured people and along with that the demand for doctor access, experts say.

As we’ve mentioned countless times, having insurance does not equal having care.  And as the number of gatekeepers dwindles, that problem will become even more acute.

Of course everyone knows what the answer that will be put forth by our political leaders don’t they?  Why of course more government.  You know, like the UK, where the former head of the NHS just died because the operation she needed was postponed 4 times.

~McQ

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Economic Statistics for 31 Mar-1 Apr 16

31 Mar

The Gallup Good Jobs (GGJ) rate was 44.4 percent in March. 

Challenger reports that the number of layoff announcements fell to 48,207 in March.

The Chicago PMI rose from 47.6 to 53.6 in March.

Initial weekly jobless claims rose 11,000 to 276,000. The 4-week average rose 3,500 to 263,250. Continuing claims fell -7,000 to 2.173 million.

The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index fell -0.8 points to 42.8 in the latest week.

The Fed’s balance sheet fell $-10.0 billion last week, with total assets of $4.483 trillion. Reserve bank credit fell $-6.2 billion.

The Fed reports that M2 money supply rose by $37.5 billion in the latest week.

1 Apr

Motor vehicle sales slowed sharply in March, down -5.1% to a 16.6M annual rate.

215,000 net new jobs were created in March, as the unemployment rate rose to 5.0%. The labor force participation rate rose to 63.0%. Average hourly earnings rose 0.3%, while the average workweek remained unchanged at 34.4 hours.

The PMI Manufacturing Index was only slightly changed, up 0.2 points to 51.5.

The ISM Manufacturing Index rose from 49.5 to 51.8 in March.

The University of Michigan’s Consumer Sentiment Index rose 1.0 point to 91.0 in March.

Construction spending fell -0.5% in February, but the year-on-year rate of spending was up 10.3%.

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Meanwhile, The New Red Guard carries on …

Under the banner, “you can’t make this stuff up”, enjoy the following bit of idiocy:

Southwestern University in Texas has canceled its annual production of “The Vagina Monologues” because its author, Eve Ensler, is white — and featuring a performance written by a white lady would just not be inclusive to women of other races.

Instead, the school will host a performance of “We are Women,” which promises to “address similar experiences while emphasizing women of color,” according an article in the Megaphone, the school’s official newspaper.

Well, it promotes “similar experiences” except for white women I guess.  Who knew “women of color” didn’t have vaginas?

Yes, this is indeed patently absurd.  The Vagina Monologues was written as a feminist play to emphasize the supposed problems of women.  Thus it was totally inclusive of … women.  But not inclusive enough for The New Red Guard.

In fact:

Cancelling performances of “The Vagina Monologues” has become a bit of a trend on college campuses these days. For example, just last year, all-women’s Mount Holyoke College canceled its own performance on the grounds that the production was not “inclusive” enough to people who identify as women but do not have actual vaginas.

No, really … it’s all about their definition of “inclusivity” and a feminist play, if written by a white woman, just doesn’t make the grade anymore.

You have to laugh at this sort of nonsense to remain sane.  The one sterling good coming out of all of this is at whom many of these attacks are aimed.  Leftists.  Old Guard leftists.  And a more deserving group I cannot imagine.

But the real point here is the implied claim that whites, no matter their gender, have nothing of value to say or add.  This isn’t new by any stretch, it’s just become more common.  For instance, this from early last year from The New Red Guard at, yeah, Berkeley:

We are calling for an occupation of syllabi in the social sciences and humanities. This call to action was instigated by our experience last semester as students in an upper-division course on classical social theory. Grades were based primarily on multiple-choice quizzes on assigned readings. The course syllabus employed a standardized canon of theory that began with Plato and Aristotle, then jumped to modern philosophers: Hobbes, Locke, Hegel, Marx, Weber and Foucault, all of whom are white men. The syllabus did not include a single woman or person of color.

Of course, if you look closely, it’s not just “white men” they’re shooting at, it is the foundational philosophies of the West.  Apparently they believe that if there were women and persons of color writing philosophy during the same eras, they must have had something just as important to say, seeing as how their cultures matured equally with that of the West (and yeah, I know that some of the dead white dudes were not especially enamored of the West’s culture at the time). What the TNRG don’t seem to understand is they live in Western culture and the class is about “classical social theory” and thus likely wouldn’t include philosophers who had no impact on that “classical society” or those who lived outside of it and had no impact.

But this is all about gender and skin color … not context or logic.

Speaking of context and logic, James Lileks adds them:

College, apparently, is now a place where the notions of people freshly matriculated from high school must be handled with oven mitts and lightly buffed with soft cloth lest their orthodoxies suffer the slightest abrasion. Like the school that canceled the annual performance of The Vagina Monologues because it othered non-traditional women who lacked the titular orifice, it’s a delightful example of leftist autophagy. Marx is in foul order in Berkeley not for his ideas, or the heaps of corpses accumulated in his name, but because he had a prostate.

Yes, indeed. Oh, and because he was white.

~McQ

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