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Shut Down the Government – Forever!

April 28, 2017

We are told that if the Republican majority in Congress doesn’t cave to the demands of the Democrat minority, it is the Republicans who will be responsible for shutting down the government when the Democrats filibuster the spending bills needed to keep the government open.

052212constitutionFirst off, the whole government shutdown hysteria is nonsense. The government shuts down every weekend when “non-essential” employees go home. When there is a budget related shutdown only the non-essential services are curtailed and only the non-essential employees are sent home. After the shutdown all back wages are paid to those employees. Services like delivering Social Security checks goes on unabated during a shutdown.

Democrats scream they are opposed to a shutdown. But wait! Haven’t Democrats and Leftists in particular, told us, for many years, that the Constitution is illegitimate, that it was written by old white slave owners and was created to enshrine slavery and protect the privileges of the rich at the expense of the poor? And, besides, we are told, it is obsolete because the Founders used muskets and we have rifles and the Founders couldn’t anticipate the Internet or the airplane. (All of that is false in many ways of course.)

Why can they have it both ways? If the Constitution is illegitimate and irrelevant and anachronistic, why oppose cutting down it’s creation? Let’s tear it up and, with it, the government it established. Let’s give the Left what they claim to want, no slave-owner, obsolete Constitution and, therefore, an un-united states without a federal government.

Sure, there are some, few, negatives. But if we sell off the national parks and the military, another organization the Left hates, to the people or the states, we may be able to pay off the federal obligations to current Social Security recipients. The remaining debt can be apportioned among the states with the “blue” states getting the lion’s share, since they are such fans of spending.

But, think of the benefits of a permanent government shutdown, a real one, not the fake ones we have been having: No income tax, no alcohol tax, no regulations, no federal mandates to schools, no bailouts of banks or cities. The plusses just might outweigh the minuses, such as no federal military.

I suspect my idea will fail to take hold. As a compromise, I propose we have sanctuary cities and sanctuary states where I can go to be shielded from federal taxes and regulations. That idea is so very modest I’m sure it will be supported by both Democrats and Republicans.

 

My Head is Spinning

June 13, 2013

It’s been over a month since my last post. That’s partly because I’ve had a bunch of personal issues to deal with but also because my head is spinning.

I like to keep the blog current. It usually takes me a couple days to get my thoughts down, check a few facts and proofread the result. But this month there has been so much to deal with I feel like I’ve been playing scandal Wack-a-Mole. Talk about Fast and Furious. One day it’s Benghazi the next it’s the IRS harassing conservatives then the snooping of Associated Press communications makes the front page. No sooner do we think we’ve heard it all then we find out the government has been doing a massive collection of all our phone records, emails and God knows what else.billofrights_void

So, in this target-rich environment I’ve been overwhelmed. But I’ve decided to focus. So expect a few more posts in the next few weeks.

The left has one path: Tax and Spend.

April 23, 2013

Roy Filly says it all regarding our debt. The time bomb of debt has been ticking for a while now. Future, unfunded liabilities arising from Medicare, Social Security and Medicaid, not to mention Obamacare are estimated to be $90 to $120 Trillion with a “T.” That is six to eight times our current GDP and six to eight times our current debt. There is no question that a collapse is coming unless we do something radical now. The only question is what form the collapse will take, mega-inflation, government default or something else.

The Rugged Individualist

Many of my readers will likely have read about the recent embarrassment of two well-known Harvard economists, Rogoff and Reinhart, who published a tour de force book about government debt. It turns out that one of their spreadsheets had an error (leaving out some data). Worse still, an economics student writing a term paper made the discovery. Ouch!

The error was in the statement that when government debt reaches 90% of GDP it has a significant impact on GDP growth, bringing growth down to near zero. The Republicans used this piece of information in multiple campaigns – didn’t seem to do much good. Nonetheless, the left has been all over this because the error would indicate that GDP growth might be as high as 2% when government debt reaches 90% of GDP. Wow, 2%! Let’s have a party. At 2% growth our unemployment rate will never go below 7%. If potential…

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Happy Asteriod Day!

February 15, 2013

We interrupt our normal, political laced, commentary for this important message about the end of the world. Well, not the end of the world exactly.

Today is the day for the asteroid “2012 DA14” to do its record-breaking near-earth flyby. NASA will be broadcasting on NASA TV with commentary starting at 2 PM Eastern Time. ===>>

http://science.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/2013/13feb_asteroidcoverage/

There will also be online coverage here http://www.nasa.gov/ntv and http://www.ustream.tv/nasajpl2

The above links are live now. The commentary starts at 2 PM. The time of closest approach will be at 2:24 PM Eastern time, but, unfortunately, the asteroid will be too dim to see with the naked eye.

The asteroid is about 150 feet in diameter, which sounds small, but it weighs 130,000 metric tons and will be traveling at 17,450 miles per hour when it is closest to Earth. This is the biggest object to come this close to us (17,150 miles) since we’ve been able to track extraterrestrial objects. That distance is inside the orbit of some of our satellites and only about 4.4 times the Earth radius above the surface.

This asteroid will miss us by a mile (ok 17,150 miles). But what if the asteroid were really headed for a collision with earth? What could be done to stop it? NASA scientists will probably comment on this during their broadcast but allow me to anticipate one answer: Trying to blow it up will not help. There are two reasons for this. First, just getting enough explosives on a target the size of an asteroid isn’t an easy task. But, more importantly, if you break the incoming missile into several pieces, you now have several rocks coming at you on the same trajectory instead of just one. You can thank the principle of conservation of momentum for that.

You might think that if you can break the rock into very fine particles the sand you create will just burn up in our atmosphere. That’s correct except the energy required to do that is immense, orders of magnitude greater than the energy necessary to cleave the rock into just several pieces.

What is required is to change the trajectory, not break up the rock. That means, perhaps, bouncing a missile off of the asteroid to change the asteroid momentum vector (direction). The problem is the closer the asteroid is to the Earth before it is discovered, or before we respond, the more energy is necessary to change its direction sufficiently for us to be safe. Today’s asteroid was 2.7 million miles away when it was discovered by an observatory in Spain. An asteroid this size comes close to Earth about every 40 years and an impact is likely every 1,200 years. The energy of impact would be equivalent to 2.5 megatons of TNT.

You could create a discovery distance versus energy chart, although I suspect the result would be depressing. I don’t know what our technology is capable of, hopefully NASA will comment on this, but the USA is now relying on foreign governments to launch payloads into space. So I have a bit of a concern that our ability to fight back a future asteroid Armageddon is shrinking.

Could an Objectivist Win?

November 8, 2012

Could an Objectivist win the Presidency? Or, could a Libertarian win? How about a Christian? Or maybe a moderate Republican? Each of us has a view of what the IDEAL candidate would be like and each of us thinks that his or her ideal candidate would win the day.

Here’s what Ari Armstrong said, writing for The Objectivist Standard Blog.

“… Republicans lose votes and elections because and to the degree that they advocate the violation of individual rights. Regarding abortion, the Republican establishment seeks to violate the rights of women for the sake of the undeveloped embryo inside her. Regarding immigration, many Republicans seek to violate the rights of peaceable people to move to America, and the rights of U.S. business owners to hire employees of their choice. Regarding gays, many Republicans seek to legally deny the rights of gay couples to marry; some even seek to deny the rights of gay couples to engage in sex.”

I agree that Republicans should stand for individual rights. I am, if any label is accurate, an Objectivist. But I’ve been one long enough that I know how Ari’s argument will be received by the general population.

Even I have problems with the argument Ari is making. For instance, I don’t know where in Objectivism we can derive the principle  that countries should have no borders or that any one or all of the several billion people in the world should just be able to move here without complying with any sort of requirements or that immigration policy is not a proper function of government.

But, for the moment, take for granted that we choose an Objectivist candidate and that our candidate advocates for open borders, marriage as a right and unlimited abortion. How would that candidate do? Well, she might pick up gay, hispanic and female votes.

Or maybe not. Heather Mac Donald in National Review documents how Hispanics vote. The breakdown was 25% Romney and 75% Obama. The overarching issue was the public safety net, not immigration policy. In California, US born Hispanics use welfare benefits at twice the rate of non Hispanics.

So when our Objectivist candidate is interviewed what will she say about the individual right to welfare benefits? Will her view of immigration trump her view of welfare as a right? Yeah. That’s what I thought too.

In 2008, California voters passed proposition 8, a measure to ban gay marriage. Black Californians voted overwhelmingly to pass proposition 8 and against gay marriage.  So, when our Objectivist candidate is asked about gay marriage, how will her answer fly with African Americans? Yeah. I hear ya.  Hispanics are not big fans of gay marriage either, I’m told.

Hispanics are mostly all Catholic. Many black Americans are devoutly religious. When a reporter asks our Objectivist candidate her views on abortion, how will blacks and Hispanics react? You got it. Abortion may be less of an issue, overall, with blacks but not with Hispanics. Although social services may be most important to both groups.

So much for the identity groups we are trying to attract. What about our own base? We know how the right to lifers will react. Many of them, if not most, are strict Constitutionalists who believe strongly in individual rights including life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Given that, it will be hard to explain to the anti-abortionist that a baby with a heart beat, especially a full-term baby, does not share those rights and that “women’s issues” trump them. I can argue the Objectivist doctrine on abortion but it would be easier to win the argument that physicians should not be licensed. I say our Objectivist looses the pro life vote.

Self described conservatives believe in individual rights and small government also. But they typically believe in more government than libertarians and Objectivists. Frankly, I don’t care. I’ll debate that issue after we’ve reduced government to 1910 levels. What happens, though, if our Objectivist is asked about gay marriage? The conservative knows that both abortion and gay marriage have been illegal until recently. So now our Objectivist candidate is trampling tradition.

What happens if the Objectivist candidate is asked some logical questions, such as: If gay marriage is a right, is polygamy, marrying a cousin, a child, a sister or brother a right? The state has inserted itself in marriage  for a very long time for a number of reasons, especially heath reasons. Maybe the state should not have anything to say about who marries who. Try winning that debate with most on our side, including the evangelicals, Catholics, blacks and Hispanics who support us.

Many of us on the Right are both Constitutionalists as well as law and order types. Many on our side believe that the law is the law and it must be enforced equally for everyone or be changed. They also believe that it is particularly unfair to those immigrants who play by the rules to let people flood through the back door. As a practical matter, border towns and communities are being devastated by illegals. Those border-town Americans are not open to academic arguments about crossing our border being a right. So how does our side react after hearing our Objectivist candidate explain that immigration is an individual right? You got it. Not well.

By the way, I am very annoyed that defenders of illegal immigration pretend they are defending immigration in general. No prominent Republican or conservative is against immigration. On the other hand, both Republicans and Democrats benefit from illegal immigration. Democrats get votes and Republicans flout oppressive labor laws.

Empirically, the raft of Republicans who have supported amnesty and other illegal-friendly programs have not fared so well at the polls. Thus, we have experimental evidence that appealing to illegals is a political non-starter. Moreover, maybe illegals were not a problem before 9/11, but now, can’t we at least have a guest book at the border to keep the terrorists out?

I’ve been picking on fellow Objectivists. But even if our perfect candidate could be the unalloyed conservative that Rush Limbaugh keeps talking about or the perfect Christian that evangelicals promote, my claim is that none of our proposed candidates can win.

Why? Again, as I said in a previous post, the root cause problem isn’t the candidate or the platform, as important as these are. Our root cause problem is that the Republican Party and Republican candidates do not define their brand. The media and the Democrats define the Republican brand.

Because the media control the debate our Objectivist would be demonized. Our Christian would be demonized. Our Atheist, former Muslim cross-gender candidate would be demonized. It’s not the product. It’s the brand and the other side controls our brand. If Mitt Romney can’t sell a platform of jobs and economic growth during the worst recession since WWII, why does anyone think changing candidates or appealing to identity groups would make a difference. It was the economy versus condoms and condoms won.

I claim, if we owned the media the way Barack Obama and Democrats own the media we could elect an Objectivist, a Christian, a Mormon a radical conservative or a moderate one. Hell, the Democrats elected a guy with no executive experience, no private sector work experience and a track record of mega economic and foreign policy failure. QED. It’s not the product. It’s the marketing. We don’t control our own marketing.

More on how to control the media and marketing next time, and I want suggestions on that. But one final thought. There is another hypothesis out there that contradicts mine. That hypothesis  says the media is not the problem. The problem is demographics. If the number of Social Security/Medicare recipients plus the number of welfare recipients plus the number of government workers plus the number of people who have government as a principal customer exceeds the number of tax payers, we are doomed. If that’s true, and even if it’s already not too late, we are mighty close to a tipping point where this country is irredeemable either as a free country or an opportunity society.

Now What? II

November 8, 2012

I noticed that sequels sell in Hollywood. So I’m hoping this one does. I apologize for my very long previous post. I was venting a bit I guess. This one may be shorter. Maybe not.

Check out this World Net Daily article where the despicable Chris Van Hollen D-Md is already blaming Republicans for the “fiscal cliff” conservatives and libertarians have been screaming about for years.

Well, I guess I don’t have to write about that fiscal cliff again since we are all on the same page. Now add to the mix that John Boehner congratulated Obama for his win today, adding that “we are ready to be lead.”  Infuriating.

So here begins, step by step, is a list of actions, spread over one blog at a time.

Proposal I: Citizen Journalist

As I said last time, we must win the media war. But, as we see from the Boehner quote, we cannot depend on the Republican establishment to lead the way, ready as they are to be lead by the opposing party. So, taking Breitbart’s advice, we must all become citizen journalists and investigate these politicians, exposing their opinions, voting records and scandals. And there is plenty to expose, for both Democrats and Republicans, as Peter Schweizer documents in his book, Throw Them All Out.

If you have some courage, you could, with an affordable video camera and microphone, ambush politicians and MSM journalists and ask them difficult questions. Don’t forget the journalists. Hold them responsible for greasing the skids to tyranny. “Hi Candy. What a pleasure it is to meet you. May I, as a fan, as you a question? Thanks. Do you have any guilt or shame participating in a criminal coverup of the Benghazi scandal where President Obama lied to us for two weeks about the nature of the attack?”

If that’s not your style, try getting the reactions of, say, college students, “As a college student, what’s your reaction to the Obama Administration saddling you with $50,000 in debt on top of any student loans you already have?” or “As a retiree, what are your thoughts on the Obama Administration raiding Medicare to fund Obamacare for younger people?”

Getting the word out is more than half the battle. Even if you don’t have the means or the chutzpa to ambush interview politicians or sycophant journalists, you can show existing information to the world. There is already a lot of great media available from the usual sources. Up until now we have been sharing emails and videos but it’s been mostly with each other. Pick a piece of damming information, like a report on Fast and Furious, Benghazi, or how administration policies will bankrupt us all, and have the information available on paper, in your cell phone or tablet computer to show the uniformed and disinterested.  For added fun, have a video camera operator available to video the reactions of citizens you poll. “I’m getting reactions of people visiting the fair to the pending tax increases on hip and knee transplants.”

You get the idea. Take a page out of Saul Alinsky and turn the communist mentor on his disciples.  Supplanting the sycophant media is key. More another time.

UnSkewed Polls: Romney up by 7.8%

September 27, 2012

Hat tip to World Net Daily for introducing me to UnSkewedPolls.com.

Today, UnSkewed analysis has Romney up by 7.8% averaging twelve mainstream polls.  How can this be? The media have been reporting Obama ahead by 10 points in many states. Here’s how. The major readjustment the UnSkewed site makes is to change the oversampling of Democrats typically done by other pollsters.

Of course, the number you assign to the oversampling is a judgement call. Some mainstream pollsters don’t seem to be trying to correct the inherent Democrat over-sample due to sampling adults who answer the phone. But there is a very big difference between sampling adults, registered voters and likely voters.

As the election draws closer you will probably see the polls tighten because the pollsters will want to maintain their credibility. To do that they will take care to sample likely voters rather than just random adults. But even deciding likely voters can be difficult. Many, if not most, pollsters who are counting only likely voters are using the 2008 rather than the 2010 election cycle voter demographics. But 2010 was a watershed year for Republicans thanks to the TEA Party influence. Is it more likely that 2008 or 2010 will apply this year, in 2012?

So what UnSkewed Polls does is readjust the existing polls for what, in their judgement, is the real demographic of likely voters. You’ll have to use your own judgement regarding their process. Dick Morris explains the polling issue here. If you want Morris’ take on the undecided voters you can check that out here.

Obamanomics III — QE-3

September 18, 2012

There are two primary tools the Federal Government has to affect the economy, monetary policy and fiscal policy. Fiscal policy is undertaken in the hope of stimulating economic activity by adjusting tax rates and spending. More about that another time, except to say that President Obama is not alone in believing that increased government spending and higher taxes are a formula for success.

Monetary policy is undertaken in the hope of growing the economy through the manipulation of the money supply.  There are at least two schools of thought concerning monetary policy but Ben Bernanke and President Obama share the theory that increasing the money supply reduces interest rates, helping business and personal borrowing,  increases the amount of money for people to spend, and makes our goods cheaper overseas.

All three, the idea goes, stimulate the economy by putting more money in the hands of private business and individuals.  Enter quantitative easing.

Quantitative Easing is defined by Wikipedia as:

an unconventional monetary policy used by central banks to stimulate the national economy when conventional monetary policy has become ineffective. A central bank implements quantitative easing by buying financial assets from commercial banks and other private institutions with newly created money, in order to inject a pre-determined quantity of money into the economy. 

Here is a video explanation of the dilemma facing the Federal Reserve:

And here is a summary of the current US economy:

And more:

On September 13th, Federal Reserve Chairman, Ben Bernanke, announced a third round of quantitative easing consisting of buying $40 billion worth of bonds a month, perpetually. Because of that, some call it QE-infinity. QE-3 is the most definitive statement yet, and by the Obama Administration no less, that Obamanomics has been an utter failure. If, as the Administration and the media have told us, relentlessly, the private sector is doing fine, why would the Fed think more stimulus is necessary?

Will it work, meaning, will QE-3 help the economy? Well, that depends on who you ask. There is a weak consensus that QE-1 may have helped to stabilize the banking system but QE-2 had almost no result. And QE certainly did not work for Germany in the 1020’s.

I don’t remember who it was, perhaps Milton Friedman, who quipped that he did not understand why some people thought they could grow an economy by simply printing little pieces of paper.  Here is a more complete summary of Milton Friedman’s explanation of why quantitative easing, that is, increasing the money supply, does not help the economy.

I predict the result of QE-3 will be higher stock prices, lower bond prices and more, hopefully modest,  inflation. I think there will be no change in employment. I believe any positive effect will be small because previous results have been small and because the idea that cheap money will save us has run out of rope. If money were any cheaper banks would have to pay us to take out loans. If interest rates were 15% then perhaps moving them to 10% would have an effect. But when rates are less than 4%, there is no place left to go.

But Mark Steyn, in August of 2011, had a much more dire prediction of the result of Administration monetary and fiscal policy, taken together.

More about that another time.

Royalty

April 30, 2011

Here’s to the English royal family on the wedding of William and Kate. Congratulations.

The US Constitution forbids us to have titles of royalty or aristocracy. But, like so many other Constitutional requirements, such as the enumerated powers clause, we, Americans, won’t allow ourselves to be bound by a 214 year old document. So we have connived to have our own form of royalty.

We are not content to be served by a commoner. No. Observe how our news media fawn over the genius of our leaders, Clinton’s Rhodes Scholarship and Obama’s Harvard Law Review (whatever he did there). And observe how dismissive they are of the underclass, the commoners, people such as Sarah Palin. Yes, we definitely have royalty in the United States. Unlike the British Royalty, ours is not crowned by the Archbishop of Canterbury but, rather, by our enlightened media. It is our media who chooses who we should respect and who we should disrespect. Unless one has the proper credentials, as determined by the TV networks and the big city newspapers, one need not apply for any leadership position in the US.

Note that accomplishments are not important to our media overloads but pedigree is, at least educational pedigree. Harvard and Yale count.  Matanuska-Susitna College  does not.

To the Leftist, who believes in an all powerful central government, having a genius in charge is very, very important. But to the Constitutional conservative or libertarian, who believes in the rule of law rather than the cult of personality, a less than genius person will do just fine because that person would be restrained by the rule of law.

And so we have it. Our media, enamored by big government, is in constant search for the American Royalty.  So they tell us that the Kennedies or the Clintons or the Obamas are extra special and we should leave our fate with them.

January Jobs Report: 9% Unemployment

February 5, 2011

The January 2011 jobs numbers came out and we are supposed to be happy that the unemployment rate fell from 9.4% to 9.0%. My unemployed friends are not cheering, however. (We are suffering through a 26 year low in labor force participation.)

Officially, the recession ended months ago because that’s when the economy started growing again. But the growth is very small by post-recession standards, just two or three percent compared to the usual six or eight percent. That means we are adding jobs very, very slowly. As a result, we are still in a “jobs recession” that may take many years to recover from.

Another thank you to the Calculated Risk Blog for one of my favorite graphs:

Percent Job Losses Jan 2011

Click on the graph for a larger version.

For those of us advocating free markets, this graph is no surprise. The economy for job-seekers continues to suck. The prescription offered by President Bush and double or triple dosed by President Obama is no different than the prescription that both Presidents Hoover and Roosevelt believed in. The result is the same in both cases, weak or non-existent economic growth.

That prescription is massive government spending. In FDR’s day they called it “pump priming.” (You have to know how a hand pump works to get that.) The fallacy in this solution seems obvious once you hear it. Where does the money come from that the government injects into the economy to “prime the pump?” The stimulus money has to be taken out of the economy first. Isn’t that like giving a guy a raise after docking his pay?

This fallacy I see with pump priming  is so obvious that there must be another factor I’m missing. There is. The additional belief that makes people accept this silly economic perpetual motion machine is the notion that the recession is caused by fear, by people hording funds rather than spending and consuming. So the stimulus plan consists of prying that money out of their hands through taxation and spending it for them through government programs, thereby overcoming the fear and causing economic growth. How well do you think that plan is working?

But, you say, it would have been much worse except for President Obama’s intervention. That, of course, is hard to prove. All we can do is judge the predictions made by advocates of this idea. The best examination of the Obama stimulus plan in one graph is the wonderful work posted at Ace of Spades by Geoff on Feb. 4th, 2011.

Stimulus-vs-unemployment-January-2011

The beauty of this graph is it contains only Obama administration claims. Note, of course, that the actual performance of the economy is worse than either the alleged free market performance or the performance predicted by advocates of stimulus and pump priming. What should we conclude from this? As a scientist, if your theory does not predict reality your theory is wrong. The Obama theory did not predict reality. QED.

Read Geoff’s whole post at Ace of Spades. Therein he explains how the drop from 9.4% to 9.0% is largely meaningless thanks to the government changing the denominator of the unemployment fraction.  Another explanation of this is found at the American Thinker.