Thursday, July 23, 2015

Iran: I see nothing that can possibly go wrong with the nuclear agreement

“PMD” is “possible military dimensions.” In other words, if nuclear inspectors get a hot tip that Iran is conducting (or conducted in the past) atomic-bomb work at a secret site, they don’t get to go to the site themselves and take samples from the soil, the walls, etc, to see if there’s uranium present. They get their samples … from Iran. That’s like drug-testing a junkie by asking him to bring a sample from home...
For more go here

Friday, July 17, 2015

Which do you prefer? Krugman circa 1998 or Krugman circa 2015?

Paul Krugman has once again regurgitated his views on the minimum wage on the inside back page of the New York Times.  He reiterated his belief that there is absolutely no evidence that increases in the minimum wage level would have a negative impact on employment despite there being plentiful evidence to the contrary.

This is not new news, but what is of note is his attempt to explain how he came to hold this view:
Until the Card-Krueger study, most economists, myself included, assumed that raising the minimum wage would have a clear negative effect on employment. But they found, if anything, a positive effect. Their result has since been confirmed using data from many episodes. There’s just no evidence that raising the minimum wage costs jobs, at least when the starting point is as low as it is in modern America.
The Card-Krueger study was published in 1993.  In 1998, five years later, Krugman wrote a book review in which he castigates the authors, Robert Pollin and Stephanie Luce, for suggesting that an increase in minimum wage would have no impact on employment:
So what are the effects of increasing minimum wages? Any Econ 101 student can tell you the answer: The higher wage reduces the quantity of labor demanded, and hence leads to unemployment. This theoretical prediction has, however, been hard to confirm with actual data. Indeed, much-cited studies by two well-regarded labor economists, David Card and Alan Krueger, find that where there have been more or less controlled experiments, for example when New Jersey raised minimum wages but Pennsylvania did not, the effects of the increase on employment have been negligible or even positive. Exactly what to make of this result is a source of great dispute. Card and Krueger offered some complex theoretical rationales, but most of their colleagues are unconvinced; the centrist view is probably that minimum wages "do," in fact, reduce employment, but that the effects are small and swamped by other forces. 
What is remarkable, however, is how this rather iffy result has been seized upon by some liberals as a rationale for making large minimum wage increases a core component of the liberal agenda...
So  Krugman has evolved from a position he felt was obvious to "any econ 101 student" and now argues that a study he himself  described as "iffy" provides definitive proof that an increase in minimum wages would have no impact on employment.

He explains this apparent defiance of the basic laws of supply and demand by saying  "the market for labor isn’t like the market for, say, wheat, because workers are people."  However, in his 1998 crucifixion of Pollin and Luce's book he wrote:
...Clearly these advocates very much want to believe that the price of labor--unlike that of gasoline, or Manhattan apartments--can be set based on considerations of justice, not supply and demand, without unpleasant side effects...
Sounds like Krugman is describing himself in 2015.

It gets better.  In todays op-ed Krugman argues that companies forced to pay higher wages will actually benefit through "better morale, lower turnover, and increased productivity" - however back in 1998 he ridicules Pollin and Luce for suggesting the very same thing:
...They also argue that because there are cases in which companies paying above-market wages reap offsetting gains in the form of lower turnover and greater worker loyalty, raising minimum wages will lead to similar gains...
An argument he rightly crushes with the following:
The obvious economist's reply is, if paying higher wages is such a good idea, why aren't companies doing it voluntarily? But in any case there is a fundamental flaw in the argument: Surely the benefits of low turnover and high morale in your work force come not from paying a high wage, but from paying a high wage "compared with other companies" -- and that is precisely what mandating an increase in the minimum wage for all companies cannot accomplish...
Krugman's concluding sentence in his scathing 1998 book review is typical of his pre-nobel prize brilliance and one he should re-read today:
In short, what the living wage is really about is not living standards, or even economics, but morality. Its advocates are basically opposed to the idea that wages are a market price--determined by supply and demand, the same as the price of apples or coal. And it is for that reason, rather than the practical details, that the broader political movement of which the demand for a living wage is the leading edge is ultimately doomed to failure: For the amorality of the market economy is part of its essence, and cannot be legislated away.
At the very least he should apologize to Pollin and Luce

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

You can change your password but not your fingerprints
The Office of Personnel Management announced last week that the personal data for 21.5 million people had been stolen. But for national security professionals and cybersecurity experts, the more troubling issue is the theft of 1.1 million fingerprints.
 Much of their concern rests with the permanent nature of fingerprints and the uncertainty about just how the hackers intend to use them. Unlike a Social Security number, address, or password, fingerprints cannot be changed—once they are hacked, they're hacked for good. And government officials have less understanding about what adversaries could do or want to do with fingerprints, a knowledge gap that undergirds just how frightening many view the mass lifting of them from OPM...
 We are in the best of hands.

For more go here

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Progressive hypocrisy: Do as I say not as I do

Education Secretary Arne Duncan grew up in Chicago and attended the private, prestigious University of Chicago Laboratory Schools.  However, as a public "servant" he recognized the hypocrisy of politicians sending their children to private schools:
The days in which lawmakers support schools that are somehow good enough for someone else’s children, but not for their own – those days must be over
So now his family is returning to Chicago, where he was CEO of the Chicago Public School system, where is he sending his kids to school? Yes! the $30,000 a year University of Chicago Laboratory School...

To be fair Obama, Clinton and Emanuel also believe that public schools are good enough for the general public but send/sent their own kids to private ones

You just cannot make this s*^t up....

Friday, July 10, 2015

Obamacare and crony capitalism at its finest

Across the country, health insurers are asking for huge ObamaCare premium increases, blaming new costs imposed by the law. So why is a top industry CEO praising ObamaCare as being great for consumers? 
Humana CEO Bruce Broussard was on CNBC this week, along with Aetna CEO Mark Bertolini, to discuss the proposed $37 billion merger of the two companies. At one point Broussard talked about how great Obama-Care is for the health care industry. "The regulatory environment protects the consumer and at the same time creates an innovation engine that allows us to compete in the local market," he said.
Come again? 
"A regulated price environment ... that we're required to live within," Broussard repeated, "really brings a very consumer-oriented fashion that is saving society health care costs." 
Has anyone shown Broussard the rate increases his company is requesting for ObamaCare plans? 
Humana is pushing double-digit premium increases in every ObamaCare exchange where it plans to operate, with hikes as high as 18.7% in Tennessee, 19% in Illinois, 26% in Kentucky and almost 30% in Texas...

She has a point

Are Bernie Sanders supporters aware that Vermont is almost completely white?

With Bernie Sanders star on the rise Kevin Williamson has written a timely essay on the American Left's love affair with the  blond hair, blued eyed fantasy land otherwise known as Scandinavia:
...The Left occasionally indulges in bouts of romantic exoticism — its pin-ups have included Fidel Castro and Che Guevara, Patrice Lumumba, Mao Zedong... — but the welfare states that progressives dream about are the whitest ones: Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland, etc. The significance of this never quite seems to occur to progressives. When it is suggested that the central-planning, welfare-statist policies that they favor are bound to produce results familiar to the unhappy residents of, e.g., Cuba, Venezuela, or Bolivia — privation, chaos, repression, political violence — American progressives reliably reply: “No, no, we don’t want that kind of socialism. We want socialism like they have it in Finland.” 
Translation: “We want white socialism, not brown socialism!”...
Williamson points out the inherently, but apparently perfectly acceptable, racist position of many politicians:
 ...Thus the by-now-familiar xenophobia prevalent in Democratic rhetoric...about Asians and Latin Americans “stealing our jobs.” The Swedes, the Swiss, and the Germans often are in direct competition with key American industries, but there is never any talk about the Swedes “stealing our jobs.”...
He goes on:
...Solidarity, as it turns out, is not evenly distributed, nor is it color-blind. None of those denunciations of wicked “foreign oil” ever end with an accusatory finger pointed north toward Canada, our largest foreign supplier. When Barack Obama wants some solar-energy subsidies to pay off his crony-capitalist backers, he doesn’t rebuke the Canadians, but those damned dirty brown people in the Middle East...
He concludes:
 “We’d like to make America more like Norway or Finland” is, among other things, a way of saying, “We’d like to make America more like a virtually all-white society.” It’s not like they don’t have public health care in Singapore or income redistribution in Ghana.
I wonder whether Bernie Sanders is aware that Vermont, the state he represents, is 95.2% white?

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Stop increasing taxes. Use what we have more wisely....

Transparent California

Student aid frequently does more harm than good
A report from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York suggests that federal student aid programs are doing more harm than good. When subsidized federal loans have the effect of “relaxing students’ funding constraints,” universities respond by raising tuition to collect the newly available cash.
The resultant tuition hikes can be substantial: The researchers found that each additional dollar of Pell Grant or subsidized student loan money translates to a tuition jump of 55 or 65 cents, respectively. Of course, the higher tuition also applies to students who don’t receive federal aid, making college less affordable across the board.
For more go here

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Gov. Tom Wolf wins the buffoon of the day award

Yesterday Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf vetoed a bill that would have privatized the sale of wine and liquor while liberalizing the rules for selling beer in the Keystone State. Wolf counterintutively argues that replacing the state monopoly with private businesses would be bad for consumers. "During consideration of this legislation," he says, "it became abundantly clear that this plan would result in higher prices for consumers." He also worries that letting private businesses sell beer and wine would result in "less selection for consumers."...
Why limit things to wine and liquor stores? If one follows this buffoons' reasoning to its logical conclusion Pennsylvannia should take over all retailers...

For more go here

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Is Obama sexist or a liar?


Mark Perry skewers the craven hypocrisy of politicians and gender pay differences:
President Obama can’t have it both ways, either: a) there are gender pay differences throughout the economy and in any organization including at the White House, which can be explained by factors other than gender discrimination including age, years of continuous work experience, education, differences in positions, hours worked, marital status, number of children, workplace environment and safety, industry differences, etc., or b) any gender pay gap in aggregate, unadjusted salaries automatically exposes gender discrimination – including the White House – and Obama needs to explain why he is “waging a war on his women staffers” by paying them less than men on average.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Pelosi hates inequality as long as she is more unequal than 99.9% of the population

The New York Times does a hit piece on Rubio for making $800k on a book and how he spent it, but is silent on the Pelosi millions?  I am shocked.

The National Review updates the enormous wealth of the woman who rails against inequality:
Nancy Pelosi may be one of the most liberal members of the U.S. House, where she runs the Democratic caucus, railing against income inequality and the avarice of the 1 percent. But she also happens to be one of the body’s wealthiest members: In Washington, she lives in a multimillion-dollar Georgetown condo; she owns a 16-acre vineyard in Napa Valley and a 3,700 square-foot house in San Francisco’s tony Pacific Heights, according to her May 2015 financial disclosure statements. 
Her May 2015 financial-disclosure statements,showing income that places her in the top one-tenth of the 1 percent of Americans, may surprise some in light of the concern she’s expressed about income equality and the distribution of wealth. 
“We’re talking about addressing the disparity in our country of income, where the wealthy people continue to get wealthier,” Pelosi said in 2010 at a United Steelworkers’ event. “That disparity is not just about wages alone,” she added. “That disparity is about ownership and equity. It’s all about fairness in our country.” 
But even as she’s publicly bemoaned the rich getting richer, Pelosi’s fortune has grown...
...Though financial-disclosure forms list only ranges of assets and liabilities, Pelosi listed between $42.4 million and $199.5 million in assets in 2013, which was enough for Bloomberg Business to deem her the richest member of House leadership from either party. By 2014, she and her husband, investment banker Paul Pelosi, were doing even better: She reported between $43.4 million and $202 million in assets...
Read the whole thing here 

The Greece situation explained in one chart

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Tuesday, June 30, 2015

The NY Times thinks its OK to make fun of religious leaders as long as they are white and don't have adherents that may kill you

The New York Times executive editor said the following regarding his decision not to publish the Charlie Hebdo cartoons:
...depictions of the prophet Muhammad are sacrilegious; those that are meant to mock even more so. “We have a standard that is long held and that serves us well: that there is a line between gratuitous insult and satire. Most of these are gratuitous insult.”...
That said it is hard to reconcile this position with the New York Times decision to print a  photo of a depiction of  Pope John Paul made entirely from condoms:


Of course the reality is they are progressive cowards whose adherence to political correctness eliminates their ability to be impartial on virtually any subject.  

Monday, June 29, 2015

As Maggie said eventually socialists run out of other peoples money to spend

The problem in Greece is not really that complicated.  They don't want to run out of other peoples money to spend:

Alexis Tsipras says the deal his European partners, principally Germany, and the IMF want Athens to agree to is “humiliating” and “undemocratic”. To “prove” his point, the Greek Prime Minister is organising a referendum on it fully four days after the latest repayment to the IMF falls due. By then, with a run on the Greek banks already well under way, it may be too late anyway.

If being asked to pay your debts on time is being humiliated then pretty much every nation on earth has been thus humbled, including Britain. Of course you have to feel sympathy for the average Greek pensioner or teacher, who has no great personal responsibility for the crisis. Yet the Greek nation as a whole does have such responsibility. They got into the euro by publishing some massaged statistics on the health of their economy. Athens borrowed – public and private sector – vast sums at “German” low interest rates that had previously been unavailable.

Then they had a decade-long party on the proceeds, failing to invest in the productive capacity of the Greek economy, spending instead on cushy early retirement deals in the public sector and German cars – with widespread failure to pay taxes. Hence the mess Greece, Europe and the IMF find themselves in now.

Undemocratic? What Greece seems to be telling the world is that it should be relieved of its debt obligations because that’s what the Greek people voted for. Even if the referendum was not too late it would be an irrelevance, and certainly not the product of a mature democracy, which Greece, above all others, really ought to be...

The Independent