Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Austerity? What austerity?

Tyler Cowen has a great sentence on the disaster that is Greece:
 As I’ve said before, that out of control Greek government spending and borrowing has been converted into a (supposed) cautionary tale about the dangers of fiscal conservatism is one of the greatest (and most unfortunate) public relations triumphs of modern times
Ricardo Haussman elaborates:
Greece's experience highlights a truth about macroeconomic policy that is too often overlooked: The world is not dominated by austerians; on the contrary, most countries have trouble balancing their books...

...the problem is not that austerity was tried and failed in Greece. It is that, despite unprecedented international generosity, fiscal policy was completely out of control and needed major adjustments. Insufficient spending was never an issue. From 1998 to 2007, Greece's annual per capita GDP growth averaged 3.8%, the second fastest in Western Europe, behind only Ireland...
...Unsustainable growth paths often end in a sudden stop of capital inflows, forcing countries to bring their spending back in line with production. In Greece, however, official lenders' unprecedented munificence made the adjustment more gradual than in, say, Latvia or Ireland....

...Greece never had the productive structure to be as rich as it was: its income was inflated by massive amounts of borrowed money that was not used to upgrade its productive capacity...

...Unfortunately, this is not what many Greeks (or Spaniards) believe. A large plurality of them voted for Syriza, which wants to reallocate resources to wage increases and subsidies and does not even mention exports in its growth strategy. They would be wise to remember that having Stiglitz as a cheerleader and Podemos as advisers did not save Venezuela from its current hyper-inflationary catastrophe.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

At least Hillary's use of AOL saves her the trouble of having every hard drive in DC crash and be accidentally reformatted

From Zerohedge
While the Hillary Clinton campaign seems unperturbed by recent problematic disclosures by Politico into the Hillary Clinton Foundation, the former first lady and current democrat presidential hopeful will have a field day explaining why, as the NYT reported overnight, Hillary - in her role as Secretary of State - "exclusively used a personal email account to conduct government business" according to State Department officials in violation of "federal requirements that officials’ correspondence be retained as part of the agency’s record."
Mrs. Clinton did not have a government email address during her four-year tenure at the State Department. Her aides took no actions to have her personal emails preserved on department servers at the time, as required by the Federal Records Act.
Why is this a deeply troubling breach of protocol, not to say a substantial threat to national security by America's former top diplomat? For starter, using Hotmail or Aol instead of a protected, encrypted government address leaves little to the hacker's imagination.  But what's worse is that as a result of exclusive reliance on non-government platforms, which have no document retention policy and in fact have a "straight to trash" policy, any and all emails regarding the Benghazi scandal, many of which were FOIAed, could have been and were simply deleted without ever leaving a trace....
...Mr. Merrill, the spokesman for Mrs. Clinton, declined to detail why she had chosen to conduct State Department business from her personal account. He said that because Mrs. Clinton had been sending emails to other State Department officials at their government accounts, she had “every expectation they would be retained.” He did not address emails that Mrs. Clinton may have sent to foreign leaders, people in the private sector or government officials outside the State Department...
 Really?  She doesn't need to retain her emails, as per Government policy, because she expects everyone she ever sent one to will?

You cannot make this s#^t up

Friday, February 27, 2015

Amerika the free: America preaches to others about justice yet has one of the most barbaric penal systems in the world

Blake Layman
Blake Layman made one very bad decision. He was 16, an unexceptional teenager growing up in a small Indiana town. He’d never been in trouble with the law, had a clean criminal record, had never owned or even held a gun.

That decision sparked a chain of events that would culminate with his arrest and trial for “felony murder”. The boy was unarmed, had pulled no trigger, killed no one. He was himself shot and injured in the incident while his friend standing beside him was also shot and killed. Yet Layman would go on to be found guilty by a jury of his peers and sentenced to 55 years in a maximum-security prison for a shooting that he did not carry out...
Just think for one moment if this was your son


All good questions
“And in the meantime, please explain why we should accept that the millions and millions of dollars that have flowed into the Clinton Global Initiative from foreign governments doesn’t represent a conflict of interest,” she added.

Fiorina was referring to the recent revelations that the Clinton Foundation accepted millions in donations from foreign governments, including while Hillary was the secretary of state.

Fiorina then turned her attention toward Clinton’s own role in the supposed war on women.

“She tweets about women’s rights in this country and takes money from governments that deny women the most basic human rights,” Fiorina said. “She tweets about equal pay for women but won’t answer basic questions about her own offices’ pay standards — and neither will our president.”

Earlier this week, a report in the Washington Free Beacon revealed that while Clinton was a senator, the median earnings for women in her office was 72 cents to the dollar for men’s median earnings.
For more go here

Thursday, February 26, 2015

If the New Yorker does not like Scott Walker he is probably worth a hard look

I am sensing John Cassidy is not a fan of Walker's:
Let’s stipulate up front that Scott Walker, the governor of Wisconsin, is an odious politician whose ascension to the Presidency would be a disaster.
Cassidy is particularly incensed by Walker's  recent decision not to opine on Obama's religion or comments made by Rudy Giuliani:
[Walker's] encounter with the Washington Post’s Dan Balz and Robert Costa, during which he appeared to question Obama’s religious faith and took some shots at the media for asking him silly questions, weren’t merely reprehensible: they were serious gaffes that raised questions about Walker’s political abilities.
This morning Walker responded to Cassidy and others in the USA Today:
Across party lines and state lines, Americans want America to be secure and prosperous again. And they're looking for leaders who can focus on that goal and who will get results...
...There has been much discussion about a media double standard where Republicans are covered differently than Democrats, asked to weigh in on issues the Democrats don't face. As a result, when we refuse to take the media's bait, we suffer.  

I felt it this week when I was asked to weigh in on what other people said and did and what others' beliefs are.  If you are looking for answers to those questions, ask those people.
I will always choose to focus on what matters to the American people, not what matters to the media.
Whether or not one believes Walker would make a good President both Cassidy and the American voter would do well to do as Walker suggests and concentrate on what is important to the prosperity of Americans and not what journalist or political operatives want to distract them with.

This does not help the Obama vote winning class warfare/"life's not fair"/"its not my fault" narrative...

...but is really really important to understand...


The top percentile of earners are not static.  Earning power changes over time for the majority of Americans.

An 18 year old is almost always going to start their career in the bottom quartile of earners and will generally spend some time in the top quartile of earners by the time they retire.

Fore more go to Carpe Diem

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The Economics of antibiotics

Marginal Revolution excerpts a very interesting article in the NY Times on antibiotics and why new ones are not being developed fast enough to combat the emergence of  drug resistant bacteria:

...The big problem is profitability. Unlike drugs for cholesterol or high blood pressure, or insulin for diabetes, which are taken every day for life, antibiotics tend to be given for a short time, a week or at most a few months. So profits have to be made on brief usage. Furthermore, any new antibiotics that might be developed to fight these drug-resistant bacteria are likely to be used very sparingly under highly controlled circumstances, to slow the development of resistant bacteria and extend their usefulness. This also limits the amount that can be sold.
     Even though antibiotics are lifesaving, they do not command a premium price in the marketplace. As a society we seem willing to pay $100,000 or more for cancer drugs that cure no one and at best add weeks or a few months to life. We are willing to pay tens of thousands of dollars for knee surgery that, at best, improves function but is not lifesaving...
Regarding the second paragraph "BC" provided an interesting thought in the comments section:

I wonder if, instead of deciding “as a society” how much “we” were willing to pay for various drugs and treatments, individuals decided instead... I would probably be much more willing to pay for drugs and insurance for lifesaving antibiotics than end-of-life treatment that adds a few weeks of bedridden life. We’ll never know, though, as long as “we” keep insisting that healthcare is a public good.

Of course the left wants "choice" long as it is their choice
Walker’s Pro-Worker Law Has Crippled Labor Movement That Opposed Him.

Walker had vowed that union power would shrink, workers would be judged on their merits, and local governments would save money. Unions had warned that workers would lose benefits and be forced to take on second jobs or find new careers.
Many of those changes came to pass, but the once-thriving ­public-sector unions were not just shrunken — they were crippled.
Unions representing teachers, professors, trash collectors and other government employees are struggling to stem plummeting membership rolls and retain relevance in the state where they got their start.
As Glenn Hubbard notes:

"Funny that you can “cripple” supposedly representative organizations just by requiring that they raise their money from people willing to be represented."

Monday, February 23, 2015

I wonder what Patricia Arquette thinks? Is Hillary Clinton sexist or deceptive?

 This stuff never gets old...

Male Female comparison

Brent Scher has crunched the numbers on Hillary's senate payroll:
Hillary Clinton portrays herself as a champion of women in the workforce, but women working for her in the U.S. Senate were paid 72 cents for each dollar paid to men, according to a Washington Free Beacon analysis of her Senate years’ salary data.

During those years, the median annual salary for a woman working in Clinton’s office was $15,708.38 less than the median salary for a man, according to the analysis of data compiled from official Senate expenditure reports...

Mark Perry sums it up nicely:
Politicians like Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama can’t have it both ways,” Perry said. “They use raw, aggregate, unadjusted gender differences in pay and then claim that those pay gaps are the result of gender discrimination, like the 23 percent national gender pay gap in aggregate median income.”

"They would then have to admit that they themselves are guilty of gender discrimination and have their own glass ceilings to explain, because they have gender pay gaps that are much greater than the average gender pay gap in Washington, D.C."

Perry said Clinton needs to either put an end to her rhetoric on the issue or admit that she too is guilty of gender discrimination
 You really cannot make this stuff up:

Hollywood, Actors and liberal politics. The gift that keeps on giving

Patricia Arquette inadvertently highlights the hypocrisy of Hollywood liberals, who delight in preaching to the masses on subjects they have limited understanding of, by calling for equality in America while working in one of the most sexist and racist industries around:
    But you know who does have a wage gap problem?     Hollywood

    It’s sort of hard to feel bad for a group of women who made more money this year than you will in 20, but if there is one industry that is super sexist (and racist, not that Arquette mentioned that), it’s Hollywood. This is an industry riddled with problems.

    Charlize Theron apparently found out from those hacked Sony emails that she was being paid $10 million less than her less experienced male co-star named Chris Hemsworth.

    Jennifer Lawrence and Amy Adams — whose talent and box office draw are worth a pretty penny — were just flat out given two percentage points less of the back end of American Hustle than each of the dudes in the film.

    And those are only the most famous and beautiful and talented women in Hollywood we happened to hear about in recent months. Most pay disparities are pretty well hidden. But what about the other ways Hollywood demonstrates how sexist it is against women trying to break into screenwriting, directing, producing, and all of the other positions? It’s so much worse.

    Only 9 percent of the top 250 domestic grossing films of 2012 were directed by women, according to a study by The Center for the Study of Women in Television & Film, based at San Diego University. For other behind-the-scenes roles, women make up only 18 percent. And that has only increased 1 percent since 1998!

    The same disparity is seen in sales of scripts. Researcher Susana Orozco who went through every single spec script sales from 1991 and 2012 and found that between 1991 and 2000, women wrote 14 percent of spec scripts sold. By the last few years she studied up to 2012, only 9 percent of the scripts sold were written by women!

    Hollywood likes to style itself as liberal and progressive and oh-so-much better than those conservatives in fly-over country. But I’d put the hiring, promotion and pay practices of most any small business owner in the country over the general sexism of Hollywood.

    So cheer all you want, Meryl and J-Lo and all the other Hollywood types. But maybe turn your political zeal inward and fix your own house.

For more go here

Climate Change: If Politicians say it happening its got to be true

From the Daily Telegraph:
...In recent years, these two very different ways of measuring global temperature have increasingly been showing quite different results. The surface-based record has shown a temperature trend rising up to 2014 as “the hottest years since records began”. RSS and UAH have, meanwhile, for 18 years been recording no rise in the trend, with 2014 ranking as low as only the sixth warmest since 1997.

One surprise is that the three surface records, all run by passionate believers in man-made warming, in fact derive most of their land surface data from a single source. This is the Global Historical Climate Network (GHCN), managed by the US National Climate Data Center under NOAA, which in turn comes under the US Department of Commerce. 

But two aspects of this system for measuring surface temperatures have long been worrying a growing array of statisticians, meteorologists and expert science bloggers. One is that the supposedly worldwide network of stations from which GHCN draws its data is flawed. Up to 80 per cent or more of the Earth’s surface is not reliably covered at all. Furthermore, around 1990, the number of stations more than halved, from 12,000 to less than 6,000 – and most of those remaining are concentrated in urban areas or places where studies have shown that, thanks to the “urban heat island effect”, readings can be up to 2 degrees higher than in those rural areas where thousands of stations were lost. 

To fill in the huge gaps, those compiling the records have resorted to computerised “infilling”, whereby the higher temperatures recorded by the remaining stations are projected out to vast surrounding areas (Giss allows single stations to give a reading covering 1.6 million square miles). This alone contributed to the sharp temperature rise shown in the years after 1990.

But still more worrying has been the evidence that even this data has then been subjected to continual “adjustments”, invariably in only one direction. Earlier temperatures are adjusted downwards, more recent temperatures upwards, thus giving the impression that they have risen much more sharply than was shown by the original data...

Thursday, February 19, 2015

But but but....Leo says electric cars are good for the environment

From USA Today
It is time to stop our green worship of the electric car. It costs us a fortune, cuts little CO2 and surprisingly kills almost twice the number of people compared with regular gasoline cars.
Electric cars' global-warming benefits are small. It is advertised as a zero-emissions car, but in reality it only shifts emissions to electricity production, with most coming from fossil fuels. As green venture capitalist Vinod Khosla likes to point out, "Electric cars are coal-powered cars."

The most popular electric car, a Nissan Leaf, over a 90,000-mile lifetime will emit 31 metric tons of CO2, based on emissions from its production, its electricity consumption at average U.S. fuel mix and its ultimate scrapping. A comparable diesel Mercedes CDI A160 over a similar lifetime will emit 3 tons more across its production, diesel consumption and ultimate scrapping.

The results are similar for the top-line Tesla car, emitting about 44 tons, about 5 tons less than a similar Audi A7 Quattro.

Subsidies vs. savings

Yes, in both cases the electric car is better, but only by a tiny bit. Avoiding 3 tons of CO2 would cost less than $27 on Europe's emissions trading market. The annual benefit is about the cost of a cup of coffee. Yet U.S. taxpayers spend up to $7,500 in tax breaks for less than $27 of climate benefits. That's a bad deal.

The other main benefit from electric cars was supposed to be lower air pollution. Yes, it might be powered by coal, but unlike the regular car, coal emissions are far away from the city centers where more people live and where damage from air pollution hits hardest.

However, new research in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that while gasoline cars pollute closer to home, coal-fired power pollutes a lot more.....

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Mission Accomplished!

Obama in September 2014:
This strategy of taking out terrorists who threaten us, while supporting partners on the front lines, is one that we have successfully pursued in Yemen and Somalia for years.”
As of February 2015 the "success" in Yemen is so complete that:
Fear not though:
I am sure Turkey and Algeria will take excellent care of America's interests...

Only? That's 12 more sex parties than I had

As The BBC reports,
Mr Strauss-Kahn is accused of helping procure sex workers for a prostitution ring based at a hotel in Lille.

He has argued that he did not know the women were prostitutes.

Although using prostitutes is not illegal in France, supplying them or assisting in supplying them is. Prosecutors have been quoted as saying Mr Strauss-Kahn, 65, played a pivotal role in facilitating the orgies, describing him as the "party king".

If found guilty, the one-time potential candidate for the French presidency could face up to 10 years in jail and a €1.5m (£1.13m) fine.

As he took the stand on Tuesday, Mr Strauss-Kahn said: "I committed no crime, no offence."

"The prosecution gives the impression of unbridled activity," he told the court. But, he added: "There were only 12 parties in total - that is four per year over three years."

Good question...
Emmy Award-winning journalist Sharyl Attkisson, who covered the story of Hillary Clinton's lie about being shot at in Bosnia, says she can't understand how the former secretary of state weathered the scandal while NBC News anchor Brian Williams may not.
"To me, part of the irony is if Brian Williams isn't able to survive it — that we think it's important enough when somebody gives this kind of story that he would lose his career — yet we didn't care enough to have it matter that much with someone who became our secretary of state," Attkisson said Monday
For more go here

Wow...a TV personaility who gets it
From the business owners I’ve talked to, it seems clear that companies are responding to rising labor costs by embracing automation faster than ever. That’s eliminating thousands of low-paying, unskilled, entry level positions. What will that mean for those people trying to get started in the workforce? My job as an usher was the first rung on a long ladder of work that lead me to where I am today. But what if that rung wasn’t there? If the minimum wage in 1979 had been suddenly raised from $2.90 to $10 an hour, thousands of people would have applied for the same job. What chance would I have had, being seventeen years old with pimples and a big adams apple?
Read the whole thing here

HT Coyote Blog

Sunday, February 8, 2015

It's a pity you can't sue people for being stupid

In a complaint filed on Thursday, Tania Warchol claims that she purchased Fifty Shades of Grey Come Alive Pleasure Gel for Her, part of Lovehoney's Official Pleasure Collection Approved by James, "on at least two occasions" from an Adam & Eve store near her home... 
...The complaint notes that the product's packaging promises users will "experience enhanced orgasms and stimulation as every tingle, touch and vibration intensifies."  
It includes the lines from James' second Fifty Shades novel printed on the box — "I surrender, exploding around him — a draining, soul-grabbing orgasm that leaves me spent and exhausted." 
It was a bit of a letdown, Warchol claims.

For more go here

Only in Chicago

The Chicago Tribune editorial board has endorsed Rahm for re-election . But , last May, the Tribune editorial board said this:
His arrogance is oversized for the record he has amassed. He's beyond bossy. He's a walking personality disorder. But his audacity exceeds his accomplishments. That's a dangerous combination.
Being a " "a walking personality disorder" doesn't disqualify you for endorsement by the Chicago Tribune as Mayor of America's third largest city. The Chicago Tribune editorial board sure has integrity and don't you forget it! Shouldn't every city be run by "a walking personality disorder" ?


Friday, February 6, 2015

Where's Ronnie when you need him?

RILA reports, "a work slowdown during contract negotiations over the past seven months has already created logistic nightmares for American exporters, manufacturers and retailers dependent on an efficient supply chain. A complete shutdown would be catastrophic, with hundreds of thousands of jobs at risk if America’s supply chain grinds to a halt."

"A west coast port shutdown would be an economic disaster," said Kelly Kolb, vice president of government affairs for the Retail Industry Leaders Association. “A shutdown would not only impact the hundreds of thousands of jobs working directly in America’s transportation supply chain, but the reality is the entire economy would be impacted as exports sit on docks and imports sit in the harbor waiting for manufacturers to build products and retailers to stock shelves. 

“The slowdown is already making life difficult, but a shutdown could derail the economy completely,” said Kolb. “For retailers specifically, a shutdown will have dire consequences for those dependent on spring inventory demand
Bloomberg reports on the eye popping salaries longshoremen  currently earn:
The association has made its “best offer” in contract negotiations with the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, he said, which includes a 3% wage increase each year, fully-paid health care and maximum annual pension benefits of $88,800. Mr. McKenna said ILWU workers currently earn an average of $147,000 a year.
They omit to mention the only job qualification required is to know someone in the union...

How's that whole "unity" thing working out?

“I don’t want to pit Red America against Blue America. I want to be the president
 of the United States of America.” -- Obama at the 2007 Jefferson-Jackson dinner in Iowa

Presidential Years With Largest Gaps in Approval Ratings by Party, Gallup Polls, 1953-2014