Friday, July 31, 2009

The Top 1% Now Pays more then 95% of All Tax Payers

Now is the time to bury all of the talk about the "rich" not paying their fair share.

Indeed, the IRS data shows that in 2007—the most recent data available—the top 1 percent of taxpayers paid 40.4 percent of the total income taxes collected by the federal government. This is the highest percentage in modern history. By contrast, the top 1 percent paid 24.8 percent of the income tax burden in 1987, the year following the 1986 tax reform act.

Remarkably, the share of the tax burden borne by the top 1 percent now exceeds the share paid by the bottom 95 percent of taxpayers combined. In 2007, the bottom 95 percent paid 39.4 percent of the income tax burden. This is down from the 58 percent of the total income tax burden they paid twenty years ago.

And people wonder why there will be a jobless recovery.

GDP Drop Starting to Ease

Well, we are coming close to the end of the recession and we might eventually see growth in the later part of this year.

The Bureau of Economic Analysis reported that GDP, or the total output of goods and services produced in the U.S., dipped by an annual rate of 1% in the spring. The advance estimate bettered most forecasts, as many economists expected a 1.5% slide.

The only problem is that consumer spending is still in the doldrums

However, consumer spending, or the lack there of, remains a nagging weight on the economy. The report noted that consumer spending slid 1.2% during the quarter, as compared to a 0.6% upswing during the first quarter. Consumers are likely to keep their wallets tucked in tight as unemployment figures continue to falter.

Too bad the failed stimulus did not have some more things in it similar to "cash for clunkers" that gave people financial incentives to buy things. If the Dems are serious about Stimulus 2 they should call it the "tax cut for everyone" and cut payroll taxes for 1 year or something like that. I think Americans will sign on for substantially more money in their paychecks.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Beer Summit Goes Off Fairly Well: Now Fix the Economy!

I think Obama has had enough distractions it should be time to start thinking about getting Americans back to work. I think the silly season in Washington should be winding down right about now. In fact I hope this doesn't have to happen again:

The White House meeting drew such media interest that press secretary Robert Gibbs said he looked forward to facing no more questions about what beers each man would drink. For the record, it was Bud Light for Obama, Sam Adams Light for Gates, Blue Moon for Crowley and nonalcoholic Buckler for Biden.

Yes Gibbs is fielding questions about beer choices instead of on what the White House has to say about them beating people in the streets of Tehran yet again. Or how they will solve double digit unemployment or what are they going to do now that the stimulus failed. In other words the actual work of the country not some silly racial crap.

Congress Suspends Cash for Clunkers

Yup, the government underestimated the demand and thus didn't have enough money set aside to cover the plan.

The Transportation Department called congressional offices late Thursday to alert them to the decision to halt the program, which offered owners of old cars and trucks $3,500 or $4,500 toward a new, more fuel-efficient vehicle.

And they want to run everyone's health insurance? Anyone that believes that the government run plan can actually reduce costs should just look at Cash for Clunkers. A good idea but poorly executed and then ultimately suspended when costs ran up too quickly.

Senate ObamaCare Bill May be Pushed Back to December?

Wow, anyone who thought they could get this done by August was absolutely nuts.

"The president wanted to have it on his desk in October," said Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa. "He'll probably have it in November now. But I'm very hopeful we'll get it done at least by that time."

Senior aides and lawmakers said privately they thought Harkin was being overly optimistic, and warned of work spreading late into December on the highly controversial issue.

Sen. Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., one of six lawmakers involved in bipartisan talks, said the legislation wasn't "ready for prime time."

What is funny is that some far-left liberals say they should just shove it through with 50 Democrat votes and damn the torpedoes. I think that would be political suicide because that bill will be hung on Democrats forever. If it fails (and it probably will) the GOP can use it as a big club to hit them with for perpetuity.

Poll Shows Obama Misahandled Race Debate

It seems that Obama should have simply said "I do not have enough information to comment on this story at this time. Next question." and it will have all been behind him. Instead this screw up may have cost him in the short term.

The poll by the nonpartisan Pew Research Center found that 41 percent disapproved of Obama's handling of the Gates arrest, compared with 29 percent who approved. The poll also found the incident and Obama's reaction saturated the public consciousness. As many as 80 percent of Americans said they are now aware of Obama's comments on the matter.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The Market Rallies as the Obama Agenda Fails?

In other words go short anything that Obama pushes then wait until Congress screws things up and then you can go back long again. I did this with the Health Insurers by going short them when Health Care nationalization talk heated up. Then I covered and went back long as the debate wore on and took profits on the news that the Senate might strip the public plan out of the bill. Trading off Obama is sometimes quite lucrative.

Since then, the bankruptcy bill has fizzled and nationalization talk has died out. President Barack Obama did sign a credit card bill into law, but its provisions were much weaker than the industry feared.

Separately, healthcare reform has slowed while a climate change bill imposing taxes on businesses that emit pollutants has stalled in the Senate.

Stock markets, meanwhile, have rallied to their highest levels of the year. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index began this week within striking distance of 1,000 points.

“It’s very much a factor in what’s driving the market over the last couple weeks,” Gardner said of the slowed agenda in Washington.

I think it has more to do with certainty going back into some sectors of the market that came from paying back the TARP money so quickly. Now traders can trade in peace without the government telling them what they should be paid or some uninformed person telling them about the Profit and Earnings Ratios of the market.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

ObamaCare Gets Stranger and Stranger: Now there is an Unelected Health Commissar?

You have to be kidding me. Mining these bills is like turning over rocks to see what sort of bugs are under them. This part should make every American shudder.

Republicans want voters to know as much as possible. "If I went to most people and said there was an unelected health choices commissioner, with the power to override state law on what should or should not be included in an acceptable insurance plan -- most people would not know that," says Camp. They wouldn't like it, either.

Yup, this Health Choices Commissar could pretty much have the power of life and death over vast swaths of the American public. In other words if you have end stage Prostate Cancer and Provenge can extend your life by 6 months then this unelected official gets to nix whether any insurance plan in the country will cover it or not. The doctor doesn't decide, the patient doesn't decide, Dendreon sure doesn't decide, but this Health Choices Commissar gets to decide.

I wonder if he gets the power to punish the Secretary of Health and Human Services if she goes against his iron commands as well? Lord Commissar "we wish to put Avastin upon the Master List of Approved Remedies." The Commissar replies in a cold, tone devoid of all emotion "it is not cost effective Ms. Sebelius. You are a fool to ask. Seize Her!"

ObamaCare Taketh Away: Read the Bills they are Scary Stuff

I think these kind of articles where people actually sit down and read the bills being discussed do a people far more of a service then prime time press conferences talking about "you will keep your medical insurance and your doctor." I would love to see the Obama people go point by point against this article.

If you prize choosing your own cardiologist or urologist under your company's Preferred Provider Organization plan (PPO), if your employer rewards your non-smoking, healthy lifestyle with reduced premiums, if you love the bargain Health Savings Account (HSA) that insures you just for the essentials, or if you simply take comfort in the freedom to spend your own money for a policy that covers the newest drugs and diagnostic tests -- you may be shocked to learn that you could lose all of those good things under the rules proposed in the two bills that herald a health-care revolution.

In short, the Obama platform would mandate extremely full, expensive, and highly subsidized coverage -- including a lot of benefits people would never pay for with their own money -- but deliver it through a highly restrictive, HMO-style plan that will determine what care and tests you can and can't have. It's a revolution, all right, but in the wrong direction.

Yup it seems it is heavy handed rationing disguised as "reform." It also strait-up rips off younger more healthy people and gives the money to older more sick people.

So in other words that girl that runs 5 times a week and eats a diet free of saturated fats and sugar will be paying the health insurance of some morbidly obese dude that eats two Ultimate Cheeseburgers at a sitting and washes them down with a Super-sized Oreo Shake. Both of these people will pay nearly the same amount and have a health plan with the exact same costs. What is so fair about that?

ObamaCare's Economic Fallout: The Keynesian

This is a great article talking about the uncertainty that ObamaCare is bringing to small and large businesses alike and how that uncertainty is slowing down the Recovery.

Prudent businessmen and prudent individuals alike have thus been given an additional motive for hoarding cash rather than investing and consuming. No one knows how his financial situation will be affected by health reform, if it is is enacted. There is enormous and I think justified distrust of the government's ability to design and execute so ambitious a program as the Administration and the congressional leadership envisage.

The problem too is that the Obama people are blasting uncertainty into the stratosphere. Consumers and producers already have to deal with the possibility of cap-and-tax and whatever unintended consequences that could still come out of the failed stimulus.

Plus, we are looking forward to massive inflation and debt loads in the future that people know are going to be huge but are uncertain how huge. So companies hold cash and fail to hire workers and we have a jobless recovery.

One irony is that if Obama simply waited until we were coming out of the recovery (2010 - 2011) things would be better and it would have been easier to pass his social agenda. Instead he jumped the gun and tried to cram everything down our throats. Now all of his bets are on a recovery in 2010 - 2011 that needs to be pretty robust. A jobless malaise will make him a one termer.

Obama Lost At Least One Voter from Police "Stupidity" Attack

I think this officer, Ms. Kelly King should consider a run in politics.

Monday, July 27, 2009

EA Viral Marketing Fails Again: Dante's Fondlers

I think it may be about time for them to change out their marketing people.

In an effort to promote the title at last week's San Diego Comic-Con event, EA decided to run a contest asking showgoers to "commit acts of lust" with any models working at the convention's myriad booths. They were then instructed to submit photos via social networking sites like Twitter or Facebook. The winner would receive "dinner and a sinful night with two hot girls, a limo service, paparazzi and a chest full of booty," while five runners-up would have to make do with a copy of the game, a $240 gift card and assorted game merchandise.

Yup, this sure seems like a veiled threat to sexually harass the women working the Dante's Inferno booth. There is nothing like a bunch of sweaty Comic-Con geeks trying to win some prize that will make these "booth babes" jobs just a little bit harder. My money is on many asses grabbed, many breasts fondled, and hopefully many geeks with their noses broken.

Then this "top fondler" will actually get a chance to win a limo ride with what sounds like hookers on EAs dime. These so-called "hot girls" will probably be bored out of their mind and generally stare out of the limo's windows. These girls will probably wonder why they have to put up with the roaming hands of a sweaty geek that "grabbed the most ass to win a contest." Real classy EA.

The messed up part is what is wrong with handing out copies of Dante's Inferno? Too high brow for the gamer hoi polloi who are generally college educated and may have actually read the source material? Hell, they could make it all gory and put plenty of nudity in the thing to better reflect who EA thinks is their true customer.

CBO Blasts ObamaCare Yet Again

It seems that ObamaCare keeps running into cold, hard, facts every time it tries to make claims that it cannot vouch for.

But on Saturday, the Congressional Budget Office said the proposal to give an independent panel the power to keep Medicare spending in check would only save about $2 billion over 10 years- a drop in the bucket compared to the bill's $1 trillion price tag.

"In CBO's judgment, the probability is high that no savings would be realized ... but there is also a chance that substantial savings might be realized. Looking beyond the 10-year budget window, CBO expects that this proposal would generate larger but still modest savings on the same probabilistic basis," CBO Director Douglas Elmendorf wrote in a letter to House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer on Saturday.

Senate Group May Scuttle Public Option

Now this is a change that I can believe in. Especially if these are the things that they will get.

Like bills drafted by Democrats, the proposal under discussion by six members on the Senate Finance Committee would bar insurance companies from denying coverage to any applicant. Nor could insurers charge higher premiums on the basis of pre-existing medical conditions.

But it jettisons other core Democratic provisions in a reach for bipartisanship on an issue that has so far produced little.

I think this would be called insurance reform instead of tearing down 20% of the economy and hoping for the best. If they can add a super cheap catastrophic option where a person will be covered if they get a rare disease or is hit by a car or something then it would be a good piece of legislation. Also expand the scope and funding of mini-clinics and doctor-in-the-box operations so the emergency room isn't used for preventive medicine.

The other things I would like to see are reforming Medicare and wringing the savings out of the system first and then talk about insuring the uninsured. Also they had better cap malpractice rewards so doctors don't have to practice defensive medicine.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Mistrust of Government is Behind ObamaCare Resistance

I have noticed that this mistrust of government seems endemic in quite a bit of the populace and it might ultimately kill off ObamaCare.

One reason, of course, is that the mistrust is deeply ingrained now and not easily or quickly overcome. Recent events and the promise of big government help made things worse, however.

Americans have watched with frustration as their federal government has committed nearly $800 billion to stimulate the economy yet they've seen unemployment continue to rise. They've also watched their government send billions to Wall Street only to see financial firms give their executives big bonuses.

"Voters are in sacrifice overload," pollster John Zogby said. "They're dishing out trillions already and aren't seeing the return."

I think this is exactly the reason why ObamaCare is such a hard sell. They have seen trillions of dollars spent and have seen about $18 worth of return in their paycheck. I mean the stimulus bill was just money-wasting Democrat business as usual and didn't stimulate anything other then the national debt.

Now Americans are asked to pony up another trillion dollars to the same government that screws up on a nearly hourly basis. This is a government that pays for $1000 toilet seats, has a Veterans Hospital that is a decrepit joke, and seems to crash Amtrak trains every few weeks.

Now people are supposed to trust them with their very lives just for some savings on health insurance? I agree with Obama when he says "you rather stick with the devil you know then the devil you don't know." I think most Americans would rather see some tweaks the health insurance rather then a dismantling of the system.

Blue Dogs Storm out of ObamaCare Meeting

Now this can't be good for party unity or for the moderate wing of the Democratic Party for that matter.

The seven Blue Dogs on the Energy and Commerce Committee stormed out of a Friday meeting with their committee chairman, Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), saying Waxman had been negotiating in bad faith over a number of provisions Blue Dogs demanded be changed in the stalled healthcare bill.“I’ve been lied to,” Blue Dog Coalition Co-Chairman Charlie Melancon (D-La.) said on Friday. “We have not had legitimate negotiations.

“Mr. Waxman has decided to sever discussions with the Blue Dogs who are trying to make this bill work for America,” Melancon said.

Um, I'm sure that Waxman understands that if these people take their "I'm all for higher taxes" vote back to their districts they will all be tossed out on their ear. One thing you can count on is that the Dems would rather self-destruct instead of working together. I'm just so tired of the "pass anything even if it destroys the country" attitude in Congress.

Why Doesn't Health Care Reform Cap Lawsuits?

I have to agree with Charles Krauthammer when he says that why isn't there anything written into ObamaCare about reducing costs through this mechanism.

When a neurosurgeon pays $200,000 a year for malpractice insurance before he even turns on the light in his office or hires his first nurse, who do you think pays? Patients, in higher doctor fees to cover the insurance.

And with jackpot justice that awards one claimant zillions while others get nothing -- and one-third of everything goes to the lawyers -- where do you think that money comes from? The insurance companies, which then pass it on to you in higher premiums.

The problem is that it will mess with a key constituency of the Dems which is trial lawyers. So all this talk about savings and fairness but doctors are getting robbed by these lawyers and then pass on that cost to consumers. Also the whole idea of defensive medicine should be put right into the cost savings pile as well.

This reform would be an actual incentive that could actually sell the government plan to doctors who would then sell it to their patients. Say that any doctor putting in claims to ObamaCare also gets malpractice rewards capped at $250,000.

Suddenly they don't have to pay onerous fees to some malpractice insurer and they can practice medicine to help people and not write up a bunch of tests just so they don't get sued. Obama could actually win this thing by pitting doctors who most people like against lawyers who most people hate.

Obama Says He Should Have "Calibrated" His Words Better on Police Slam

Well, at least he is trying to get this out of the news cycle that he inadvertently created.

"This has been ratcheting up, and I obviously helped to contribute ratcheting it up," he said. "I want to make clear that in my choice of words, I think I unfortunately gave an impression that I was maligning the Cambridge police department and Sgt. Crowley specifically. And I could've calibrated those words differently."

Seeking to lighten the situation further, he said he had invited both Crowley and Gates for "a beer here in the White House."

Now this shows he is the bigger man instead of rushing to judgment by saying that the Massachusetts State Police acted stupidly without any facts at all. I think Obama just needs to stick to the teleprompter or give an answer to a question like this as "I'm not sure of all of the facts of this case so I will offer more candor at a later date. Thank you"

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Bucyrus Follows Caterpillar and Smashes Estimates

It seems that mining equipment sales is started to become yet another green shoot in the economy according to these numbers.

U.S. mining equipment maker Bucyrus International Inc (BUCY.O) posted better-than-expected quarterly results, helped by growth at its surface mining original equipment and underground mining segments. For the second quarter, net income was $82.3 million, or $1.08 a share, compared with $62.3 million, or 83 cents a share, a year ago.

Revenue was up 17 percent to $724.4 million. Surface mining sales rose to $356.0 million from $301.8 million.

Underground-mining segment sales rose to $368.4 million from $319.2 million.

Analysts on average were expecting earnings of 82 cents a share, before special items, on revenue of $621.3 million, according to Reuters Estimates.

I was looking over their report and the only thing that caught my eye that you might be wary of is this part. Backlog seems like a very big deal when it comes to these sort of industrial companies so you can see project out earnings for the next few quarters.

Backlog as of June 30, 2009 and December 31, 2008, as well as the portion of backlog which is expected to be recognized within 12 months of these dates, was as follows:

June 30, Dec. 31,
2009 2008 % Change
---------- ---------- -------
(Dollars in thousands)
Surface Mining:
Total $1,146,534 $1,367,242 (16.1%)
Next 12 months $ 652,642 $ 906,884 (28.0%)

Underground Mining:
Total $ 838,336 $1,135,212 (26.2%)
Next 12 months $ 576,060 $ 806,074 (28.5%)

Total $1,984,870 $2,502,454 (20.7%)
Next 12 months $1,228,702 $1,712,958 (28.3%)
But with commodity prices stubbornly high companies like Bucyrus and Joy Global (JOYG) might be seeing really good quarters for the rest of the year.

Ried Pushes Back ObamaCare Until Fall

I have said lots of bad things about Harry Ried in the past but I have to give him credit for standing up to the Obama Hurry-up Machine and saying the Senate will not be rushed on health care.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., delivered the official pronouncement, saying, "It's better to have a product based on quality and thoughtfulness rather than try to jam something through."

His words were a near-echo of Republicans who have criticized what they have called a rush to act on complex legislation that affects every American.

Maybe the Senate will actually read this bill instead of passing it in the dead of night like the failed Stimulus.

Cop Who Arrested Black Scholar a Racial Profiling Instructor

Even though the President of the United States called these cops "stupid" it seems that the arresting officer knew so much about racial profiling that he was an instructor of a profiling course.

Cambridge Sgt. James Crowley has taught a class on racial profiling for five years at the Lowell Police Academy.

Academy Director Thomas Fleming says Crowley is "good role model" who was hand-picked for the job by former police Commissioner Ronny Watson, who is black.

In the class, Crowley teaches officers not to single people out based on their ethnic backgrounds.

Obama has said the Cambridge officers "acted stupidly" in arresting Gates last week after a woman reported a suspected break-in at his home.

Instead of just reserving his opinion until all the facts are known Obama condemned some peace officers as stupid simply for arresting his friend even though the charges were dropped. It is a sad state of affairs when Obama does not condemn Iran for cracking down on protestors but is quick to rush to judgment to call police officers "stupid." What happened to post-racial America?

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Obama Pivot: It Isn't Healthcare Reform it is now Health Insurance Reform

Ah so now we get some triangulation and nuance in these remarks.

“I realize that with all the charges and criticisms being thrown around in Washington, many Americans may be wondering, ‘What’s in this for me? How does my family stand to benefit from health insurance reform?’” Obama asked. “This is not just about the 47 million Americans who have no health insurance. Reform is about every American who has ever feared that they may lose their coverage if they become too sick, or lose their job, or change their job.”

Now we will see an attack on the insurance industry as greedy companies that are "run for a profit" as people get sick and pay outrageous fees. Of course the government can regulate that industry so we won't get stuck with a $1 trillion bill for a public plan. There are quite a few mandates like cheap catastrophic plans, and forcing them to not deny health insurance due to preexisting conditions that could be looked at instead of a public plan.

Obama Goes to the Airwaves as 53% of Americans Oppose ObamaCare

I think Obama needs to check some of these polls because the American people are starting to have second thoughts about health care.

The health care reform legislation working its way through Congress has lost support over the past month. The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey shows that 44% of U.S. voters are at least somewhat in favor of the reform effort while 53% are at least somewhat opposed.

He is taking up another chunk of prime time tonight to go for his used car salesman hard sell. The more he pushes this the more he sounds like a car salesman saying "you have to sign, this car won't be here forever, you must sign" so you don't get a chance to read the fine print.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Apple Beats Numbers and it isn't Just IPhones Alone

It seems that Apple is hitting on all cylinders while the rest of the tech industry flounders.

The company, which recently welcomed CEO and co-founder Steve Jobs back from a six-month medical leave, said earnings in the quarter that ended June 27 rose to $1.23 billion, or $1.35 per share. Apple's profit was $1.07 billion, or $1.19 per share, in the same period last year. Sales increased 12 percent to $8.34 billion from $7.46 billion in the year-ago quarter, which is the third in Apple's fiscal calendar.

Apple beat Wall Street's forecast on both counts. Analysts were expecting Apple to earn $1.17 per share on $8.20 billion in revenue, according to a Thomson Reuters survey.

It seems that some electronic gadgets are just recession-proof:

Apple said it sold more than 5.2 million iPhones in the quarter, more than seven times what it sold in the 2008 quarter, thanks to a newly released version of the device.

Apple's Mac computers also bolstered results. Apple sold 4 percent more Mac computers than a year ago. Meanwhile, researchers recently reported a 3 percent to 5 percent decline for the overall worldwide PC market in the same period.

It seems that the only two kinds of computers that are growing are Macs and Netbooks.

The Speed is starting to Eat at Obama’s Policies

I have to agree with this assessment that the speed of these changes are starting to ware Americans down.

But the public understands that he wants to rush, rush, rush, and voters told the RNC researchers that they were tired of the pressure. “Repeatedly,” the Republican strategist says, “we’d hear, ‘Wait a second. We had to do the stimulus in the dead of night, we had to do cap and trade without anybody reading the bill, we had to move quickly on a multitrillion-dollar budget without any serious public debate, and now we’ve got to get health care done in two weeks?’ ”

I think Americans are understanding that when you rush things you end up with crap like the Stimulus Bill that has strait-up failed to deliver. I also agree that the hard-sell is starting to alienate people as well. Why does this need to be done by August 7th? LBJ took a year and a half to get Medicare passed. I remember Clinton's Health care revamp went on for quite a few months as well. I think the hard-sell and the rush-job is going to backfire on Obama going forward.

I Hope You Like the Public Plan because It Will Be Forced on You

One of the things Obama keeps saying is this:

“If you have health insurance, and you like it, and you have a doctor that you like, then you can keep it. Period.”

The problem is that Congress doesn't care about what Obama says or that they make him a liar with their stupid scheme. According to this it seems that millions of people will be forced off of the their private plan onto the public plan. So you might like your doctor or your insurance but that doesn't matter when you are forced to take the government plan.
  • Approximately 103 million people would be covered under the new public plan and, as a consequence, about 83.4 million people would lose their private insurance. This would represent a 48.4 percent reduction in the number of people with private coverage.
  • About 88.1 million workers would see their current private, employer-sponsored health plan go away and would be shifted to the public plan.
  • Yearly premiums for the typical American with private coverage could go up by as much as $460 per privately-insured person, as a result of increased cost-shifting stemming from a public plan modeled on Medicare.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Leading Indicators Inch Up

Finally, some good news on the economy.

The index rose 0.7 percent last month. Wall Street analysts polled by Thomson Reuters expected a gain of 0.4 percent. May's reading was revised up to a gain of 1.3 percent from 1.2 percent, while April was scaled back to 1 percent growth from 1.1 percent.

The group also said activity in the six-month period through June rose 2 percent, with an annual growth rate of 4.1 percent. That's the strongest rate since the first quarter of 2006.

The only bad thing is this will probably be a jobless recovery due to the failure of the stimulus bill and with Cap-and-Tax and ObamaCare killing even more jobs. I am just surprised that there is any positive leading indicators at all with Washington trying like mad to kill any green shoots.

Now the Mayo Clinic Blasts ObamaCare

I think they are just piling on now. But these guys are the gold standard in medicine and they should know what they are talking about.

In general, the proposals under discussion are not patient focused or results oriented. Lawmakers have failed to use a fundamental lever – a change in Medicare payment policy – to help drive necessary improvements in American health care. Unless legislators create payment systems that pay for good patient results at reasonable costs, the promise of transformation in American health care will wither. The real losers will be the citizens of the United States.

I think there should be a cap on malpractice lawsuits built into this thing somewhere. That way doctors won't have to run a 100 tests just to cover their ass so they don't get sued. I like how Mayo separates health insurance from health care. Insurance just pays for the procedure but people like Mayo Clinics are the ones running the show.

The problem with ObamaCare is that some ass in Washington will be telling the Mayo Clinic what will be covered or not no matter what happens to the patient. I still would rather have one doctor from the Mayo Clinic rather than 10,000 Washington bean-counters any day.

Americans Turn on ObamaCare

It seems the more Americans hear about ObamaCare the worse it sounds.

Those concerns may be having an impact on the public, according to the poll, which showed 49 percent of respondents approving of Obama's stand on the issue compared to 57 percent in April.

Those saying they disapproved rose to 44 percent from 29 percent during the same period.

I think this is just more of the case of liking the man but hating his policies. The problem I am having now is this asinine statement during today's health insurance hard-sell.

And over the past decade, premiums have doubled in America. Out- of-pocket costs have shot up by a third. Deductibles have continued to climb. And yet even as America's families have been battered by spiraling health care costs, health insurance companies and their executives have reaped windfall profits from a broken system.

I hope he knows that health insurance operating margins are an average of 4.16%. He does know that software companies usually have operating margins in the 30% range. Does that mean they are "reaping windfall profits" and the US Government should be providing OSs, Office Productivity Software, and Search services? Of course not that would be idiotic.

The idea of providing health insurance for 47 million people to the tune of $1 trillion just because health insurance companies are making a profit is just laughable. Just reform their industry and provide incentive for them to cover that 47 million and we aren't out another $1 trillion+ and it should be okay.

Friday, July 17, 2009

What the Hell is Google Mobile?

On looking at some Google earnings I came across some analysts talking about something called a Google Mobile service. So I delved a little further and came across this.

There is a new Google mobile service that Google doesn’t want you to know about. We’re not sure why they would keep it from you; it’s actually pretty cool. Google mobile "LCB" was uncovered by picking apart a publicly available file containing a list of all pages that crawlers shouldn’t be able to see. Essentially, LCB is an interesting move away from Google’s typical offerings. A "searchless search" in a sense, it allows the user to input a location and then browse through seven predefined categories such as Food / Restaurant and Entertainment to find a business listing. Once a desired result is listed, users can quickly and easily map the address and surrounding area.

This sounds a lot like a "Where should I eat" app that is tied to the GPS in your phone. I can see this as a great way for Google to collect local advertising money as restaurants and such sign up to push themselves higher up in the search results.

I would download this service in a heartbeat because sometimes I am in an area and I want to eat a plate lunch or something. I could just run this thing and it can tell me the closest plate lunch place and maybe pull up some reviews as well. Hell, you could have the thing pop up with the closest McDonalds and have it automatically text you a coupon as well if you check an opt-in box.

I think the idea is to get Google in front of as many eyes as possible and this Google Mobile is a very interesting new way to do it. I can see this service making money right out of the box and tie Googles growth right into the growth of smart-phones.

Googles Numbers Dissapoint; Although They Might Make Money from YouTube

It seems that ad spending is still sluggish even though they had a record quarter but this part seems pretty promising though.

Google also defended its YouTube video service. Critics have pointed out that the company spends an estimated $500 million a year on YouTube, without getting much in return. But company executives said advertising, such as pre-roll ads, were gaining traction and could soon pull the video business out of the red ink and into profits, Google executives said.

I can see those pre-roll ads as quite a lucrative commodity especially when some web videos have millions of hits. It would especially be cool if they can be targeted so that a funny cat running around is preceded by a Friskies ad or something.

I mean Hulu does it and it is not very intrusive at all. The only problem with Hulu is that the ads are exactly the same over and over. Maybe Google can change up the ads so you see a Friskies ad then a PetCo ad then a Purina ad right after it. As long as there is only one ad people won't be too put off by them.

Rafsanjani Comes Out With Pro-Protest Sermon

It seems that Rafsanjani has now picked his side and has come out forcefully behind the protesters by taking their grievances to the Friday sermon airwaves.

The cleric got tears in his eyes as he spoke of how Islam's Prophet Muhammad "respected the rights" of his people. He said the founder of Iran's Islamic Republic, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, "would always say that if the system is not backed by the people, nothing would stand."

For Iranians listening across the country, the weekly Friday sermon in Tehran is the voice of the leadership and a symbol of its backing by God.

This part is especially telling and should be pushed forward by anyone who is opposed to Iranian nukes.

Inside the prayers, worshippers traded competing chants with some hard-liners in the congregation. When the hard-liners chanted "death to America," Mousavi supporters countered with "death to Russia" and "death to China," a reference to Ahmadinejad's alliance with both countries.

A truly democratic Iran allied with the West will prevent a nuclear arms race in the Middle East. It is just that simple. I think it might be time for Obama to throw his weight behind a reformer like Rafsanjani rather then Khomeini and Almadinijoke.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Holy Crap! ObamaCare Bill Will Make It So You Can't Change Your Individual Health Insurance Carrier?

Yup it sure seems that way according to this. This comes from page 16 of the bill that probably no one has read yet.

"Except as provided in this paragraph, the individual health insurance issuer offering such coverage does not enroll any individual in such coverage if the first effective date of coverage is on or after the first day" of the year the legislation becomes law.

So we can all keep our coverage, just as promised — with, of course, exceptions: Those who currently have private individual coverage won't be able to change it. Nor will those who leave a company to work for themselves be free to buy individual plans from private carriers.

So if you own your own business and buy individual coverage I hope you like it because you are stuck with it. So what happens if Humana changes some of the rules on you or raises your co-pay or something. You can't take your business to Blue Cross/Blue Shield because you are stuck with Humana by law.

Or you can simply enter the public plan and be at the whim of the same people that gave your the DMV and the Post Office. It is such a sneaky little way to get people into the public plan that it is ingenious. Freeze people in their insurance carrier and then force them to either sign up for the government plan or pay a 3.5% penalty for not having insurance. This one paragraph is a dagger aimed right at the heart of the private contractor industry.

Americans Don't Want to Pay To Fight Global Warming

I could have told you this.

With the climate change bill narrowly passing in the House, a new poll released by Rasmussen Reports shows that a majority of Americans - 56 percent - are unwilling to pay more to support the fight against global warming. Only 14 percent of Americans are willing to pay more than $100 a year to fund the cap and trade measure.

It seems that only politicians care about cap-and-tax. While Americans don't want to pay higher taxes on everything they buy just to maybe reduce temperature by a minuscule amount 20 years from now.

"Sixty-seven percent (67%) of Mainstream Americans say they are not willing to pay higher taxes and utility costs to generate cleaner energy and fight global warming, compared to only 17% of the Political Class," reported Rasmussen Reports.

National Black Chamber of Congress CEO Goes After Senator Boxer For Playing the Race Card

I sure wish more people testifying before Congress would tell it like it is like Harry C. Alford did. This is regarding Cap-and-Tax as well.

CBO Director Pours Cold Water on ObamaCare

I think this Elmendorf guy may the last line of defense when it comes to us not having to default on our debt due to insane costs. His words should make the Dems slow down and think these costs through and figure out how to pay for these things without raising taxes.

Explained Elmendorf: "In the legislation that has been reported, we do not see the sort of fundamental changes that would be necessary to reduce the trajectory of federal health spending by a significant amount. And on the contrary, the legislation significantly expands the federal responsibility for health care costs."

Even if the congressional legislation doesn't add to the federal deficit over the next years, Elmendorf said costs over the long run would keep rising at an unsustainable pace.

Americans Split on Health Care Reform

It seems that the idea that Americans are behind the Congress and the President on Health Care reform according to these polls. The problem with the government option is that it will eventually be the only option left. If your insurance company is crappy you can always switch them out for another one. Not so with the government plan.

On one key question, the poll found Americans split over the benefits of being able to buy insurance from a new government program. While 40 percent said they thought it would lower the quality of their care, 21 percent said it would improve the quality and 36 percent said it wouldn't make any difference. The rest had no opinion.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Health Insurance Doesn't Promote Healthy Living

Now this has to be the most wrong-headed thing I have read in a while.

But there's no reason to suppose that taking a tiny sliver of the incomes of the top 1 percent will reduce all that much of their ardor to invest, innovate, and hire in the future. Yet if this tiny sliver means affordable health care for a far larger number of Americans, who will be able to get regular checkups and thereby stay healthy and productive, the positive effect on the American economy is likely to be far greater.

What will reduce their ardor to invest and innovate is the the 8% charge that they will be hit with if they expand their business to more then 26 employees.

Also having health insurance will not automatically make people go to the doctor more often. I mean there are 150 million people with health insurance provided by their companies and they are still fat, still smoke, and still live unhealthy lives.

Even if there was a magic multi-trillion dollar single payer system; that insured every American so that everything was 100% free; we would still have huge numbers of fat people, people that don't exercise, and smokers like President Obama.

Our lifestyles are just so much different then Europeans and our diet is just 10x worse then the Japanese. It doesn't matter who is paying for the insurance we are still going to keep on living how we are living.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

University of Oregon Journalism Department Wears its Partisanship on Its Sleeve

Is there any wonder why the Liberal Media perpetuates itself then this should be case in point.

The University of Oregon (UO), where I study journalism, invested millions annually in a diversity program that explicitly included "political affiliation" as a component. Yet, out of the 111 registered Oregon voters in the departments of journalism, law, political science, economics, and sociology, there were only two registered Republicans.

Now that is some real "diversity of opinion." I would be willing to bet even money that those 2 Republicans are in the economics department as well. Now this outburst might have come from a fired up Leftist student but nope it was from a professor:

He was eager to chat, and after five minutes our dialogue bloomed into a lively discussion. As we hammered away at the issue, one of his colleagues with whom he shared an office grew visibly agitated. Then, while I was in mid-sentence, she exploded.

"You think you're so [expletive] cute with your little column," she told me. "I read your piece and all you want is attention. You're just like Bill O'Reilly. You just want to get up on your [expletive] soapbox and have people look at you."

From the disgust with which she attacked me, you would have thought I had advocated Nazism. She quickly grew so emotional that she had to leave the room. But before she departed, she stood over me and screamed.

"You understand that my column was basically a prophesy," I shot back. I had suggested right-leaning ideas weren't welcome on campus and in response the faculty had tied my viewpoints to racism and addressed me with profanity-laced insults.

The problem is that this writer wasn't some Pat Buchanan clone but is actually not a Republican or right of center at all. He was merely advocating the liberal idea of diversity of opinion. He was a college kid promoting the idea of the free expression of thought. There was no call for such extreme behavior by people that are supposed to be educating him and his ilk.

I think the problem with the left is that they are just not open to any discussion or backtalk when it comes to their plans. All they want to hear is people agreeing with them even if they are wrong. If they are approached with facts they stick their fingers in their ears and storm out of the room like this hapless professor did.

It is single payer even if it costs trillions, pull out of Iraq even if we leave a civil war in our wake, or impose knee-cap-and trade even tough the Chinese and Indians will never sign on. If they got together and actually talked out some of these ideas they would understand that taxing small businesses during a recession will just backfire when the economy is tryng to recover. Oh well, I guess they will have to find out the hard way in 2010.

Rangel Version of ObamaCare is a Jobs Killer

It seems that the Dems in Congress are actively trying to kill off any recovery before it even starts.

Democrats claim these tax increases on the rich won't do any economic harm. They should read the work of Christina Romer before she became chief White House economist. Ms. Romer and her husband, David Romer, a Berkeley economist, have published multiple studies on the impact of tax policy changes over the past 100 years. One of their findings is that "tax increases appear to have a very large, sustained and highly significant negative impact on output." In other words, tax hikes are an antistimulus.

The jobs killing nature of tax hikes on small business is being touted by the White Houses own economist in her prior work. I mean she should know what she is talking about since Obama is her boss and vetted her.

It just seems like Congress sits awake at night trying to think of ways of keeping jobs from being created. I think if Obama is a 1 termer he has only people like Rangel and Pelosi to blame.

Intel Smashes Numbers; Raises Margins As well

Wow Intel had a great quarter judging from these numbers they just posted.

The Santa Clara, Calif. chipmaker posted an adjusted profit of $1 billion, or 18 cents a share. That is down from the 28 cents in the year-ago period but more than twice the 8-cent pro forma profit target analysts had for the stock, according to Yahoo! Finance.

I think that this knowledge will be the most important thing to seeing the stock go up tomorrow

Gross margins swelled 5 percentage points to 50.8% in the quarter as Intel managed to balance its high costs with lower sales levels. Looking ahead, Intel says it expects further margin expansion to 53% in the third quarter. The chip shop also expects sales to be in the range of $8.5 billion, that's well above the $7.8 billion Wall Street was expecting.

You would think that margin expansion would be kind of difficult in this environment but Intel was able to pull it off. I was also interested to know how selling tons of low margin Atom chips would do to Intels margin as well. It seems to not had much effect since they raised the margin by 5%. I think we might even see a decent rally in the NASDAQ tomorrow based on these numbers.

New ObamaCare Plan Will Fine You If You Don't Buy Health Insurance

Now we have the government in the position to penalize both employers and employees if they don't have health insurance.

Employers who do not offer coverage would be required to pay 8 percent of each uninsured worker's salary, with exemptions for smaller firms built into the legislation.

Individuals who refused to buy affordable coverage would be assessed as much as 2.5 percent of their adjusted gross income, up to the cost of an average health insurance plan, according to the legislation.

Yup, they want you to pay 2.5% of your gross income if you don't take some sort of health insurance. I have no idea how they will assess this fine though. Would you put it on your taxes or if you don't pay taxes then do you get a bill from the government?

Also if a person loses their job do they suddenly get hit with a 2.5% penalty on their unemployment insurance once their COBRA runs out? Or if the person is young and generally healthy and they want to use the money allocated for health insurance for something else they will be hit with a fine for non-compliance? Also what if you don't pay the fine? Do you go to jail for not having health insurance?

That 8% hit to employers sounds like a jobs killer right there. I can see some companies reducing their staff or making everyone a private contractor in order to not be fined and not have to pay thousands in insurance costs. Or they can simply dock peoples pay by 8% in order to pay the fine. Any way you look at it it is going to hurt small businesses.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Stimulus Bill Created Jobs! Each One cost $8.32 Million?

You have to be kidding me. The Stimulus bill that was supposed to rescue us from 8.5% unemployment has created all of 50 new jobs for New Hampshire only 37 of which are full time.

Roughly speaking, those 50 jobs cost the American taxpayer $8.32 million per position. If we calculate part-time positions as one-half of a full-time job, the cost per full-time job would be $9.9 million. At that rate, the $787 billion Porkulus package should generate about 79,495 jobs across America — or about what we lose today by 1:37 pm in new unemployment claims. And of course, all of those would last only as long as the stimulus money kept coming to fund them.

The sad part is that Obama is saying the stimulus is working as intended. I think it is just Hope and $1.50 in Change. That is all we will be left with after they blow billions on worthless "jobs" that will run out when the stimulus runs out.

Get Some Sleep Obama People, then Fix the Damn Economy

It seems that the Obama people are burning the candle at both ends and are not doing so well.

Obama is now testing the limits of his staffers' endurance. So far, there is a palpable sense of pride in the West Wing that treaties are negotiated, complex legislation is crafted and banks are bailed out -- all on very little sleep.

No wonder we have that weak-kneed response on Iran, the failed stimulus, and the cut-and-paste nature of the world apology tour. These people are running on no sleep and are probably making errors right and left. How can you be working on fixing the economy when you are doing micro sleeps, have poor judgment, and have mood swings from the lack of proper rest.

What is funny though is Putin can now say "I looked into Obama's eyes and saw red lids and deep bags. I can now run him!" I'm pretty sure Putin sleeps 12 hours a night knowing that his enemies are working their asses off just simply to "reset" things with him. Look for other bad actors and dictators to keep on wheedling these people. They will break eventually as all sleep deprived people end up doing.

Green Energy Initiative Fails in Austin

It seems that renewable energy is still not able to compete with other forms of energy without massive subsidies.

Austin Energy officials say that times have changed and that the nation's most successful (by volume of sales) green-energy program, which offers the renewable energy only to those who select it, might no longer be the best way to carry out the city's goals. It now costs almost three times more than the standard electricity rate.

The problem with Cap-and-Tax is that this three times cost disparity will be put right on the back of the consumer that cannot afford it. The rich won't feel a jump in electricity but the poor will be decimated by it. Imagine if your electricity bill tripled and how it would effect your business or your household. I still think the only interim solution is a close-fuel nuclear system. Any other solution will cost too much and cannot compete with coal and oil.

Netflix Could be Aquired by Amazon?

Hmm it made the stock shoot up but it would make sense for both companies to join forces.

But combined, the two would offer a very formidable combination. The reason is that while Netflix mostly offers older titles through its streaming service, Amazon offers all the new movies. Netflix of course sends out new movies via DVD by mail, but that service will one day go away in favor of streaming or downloading.

Another thing that could be a result of the pairing is that they can create synergies in their distribution networks if they consolidate with one another. That means you might be able to buy stuff on Amazon from an Xbox360 (maybe even using Microsoft points) or maybe from kiosks if Netflix decides to directly compete with Redbox. Also consolidating their fulfillment centers might make for millions in savings on shipping as well.

Holy Crap! We are Now $1 Trillion in the Hole?

Now that is one heavy debt load.

The Treasury Department said Monday that the deficit in June totaled $94.3 billion, pushing the total since the budget year started in October to nearly $1.1 trillion.

The deficit has been propelled by the huge sum the government has spent to combat the recession and financial crisis, combined with a sharp decline in tax revenues. Paying for wars in Iraq and Afghanistan also is a major factor.

The funny part is that Obama wants to take this deficit and blow it out even more. Also the bad part is that $787 billion of that money is already part of a wasted "stimulus." I wish we could back out the money not yet spent and just split it up and give it to Americans in a cash payment. Maybe $2000 for each tax payer in monthly installments. I think most Americans wouldn't mind an extra $200 in each paycheck to spend.

Cats Actually Control Humans?

That sure seems the case when it comes to a hungry cat.

This meow is actually a purr mixed with a high-pitched cry. While people usually think of cat purring as a sign of happiness, some cats make this purr-cry sound when they want to be fed. The study showed that humans find these mixed calls annoying and difficult to ignore.

"The embedding of a cry within a call that we normally associate with contentment is quite a subtle means of eliciting a response," said Karen McComb of the University of Sussex. "Solicitation purring is probably more acceptable to humans than overt meowing, which is likely to get cats ejected from the bedroom."

Friday, July 10, 2009

I Just Hope There Are Some Jobs in that Ass

President Obama shows he sometimes gets distracted at those boring G8 meetings. It seems his mind was on a different kind of "stimulus package."

Thursday, July 09, 2009

The 10% Unemployment Ribicon

It looks like we are going to cross it soon enough but this article points out the damage it can do to Obama's plans.

Perhaps most ominously for the Obama administration, the job cuts are affecting voters across the board. Adult male unemployment has already hit 10 percent and is affecting most core Democrats — voters at lower income and education levels. African-American men are already out of work at a 14.7 percent clip.

I had no idea that it was this bad for Obama's core supporters. If I were the Dems I would would be pushing a real jobs bill as fast as I can. Not a job destruction bill like Cap-and-Tax or something convoluted as Health Care reform.

Especially given the administration’s earlier commitment to keep unemployment below 8 percent, further grim job numbers will make it more difficult for the administration to push for health care reform and cap-and-trade energy policy. If the tripwire is hit, many will question whether the president is spending adequate time on the deteriorating job and economic front versus longer-term problems.

Hell it even has the Daily Show questioning why Obama is fooling around in Russia and fooling with Cap-and-Tax with its new segment. That's Great Now Fix the Economy.

Blue Dogs Push Back on ObamaCare: Some of the Tax Ideas are Downright Scary

It seems the Blue Dogs are getting wary about the insane tax hikes that would go into any version of ObamaCare that is moving through the House.

"We need to slow down and do it right," Rep. Mike Ross, D-Ark., said outside a meeting of the Blue Dog Coalition, a group of 52 moderate to conservative Democrats. "It needs to do a much better job of cost containment" within the health care system, he added.

Other lawmakers said they were concerned about proposed tax increases, the rules on any government-sold insurance, and other issues that are key to implementing President Barack Obama's call for sweeping legislation.

This has to be the craziest tax to have come done the pike in years. I'm not sure how this tax will be applied or even if it is feasible. It just sounds like a lot of work for tax preparers for an extra $100 billion.

As an alternative, Democrats are considering raising taxes on wealthy investors to help pay for health care legislation, along with numerous other options, according to officials who spoke on condition of anonymity. The proposal to extend the current 1.45 percent Medicare payroll tax to capital gains earned by high-income taxpayers would bring in an estimated $100 billion over 10 years.

The scramble for new taxes to fund this monster is laughable as well.

In addition to the tax on capital gains, officials said other options include a fee on insurance companies or drug manufacturers, a plan to allow states to issue health care bonds, and possibly a tax on sugary drinks.

An income tax surcharge on the wealthy was also on a list in circulation, as was Obama's proposal from last winter to limit the value of itemized deductions for those with the highest income.

So we have a tax on insurance companies and drug companies I guess for simply being in business in the first place. We can have the states go further into debt (I would hate to own something as scary as a California State health care bond. *shiver*) Or Congress can simply tax Juice Boxes or "No Child's Drink Left Untaxed." There is nothing like paying for health insurance through your kids stomach. Or we can simply soak the rich with a surcharge or just rob the charities to pay for this crap like Obama wanted to do. That is ingenuity when it comes to Congress.

At Last I Can Praise Pelosi: She Strikes Down Michael Jackson Resolution

It is a rare day when I can say that Pelosi has done something good but I have to applaud her for this.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi shut the door Thursday to a resolution honoring Michael Jackson because debate on the symbolic measure could raise "contrary views" about the pop star's life.

Lawmakers are free to use House speeches "to express their sympathy or their praise any time that they wish," said Pelosi, D-Calif. "I don't think it's necessary for us to have a resolution."

I think Michael Jackson was a great dancer and singer but lets slow down when we are praising him from the Congress. He was a world-class strange-o that admitted to sharing his bed with young boys. I think House Resolutions should be awarded to people deserving of them.

Iranians Take to the Streets Again: Media Turn your Eyes Back to this Story

After waiting for the appropriate amount of time to let the US media get over their Michael Jackson disease (or I like to call it Vitiligo of the brain) they are taking to the streets again.

Thousands of protesters streamed down avenues of the capital Thursday, chanting "death to the dictator" and defying security forces who fired tear gas and charged with batons, witnesses said.

Turning garbage bins into burning barricades and darting through choking clouds of tear gas, the opposition made its first foray into the streets in nearly two weeks in an attempt to revive mass demonstrations that were crushed in Iran's postelection turmoil.

French are the World's Worst Tourists

I thought the Americans were supposed to have the top spot but the French are beating us.

French tourists are the worst in the world, coming across as bad at foreign languages, tight-fisted and arrogant, according to a survey of 4,500 hotel owners across the world.

They finish in last place in the survey carried out for internet travel agency Expedia by polling company TNS Infratest, which said French holidaymakers don't speak local languages and are seen as impolite.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Alcoa Starts Off Earnings Season on a Good Note

It seems that the green shoots are everywhere even in aluminum.

The Street finally got a taste of what's ahead in corporate earnings. Aluminum giant Alcoa posted a third quarterly loss after the closing bell, but beat analyst expectations. The company sales forecast also beat Street estimates. Alcoa said it lost 26 cents a share last quarter, compared with Wall Street's estimate of a 38-cent loss. Sales fell 41% from 2008.

I wonder if there is more demand then usual for aluminum in the car parts and building industry or it is just more aggressive cost cutting by Alcoa? The former might make for a nice rally if it were true.

Dems Looks At Income Tax Surcharge to Fund Obamacare?

You have got to be joking. They want to pay for health care on the backs of the rich who are already getting their taxes hiked.

Numerous officials say that under the proposal, an income tax surcharge would be imposed on individuals earning more than $200,000, with a higher threshold for couples.

What kind of idiocy is this? You never raise taxes during a recession. It is just that simple. I think the Dems are hell-bent at driving us into the next Great Depression and are just pulling out all the stops in order to get it done.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Why Aren't People Hiring? Government Might Be to Blame

Well after job losses went south again to the tune of 467,000 more jobs in June which is up 122,000 jobs from May you have to start asking serious questions. This economist makes a lot of sense why companies are not hiring right now.

America isn't hiring precisely because of government policy. Small business owners, who are usually the first into and the first out of the job pool, are standing by the fence and watching. They are paralyzed by regulatory uncertainty. If they hire someone who ends up doing poorly, will they be able to fire that person? Will they have to pay their health care bills after they've been terminated? If so, for how long? Who will pay for all these stimulus checks? If it will turn out to be small business, why would they hire instead of keeping costs low to prepare for the big tax bill? Where will the market move? Are you in the right business or are your clients in a politically disfavored industry? Are your clients in health care (being nationalized), autos (already nationalized), banking (somewhat nationalized) or any energy production process which uses carbon (pulverized)? Until you know, you don't grow, and until you grow your market, you don't grow your payroll.

Yup uncertainly breeds a bunker-down mentality. Why hire when you might get taxed heavily if your business grosses over $250,000 a year? That is the problem with vast redistribution of wealth across all parts of our economy. You take from the productive job creators and give to the currently unproductive.

The problem is that this unproductive person that gets government money will never receive the same amount of money that a good paying job will pay him. All it does is create a permanent underclass that is dependent on the government dole. Kind of like the mob of Rome. This Rome parallel even kind of extends to bread (the "stimulus" bill) and circuses (Michael Jackson's death.)

Saddam's WMD Bluff was Aimed at Iran

Ah now we see some method to this man's madness.

The FBI reports, released on Wednesday, said Saddam asserted that he was more concerned about Iran discovering Iraq's weaknesses and vulnerabilities than the repercussions of the United States for blocking the return of UN weapons inspectors who were searching for WMD.

"In his opinion, the UN inspectors would have directly identified to the Iranians where to inflict maximum damage to Iraq," according to the documents obtained and released by the National Security Archive, a nongovernmental research institute.

This makes sense since they fought a massive, bloody, 8 year war against one another. The messed up part from Saddams perspective was that his government was overthrown because the US called his bluff. If he let the inspectors in he would still be in power, no doubt about it.

The good thing is we might actually get a somewhat decent democracy out of Iraq instead of your standard Middle East kleptocracy. Also the doctrine of Take-then-hold-then-build as a way to stop insurgents may be a long term benefit of the 6 years of chaos that led up until now.

Also the idea of bonding with the people and working together (instead of retreating to bases outside of the civilian areas) could be our military MO from here on in. The Iraq war has taught our military how to fight insurgent uprising that might translate to big gains going forward.

I can easily see if, for instance, Obama sent the Marines into Darfur how we would crush the insurgents with overwhelming force then build up the areas that we hold after we are done. Then when we left Sudan we would leave behind a stable and hopefully prosperous country in our wake.

Marines Launch Operation Khanjar

Well Operation Khanjar is underway in the Helmand Province in Afghanistan.

The southern offensive was launched shortly after 1 a.m. Thursday (4:30 p.m. EDT Wednesday, 2030 GMT), as thousands of Marines poured from helicopters and armored vehicles into Taliban-controlled villages along roughly 20 miles of the Helmand River in Helmand province, the world's largest opium poppy-producing area. The goal is to clear insurgents from the hotly contested region before the nation's Aug. 20 presidential election.

It looks like they are going to do the Take-and-Hold-then-Build strategy that they used in Iraq. I wonder if the Pashtun tribesman will be as cooperative as the Sunni Sheiks were in Iraq? That will be the key I think to driving out the Taliban forever.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

How McDonalds Won the French

This is a very interesting story on how a global icon like McDonalds was able to make France the number 2 most profitable part of its empire.

As I moved closer, I discovered that no food was being sold; instead, McDonald's was feeding its guests corporate propaganda. Large, colorful placards ringed the display, documenting the amount of French beef, poultry, and vegetables that McDonald's used, detailing the nutritional value of the food it served, and describing the company's eco-friendly practices. The words were accompanied by lots of pastoral imagery—cows, potatoes, sheaves of wheat.

This refers to how McDonalds uses 70% of its produce from French farmers and thus is more a part of France most people think. Also McDo as it is called in France just provides cheap food that students and retirees can both enjoy without breaking the bank. They also invented McCafes in France that they were able to transplant quite easily into the US. It is interesting to see that McDonalds alters their product for the market that they are in so easily like that.

More Cap-and-Tax Fallout: Now It Might Cause Starvation?

You have to be kidding me this Bill just keeps getting worse and worse as people delve into it.

If you tax carbon, you tax fertilizer and pesticides. If you tax these things, you tax food, and by no small amount. A $15/ton CO2 tax would increase fertilizer production costs directly by about $60/ton, with the cap-and-trade bill’s increased transport costs inflating the burden still more. That’s enough to make many farmers use less fertilizer, and less fertilizer means less food.

And less food means less grain, fruits, and soybeans exported to foreign countries that might have trouble feeding themselves. Everyone remembers that food prices shot up when oil prices went to $140+ last summer. Now imagine if food prices are artificially higher just because of the Cap-and-Tax Bill. Then lets say we see another oil spike in 2010 or 2011 when the world economy improves and oil demand heads back up. Get used to $15 a box cereal and $5 each for apples. And they have the gall to say that it will only cost Americans pennies a day.