WASHINGTON — Among the audacious proposals in President Obama’s budget was a plan to save more than $9.7 billion over a decade by putting strict limits on farm subsidies that are disbursed regardless of market conditions or even whether the land is actively farmed.I'd wondered how the Hopey/Changey people would do against the Farm Lobby. Oh well.
But Mr. Obama’s grand ambitions have run into political reality.
The budget outlines approved by the House and Senate on Thursday night do not include limits on farm subsidies at all, and even champions of change say that if the president’s plan can be revived, it will have to be scaled back so significantly that the savings could amount to just several hundred million dollars.
Saturday, April 4, 2009
The Hopey/Changey thing meets the Farm Lobby
Adventures In Price Setting
I've seen references to this story for years, but had no idea as to the original source. Its about what happens when government gets into the price-setting business instead of allowing prices to fluctuate on their own. This story happens to be about fur. .
"When Alice eats or drinks something in Wonderland, she either begins to shrink or becomes enormous, and she can't get back to her normal size. In actual fact Goskomtsen (the Soviet price-setting bureau) finds itself in a similar situation. It systematically either underestimates or overestimates the atual cost of a product and cannot "hit the nail on the head". At best, it is able only to correct the most obvious price disproportions several years after they appear.
In 1982, for example, to stimulate production of goods made of inexpensive fur, purchasing prices on moleskin were raised from 20 to 50 kopecks per pelt. State purchases increased, and now all the distribution centers are filled with these pelts. Industry is unable to use them all, and they often rot in warehouses before they can be processed. The Ministry of Light Industry has already requested Goskomtsen twice to lower purchasing prices, but the "question has not been decided" yet. and this is not surprising. Its members are too busy to decide. They have no time: besides setting prices on these pelts, they have to keep track of another 24 million prices. And how can they possibly know how much to lower the price today so they won't have to raise it tomorrow?"
Well, they could stay out of it altogether, and let vendors try to sell fur for as much as possible, and let customers try to purchase it for as little as possible, and the Invisible Hand will determine at what price the transaction will take place.
On a related note, here's what has happened when California's government put a .05 cent bounty on aluminum cans. The idea was to conserve, be green, and save the earth. Instead, people are flocking to California with their aluminum.
Thomas Sowell says it over and over and over, and we still don't get it. Programs and policies should be judged and evaluated in terms of the incentives they create, not their stated goals and objectives.
Friday, April 3, 2009
"Newt Gingrich warns of a third party movement" - we can only hope !
I bet this turns out to be just another broken promise. You could put the American public on the U.S.S. Bounty with nothing to eat but The Atkins Diet. We still wouldn't mutiny.
“If the Republicans can’t break out of being the right wing party of big government, then I think you would see a third party movement in 2012,” Gingrich said Tuesday. The speech, to a group of students at the College of the Ozarks in Missouri, was recorded by Springfield TV station KY3.
But Gingrich, bemoaning President Barack Obama’s “monstrosity of a budget,” acknowledged that Republicans are partially to blame for the escalation in federal spending.
"Partially to blame?" The way that Heads is partially to blame for not being Tails on the same coin?
"Remember, everything Obama’s doing, Bush started last year,” he said. “If you’re going to talk about big spending, the mistakes of the Bush administration last year are fully as bad as the mistakes of Obama’s first two, three months.”
Well, the curve was a little less steep under Bush. But we're talking differences in degree, not differences in kind.
Gingrich told the students that the current governmental system “is so sick, so out of touch and so arrogant that you’re going to have a nationwide rebellion at the polls of people in both parties who are just fed up.”
At this point, I really don't think so. If they were going to get fed up, it would've happened within the last month. The damage has been done.
“You can do a Facebook page, you can Twitter,” he said. “I Twitter right now and I think we’re at like, I don’t know, 18,000 or 20,000 thousand people that follow my Twitter, which I have to say I think is nuts.
If 20,000 people follow Newt Gingrich on Twitter....Naw, I'm not going to go there.
But there are ways to communicate, you’re not trapped by CBS news.”
Gingrich has repeatedly said that he will decide in early 2011 whether he plans to seek the White House in 2012.
Mr. Gingrich is a very smart man. He knows a lot about history and economics.
He also masterminded the Republican Revolution of the early 1990's.
Here's P.J. O'Rourke on that non-event: "What a feckless, timid, timeserving revolution that was in 1994, as if the sans culottes had stormed the Bastille to get themselves jobs as prison guards."
Mr. Gingrich has been given a shot at stopping the madness, and didn't do anything but settle a few old scores. With that and some of his personal ethics issues, he might be the only Republican who would definitely lose to Obama. Let's hope it happens.
Bring on the third party mutiny ! Vote Libertarian !
Thursday, April 2, 2009
An Apology To My Online Friends In The British Commonwealth
Giving a boxed set of DVD's to Prime Minister Gordon Brown was perhaps excusable as a rookie mistake.
Giving the Queen an iPod was not.
Especially an iPod that contains Barbra Streisand singing "People". (See the song list in the previous link.)
I hope this will do nothing to harm what Churchill called "The Special Relationship" between our countries.
Once again, my apologies. We're still working on things like which fork to use.
From Bob Krumm comes the idea of FUBAR. That's the Federal Unionized Bureau of Auto Repair, in stead of the more familiar acronym.
And from the geniuses at Reason magazine comes this:
If you even think about buying a GM or Chrysler, you are out of your mind.
Wednesday, April 1, 2009
My Favorite April Fool's Joke
April Fool's Day in 1983, I was in my Delta State University dorm room with my roommate, Scott A. Moore. (Scott A. now busies himself playing trumpet in the Memphis Symphony. Hit the link.)
Scott and I waited until about 11:45 p.m., and then called my parents' house. My mother answered. (To preserve her anonymity, I'll call her Mrs. BlahBlah.)
"Is this Elizabeth BlahBlah ?" Scott asked.
"Yes it is." (still coming out of a deep sleep)
"Are you the parent or guardian of Allen BlahBlah?"
"YES I AM !" (wide awake now)
"Mrs. BlahBlah, my name is John Jakes, and I'm with the Cleveland, Mississippi police department. Are you in a place where you can talk?"
"YES I AM !" (totally wide awake.)
"Mrs. BlahBlah, we have arrested your son Allen for possession of a controlled substance, and we're holding him in one of the cells at the Bolivar County Sheriff's department, and we need to know if either you or your husband can come down and post bond and.....
"You mean you've arrested ALLEN ??? MY SON ALLEN?" (Needing to be scraped off the bedroom ceiling.)
"Yes, Mrs. BlahBlah, as I said, we've arrested Allen for possession of a controlled substance and..."
At this point, my mother says the only thing she could think of was who she could get to ride to the jail with her.... Billy Joe Waldrup or Jerry Grissom. She wanted one of them (they're both really big men) to beat the hell out of me, because she didn't think my father would do it properly. To fully appreciate the situation, you also need to know that I was employed as the part-time choir director at a Baptist church. A nice drug bust at this time would've been....awkward.
Then Scott, still in character as Officer John Jakes, said "Mrs. BlahBlah, would you like to speak to Allen?"
I could hear her on the phone from halfway across the room. "YES I WOULD."
"Mama?" I said.
"ALLEN? IS THAT YOU THEY'VE LOCKED UP, ALLEN?"
"Yes," I said. "I just want to tell you something."
"WHAT? WHAT? WHAT DO YOU HAVE TO TELL ME?"
"April Fools," I said.
That was 25 years ago. She's never done another April Fool's joke. Not on me, anyway.
This month's Nigerian email scams
I repeat, don't read these.
I just post them for the Google hits, and to possibly prevent some sucker from getting ripped off. So don't bother reading any of this stuff.
But if you're gonna read some of them anyway, I've never seen one as direct as this. "Trish" has sent me a couple of political cartoons, just to keep me opening her emails. Then I get this bulletin:
From: Trish Yancey firstname.lastname@example.org
how are you , i traveled to West Africa in Nigeria for a program and i got robbed on way to the hotel .i cant believe this is happening to me right now. i need a soft loan of 1800$ from you . i will pay you back when i arrive.please get back to me immediately you get this mail OK. waiting for your reply.
Let the world know if you can help Trish out with her immediate financial needs in Nigeria.
Here are a few older ones:
I hope my email meets you well. I am in need of your assistance. My name is
Sgt .Meijer Derrick. I am in the Engineering military unit here in Baghdad in
Iraq, we have about ten Million US dollars that we want to move out of the
country. My partners and I need a good partner, someone we can trust. It is oil
money and legal. We are moving it through diplomatic means, to send it to your
house directly or a bank of your choice using diplomatic courier service.The
most important thing is that can we trust you? Once the funds get to you, you
take your 15% out and keep our own 85%. Please we need your trust and
commitment. Your own part of this deal is to find a safe place where the funds
can be sent to. Our own part is sending it to you. If you are interested I will
furnish you with more details. But the whole process is simple and we must keep
a low profile at all times.I look forward to your reply and co-operation, and
I thank you in advance as I anticipate your co-operation. Waiting for your
urgent response.For security reasons I am using this email: (
Sgt .Meijer Derrick. NB: You should provide me with your private email for
And then there's this gem. I've won ! I've won !
You have won €450,000.00 in the Lotto ShopAward Lottery E-mail Lotto Shop Award Sweepstakes Program Corporation, held on the 19th of Mar 2009. We write to officially notify you of this award and to advise you to contact the processing office immediately for the claim,Winning Information's(1) Batch No: BLN/1611/899 (2) Ticket No:BLN/AB1985(3) Lucky No: QBL/13977 (4) Serial No: SWNL/65201(5) Ref No: SWBDZ/1171Mr.Frank DorekTel:+34 691 955 349
Your full Names:Fax/Telephone:
Mrs. Angela Van Poort
In this one, Robert has fallen on hard times. The disease hasn't merely defied treatment, but it has also defiled it:
As you read this, don't feel sorry for me, because it is the destiny of everyman to die someday. I am Mr, Robert Lee Khalid,a naturalised Briton by birth and a business merchant based in the United Kingdom. I have been diagnosed with Esophageal cancer.
It has defiled all forms of medical treatment, and right now I have only about a few months to live, according to medical experts. I regret that I have not particularly lived my life so well, as I never really cared for anyone (not even myself), but my trade. I have decided to support charity work; this is what i want to be remembered for. So far, I have been able to reach out to a few charity organizations in the Singapore, Algeria and Malaysia. Now that my health has deteriorated so badly, I cannot do this myself anymore.
The last of my belonging which no one knows of, is the huge deposit of Eight Million US dollars ($8, 000, 000,00)that I have in a safe keeping company abroad, which I will want you to secrue and bestow to charity organizations. Please reply me via email: email@example.com
For your time and devotion, I have set aside a 20% of this for you. God be with you.
Mr : Robert Lee Khalid.
This one is short and sweet and to the point:
I am Janet Joseph, widow from sierra Leone residing presently in republic of
Benin as a result of war that erupted my country.
We have presently the sum of 18million U.S. Dollars which was deposited with
securities and finance firm by my late husband before he was killed by unknown
We need your assistance to secure the funds from the securities company and also
in the areas of investments.
If you are interested, urgently contact my son Clifford,
who is presently on asylum in Europe through this email address
(firstname.lastname@example.org) more details.
Another Lottery win ! ! !
The Shell Petroleum LotteryCompany Spain Shell Centre,Span,SE1 7NA, Spain.SHELL PETROLEUM WINNER NOTIFICATION.Attention Dear Winner,The Shell Petroleum Lottery Company Spain Espana wishes to congratulate you on your success as one of our Ten ( 10 ) Star oil lottery Prize Winner in this years 2009 lottery that was conducted over the internet with our automated email selecting machine .You have been declared the winner of €1.000.000.00 (One Million Euros Only).How to claim your Winning Prize,Contact the Financial Claims Manager Mr.Paul Van,for veriation and payment via his email address / phone number ( email@example.com/+34634154602)Provide him with the information below for their Record purpose:Full Names:---------------------------------------------------Address:------------------------------------------------------Country Of Residence:-----------------------------------------Nationality:--------------------------------------------------Marital Status:-----------------------------------------------Age:----------------------------------------------------------Sex:----------------------------------------------------------Occupation:----------------------------------------------Mobile Number:-------------------------------------------Fax Number:---------------------------------------------------Ticket number:644 79543465 B448056490902Serial number:4708-325Lucky Number:4-13-33-37-17File ref:ILP/HW 7509/02Mrs Sarah Ferguson.Director of Promotions.2009 Shell Lottery Award Promotion,Email:firstname.lastname@example.org
This one is kinda dull....
You're invited to:
By your host:
Saturday March 21, 2009
12:00 pm - 1:00 pm (GMT +01:00 Western Europe)
I am Johnson Balah the eldest son of the late Joseph Balah.
My father was the executive director of a quasi governmental corporation and the proud owner of balah international diamond company in Sierra Leone before he was killed during the war. After the death of my father our family lawyer brought some documents indicating that my father deposited forty five million dollars with gold and diamond with a security company in south Africa We have carefully checked and found the security company, where the valuables are being kept. The money, gold and diamond were deposited as family valuables and their real value was not made to known to the company. Presently my mother, little brother, sister, and my self are here in France as refugees.we are looking for trust Worthy person who can help move our properties in the security company out of Africa for investment purposes, this is why I need a foreigner who can stand as a business partner, who can help me carry the valuables out of Africa.If you are ready to help and support my family in this transaction, please send me a reply on email@example.com as soon as you get this mail then we can also discuss what you would be getting out of the transaction by assisting us.
Update from April 11th....It looks like I've won a contest ! ! !
We wish to congratulate you over your email success in our computer Balloting .This is a Millennium Scientific Electronic Computer Games in which email addresses were used. All participants were selected through a computer ballot system drawn from over 100,000 company and 50,000,000 individual email addresses from all over the world. It is a promotional program aimed at encouraging intern et users; therefore you do not need to buy ticket to enter for it.
Your email address drew and have won the sum of 750,000 Euros ( Seven Hundred and Fifty Thousand Euros) in cash cr edited to file with REFERENCE NUMBER: ESP/WIN/008/05/10/MA; WINNING NUMBER : 14-17-24-34-37-45-16 BATCH NUMBERS : EULO/1007/444/606/08; SERIAL NUMBER: 45327 and PROMOTION DATE: 23rd MAR. 2009To claim your winning prize, you are to cont act the appointed agent below as soon as possible for the immediate release of your winnings with the below details.
1) Your Full Name: 2) Your Telephone Number: 3) Your Mobile Number: 4) Fax Number (If available)
LIBERTY SEGUROS S.A.MR. PATRICIO CARLOS
TEL: +34 634-138-556Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Congratulations once again from all our staff.
Mrs Hector Palmira. (Secretary)Euro Milliones Board.Madrid, 11th April. 2009.
Quote Of The Day
- Brian Moore
Tuesday, March 31, 2009
Take what you produce in a year, and bet it on a coin flip
(If you're an Obama fan, "GDP" refers to the amount the rest of us produce in a year.)
By Mark Pittman and Bob Ivry
March 31 (Bloomberg) -- The U.S. government and the Federal Reserve have spent, lent or committed $12.8 trillion, an amount that approaches the value of everything produced in the country last year, to stem the longest recession since the 1930s.
Well, they have other motives besides stemming the recession. Rewarding donors, remaking the economy, and taking advantage of the crisis to move more slop from the private to the public trough.
New pledges from the Fed, the Treasury Department and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. include $1 trillion for the Public-Private Investment Program, designed to help investors buy distressed loans and other assets from U.S. banks. The money works out to $42,105 for every man, woman and child in the U.S. and 14 times the $899.8 billion of currency in circulation. The nation’s gross domestic product was $14.2 trillion in 2008.
The $42,105.00 amount doesn't include the amount you owe from previous government adventures in helpfulness.
President Barack Obama and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner met with the chief executives of the nation’s 12 biggest banks on March 27 at the White House to enlist their support to thaw a 20-month freeze in bank lending.
“The president and Treasury Secretary Geithner have said they will do what it takes,” Goldman Sachs Group Inc. Chief Executive Officer Lloyd Blankfein said after the meeting. “If it is enough, that will be great. If it is not enough, they will have to do more.”
Does anyone with enough breath to fog up a mirror doubt that these clowns will want to do more? Anyone disagree? Have they not telegraphed their next moves clearly enough?
Commitments include a $500 billion line of credit to the FDIC from the government’s coffers that will enable the agency to guarantee as much as $2 trillion worth of debt for participants in the Term Asset-Backed Lending Facility and the Public-Private Investment Program. FDIC Chairman Sheila Bair warned that the insurance fund to protect customer deposits at U.S. banks could dry up because of bank failures.
‘Within an Eyelash’
The combined commitment has increased by 73 percent since November, when Bloomberg first estimated the funding, loans and guarantees at $7.4 trillion.
“The comparison to GDP serves the useful purpose of underscoring how extraordinary the efforts have been to stabilize the credit markets,” said Dana Johnson, chief economist for Comerica Bank in Dallas.
Yes. Extraordinary. Truly Extraordinary. They're working haaaaard for you. Rolling up their sleeves while they print more and more money, and rake it in with both hands.
“Everything the Fed, the FDIC and the Treasury do doesn’t always work out right but back in October we came within an eyelash of having a truly horrible collapse of our financial system, said Johnson, a former Fed senior economist. “They used their creativity to help the worst-case scenario from unfolding and I’m awfully glad they did it.”
There are worse things than this ?????
Federal Reserve officials project the economy will keep shrinking until at least mid-year, which would mark the longest U.S. recession since the Great Depression.
The following table details how the Fed and the government have committed the money on behalf of American taxpayers over the past 20 months, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
The amount on the left is how much spending is approved, or "pledged" (another way of saying "how much they're going to spend....") The amount on the right represents the first shovels full of slop going into the trough. Remember, these numbers are billions.
--- Amounts (Billions)---
Total $12,798.14 $4,169.71
Federal Reserve Total $7,765.64 $1,678.71
Primary Credit Discount $110.74 $61.31
Secondary Credit $0.19 $1.00
Primary dealer and others $147.00 $20.18
ABCP Liquidity $152.11 $6.85
AIG Credit $60.00 $43.19
Net Portfolio CP Funding $1,800.00 $241.31
Maiden Lane (Bear Stearns) $29.50 $28.82
Maiden Lane II (AIG) $22.50 $18.54
Maiden Lane III (AIG) $30.00 $24.04
Term Securities Lending $250.00 $88.55
Term Auction Facility $900.00 $468.59
Securities lending overnight $10.00 $4.41
Term Asset-Backed Loan Facility $900.00 $4.71
Currency Swaps/Other Assets $606.00 $377.87
MMIFF $540.00 $0.00
GSE Debt Purchases $600.00 $50.39
GSE Mortgage-Backed Securities $1,000.00 $236.16
Citigroup Bailout Fed Portion $220.40 $0.00
Bank of America Bailout $87.20 $0.00
Commitment to Buy Treasuries $300.00 $7.50
FDIC Total $2,038.50 $357.50
Public-Private Investment* $500.00 0.00
FDIC Liquidity Guarantees $1,400.00 $316.50
GE $126.00 $41.00
Citigroup Bailout FDIC $10.00 $0.00
Bank of America Bailout FDIC $2.50 $0.00
Treasury Total $2,694.00 $1,833.50
TARP $700.00 $599.50
Tax Break for Banks $29.00 $29.00
Stimulus Package (Bush) $168.00 $168.00
Stimulus II (Obama) $787.00 $787.00
Treasury Exchange Stabilization $50.00 $50.00
Student Loan Purchases $60.00 $0.00
Support for Fannie/Freddie $400.00 $200.00
Line of Credit for FDIC* $500.00 $0.00
HUD Total $300.00 $300.00
Hope for Homeowners FHA $300.00 $300.00
the FDIC’s commitment to guarantee lending under the
Legacy Loan Program and the Legacy Asset Program includes a $500
billion line of credit from the U.S. Treasury.
From The Greatness of Iowahawk
I had no intentions of watching all of it.
I've now watched it twice.
Iowahawk. Often imitated, never duplicated.
Monday, March 30, 2009
A heartfelt prayer for General Motors
You remember that day about 15 years ago when I almost bought that little Chevy pickup, but went with the less expensive Ford Ranger?
I want to thank you for that day. I had to go against everything my father taught me when I bought a Ford instead of a Chevy. Looking back, I can see that it was your hand that guided me. I'm truly not worthy.
Please be with the people who own not only Chevys, but also Buicks, Pontiacs, Saturns, and Cadillacs. They're going to have a hard time getting replacement parts. Not because the company has gone under, and their patents sold off to competitors, but because Barack Obama is now running General Motors. And he's never even been the cashier supervisor at a Taco Bell.
They can't even staff the Treasury. Please help them, God.
Wait, I take that back. Please, please, please don't help them. They don't need encouragement. But thy will be done.
Our government, which runs the post office, V.A. hospitals, and the Department of Motor Vehicles, has taken over the world's largest auto manufacturer, in hopes of making it more "lean, mean, and competitive". Lord Jesus come quickly, for no one here appreciates irony.
They're also going to give us vouchers to encourage us to buy more cars. Each voucher will be worth $3,000 to $5,000. But is there anything worse for the environment than cars? "The earth lies polluted under its inhabitants; for they have transgressed laws, violated the statutes, broken the everlasting covenant." (Someplace in Isaiah, I think....) And yet, we will soon be paying more for everything but cars in order to protect the environment. Save us from this wicked generation, O God.
Thank you for the United Auto Workers Union. May they all find jobs with my enemies, so they can do for them what they've done for G.M.
God, please be with Rick Wagoner, the G.M. Chief Executive Officer who Obama forced to resign. Thank you for setting Wagoner up with a $20,000,000.00 severance package. When I first heard the news, I was afraid that I would have to bring Wagoner and his family some canned goods and used clothing from the church. You truly work in mysterious ways your wonders to perform.
God, please give us the wisdom to know the difference between the words "Socialism" and "Fascism", and let us know which one we're approaching.
We ask these things in the name of The Obamessiah, The Chosen One, & "The Teleprompter Jesus",
P.S. - I don't mean to dance on the graves of any company, God, but if the G.M. plant in Arlington shuts down??? When they have the auction do you think you could get me a good deal on some more freight scales and stretch wrap machines? Not a big deal; I'm just wondering.
Sunday, March 29, 2009
A Beginner's Guide To Protectionism
But for some reason, people accept the idea that government bureaucrats can and should step between Joe and me and take a cut of the proceeds. Some guy from Washington says, “You can’t buy your pencil from Joe for a quarter. I want you to buy your pencil from Fred. If you still buy the pencil from Joe, you have to give me 5%.” It’s really no more complicated than that.
Keep that in mind the next time you hear some politician calling for additional restrictions on imports.
Clyde Picht for mayor of Fort Worth
I hope you'll vote for him.
And from now on, let's start calling the "Man With Briefcase" sculpture the "Donor From The Gas Company".
Obama's Town Hall Muppets
Obama has said, "I think it's important to engage your critics ... because not only will you occasionally change their mind but, more importantly, sometimes they will change your mind," White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs recounted to The Post's Lois Romano in an interview Wednesday.
But while the online question portion of the White House town hall was open to any member of the public with an Internet connection, the five fully identified questioners called on randomly by the president in the East Room were anything but a diverse lot. They included: a member of the pro-Obama Service Employees International Union, a member of the Democratic National Committee who campaigned for Obama among Hispanics during the primary; a former Democratic candidate for Virginia state delegate who endorsed Obama last fall in an op-ed in the Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star; and a Virginia businessman who was a donor to Obama's campaign in 2008.