Saturday, August 8, 2009

Save The Earth - Buy A New Hummer

This is the official list of the top 10 new vehicles purchased under the Cash For Clunkers program.

1. Ford Focus
2. Honda Civic
3. Toyota Corolla
4. Toyota Prius
5. Ford Escape
6. Toyota Camry
7. Dodge Caliber
8. Hyundai Elantra
9. Honda Fit
10. Chevy Cobalt

Now that is a wholesome looking list, wouldn't you say? Except for the Ford Escape (and maybe the Civic) it reeks of earth-saving virtue.
The downside is that it's the government's list you're looking at, and therefore it's total horse crap.

On a list like this, do you think it's honest to distinguish between the Ford F-150 with seats of rich Corinthian leather, and the F-150 with seats carved from the tanned, preserved buttocks of gullible Democrats? And dilute the sales of the F-150 by acting like those are two different vehicles?
Should Hummers with radio stations preset to National Socialist Radio, Air America, and 1360 AM Rational Radio count as different makes and models from the Hummers with stations preset to right wing AM rants?
Please stay with me. This is good stuff.

Here's the real list, according to Edmunds, a respected auto industry sales guide:
1. Ford Escape
2. Ford Focus
3. Jeep Patriot
4. Dodge Caliber
5. Ford F-150
6. Honda Civic
7. Chevrolet Silverado
8. Chevrolet Cobalt
9. Toyota Corolla
10.Cobalt Ford Fusion

Wonder why the lists look so different? Here's CNN:

For example, the Ford Escape is available in six different versions including two- and four-wheel drive and hybrid versions. The government counts each version as a different vehicle using guidelines from the Environmental Protection Agency. Only the front wheel drive, non-hybrid version made the government's top ten list.

The Ford Escape crossover SUV, instead of being the seventh-most popular vehicle under the program, as the government ranked it, was actually the best seller, according to The government pegged the Ford Focus as the top seller.

But wait, there's more ! ! ! Want to get $3,500 off the price of a Hummer, virtually synonymous with gas-guzzling American excess ????

But will buying a new Hummer H-3, Chevy Suburban or Ford F-250 Super Duty pickup really reduce America's craving for crude? Somebody thinks so, because they're all eligible new cars under the Cash for Clunkers program, which gives a $3,500 to $4,500 credit to car buyers trading in older gas guzzlers for more fuel-efficient cars.

But a close look at what qualifies as "more fuel efficient" in the program reveals loopholes big enough to drive a GMC Yukon through (yes, that's eligible, too.) The guidelines in the House-passed bill state that large SUVs and trucks, typically considered gas guzzlers in everyday conversation, qualify for the $3,500 credit, and in some cases the $4,500 credit, depending on the trade-ins that come through the door for them. New Category 2 trucks -- like the Hummer H-3, Ford Explorer, Chevy Silverado, and Toyota Tundra -- qualify if they get at least 15 MPG combined, and get at least one mile per gallon more than the car or truck being traded in.

This farce has nothing to do with saving the earth. This farce is about saving Detroit for one more election cycle.

The next time you see someone in a brand new Hummer, the neo-fascist military limo, stop and make conversation with him. Ask him how he likes it.

Tell him you hope he's happy with it. After all, you probably helped him buy it.
Fresh coats of Whitening all around to The Agitator and The Take for the links.

Give Kenneth Gladney A Beer Summit

There are rumors, nothing more than baseless unsubstantiated rumors, that a labor union has resorted to violence.

Is this really possible?

Yeah, it's possible. Kenneth Gladney, an African-American Obamacare skeptic, was beaten up by union thugs.

If you're interested you can now join a Facebook group called "Give Kenneth Gladney A Beer Summit". The Obamedic, Biden, Gladney, and Andy Stern of SEIU could all sit down in the back yard at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and have a cold one. Gladney could listen to apologies from the other three, who would explain that his injuries might be temporarily painful but would stimulate the economy by creating jobs for hospital personnel.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Mau-Mauing The Flak Catchers - 2009 edition

I have no idea what point I'm trying to make with this post. Here goes....
One of the best non-fiction essays ever is Tom Wolfe's "Mau-Mauing The Flak Catchers".
Someone worthy of sainthood has typed the entire thing onto the 'Net.
Every time I read or see videos of the Town Hall confrontations about the Insurance Destruction Program, I think of Mr. Wolfe's essay.

A brief excerpt:

This man comes out , and he has that sloppy Irish look like Ed McMahon on TV, only with a longer nose. In case you'd like the local viewpoint, whites really have the noses ... enormous, you might say ... a whole bag full ... long and pointed like carrots, goobered up like green peppers, hooked like a squash, hanging off the face like cucumbers ... This man has a nose that is just on the verge of hooing over, but it doesn't quite make it.
"Have a seat, gentlemen," he says, and he motions toward the wooden chairs.
But he doesn't have to open his mouth. All you have to do is look at him and you get the picture. The man's a lifer. He's stone civil service. He has it all down from the wheatcolor Hush Puppies to the wash'n'dry semi-tab-collar shortsleeves white shirt. Those wheatcolor Hush Puppies must be like some kind of fraternal garb among the civil-service employees, because they all wear them. They cost about $4.99, and the second time you move your toes, the seams split and the tops come away from the soles. But they all wear them. The man's shirt looks like he bought it at the August end-of-summer sale at the White Front. It is one of those shirts with pickets on both sides. Sticking out of the pockets and running across his chest he has a lineup of ball-point pens, felt nibs, lead pencils, wax markers, such as you wouldn't believe, Paper-mates, Pentels, Scriptos, Eberhard Faber Mongol 482's, Dri-Marks, Bic PM-29's, everything. They are lined up across his chest like campaign ribbons. He pulls up one of the wooden chairs and sits down on it. Onle he sits down on it backwards, straddling the seat and hooking his arms and his chin over the back of the chari, like the head foreman in the bunkhouse. It's like saying, "We don't stand on ceremony around here. This is a shirtsleeve operation."
"I'm sorry that Mr. Johnson isn't here today," he says, "but he's not in the city. He's back in Washington meeting some important project deadlines. He's very concerned, and he would want to meet with you people if he were here if he were here, but right now I know you'll understand that the most important thing he can do for you is to push these projects through in Washington."

The man keeps his arms and his head hung over the back of his chair, but he swings his hands up in the air from time to time to emphasize a point, first one hand and then the other. It looks like he's giving wig-wag signals to the typing pool. The way he hangs himself over the back of the chair--that keeps up the funky shirtsleeve-operation number. And throwing his hands around--that's dynamic ... It says, "We're hacking our way through the red tape just as fast as we can."

"Now I'm here to try to answer any questions I can," he says, "but you have to understand that I'm only speaking as an individual, and so naturally none of my comments are binding, but I'll answer any questions I can, and if I can't answer them, I'll do what I can to get the answers for you." And then it dawns on you, and you wonder why it took so long for you to realize it. This man is the flak catcher. His job is to catch the flak for the No. 1 man. He's like the professional mourners you can hire in Chinatown. They have certified wailers, professional mourners, in Chinatown, and when your loved one dies, you can hire the professional mourners to wail at the funeral and show what a great loss to the community the departed is. In the same way this lifer is ready to catch whatever flak you're sending up.
It doesn't matter what bureau they put him in.
It's all the same.
Poverty, Japanese imports, valley fever, tomato-crop parity, partial disability, home loans, second-probate accounting, the Interstate 90 detour change order, lockouts, secondary boycotts, G.I. alimony, the Pakistani quota, cinch mites, the Tularemic Loa loa, veterans' dental benefits, workmen's compensation, suspended excise rebates--whatver you're angry about, it doesn't matter he's there to catch the flak.
He's a lifer.

So if you're going out to a Town Hall meeting this weekend, be gentle.
There are polite, Christian ways to let the Flak Catchers know that everything they're advocating is batshit crazy.
Here's a video of the AARP's Flak Catchers getting hit with flak, shrapnel, and anti-aircraft fire at a meeting in Dallas a few days ago.
Warning: This gets ugly. Especially the spelling.

Don't bother telling me that most of these folks are already on Medicare and Medicaid, and wouldn't dream of parting with it. That way I won't bother telling you that both programs are out of money.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

A note to Tyna with SAIA, mostly about the YRC Worldwide discount

One of our sales reps sent me a link to this WSJ article today:

As YRC Struggles, Rivals Stalk Clients
YRC Worldwide Inc., one of the nation's biggest trucking companies, has been struggling in recent months as the recession has sapped demand for freight services. Now, in an industry known for its hardball tactics, YRC's competitors are piling on, trying to pick off its clients by telling them the company's weakness could put their shipments at risk.

The competitors are indeed piling on. I have to kick sales reps off the steps just to get in the office each morning.

YRC is the largest player in so-called less-than-truckload shipping, in which goods from several customers are consolidated on trucks and delivered through a nationwide series of distribution centers. The company, which operates the Yellow and Roadway trucking lines, has a 20% share of ...

And that's where the WSJ "preview" of the article ends, except for paid WSJ subscribers. Unless, of course, you have sense enough to use an internet search engine. You plug all of that last sentence into Google, and you can find where an outfit called Cargonews Asia has already scraped it (without attribution). Here's some more:

....has a 20% share of the $51 billion-a-year business. Though it says it can weather the economic storm, YRC's financial situation has become increasingly dire, amid losses stemming in part from what analysts say are underperforming acquisitions and problems integrating its national route networks. Last week it reported a 35 percent drop in second-quarter freight tonnage, a steeper decline than those of many rivals.

YRC's competitors can smell blood in the water. This is a huge opportunity for them. They take me to lunch, and at some point they give me the look that Baptist preachers used to have when they asked "If you were to die today, where would you spend eternity?" But instead, they ask "What are you going to do if YRC goes under?" "Are you going to have a lot of freight stuck on their docks?" "How have YRC's service levels been?"

Roadway had little or no debt when Yellow Freight bought them out a few years ago. Both were (and still are) union companies. The problems with integrating their national networks aren't an exaggeration, and neither are the issues with underperforming acquisitions. (Do a bit o'Googling on USF Bestway.) I haven't even mentioned the Teamsters Union, have I ?

If YRC goes under, that will leave ABF as the only union LTL carrier. I never thought I would see this day. (Do another bit o'Googling, and you'll also see that their competitors aren't shy about advertising that they have non-union drivers. I wonder why.) Despite my anti-union bias, I hope YRC can find a way to survive.

Here's some other stuff from further down the article:

SAIA, of Johns Creek, Georgia, sent some YRC customers a letter offering prices "equal to a 12 percent discount off the current pricing the [customer] currently has in place with any carrier" in the YRC group. A Saia official said the company wasn't necessarily singling out YRC customers and also offers rate cuts to customers of other competitors.

Note to Tyna with SAIA.....I haven't gotten that letter yet, and I'm looking forward to getting one. We need to talk. If ANYBODY gets another 12%, WE get another 12%.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Big Brother needs your help.

There is a lot of disinformation about health insurance reform out there, spanning from control of personal finances to end of life care. These rumors often travel just below the surface via chain emails or through casual conversation. Since we can’t keep track of all of them here at the White House, we’re asking for your help. If you get an email or see something on the web about health insurance reform that seems fishy, send it to
Big Brother can't keep up with the discussion. He doesn't say what he's going to do with the information. Big Brother just wants to know.
I think Obama's Insurance Destruction program will be a disaster. I believe that old people will be euthanized. I think that people with pre-existing conditions will be forced to sell their pets to buy medicine. I believe that Doctors who treat people outside of Obamacare will be propped against a wall and shot. I believe that people merely wanting a physical will have to bring sleeping bags and multiple meals with them to the Doctor's office.
There. I've said it. Once again, here's the email address to report Enemies Of The State spreading counter-revolutionary doctrines amongst the proletariat:
You know what to do. A couple of hundred emails per concerned citizen would be appropriate.
What a bunch of earnest, over-reaching dipwads.
A fresh coat of Whitening to Neal Boortz for the info.

John Jay Myers, Snickers, and Healthcare

My friend John Jay Myers, recent candidate for Dallas City Council, and an outspoken opponent of the Dallas Convention Center Whorehouse, sent me an email this afternoon.

John Jay calls this his Snickers Speech on healthcare.
I've added one more category of "solutions" at the end, simply because I can't leave good things alone.

Okay, there is a Snickers bar in front of you....You go to grab it, and I say "hold on there big fella... that will be $20". You say "$20 for Snicker bar? That is way way TOO expensive!"

Now... here come the solution(s)

The Socialist/Democrat solution:
We realize it's too expensive for you (notice the addition of "for you") so we will charge each of your friends $1 and then you can get that $20 Snickers bar for only $1.
Now your friends are a little upset....but that settles that... we have now made it "affordable".

The Libertarian Solution:
We realize it's TOO expensive. So we keep regulations out of it, keep the government out of it, open the free market, and next thing you know people are offering you Snicker bars for $10 then $5 then a Three Musketeer for $2 then a Snickers for $1 and then some guy shows up offering you a Snugget bar for .50 cents. (I have no idea what a snugget is...but it sounds delicious.)

The only reason the government wants to be involved in health care is because they want to maintain high prices for their lobbyist friends. High drug prices, high insurance prices, high care prices.

I would be way more accepting of asking the 50 states to each come up with their own plans, some would be "no plan at all", some would probably be pure socialism. But then we would have 50 states testing out different models... and we would find out soon which ones work best, just as we can now use California as a nice model for what not to do. But why go to the Federal Government right away?

Now why do we seem so upset, since on CNN they are saying "there isn't even a plan yet to be upset about"? Because we know when they come up with one, it will be introduced at 12:00 midnight, distributed at 3:00 am, and voted on at 10:00 am.

So, we need to make our voices heard now!

John Jay Myers

John Jay is one of the smartest people I know, he's a good speaker, and he runs a very succesful business. But I can't believe he forgot to include the folks who claim to be the opposition party:

The Republican Solution
We know the Snickers bar is expensive, but it costs a lot to keep it safe since it's so close to our border with Pakistan. If you don't give me money, Gays and Lesbians are going to get married. Did you know that they won't let you say a prayer before a public high school football game? I'm the only candidate willing to reach across the aisle in a true spirit of bi-partisan cooperation. The Snickers bar was less expensive when they didn't teach Evolution.

Snickers pics from here and here and here.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Worst place for a jingoistic bumpersticker

Lost Your Job Yet? Keep Buying Foreign !

Whether you agree with the sentiment or not, there are better places to make this statement than on a car from Huggins Honda. I'm just sayin'....

Like so many other good things in life, this was at Home Depot.

The Dumbest Fools That God Put Guts In

This is freakin' criminal.
The thing that makes the world better now, compared to 100 years ago, is our "stuff".
Once "stuff" is created, it doesn't have to be re-created for each new user.
Outside of Washington, this is called Progress.
These really are the dumbest fools that God put guts in.

This is a video of how the "clunkers" are destroyed.
Has anyone on that Ship Of Fools considered what this practice does to the used car market, the market that poor people rely on? (As supply drops, prices rise, etc. ?)
Has anyone in that Parliament Of Whores considered the value to the environment of saving 5 mpg, vs the environmental costs of destroying and creating a perfectly good vehicle?

Make your kids leave the room, turn down the volume, and watch this (a fresh coat of Whitening to the GOC for the link.)

I've written 3 consecutive posts about this abortion, and every time I think I'm at a loss for words, something else about it comes to mind. Or I find that Denny at the GOC has posted some Vandal Porn like this.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Cash For Clunkers - Another Rant

I just watched The McLaughlin Group segment that ran yesterday. Eleanor Clift said that the Cash For Clunkers program was highly "succesful".

Larry Summers, who was a Free Market kind of guy until he went to work for The Teleprompter, was on Meet The Press an hour later. He pointed to the Cash For Clunkers programs as something they'd done that was "succesful".

The follow-up on Meet The Press was Harold Ford, Jr. (Mommy Party - Tennessee) and J.C. Watts (formerly Daddy Party - Oklahoma). Ford said that Cash For Clunkers was "succesful".

I think we can safely say that the Talking Points Memo for Sunday morning, August 2nd, included instructions to call the Cash For Clunkers program succesful.

Those three acted like the administration had performed miracles along the line of the loaves and fishes.

Let's break it down into comparable situations, shall we?

If Tim Geithner and I stand outside Wal-Mart with guns (it's legal when Timmy does it) and we force everyone who passes by to give us some of their money, and then we give $7.00 of that money to everyone who is going to purchase a pair of jeans (if they'll trade in one of their old pair), we'll probably be succesful. But only if you're looking at nothing but the number of jeans sold.

If Tim Geithner and I stand outside Home Depot with guns and we require everyone who passes by to give us money, and then we give $40.00 of that money to everyone who is going to purchase a lawnmower (if they'll trade in their old one), we'll probably be succesful. But only if you're looking at nothing but the number of lawnmowers sold.

If Tim Geithner and I stand outside Neiman Marcus....$2,000....purchase a chocolate covered skink....we'll probably be succesful. ....the number of chocolate covered skinks sold.

Can you imagine the furor that would erupt if the nation learned that Neiman Markups, Home Depot, or, God help 'em, Wal-Mart, had actually lobbied for Timmy and me to execute this robbery? Wouldn't there be protesters in Bentonville, Arkansas by now????

So why in the heck aren't people totally outraged over this wealth transfer to Detroit? Beats the heck out of me.

Barack Obama really is our shepherd, and we are The Sheeple of his pastures.

Cash For Clunkers - Name That Economic Fallacy !

This is from John Stossel's ABC News blog. (The essay, not the picture.)

I've never seen this guy on TV since I don't watch much that isn't Tivo'd, but I'm a fan of his editorials, books, and website. It's sort of like being a fan of Winston Churchill's paintings, or Billy Bob Thornton's music. Here's Stossel on the Cash for Clunkers program:

Because sometimes, one billion isn’t enough.
The Obama Administration’s “Cash for Clunkers” program offers to buy used cars for $3,500 -$4,500 with taxpayer money. The government then destroys the “inefficient” used car. Not surprisingly, a lot of people want to sell their junk cars to the government. So many, in fact, that the $1 billion program has already run out of money.
Now it appears that Congress will ask not just for another billion, but another TWO billion. Look how generous Congress is with your money!

The idea is that by destroying used cars, people will buy new cars, which creates jobs. But this commits the “broken window fallacy”. That $3 billion taken from taxpayers to, essentially, destroy used cars now cannot be put towards college, or a new home, or new clothes, or anything else. Some used cars are no longer available for poor consumers to buy. If the “new car” market is helped by “Cash for Clunkers”, every other market is hurt because that $3 billion cannot be spent on anything else.

Economists call this the "broken window fallacy." In the 19th century, French economist Frederic Bastiat illustrated it with the story of a boy who breaks a shop window. At first the townspeople lament the loss, but then someone points out that the shopkeeper will have to spend money to replace the window. What the window maker earns, he will soon spend elsewhere. As that money circulates through town, new prosperity will bloom.
The fallacy, of course, lies in the fact that if the window had not been broken, the shopkeeper would have "replaced his worn-out shoes … or added another book to his library." The town gains nothing from the broken window.
This logic is lost on the stimulus promoters. I'm surprised they don't suggest that we prevent recessions by breaking lots of windows.

This is similar to the forklift program we took advantage of at my employer, Jukt Micronics. The government gave us a huge rebate in exchange for trading in our old planet-warming forklifts for new ones that also warm the planet, but not as quickly. That was their logic, anyway.

Which finally gets me to my point. We're dealing with a group of Chicago machine politicians who are looting The Treasury and giving the money to their contributors - in this case, the UAW and the Big 3 auto makers. They use the wholesome, environmentally-friendly bullshit to convince The Sheeple that this isn't a scam.

But isn't it an article of faith in the Mommy Party that we need fewer cars on the road and more use of public transportation?

Instead of the Broken Windows fallacy, that would make it a case of Anarchic Hand Syndrome.

And what if the money to repair the Broken Windows doesn't exist, and has to be printed on the spot? Instead of the Broken Windows fallacy, isn't this the Monopoly Money fallacy?

Anyway, I know something is wrong here, but what is it?

The Broken Windows Fallacy?
Anarchic Hand Syndrome?
Craniofacial Duplication?
or The Monopoly Money Fallacy?
Sometimes things are so wrong, one explanation can't cover it.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

A Free Market proposal for healthcare

I think my doctor does a good job.
I think his nurse practitioners do a good job. The other nurses who work there seem competent.

I like my insurance company. I think most insurance companies do a good job, the notable exception being Anthem Health.

(Please allow me a brief digression while I do something to attract Googlers..... Anthem Health Worst Insurance Company. Anthem Health Ripoff. Warnings Against Anthem Health. Anthem Health Sucks. Anthem Health Poor Quality Insurance. Anthem Health delays paying claims.) There. I feel better now.

Why does Washington want to interfere in the relationship between my doctor and me? Because they don't have enough control over it. Most people want wealth; people in Washington generally want power - a subject for another post.

I would prefer a single-payer system. I pay a doctor.

The most disheartening thing about the current healthcare debate is the lack of Free Market proposals like this one:

Flood the market with healthcare. (I work in the shipping, logistics and freight industry, and that qualifies me to comment on these issues. I also know what happened to prices when shipping, telephones and airlines were deregulated.)

Why are things expensive? Because they are scarce.

Why are doctors scarce? Ask the American Medical Association. If you control the supply of something, you control its price. As long as medical schools don't turn out too many doctors, healthcare will be expensive.

Next question.... Have you ever met a nurse who didn't believe she/he could do 90% of what doctors do? I haven't.

So why can't someone voluntarily go to a nurse for treatment? Or for that matter, why can't someone go to a neighbor who has done a little reading on the subject? Once again, ask the American Medical Association. They limit the supply of people approved to do the job. They put all those regulations in place for your own good, you know. A comparison of savings accounts might also reveal that they're making more money than you.

What about drugs? Ha! Talk to a pharmaceutical rep. By the time a medication is certified, licensed, pedigreed, registered, lawyer-proofed and put through trials, the pharmaceutical companies have spent somewhere around a billion dollars in development. Is there anyone out there economically illiterate enough to state that this expense doesn't stifle the development of new drugs?

What would happen to the cost of healthcare if we simply opened the doors for more practitioners? If I have the flu, I know going into the doctor's office that I'm going to leave with a prescription for Ampicillin and a warning that I need to lose some weight. Is there a nurse out there who could do the same job in less time for about twenty bucks?

Yes. If you choose not to visit this nurse, that's your choice. I am the owner of me. You are the owner of you.

Doctors whine and moan about the high cost of malpractice insurance. What would happen to the cost of medical care if patients were given a lower-cost option in exchange for signing an "I won't sue the doctor" waiver?

The internet (and I assume TV and newspapers) has been abuzz with editorializing about healthcare being a "right". Maybe it is, but there are different ways of stating this right. I believe that I have the right to make my own decisions about medical care. If those decisions involve University of Texas M.D.'s, Homeopathic remedies, Santeria goat sacrifices, or even something as risky as a V.A. hospital, the choice should be mine.

But, you ask, what if something goes wrong? What if there are bad nurses, bad drugs, or ineffective Santeria priests? What will we do if we're not all in the nurturing bosom of Uncle Sam?

We will do this:

Avoid Anthem Health. Anthem Health's computer system BLOWS. DO NOT SIGN UP FOR ANTHEM HEALTH.

I think the savings would be enormous.

Pics from here and from this guy who also had issues with Anthem Health.