Friday, December 9, 2011

A terrifying glimpse into the mind of Barack Obama

Every now and then, someone pulls back the curtain and we get to see how Barack Obama's mind works. 
It is terrifying. 
Here is the Washington Examiner, quoting words that Obama said with his very own mouth:

As Obama called for passage of those bills, he also responded to a recent Republican push to require him to approve the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline from Canada. "However many jobs might be generated by a Keystone pipeline," he said, "they're going to be a lot fewer than the jobs that are created by extending the payroll tax cut and extending unemployment insurance."

I'm afraid I'll have to spend the rest of my life listening to elected idiots blather about creating jobs, creating jobs, creating jobs. 

If The Obamessiah wanted to create jobs, he could outlaw use of the Interstate Highway System.  He could mandate that all freight be hauled in oxcarts.  He could sign an executive order stating that all fast food be cooked over campfires fueled by buffalo chips.    

All of these proposals would create more jobs than the Keystone pipeline.  But that is not the point of the Keystone pipeline.  The point of the Keystone pipeline is to save money on fuel.  The money saved could then be spent on other things, things that Barack Obama can't predict.  These things would (incidentally) create lots of jobs. 

The best way to improve an economy is to get people like Barack Obama out of the way so he can't take money out of the productive part of the economy.  Then unleash the entrepreneurs.  Millions of jobs will be destroyed, but far more will be created. 

Hell, how many jobs did the internet create in its first decade?  Hardly any.  How many typewriter factory employees became unemployed later on, all because of the internet?  Tens of thousands.  How many more jobs did the internet "create" later on?  Millions.  How many politicians (with plans, plans, and more plans) saw this coming? 

None of them.  Not a single one. 

I'm calling in sick today, as I intend to spend the rest of my time praying for the salvation of our nation. 

Good luck, everybody. 

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Nanny State Update, with a light sprinkling of Cronyism

From The Huffington Post, on the actions of those who are trying to protect their contributors you:

NASHVILLE, Tenn.-- In June 2010 the Nashville Metropolitan City Council passed legislation raising the city's minimum fee for limo and sedan rentals, bumping it from $25 to $45. Drivers were prohibited by law from charging less. Other new regulations forbid limo companies from using leased vehicles, require cars to be dispatched only from the place of business, compel companies to wait 15 minutes before picking up a client, and ban parking in front of hotels and bars to wait for customers. More laws that take effect in January 2012 would also require companies to replace all sedans and SUVs over seven-years-old, and all limos 10-years-old and older. Vehicles older than five years cannot enter into service.

Passed under the guise of consumer protection, the net effect is to give large, existing car companies (also known as livery services) a huge advantage over smaller companies, and to effectively prevent any new companies from entering the market. Prior to the new laws, Tennesseans could purchase transportation from downtown Nashville to the airport in a limo or sedan for the same price as an average taxi ride. Nashville residents and visitors will now pay almost double for the same service.

Nashville folks in need of an affordable ride, and drivers looking to earn an independent living in a sagging economy, join a long line of people caught on the wrong end of a nationwide effort by big car services to squeeze extra profit by regulating competitors out of business. It's a case of regulations actually costing jobs and driving up costs, just as Republicans charge they always do. But this time, the regulations are being pushed by the GOP's so-called "job creators," the new name given to big business.

A transportation battle currently playing out across the country pits large, established car service companies against their smaller and independent competitors. State or local governments in Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Texas and Oregon, have all passed minimum fare regulations. The fight over new laws in Nashville, where a group of smaller car service owners have filed suit in federal court, belies the black-and-white approach the both Democrats and Republicans take to regulation.

Wesley Hottot, an attorney for the Texas Chapter of Institute for Justice, a non-profit libertarian law firm, says the Tennessee Livery Association (TLA), a coalition of expensive limousine companies, pushed the bill through with a number of provisions that benefit only its members. “There is no point in this regulation. It has nothing to do with public safety. It has everything to do with economic protectionism,” Hottot says. Hottot and his team have litigated similar cases involving economic liberty and property rights in federal and state courts across the country.

Such minimum charges for non-taxi car services are common all over the country. In Austin, Texas for example, the minimum fare of livery vehicles is $45, in Houston it's $75, and in Portland, Oregon, the fares must be 35 percent higher than the prevailing taxi cab rate. Little Rock, Arkansas companies can charge no less than $50 for limousines, no matter how long the ride, and no less than $30 for SUVs and sedans.

Think about it.... the only way for an upstart company to squeeze into a marketplace is by better prices or better service.  The Nanny Staters are doing what they can to eliminate the pricing option. 
And speaking of silly licensing and regulatory requirements to protect existing businesses against newcomers, here's a fascinating piece from Style Weekly:

It looked like the least controversial cut on Gov. Bob McDonnell’s reform list. As part of his efforts to slim the state’s $39 billion annual budget, last week McDonnell proposed to deregulate three specific professions: hair braiding, interior design and mold remediation. The state no longer would license or certify people in those professions.

You might think the braiders, designers and remediators would be happy. Who wants more bureaucracy in their lives? But some of them are protesting the change, stirring up a small but fierce debate about government intervention in the free market.

“As a conservative, I understand the desire to deregulate,” says Christopher Good, an associate principal with Glen Allen design firm KSA Interiors. But if the state government steps back, he says, the profession suffers. “We’ll be essentially barred from competition,” he says.

Why? Interior designers who submit drawings for permits must be state-certified. The commonwealth — as well as the federal government and most localities — also requires certification for interior designers to bid on public projects, Good says: “So I assume they’ll have to rewrite that law.” Otherwise, he says, architects — who still are state-regulated — could snap up all the projects that require certification.

There are about 500 certified interior designers in the state and thousands of employees who work with them, Good says. Don’t call them decorators. Interior designers must know about fire codes, the proper placement of emergency exits and other safety practices. If unqualified and uncertified people begin practicing interior design, Good says, “we run the risk of there being catastrophic consequences.”

Highly unlikely, says Robert McNamara, a lawyer with the libertarian Institute for Justice. “There’s absolutely no evidence that anyone has ever been harmed in any way by an unlicensed interior designer,” McNamara says. McDonnell’s commission found “few, if any complaints” in interior design matters and very few regulatory violations.

The nonprofit Institute for Justice has battled interior-design regulation in several states, though not in Virginia. One Florida case is poised to go all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. Who knew this was such a hot issue?

It’s a matter of economic liberty, McNamara says. Entrepreneurship is a fundamental American value, he says, yet requiring state regulation “serves as a way for established, entrenched businesses to keep new people from entering the marketplace.” He argues that interior designers should be able to practice freely without having to get a four-year degree, prove two years’ work experience and pass two exams — which Virginia requires for certification......

What about hair braiding, which is regulated for health reasons? Deregulation isn’t a good idea, says hair braiding instructor Dionne James Eggleston, who runs a salon and braiding school on Marshall Street in Richmond as well as a salon in Long Island, N.Y. “People need to be held accountable.”

In the hands of an unregulated, untrained hair braider, clients run the risk of being burned by hot water and “catching different things on their scalp,” Eggleston says. Getting licensed isn’t difficult, she says. After receiving 170 hours of training or an equivalent course, an aspiring Virginia braider must take a written exam on state regulations, sanitation practices and braiding techniques. Eggleston charges $2,000 for the 170-hour course.

“The hair braiding industry poses a minimal risk of public harm,” McDonnell’s commission reported. In the last five years, the commission found, Virginia has fined two hair braiders and one salon, and revoked one license.

The Institute for Justice doesn’t have a beef with basic, brief, health and safety training, McNamara says, nor with regulation of medical professionals. But it’s not the state’s job to make sure ordinary professionals, whether braiders or designers, are “good enough” to get an official stamp of approval. “That’s violating people’s basic right to economic liberty,” he says.

Professional regulation is an old Virginia tradition. One regulatory board, which licenses boat pilots in Virginia’s major shipping lanes, was chartered by the king of England in the 1600s. The state regulates dozens of other professions, including auctioneers, body piercers, boxing promoters, cemetery operators and property managers.

To shave $2 million off the budget, the governor also has proposed consolidating or eliminating dozens of other state boards and commissions. His list includes merging the Seed Potato Board and the Potato Board into “a single, unified Potato Board” to handle all research and regulation of Virginia potatoes. This suggestion has failed to spark any debate — yet

All of these links came from the great Radley Balko, to whom we should always be grateful. 

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Why Newt Gingrich isn't all bad

Newt Gingrich would be a horrible president. 

He's an egomaniac, he made a vile Global Warming video with Nancy Pelosi, he was censured for major ethics violations, and he wasted a great chance to shrink government back in the 1990's. 

He then helped Fannie/Freddie destroy the economy in the 00's, and was paid millions to do so.  The cronyism that Gingrich represents is one of our biggest problems, and his past behavior shows that he would probably do nothing to end it.   


Even Hitler loved his dog.  Everybody has some redeeming qualities. 

Here's Maureen Dowd, quoting Barney Frank:

Barney Frank told Abby Goodnough in The Times that Gingrich was “the single biggest factor” in destroying a Washington culture where the two parties respected each other’s differing views yet still worked together.

Good job, Mr. Gingrich.  Good job on that one. 

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Which variety of wasteful spending creates the most jobs?

Our government employees are now arguing over which type of wasteful spending creates the most jobs - Military waste, or Domestic waste. 

From ThinkProgress:

Facing deep spending cuts, the Department of Defense, including Secretary Leon Panetta, and military-industrial trade associations have complained that tightening the U.S. security budget will cause greater unemployment. And even while toeing the (dubious) conservative line that government spending cannot create jobs, right wingers like Rep. Buck McKeon (R-CA) insist that military spending must stay high to keep unemployment from increasing.

But a new study (PDF) from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) highlighted by economist Dean Baker shows that, contra the conservative talking point, non-military spending can create more jobs than money going to defense programs. (Blah blah blah blah blah....Hit the link at the top to read the whole thing.)  Among them, military spending was the lowest, creating fewer jobs per billion dollars spent than even consumer-oriented tax cuts.

Here’s a chart from the study showing how many jobs each area produced from a billion dollars in spending:

Great God Almighty, where to begin, where to begin....

Let's start with the motivations of entrepreneurs in the real world.  Think of the people you know who have started their own businesses.  I've never heard someone describe the experience by saying "Well, you know, I had this overwhelming urge to work 80 hour weeks, with no guarantee of a reward, so that I could hire a lot of people."
But letting entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses are the only way to grow the economy, and that's the only way out of the current swamp where we find ourselves.  Uncle Sam's remedies are politcally-oriented, not economically-oriented.  The Obamamedia have done such an outstanding job of parroting Barry's "jobs created or saved" bullshit, no Congressman will ever again stand in front of a microphone and boast of lowering taxes on businesses so they can grow and make a lot of money (and incidentally, maybe hire people). 

On to the next point....  Do domestic spending boondoggles create more jobs than military boondoggles?  That's an interesting question, one that I hope will be fully answered in the next life. 
In the meantime, debating such gibberish is contributing to the problem. 
It doesn't matter if we're going to the Middle East to blow up brown children, or preserving the Department of Education to destroy our own children.  If we're doing either of these to create jobs in the U.S., we're screwing up.  It would destroy fewer resources and minds if we paid the soldiers and education bureaucrats to stay home.  Long-term welfare, according to a lot of experts, is harmful.  But it's not as harmful as maintaining bad programs to "create jobs", right? 

Third, nowhere in this idiotic article does the author acknowledge that the money from this crap comes from someplace else: taxes, loans, or Bernanke's printing press. 
Taxes are a necessary evil, even at the lowest rates.  At worst, they stifle growth. 
Taking out loans to be paid by unborn fetuses?  Let's go ahead and call that bad. 
Bernanke's printing presses should be carefully disassembled, and the component parts distributed to the bottoms of lakes and oceans all over the world. 

I hope that I never wake up in the morning and read something like this again. 

Monday, December 5, 2011

Harry Browne and P.J. O'Rourke on Free Trade

Harry Browne on Free Trade - "We have only two choices.  Either you are free to buy whaterever you want from whomever you want, wherever that seller is in the U.S. or the world - or we turn over to the politicians the power to decide what you can buy.  If we do the latter, you know from all experience that what you can buy will then be decided by those who have the most political influence."

This reminds me of P.J. O'Rourke's quip that "If politicians can determine what can be bought and sold, the first thing to be bought and sold will be politicians." 

Sunday, December 4, 2011

An honest question about the effectiveness of pepper-spray

Buzzfeed has published what they call The 45 Most Powerful Images Of 2011.  There are some great photos in there. 
Three of them caught my attention.....

A protester gets sprayed in the face with pepper spray at an Occupy Portland protest. (Randy L. Rasmussen/The Oregonian)

A University of California Davis police officer pepper-sprays students during their sit-in at an "Occupy UCD" demonstration in Davis, California. (Jasna Hodzic)

84-year-old Dorli Rainey was pepper sprayed during a peaceful march in Seattle, Washington. She would have been thrown to the ground and trampled, but luckily a fellow protester and Iraq vet was there to save her. (Joshua Trujillo /

I've got one question.... Our government is pepper-spraying protesters who are rallying for more and more government power and control.  I repeat....Our government is pepper-spraying protesters who are rallying for more and more government power and control.
Have the protesters changed their minds already, or do they need to be pepper-sprayed some more? 

Hit this link to see the other pics.  There are some great ones in the Buzzfeed collection.
A fresh coat of Whitening to my friend Mike Coyne for opening my eyes to this phenomenon.