Friday, June 29, 2012

On the ObamaCare disaster

Things are expensive when they are scarce.   Scarcity occures when demand is high and supply is low. 

To lower the price, you must decrease demand or increase supply. 

ObamaCare does neither of these.  Naming it the "Affordable" act isn't enough. 

ObamaCare doesn't increase the number of doctors or nurses.  ObamaCare doesn't reduce the insane number of hurdles that have to be jumped when bringing a new drug to the market.  Go here for details. 

ObamaCare adds more bureaucrats and IRS agents, not more doctors, nurses and drugs. 

Nothing else matters. 

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Occam's Razor and Operation Fast And Furious

Here's the philosophical principle known as Occam's Razor:

Occam's razor is the law of parsimony, economy or succinctness. It is a principle urging one to select from among competing hypotheses that which makes the fewest assumptions and thereby offers the simplest explanation of the effect.

In other words, the simplest explanation is usually the best one. If you are in Texas and hear hoofbeats, think horses, not zebras

Let's apply that principle to the magnificent abortion known as Operation Fast And Furious, where the people responsible for the Post Office, VA Hospitals and the DMV decided to let a bunch of guns "walk" across the Mexican border.  Just to see where they would go.....  

Here's Mickey Kaus of The Daily Caller:

The fuss over the Fast and Furious “gunwalking” scandal must be mystifying to voters who don’t know why Second Amendment types think the seemingly insane operation was launched–namely to establish a predicate for gun control here in the U.S..** Powerline bloggers debate the issue here & here. Don’t wait for the MSM to fill you in on this crucial bit of undernews. …

What I don’t understand is why, according to both Powerliners, the “gun control” theory requires the administration to have wanted to “increase bloodshed in Mexico”? Why increase? It requires more paranoia than even I’m able to muster to think that the Holder Justice department’s goal was to produce more violence and death (in order to grab headlines, etc.). Why isn’t there a far more plausible and mundane possible purpose: The administration wanted to document that the guns used in Mexican drug gang crimes–including violent crimes–came from the U.S.. There might be more crimes, there might be fewer. There could be less bloodshed, there could be increased bloodshed–but that wasn’t the point. The point was that gun controllers could argue that X% of the guns, or X number of guns, found at crime scenes were sourced from this country–whatever the overall level of crime. That would establish the factual basis for gun control the same way the Dartmouth studies and Atul Gawande’s articles allegedly established a factual basis for Obamacare. Entirely plausible, and not criminally evil! Just amazingly stupid. …

P.S.: I’m not sure Second Amendment enthusiasts should argue that letting lots of guns “walk” across the border will inevitably “increase bloodshed” or “promote violence.” Isn’t that the gun-controllers’ argument–that More Guns = More Violence in some kind of rigid equation?…

Guns don’t kill Mexican gang war victims. Mexican gangsters kill Mexican gang war victims. …

Go here for your very own Operation Fast And Furious T-shirt !!!

Don't be so nosy

This editorial actually ran on the CNN website yesterday. 
Swear to God, they published it. 
It's about the "Fast And Furious" debacle, the one where the government sent thousands of guns across the Rio Grande to prove that American guns were crossing the Rio Grande.  Then a couple of Federal Agents got shot with them. 

I didn't edit any of this.  Here's the kicker:
By allowing guns to infiltrate Mexico's drug cartel, we thought we could trace them up the ladder to the leaders. Take off the head and the body dies. As for the innocent people who lost their lives? Collateral damage. That's the uncomfortable backstory to this scandal. And there are likely other operations like it in our nation's history that we don't even have a clue about.

And maybe it's better for us not to be so nosy, not to know everything because, to paraphrase the famous line from the movie "A Few Good Men," many of us won't be able to handle the truth.
Yes.  Yes.  Yes. 
Go back to watching "Dancing With The Stars".  Take some happy pills.  Don't be "so nosy". 

You probably couldn't handle the truth: We're trying to continue the War On Drugs, maintain the Drug Lords' monopoly, plus prove that you really shouldn't be allowed to keep those pistols in your house. 

Don't be so nosy. 

Nothing to see here.  Move along, people, move along. 

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Pat Roberts of Kansas and the 2012 Farm Bill

For reasons that I don't quite understand, the infamous Farm Bill comes up for renewal every five years. 

It's one of the few scandalous giveaways that has to be reworked and reapproved. 


Every vote in Congress can be viewed as an opportunity to either increase liberty or increase government. Right now, the Senate appears poised to choose the latter as they prepare to vote on the 2012 Farm Bill.

The 1,000-page bill that Senators Debbie Stabenow and Pat Roberts are pushing through the Senate is chock full of massive spending, new entitlements, and new regulations. With corporate welfare and generous subsidies thrown in for good measure, the bill reflects everything wrong with out-of-control government. No wonder Congress is sporting a 17 percent approval rating these days.

The farm bill is another in a long line of government boondoggles that simply builds on the big expenditures of a previous bill. The CBO estimates that the 2012 farm bill will up spending to $969 billion over the next ten years. Locking in at those levels in the midst of a debt crisis and credit downgrade is beyond fiscally irresponsible. Overall, the Senate farm bill punts on the opportunity to contribute to deficit reduction and shows a startling lack of political courage.

Ok, let's pause for a moment.  Farming is risky.  Erratic.  Unpredictable.  But, on the other hand, so is long-haul trucking.  So is running a lawn service or a coffee bar or an upholstery shop. 
Upholsterers aren't organized into a lobby, though.  Sucks to be them, doesn't it???

The 2012 farm bill’s most noticeable “reform” is the elimination of direct payments to farmers. In its place is a new entitlement program most commonly referred to as “shallow loss,” a new federal crop insurance program. It’s meant to serve as an income safety net that will automatically trigger payments to farmers when their crop yields fall below 90% of their average levels over the past five years. However, the past five years have seen a spike in crop yields, meaning that shallow loss is locking in rates that are due to fall. It’s unnecessary corporate welfare, despite what the farm lobby claims. According to the American Enterprise Institute:

“The current average debt-to-asset ratio in the farm sector is less than 9 percent and has been declining steadily over the past decade. Moreover, farms fail at a rate of less than one in two hundred a year, and, from a financial perspective, farms are better placed than almost any sector of the economy to handle year-to-year variations in revenues and costs by themselves. Yet, effectively, farmers want a tax payer-funded guarantee that their revenues will never fall below about 90 percent of their recent levels.
I'll throw in some more about "shallow loss" programs in a moment.  If you can't stand the suspense, go to the end of this post, and prepare to be depressed about the gullibility of the American public. 

The addition of a farm entitlement program is one of countless examples of the federal government encouraging dependence at the expense of liberty. Additionally, telling farmers that they can keep their revenues and have the taxpayers absorb their losses invites risky behavior on their end. Apparently too-big-to-fail has yet to go out of style.

Here's a quote on the Farm Bill from the New York Holy Times.  Any time you hear a politician or a "journalist" claim that people on both sides should reach across the aisle to get things done and break the gridlock?  You should hide your wallet, lock up your daughters and bury the family silver in the backyard.  You're about to get screwed.  Here are Democrat Debbie Stabenow and Republican Pat Roberts of Kansas:
“This bill represents significant reform,” said Senator Debbie Stabenow, Democrat of Michigan and chairwoman of the Senate Agriculture Committee. “It cuts subsidies, it cuts the deficit and it creates jobs.”

Senator Pat Roberts, Republican of Kansas and the ranking member on the committee, called the legislation the best bill possible. “It shows what can happen if we break the logjam of partisanship and work together to get something done,” Mr. Roberts said.
 Debbie, you ignorant slut.
You claim that this theft "creates jobs".  But what is the cost of taking the money from taxpayer A and giving it to farmer B?  Has it occurred to you that taxpayer A might have wanted to create some jobs of his own, you Statist looter?  
And Pat, a lot of us were depending on that logjam that you just managed to "break".  We want it back.  We want you to be tarred and feathered and ridden out of town on a rail.
In addition to wanting to give money to farmers, Pat Roberts also wants to lower the tax burden on Kansas taxpayers.  Gag me with a dirty diaper.  Anyone voting for this old fraud should have his taxes doubled. 

God almighty, I'm in a bad mood this morning. 

Here's the skinny on the "shallow loss" farming program.  The older programs guaranteed an income.  This new one guarantees a profit.  Well done, Pat and Debbie.  Well done. 

  • Shallow-loss programs are costly: Depending on structure and crop prices, these programs could cost the taxpayer as much as or more than the direct payments program they would replace, averaging as much as $8 to $14 billion a year over the next five years.


      • Shallow-loss programs amount to a new entitlement: Payments would be automatically triggered by revenue shortfalls and would be linked to average revenues over the past five years. So, when prices and yields increase, payment triggers will also increase, creating a new, partially disguised entitlement program that locks farmers into near-record incomes at the taxpayer’s expense.

      • Shallow-loss programs based on farm-level yields create incentives for the wasteful use of economic resources by buying down deductibles associated with federal crop insurance: Farmers would reap the benefits of record crop yields and prices. However, because a high percentage of revenues are guaranteed, farmers may adopt more risky farming techniques.

      • The Congressional Budget Office’s cost estimates for shallow-loss programs assume that recent historically high prices will be sustained: If corn, wheat, soybean, rice, and cotton prices return to the average levels observed between 1996 and 2011, however, program costs will balloon. A county-based program would cost taxpayers between $8.4 and $13.98 billion, depending on the rate of reimbursement. The Stabenow-Roberts shallow-loss proposal would likely cost taxpayers between $5 billion and $7 billion, depending on the mix of farm-based and county-based programs.

      • Shallow-loss programs will perpetuate the federal farm program tradition of giving the majority of subsidies to farms that do not need them in the first place: Shallow-loss subsidies, like direct payments and crop insurance subsidies, would be tied to the amount of land that households farm. Consequently, the largest and wealthiest farmers enjoy built-in buffers in the form of substantial equity in their farm operations (debt-to-asset ratios average less than 9 percent in the entire American agricultural sector). These individuals would receive the lion’s share of shallow-loss subsidy payments.
      Here's how it ought to work.
      If corn prices aren't high enough for farmers to make a profit, that means there are too many people growing corn.
      The farmers affected need to grow something else. Or become upholsterers.

      Monday, June 25, 2012

      Now that Thomas Kinkade is dead

      Jon McNaughton, who is sorta the Shepard Fairey for the far right, has produced another masterpiece.

      I'm just guessing, but I bet McNaughton's paintings appeal to the same folks who like those paintings of golf courses with verses from The Psalms written on the mat below the canvas. 

      Here's McNaughton's latest, titled The Empowered Man:

      You can go here for the artist's interpretation of the work, or you can read mine, which was produced by something called "Pixmaven", the instarnt art critique phrase generator. 

      In the center, the view sees a young man from the 99%.  He's holding a copy of the "restored" constitution in one hand and a wad of cash in the other.  There is an obvious correlation here, with regard to the issue of content, the subaqueous qualities of the spatial relationships brings within the realm of discourse the exploration of montage elements.

      A random selection of presidents are shown applauding on the left side of the painting.  Libertarian viewers might be perplexed by the applause coming from Reagan and Lincoln, as Reagan spent money like a crack whore on parole and got into some nasty stuff with Iran/Contra.  Lincolndid what he had to do, but a lot of it wasn't constitutional.  I find this work menacing and/or playful because of the way the reductive quality of the ironic motifs which spatially undermine the accessibility of the work.

      The president on his knees in prayer is none other than James Madison, father of the constitution, but also the guy who once said "Religious bondage shackles and debilitates the mind and unfits it for every noble enterprise."  What was McNaughton up to here?  With regard to the issue of content, the aura of the spatial relationships visually and conceptually activates the exploration of montage elements. 
      This is obvious once you think about it with an open mind.  Thank you, Pixmaven, for the analysis. 

      To the right of the painting we see the bad presidents.  How do we know they're bad?  Because they're afraid or sad.  From left to right (a colonial construct, but it helps) we see: LBJ, Bush the Younger, The Teleprompter Jesus, Clinton, Wilson, and FDR standing without a wheelchair.  Obama's fear of the Constitution, his defensive posture, and avoidance gestures are an obvious homage to the neglected classic Nosferatu Looking At A Cross (Norman Rockwell, 1958). 

      In summary:  Although I am not a painter, I think that the aura of the purity of line notates the distinctive formal juxtapositions.

      With regard to the issue of content, the disjunctive perturbation of the sexual signifier contextualize a participation in the critical dialogue of the 90s.

      As an advocate of the consumerist aesthetic, the remarkable handling of light in this piece recreates the post-colonial tensions often found in the sexist/fascist/extremist paradigm. 

      Sunday, June 24, 2012

      On getting work done at the lowest possible price

      Wal-Mart used to have a "Made In The USA" campaign.  They tried to fill their stores with nothing but U.S. manufactured products. 

      The campaign folded. 


      Because you won't support it.  If you can save .75 cents on a water hose made in Taiwan instead of Tennessee, you're going to purchase the one in Taiwan.  I've sat back and watched you do it. 

      But doesn't that hurt America? 

      Here's a helpful chart showing the possessions of those living in poverty.  It's from the noted right-wing, conservative periodical The Atlantic Monthly:

      And how long have the poor amongst us owned these riches that would make a Roman Emperor turn green with envy? 

      Here's something from The Austrian Economists.  I never tire of posting this chart, mostly because I'm old enough to remember most people doing without a lot of the following:

      Households with:
      Poor 1984Poor  1994Poor
      All 1971All 2005
      Washing machine58.271.767.068.771.384.0
      Clothes dryer35.650.258.561.244.581.2
      Color TV70.392.596.897.443.398.9
      Personal computer2.97.436.
      Air conditioner42.549.677.778.831.885.7
      Cellular Telephone

      One or more cars64.171.872.8 (2001)

      source: and prior years

      So tell me this....  Do you look back fondly on the pre-globalization era? 

      I don't. 

      My employer, Jukt Micronics, had something like 300 employees in the U.S. before we started outsourcing like mad.  We now get something like 45% of our products from China, Taiwan and Japan. 

      Now that we've sent all those jobs oversease, we have 500 employees in the U.S.  Go figure.  We do the hard stuff, China does the easy stuff. 

      Here's something by Erika Johnsen that I wish was tattooed on the forearms of every racist, anti-globalization idjit on the planet:

      ....if everybody on planet earth could just get the following through their heads so we can all move on and lead more productive lives, that would be great: When businesses find ways to do business less expensively, consumers win. Whether the business can offer their product more cheaply and consumers can then stretch their dollars further, or if the business is able to then hire more workers and grow their operation — the economy is going to grow. Which, in turn, means that everybody wins. That’s the great thing about free trade: all transactions are voluntary and mutually beneficial. When businesses outsource, they cut costs, and people in other, poorer countries with fewer opportunities are able to find jobs and income.

      Everything related to this whole “Buy America” fallacy is just awful — barring even greater costs such as threats to national security, why on earth would you do something more expensively than necessary? That’s not the way to help people — buying goods from where they are most cheaply and efficiently produced is the best way to make everyone wealthier. Prosperity is not a zero-sum game, and a busy, bustling global economic village is probably just about the only true route to world peace in existence.

      This sort of populist rhetoric that perpetuates these types of economic myths sorely needs to end.

      It's mostly bullshit

      Here's Mark Steyn on the increasing number of statements found to be lies in Barack Obama's "Dreams From My Father".  Thanks to an exhaustive new bio by David Maraniss (a lefty, BTW), we now have something closer to the truth:
      Courtesy of David Maraniss’s new book, we now know that yet another key prop of Barack Obama’s identity is false: His Kenyan grandfather was not brutally tortured or even non-brutally detained by his British colonial masters. The composite gram’pa joins an ever-swelling cast of characters from Barack’s “memoir” who, to put it discreetly, differ somewhat in reality from their bit parts in the grand Obama narrative. The best friend at school portrayed in Obama’s autobiography as “a symbol of young blackness” was, in fact, half Japanese, and not a close friend. The white girlfriend he took to an off-Broadway play that prompted an angry post-show exchange about race never saw the play, dated Obama in an entirely different time zone, and had no such world-historically significant conversation with him. His Indonesian step-grandfather supposedly killed by Dutch soldiers during his people’s valiant struggle against colonialism met his actual demise when he “fell off a chair at his home while trying to hang drapes.”

      Ok, he lied.  He made it up.  He invented people.  Composites.  So what? 

      Well, look around the intertubes at the staggering amount of bandwidth devoted to the total bullshit found in Obama's book.  Here's just one example for you.  Don't bother reading it (because it makes no sense), just look at the academic smartwords sprinkled throughout:
      As stated above, Obama took without hesitation the ethnically charged role of the cultural interpreter or mediator to explain the historical sources of black rage and resentment toward Euro-Americans; in other words, he reminded Euro-Americans that African Americans had good reasons to be angry. In fact, this type of “translation” had been an intrinsic aspect of Obama’s youth: “I learned to slip back and forth between my black and white worlds, understanding that each possessed its own language and customs and structures of meaning, convinced that with a bit of translation on my part the two worlds would eventually cohere” (76). Therefore, whereas he otherwise discourages absolute identity along racial lines, in this and other occasions he has spoken not only as a black man but also for African Americans; that is, as a representative of the black community in the United States. In fact, according to Mostern, this type of “testimony on behalf of” is “clearly one element in all African-American Autobiography Study (though how significant an element is something about which critics differ)” (33). Paradoxically, Obama suggests, in the introduction to Dreams of My Father, that he does not possess the moral authority to address or represent the totality of the experience of black people: “I can embrace my black brother and sisters, whether in this country or in Africa, and affirm a common destiny without pretending to speak to, or for, all our various struggles” (x). This peculiarity distances his writing from the subgenre of the testimonio, since testimonialists usually present themselves as the synecdoche of their aggrieved social groups. In any case, at the same time that he reminds blacks that they have the right and duty to be different from their own pasts, the Janus-faced Obama admonished the rest of the country of the immorality of historical amnesia. He later sends the same message in The Audacity of Hope: “to acknowledge the sins of our past and the challenges of the present without becoming trapped in cynicism or despair” (233). It is in this sense that Obama’s two books as well as some of his speeches can be interpreted as an act of deciphering one half of himself—Black American—for the other half and for the rest of the “white folks,” as they are referred to sometimes in his books.

      Unfortunately, all of that is based on bullshit.  Top to bottom bullshit. 
      Barack Obama is just this....thing.  He's an invention.  We don't know much about his past.  We don't know what he was doing at Occidental College.  He has presented himself as the result of a racial struggle that apparently didn't happen.  People have loved the story, but he isn't real.  We have no idea what the hell he is. 

      Even the people who like the idea of Obama as president will probably admit, if hooked to lie detectors, that they don't like the reality of this invention as President Of The United States. 

      We have no idea who this man is. 
      And you sure can't find out from reading his books.