Sunday, February 26, 2012

Algae, European Gas Prices, and Born in the U.S.A - By Victor Davis Hanson - The Corner - National Review Online

Algae, European Gas Prices, and Born in the U.S.A - By Victor Davis Hanson - The Corner - National Review Online

As gas nears $5-a-gallon out west, the president, who has cancelled a key pipeline and frozen federal leases from Alaska to the East Coast, teaches us about American algae potential, in the way he used to emphasize the importance of tire pressure and "tune-ups." He castigates the opposition for making political hay out of bad news, in the way he routinely did as a senator in compiling the most partisan voting record in the Senate. Energy Secretary Chu cannot and will not say a word about soaring gas prices, since he is on record not so long ago hoping that they might double — that is, get to $8- to 10-a-gallon as they are in Europe. The Energy Department can do almost everything Americans don't want, but not the single thing they do want. 

The more Afghans kill Americans, the more the president seems to apologize for our troops disposing of confiscated Korans, desecrated by Muslim-terrorist detainees. Would that Obama talk so deferentially to Americans instead of serially emphasizing their laziness, their nativism, and their past transgressions in the Middle East. The treasury secretary who oversaw $5 trillion in new debt, and who oversees an IRS that he himself not long ago tried to short, lectures us that a premium in taxes must be paid for the fact of our being born American. The first lady, who cannot keep from vacationing at Costa del Sol, Vail, Aspen, and Martha's Vineyard, keeps reminding us, who do not go to those tony retreats or $30,000-a-plate fundraisers, that we must pay our fair share to a nearly insolvent government to help it help the less fortunate, 50 percent of whom pay no income taxes. Secretary of State Clinton, who not long ago declared Bashar Assad a "reformer" now says the thug must go, with State Department subordinates warning about Syrian "WMD." If true, one wonders where Assad got them. If our allies were in crises — Israel with Iran, Britain with Argentina, Poland or the Czech Republic with Putin's Russia — no one quite knows what America would say or do. 

And always, in the midst of these problems, we hear of a "they" who caused all of the above.

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This Man Was Almost Elected President of the United States! | The Beacon

This Man Was Almost Elected President of the United States!

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Al Gore, who came within a few hundred votes of being elected president in 2000, has designed a blueprint to overhaul capitalism to create a sustainable capitalism that will support lasting economic growth. He says that the way capitalism is now practiced does not "...incorporate sufficient regard for its impact on people, society and the planet."

Up until the Industrial Revolution in the mid-1700s most people lived at a subsistence level of income, and starvation was a constant threat. Only since that time, thanks to capitalism, has the world ever seen "lasting economic growth." Most of human history has been the search for sufficient calories to survive, and people who lived prior to the twentieth century would have been astounded to witness people today who actually have too much food, and are trying to lose weight.

Fifty years ago nobody had cellular telephones, microwave ovens, or personal computers. Air conditioned homes and automobiles were a rarity, and color television was new and equally rare. Today we take all these things for granted, as we have hundreds of available television channels, even more content on the internet, as we drive around in our air conditioned automobiles and travel anywhere in the world in a matter of hours in jet aircraft.

All this happened in a few hundred years, thanks to capitalism. All these things are "the impact of capitalism on people, society, and the planet." Life has never been better, easier, or more secure for most people, and the people who today have it the hardest are the people who don't live in capitalist economies.

Capitalism continues to give people higher incomes, and more significantly, more of the things they want. Goods like phones and televisions produced as recently as a decade ago don't measure up to what is available now. Twenty-first century capitalism is more productive than capitalism ever has been.

Mr. Gore is especially critical of the financial system, and the fact that investors rapidly turn over their portfolios. This liquidity is one reason why capitalism works so well. Entrepreneurs can raise money in financial markets, and one reason people buy securities is because they are very liquid, so people aren't locked in long-term as Mr. Gore would prefer.

This man appears to have no understanding about the aspects of our economy that have made us productive and wealthy.

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Video Flashback: Obama and Democrats Blast Bush for High Gas Prices in 2008 | The Gateway Pundit

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Saturday, February 25, 2012

The Real Problem with Obama’s Algae Quote | Innocent Bystanders

The Real Problem with Obama's Algae Quote

President Obama has been getting some flak from the right for suggesting using algae to replace oil:

"Believe it or not, we could replace up to 17% of the oil we import for transportation with this fuel that we can grow right here in America," Obama said.

In his defense, a reasonably scientific study did claim just that: National Microalgae Biofuel Production Potential and Resource Demand, by the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL).

However, there are a few leetle problems with it, which PNNL themselves pointed out:

  • It would take acreage equivalent to the area of South Carolina to generate that much oil
  • It takes 350 gallons of water for every one gallon of oil you produce
  • Meeting that water requirement would take 25% of our irrigation capacity
  • It takes even more water than that unless you use lakefront and oceanfront real estate

This was a very preliminary "what-if" type study that happened to use a better geographic database than earlier studies. There's a long way to go before we can even start thinking about getting serious about significant oil from algae.

But this President doesn't concern himself with those details – if it sounds good, why, that's the plan.

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Ed Driscoll » ‘Chops Licking,’ Then and Now

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Pelosi 2008: Bush to Blame for High Gas Prices; Pelosi 2012: Wall Street to Blame for High Gas Prices | Jammie Wearing Fools

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Sunday, February 19, 2012

The Scariest Housing Market Chart Ever

The Business Insider
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Friday, February 17, 2012

Detroit: The Triumph of Progressive Public Policy [Michigan Capitol Confidential]

Detroit: The Triumph of Progressive Public Policy

(Editor's note: This is an updated version of an article that originally appeared on July 6, 2009.)

Imagine a city where all the major economic planks of the statist or "progressive" platform have been enacted:

  • A "living wage" ordinance, far above the federal minimum wage, for all public employees and private contractors.
  • A school system that spends significantly more per pupil than the national average.
  • A powerful school employee union that militantly defends the exceptional pay, benefits and job security it has won for its members.
  • Other government employee unions that do the same for their members.
  • A tax system that aggressively redistributes income from businesses and the wealthy to the poor and to government bureaucracies.

Would this be a shining city on a hill, exciting the admiration of all? We don't have to guess, because there is such a city right here in our state: Detroit

Detroit has been dubbed "the most liberal city in America" and each of these "progressive" policies is alive and well there. How have they worked out?

In 1950, Detroit was the wealthiest city in America on a per capita income basis. Today, the Census Bureau reports that it is the nation's 2nd poorest major city, just "edging out" Cleveland.

Could it be pure coincidence that the decline occurred over the same period in which union power, the city government bureaucracy, taxes and business regulations all multiplied? While correlation is not causation, it is striking that the decline in per capita income is exactly what classical economists predict would occur when wage controls are imposed and taxes are increased.

Specifically, "price theory" predicts that artificially high business costs caused by excessive regulation and above-market labor compensation rates imposed by so-called "living wages" will lead to an increase in unemployment. Detroit's minimum wage is more than $2 above the federal minimum wage; and pressure groups are pushing for more. Additionally, any company contracting with the city must pay its employees $11.03 an hour if they offer benefits or $13.78 an hour if they do not.

Such high wage mandates are especially hard on individuals with a poor education and low skills. If struggling and heavily taxed businesses cannot pay such high wages, then they are more selective about the few workers they do hire or simply go out of business altogether. Those who have promulgated these polices may be well-intentioned, but mainstream economists have warned for decades that such policies were very likely to bring about the abject poverty and unemployment that characterize Detroit today. The city has the highest unemployment rate among all large U.S. cities.

A similar pattern has played out in public education. It is now conventional wisdom among the political class that higher pay for teachers and increased spending per student lead to improvements in teacher quality and student performance -— Detroit Public Schools strongly suggests that this theory must be rejected. It has chronically underperformed state averages, yet reforms are vehemently opposed by the system's powerful school employee union.

At the same time that union, the Detroit Federation of Teachers, has won rich salary and benefits packages for its members. Detroit spends one of the highests amounts of money per student nationwide and the district's spending per pupil is eighth highest out of Michigan's 551 school districts. For all that, by almost any measure Detroit schools have for decades failed their students: test scores, safety, drop out rates, etc. Detroit's public school students perform among the lowest in the state. On a 2009 test for urban districts from the U.S. Department of Education, DPS students performed "barely above what one would expect simply by chance, as if the kids simply guessed at the answers."

In the private sector such failure would result in mass firings for unsatisfactory performance. No doubt such a response would be condemned by the progressives who support the school employee unions that have made similar actions impossible in their institutions, and have opposed major transformation at every turn.

For example, in 2003 philanthropist Bob Thompson offered $200 million to build 15 charter public schools in the city in which he would guarantee a 90 percent graduation rate. In response, the DFT balked because charter schools are not unionized. The outcome was that the union jobs trumped better outcomes for children.

People vote with their feet, and all the above suggests why, over the past decade, DPS has lost about 10,000 students each year to charter, independent and suburban schools.

Of course it would be unfair to place all the blame for the city's decline on public employee unions. Detroit is home to the Big Three, whose contracts with their own powerful unions provided the model for those public employee arrangements. The UAW successfully extracted wages and benefits estimated at $73 per hour before the recent shake-ups began.

This is about $25 more per hour than the amount foreign-owned U.S. auto manufacturing plants pay their non-unionized American workers. Due to this disparity, Japanese car companies earn some $1,000 to $2,000 more on each car sold than their American counterparts. The outcome has been a relentless loss of market share that, among other things, has devastated the economic engine that once powered Motor City prosperity.

In addition to being a model of progressive economic, labor and education policy, Detroit is also a case study in welfare statism. Tom Bray, former editorial page editor for The Detroit News, has made the following observation:

"Detroit, remember, was going to be the 'Model City' of Lyndon Johnson's Great Society, the shining example of what the 'fairness' of the welfare state can produce. Billions of dollars later, Detroit instead has become the model of everything that can go wrong when you hook people on the idea of something for nothing - a once-middle class city of nearly 2 million that is now a poverty-stricken city of less than 900,000."

Today, Detroit is down 25 percent over the past 10 years; to just over 700,000 and dropping fast.

Progressives will complain that this portrait oversimplifies the factors involved in a great city's decline. Perhaps it does, but with this question in mind: At what point does the weight of evidence and logic make it impossible to avoid concluding that in the case of Detroit, correlation is causation?

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Saturday, February 11, 2012

@ByronYork, 2/11/12 6:03 AM

Byron York (@ByronYork)
2/11/12 6:03 AM
Never mind: architect of Obamacare changes mind, now says health care premiums will rise under plan.

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Monday, February 6, 2012

Works and Days » Are You ‘Them!’?

Works and Days

Until the appearance of Barack Obama on the national scene, I knew of "them" only from an old sci-fi movie in which huge ants ("Them!") ate people.

But there are new monsters in America, and I am starting to wonder whether I am to be considered among them: those of the uninvolved and uninformed lives, the bar-raisers, the downright mean ones, the never deserving of respect ones, the Vegas junketeers, the Super Bowl jet setters, the tuition stealers, the faux-Christians who do not pay higher taxes, the too much income makers, the tormenters of autistic children, the polluters, the enemies deserving of punishment, the targets to bring a gun against, the faces to get in front of, the limb-loppers, the tonsil pullers, the fat cats, the corporate jet owners, the one-percenters, the stupidly acting, the not paying their fair sharers, the discriminators on the "way you look", the alligator raisers and moat builders, the vote deniers, the clingers, the typical something persons, the hunters of kids at ice cream parlors, the stereotypers and profilers, the cowards, the lazy and soft, the non-spreaders of money, the not my people people, the Tea party racists, the not been perfect and mistake makers, the disengaged and the dictating, the not the time to profiteers, the ones who did not know when to quit making money, and on and on.

My God, man, how did Barack Obama & Co. conjure up so many demons?

So Are You One of the Culpable?

This is proving to be a Manichean administration. It sees the world in terms dark and light, of us/them, and then must create the necessary binaries to divide and demonize—so strange given this was the narrative of the Obama campaign against Bush, not so strange given the Chicago origins.

After three years, I realize that lots of us are on the downside of about every one of the president's new Mason-Dixon lines. Yet I am not a one-percenter like Jon Corzine or Nancy Pelosi. I did not send my kids to private schools as did the Obamas in Chicago. I live in a racially mixed area, one of the poorest in the nation—unlike the mostly white mansion environs of John Kerry. My siblings' families are racially mixed; I've never bought and sold real estate, or made much money on investments. I am certainly, then, no Rahm Emanuel, Jamie Gorelick, or Franklin Raines. I never had any developer give me a sweetheart deal to expand my backyard as did Barack Obama. I have never in my life used the term "typical black person" and would not dream of talking in terms of being a "wise white guy." I have never been in a church where the pastor used the Lord's name to amplify his cursing.

Sorry, No Medieval Penance for Us?

Unlike Timothy Geithner, I have always paid my taxes as I should. And unlike Barbara Boxer, I for a number of years made a living driving a tractor and pruning. In other words, I should be sorta OK in the Obama's us/them class divides. But I also have not purchased an exemption from the Obama adjudicators, and feel no guilt about anything. I did not vote for Barack Obama and I have a bad habit of criticizing much of what he wishes to do for America. Professing to being liberal and caring, after all, in this era, is more important than being so. So instead, like many of you, I am getting the feeling that Obama plans to run for reelection on the premise that millions of Americans like us have done or are doing something quite wrong to people more noble than ourselves, both here and abroad.

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