Saturday, June 27, 2009

C. Edmund Wright - Recovery When? How About If?

Back in December I posted on and linked to an article in the American Thinker by C. Edmund Wright, a small business owner who had been reading the handwriting on the wall post election and not liking what he saw, decided to wind his business down. He has just written another article for the American Thinker entitled, "Recovery When? How About If?". He lays out a very good synopsis of the series of events that have led the economy to where it is today. It starts with energy prices. Go and read the whole thing of course but here is the lede:

"Shhh. Don't let this get around, but Warren Buffet just let the cat out of the bag -- no economic recovery in sight.

Well no kidding. I have long tired of the economists and investment gurus debating "when our economy recovers" and how to position your investments for "when America bounces back" and so on, as if it's a foregone conclusion. Haven't they heard? The America that always recovers is not in anymore. Any assumption of a recovery fails to consider the idea that we now have a government run by people who ignore American history and who are hell bent on changing America's future.

Obama has done more than apologize for America's greatness and generosity while abroad. He is wreaking havoc on the economy that paid for that greatness and generosity at home. Don't you remember? He is "the one" we've been waiting for to finally do something right around here.

Thus the conviction that Americans always bounce back and bring their economy with them is not necessarily relevant anymore. The rules for business have changed and continue to do so daily. Incentive has been devastated. The reliable motivations of the past do not matter, because most of those dynamics have been targeted as what is wrong with this country and they are systematically being removed at a stunning pace.

In reaction, Atlas is shrugging. And who can blame him (and her)."
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Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Shannon Love on The Illusion of Government Competence

....or is that delusions of adequacy? Shannon Love has a post on government failures over at Chicago Boyz. She makes her point, that "government organizations do not systematically make better decisions in the same circumstance than do private organizations," using just three examples linked by Instapundit, all from just today. She says:

"Leftists like to argue that, by some magical mechanism, real-world politicians make better decisions, especially better economic decisions, than do private actors in the free market. They usually make this argument after either the free market corrects itself naturally or the government interferes. They then simply assert, without any possibility of empirical verification, that the magic government unicorns could have prevented the problem if only they had been given enough power to do as they wished."
One of the examples is the DC Metro crash from yesterday:

In the case of the DC subway system, the Metro government organization behaved just a badly as a reckless private company might, and arguably worse. The Metro might plead poverty, yet leftists habitually refuse to believe that companies cannot afford any safety standards that leftists deem necessary. Leftists hold companies to such an arbitrary high standard even though private companies cannot raise money on demand. They cannot compel investors to lend them money and they cannot raise prices higher than consumers will pay. Government organizations like the Metro have no competition and can fund themselves from compulsory taxation. What excuse does the Metro have for not funding improvements that would also not excuse a private company? Even worse, as a government organization, the Metro has sovereign immunity. It cannot be sued for harm caused by its own recklessness.
Shannon's first commenter posted a comment longer than her original post, also worth reading in its entirety. an excerpt:

"I think what’s involved here is a difference in viewpoint between collectivists and individualists analogous to the former’s belief in positive rights and the latter’s emphasis on negative rights.

The US has over the years been lauded for, and criticized for, its belief in “American exceptionalism”. I find that people dedicated to individual liberties find this exceptionalism to be derived from a systemic difference, i.e., the freedoms and progress of the American experiment are built on the foundation of the Constitution, and its accompanying intellectual and moral context. These individualists do not believe the US is immune from the mistakes of other societies, but that the structure of the state helps to prevent some of the more egregious abuses.

While collectivists are the loudest among those deriding the idea of exceptionalism, their fervent belief in the state as miracle worker is, in fact, a variation of that very concept. But, instead of an exceptional structure, the collectivist relies on a belief in exceptional people, right-thinking members of their own mythological group, who are free from the “false consciousness” that afflicts so many of those unworthy of inclusion in the mystical vanguard."
As most of you who know me know, I have a very low opinion of government and Shannon Love and the commenter "VeryRetired" do an admirable job of illustrating some of the reasons why.

Read both of them....
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Tuesday, June 23, 2009

I've Just Cut My Last Tie to GE.

I just sold my GE stock. I'm a former employee of GE, or a refuGE as I sometimes like to call myself. I had a number of shares that I accumulated in my 401K while I was working there and subsequently moved to a Rollover IRA. Ever since Jeff Immelt took over the tiller from Jack Welsh, the stock has gone sideways or down and I believe the first commenter to this opinion piece at the Washington Examiner about the hiring of Linda Daschle as a lobbyist has summed up what GE has become quite well:

"GE has become the perfect example of a so called capitalistic company engaging in pure rent seeking. They want Congressional subsidies for things like wind mills and others of their product lines. "
The opinion piece details some of the other government entanglements:

General Electric, a top-20 source of funds for Obama in 2008, and owner of the Obama-friendly MSNBC, already has strong ties to Democrats, but the company has bolstered that relationship, according to recently filed federal lobbying registrations
GE's transportation business has hired as a lobbyist Linda Hall Daschle, wife of Tom Daschle, the former Senate Democratic Leader and Obama's first pick to head the Department of Health and Human Services. Mrs. Daschle will lobby on issues including Amtrak, high-speed rail, and freight rail, the lobbying form says. Obama has declared support for added federal funding for high-speed rail.

GE is also a member of the U.S. Climate Action Partnership, which lobbies for restrictions on greenhouse gas emissions.

When Jack Welsh took over as CEO of GE back in 1980 he had a fairly simple philosophy for running the various GE businesses; you were either number one or number two or have a plan for getting there pretty quickly in whatever line of business you were in. Otherwise, you got out of that line of business. It was a focused, effective management philosophy and the market rewarded GE for it for many years with a healthy stock price. What should have been added to that basic formula is that you had to be number one or number two without government subsidies. If the business isn't meeting market share and return requirements without a government subsidy, it isn't a business a company should be in because government involvement distorts decision making. GE is becoming excessively entangled with government and I think the market has been reacting to that. As I don't see this situation changing any time soon, I finally decided that it's time to redeploy my capital elsewhere.
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Saturday, June 20, 2009

Widow of Murdered Fly to File Suit - Iowahawk

Iowahawk as the details on plans by the widow of the fly murdered by Barack Obama, to file a civil wrongful death suit against the Whitehouse.

"WASHINGTON -- The widow of the housefly murdered by Barack Obama during a recent CNBC television interview announced this morning that she would be filing a wrongful death suit against the President in federal district court. The plaintiff brief -- citing pain, suffering and loss of income -- seeks a formal apology and compensatory damages, including an unspecified quantity of shit."
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Friday, June 19, 2009

On a (much) Lighter Note

This Slovenian choir, Perpetuum Jazzile, simulates a thunder storm. Just amazing.

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Thursday, June 11, 2009

Food for Thought

Maura Flynn makes The Republican Case for Gay Marriage. It's not just about that though:

Some of us believe that to be conservative is to defend freedom, preserve individual liberty, and keep government small. Others believe that being conservative is about electing a government that will defend and enforce “traditional” values.

For our purposes here, a list of those values isn’t relevant. But if you place yourself in this camp, consider whether you truly want a government that will enforce your personal values at gunpoint (this is what all laws effectively do). And if you surrender such power to the government — power to defend not your life or your property, mind you, but your values — can you live with the consequences when your officials are no longer in power and you are staring down the business end of that barrel? Could you live with mandatory government schooling, for instance? (I could not). When you find yourself in a minority, as everyone does at some point, what protections do you imagine that you will have, other than our Constitution? One of the beauties of that document is that no citizen can undermine it without eventually putting his own interests in peril.

In the context of this debate, it is impossible to overemphasize that this is the same inspired, carefully considered document that protects the religious freedom we hold dear.

Looked at from this perspective, gay marriage isn’t a complex issue. Science aside, one needn’t believe that homosexuality is moral in order to understand that nowhere does the Constitution give the federal government the right to regulate marriage.
This sounds about right to me. I'd put myself in the first camp she mentions, so to me it doesn't really matter what I think of gay marriage but I do agree it is not the place of government to regulate human relationships, whatever I or anyone else may think of them. Read the whole thing of course.
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Monday, June 08, 2009

Climate Change Reconsidered - Gathering the Facts

I meant to blog this piece over at Powerline last week but haven't quite gotten around to it until now. There's a new book out called "Reconsidering Climate Change" which John Hinderaker does a great job of summarizing.

At the highest level, these are the conclusions of Climate Change Reconsidered:

The scholarship in this book demonstrates overwhelming scientific support for the position that the warming of the twentieth century was moderate and not unprecedented, that its impact on human health and wildlife was positive, and that carbon dioxide probably is not the driving factor behind climate change.

The authors cite thousands of peer-reviewed research papers and books that were ignored by the IPCC, plus additional scientific research that became available after the IPCC's self-imposed deadline of May 2006.

The book is replete with detailed statistical data and arguments of the sort that global warming alarmists refuse to engage in. It contains far too much data to summarize, but here are the "key findings" in Chapter 3, titled "Observations: Temperature Records."
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Stephen Green Explains the Grand Unification Theory of Sucking

With a cameo by The Three Stooges too.... Read it all but here's the conclusion:
Add up all the headlines and here’s what you have: The certainty that the government will screw up the markets, and uncertainty as to what new rules the markets will work under. Everyone is too scared to move, and for good reason. So there will be no new jobs, there will be no growth.

Until Team Obama gets its collective head out of our asses, all we have to look forward to is bumbling incompetence and pointless arguments. Which might be entertaining if they didn’t result in taxes, stagflation, and the Francification of a once-great nation.
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Air France Flight 447 - Vertical Stabilizer.

I'm looking at the Reuters photo in this article at the Daily Mail and thinking it looks like a very cleanly sheared off vertical stabilizer, the part I wondered about in the post below this one. If this came off, it's possible it could have caused a breach in the pressurized section of the fuselage, which is one of the error messages sent by the plane's on-board diagnostics. A commenter at the Wall Street Journal also mentioned that the first error message received was a notification that the rudder had reached a travel limit, i.e., it was against the stops. That is what caused the failure of the vertical stabilizer on AA587.
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Monday, June 01, 2009

Air France A330 Goes Missing Off Brazil

An Air France Airbus A330 jet en-route from Rio de Janeiro to Paris with 228 aboard has gone missing somewhere off the coast of Brazil. The aircraft has not been located yet but the first thing that occurred to me when I heard the circumstances under which it went missing (heavy turbulence, thunderstorms) was to wonder if there was a vertical stabilizer separation. That's what brought down American Airlines flight 587 , an Airbus A300 on departure from JFK a scant couple of months after 9-11. This was followed in early 2005 by an Airbus A310 en-route from Havana to Quebec City losing its rudder. Fortunately the crew was able to return to the airport and land that aircraft safely.

It's obviously too early to say what happened here. At this point it could be anything, so to start positing probable causes is complete speculation. It just makes me wonder.

Our prayers should be with the passengers, crew and their families.
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Why Are Conservatives So Mean? Andrew Klavan Explains

Go and see this short Klavan on Culture video over at PJTV (sorry, no embed) in which Andrew Klavan explains for the benefit of those just graduating from college just why it is that conservatives are so "mean."

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