Tag Archives: Obamanomics

The Tesla Tale And Global Warming–Brrr

If Alice had an automobile to cruise around in Wonderland there is no doubt her vehicle of choice would have been a Tesla or the Queen may have imposed it on her because it promoted pixie dust production.    It just posted a profit the last quarter.  Of course that is an accounting profit and doesn’t reflect the payments to become due on its debts.  It does have some debts to the tune of hundreds of millions and grants also thanks to the lead court Jester, Monsieur Al Gore.  Of course it didn’t make any profits for any quarter since it went public in 2010 but hey, cash on cash they did collect more than they spent last quarter.   Mr. Musk says he is proud that Tesla is leading the electric car revolution.  His words, not mine.  Of course it is easier to lead a revolution with other people’s money and bodies.   The profit is an outcome of political connection over genius.  Let’s dig a little deeper into this story of American enterprise.  (Forget the foreign manufacturing and involvement for the moment)

They book their profits when the cars are shipped not when the cash its the bank account but some folks d0 that.  They tout that they have 15,000 orders.   Ok, there are over 150 million autos in the US so that is….what percent?  You figure it however you want.   Of course they get the kicker to sales by offering taxpayer funded 7500 dollar checks to each purchaser as a tax credit because it is a favored industry product by the central planners in DC.   So for their 60,000 dollar model the buyer gets over 10% back from Uncle Sam.  Don’t you wish you could get that for you Ford 150?   But wait there’s more.  They have stopped offering a smaller battery pack.  It only allowed a range of 160 miles compared to the 23o mile claim for the 60kwh battery.  Hey, they are going to give you the larger battery for the same price but they will program the computer system so you get only the 160 mile range unless you pay for an upgrade.   I wonder what the New York Times reporter thinks of the claims for mileage range?     But it gets even better.

They reported that 10% of gross revenues came from selling pollution tax credits.  That is gross revenue, not profits.  Even if their cars are terrible and they can get some celebrities to buy a few then they can always hope for a profit from selling tax credits.   But it all is for a good cause to save us from ourselves.  At least their news isn’t as grim as that for Fisker, which just laid off several hundred more US workers and is still in hiding about why those 15 cars blew up and burned during the Sandy flooding while they were just sitting there.   And the Street reports they have now engaged the workout/Chapter 11 lawyers.  But again those hundreds of millions was for the Cause.

Our historic and home grown version of crony capitalism is bad enough without having to endure socialist crony capitalism.    Of course the sop to the great unwashed out there is to win the war of global warming and this auto kerfuffle is just the ticket we are told.

The latest headline on Global Warming?   Well, it wasn’t a headline, you had to look pretty thoroughly to find the news.  The global temperature has in fact NOT increased for the last 20 years.  Even Hansen, yes, that Hansen, of the IPCC and the UN has conceded that fact.  He of the leaked emails revealing his non- scientific approach to controlling the public information about the research so it promoted the global warming alarmists agenda.   He now blames it on the Chinese and all their coal plants.  Those emissions have cooled the planet he says.  Others of his conclave have admitted that the recent data do not conform to their models.  Garbage in, garbage out.  Of particular interest is that this news was taken public in one of the greenest of the green countries–Australia.    It wasn’t Fox news or Drudge.   Likewise they Global alarmist have also finally agreed that the Antarctic sea ice is increasing substantially while the Arctic has retreated in the last few years resulting it no real net change to the sea volumes and thus those threatened floods of coastal areas.

If those doing the research would just give us the facts, the raw data and not treat us like blithering idiots.  They have that damn “you just don’t understand” attitude that they and only they have intelligence.  If it is really as true as they say then the actual results of research will support their conclusions.  Don’t give us the conclusions and treat those as facts.  If they are right, show us, don’t lecture us.

So grab a Tesla.  Al needs the money.  And they probably have a great heater that will protect you from those Chinese induced bitter winters.   Of course with the heater going full blast you might only make it to the nearest 7-11 and back.

“The United States is not a nation of people which in the long run allows itself to be pushed around.”   Dorothy Thompson, American journalist.  Hope that is still true. http://www.olcranky.wordpress.com



Filed under business, Economics, Global Warming, government, Politics

Capitalist Traders Then And Now

There are those occupying Wall Street and railing against capitalism but at the same time almost all of them worship Zuckerberg and Jobs as celebrities. Needless to say they also don’t say anything negative about rap “singers” earning millions a year. They seem to be very selective about which rich folks they dislike. They don’t like people who buy and sell things that is for sure. But there have been Zuckerberg’s and Jobs for most of recorded history and we and our ancestors have been the beneficiary of their vision and risks they took.

If we turn back the clock to the very early 16th century we find two cousins in Portugal, one named Serrao and the other Magalhaes. They were what we would call upper middle class but far from wealthy. The age of exploration was in full flower; this was only a few years after the third voyage of discovery of Columbus. They wanted adventure, riches and to push the envelope. They both shipped out to the then brand new trading area for Portugal in India which was in its infancy. They went and fought in numerous battles there and Magalhaes was wounded and sent back home but after healing he was bored and shipped out again for India and parts east. This next campaign with his cousin Serrao in tow went all the way to Malacca on the western coast of modern Malaysia. It was then the major entrepot, or trading and transition port for the eastern silks, porcelain and spices from the East–China and the Spice Islands. There the locals planned an surprise attack on the five Portuguese ships. Magalhaes captain grew suspicious and sent him to warn the command ship and turns out he did in just the nick of time. He and the others repelled the borders and drove off the other attackers. Some of the Portuguese were onshore at the time. All were killed except one–Serrao. It was his cousin who rescued him from the beach at the last moment in a row boat. The fleet retreated but not forever.

Magalhaes was promoted and the fleet returned in 1510 and seized Malacca and all its riches. But cousins did very well financially because of their share of the nutmeg, mace, cinnamon and cloves taken as part of the booty. Magalhaes decided to return home and enjoy life; Serrao wanted one more try for even more adventure and riches. Serrao joined the expidition to the Spice Islands about 1800 miles farther east. The Spice Islands are south of the Philippines, just west of New Guinea. The trip was initially successful and the three ships were loaded to the gills. Indeed the commander had so overloaded Serrao ship that it foundered on a nearby reef. Serrao was able to save much of the crew and they returned to the islands were he went “native” and became an advisor to the local king of Ternate, one of the Spice Islands and had the good life but remote.

Meanwhile back home Magalhaes grew bored quickly and by 1512 went to war again this time in Morocco where he was again badly wounded and returned home with a limp for life. He was also accused of pilfering the army/navy supplies for his own benefit but was tried and cleared of those charges. Amazingly, during the time period and the time after his return from Morocco he received letters from his cousin given all sorts of details about the Spice Islands and local navigation details and crop availability. They were erratic but constant over the years. It would take a year for some letters to arrive from a return voyage of a Portuguese ship. Magalhaes also studied everything he could find in the local library about navigation and studied navigation under one of the era’s masters of that art. He was an “expert” on the Spice Islands even though he had not been there.

Because the Pope had adjusted the demarcation line, moving it 800 miles farther west Magalhaes now concluded (wrongfully) that the Spice Islands were in the Spanish portion of the division. He had appealed to the Portuguese King to allow him to lead a mission going west to reach them rather than around the Cape of Good Hope at Africa’s southern tip which had been the Portuguese route for a couple of decades. After rejection in Portugal he took his pitch to the Spanish court and his proposal was accepted. He started his adventure in 1519 with five ships and was going to round what would become Cape Horn. Like Columbus he had miscalculated the circumference of the earth and the voyage was far longer than he imagined.

His expedition did round the Horn and made into the Pacific and explored many islands as they kept trying to make their way to the Spice Islands the riches they could reap there. Magalhaes encountered many obstacles and dangerous situations and finally met his fate in the Philippines by the spear of native there on the beach. Curiously, his cousin also died within weeks of him and “only” a few hundred miles away. He was poisoned by the King of Ternate who had become jealous of his power and suspected his ambitions. Of the five ships that left Spain only two managed to drop anchor in the Spice Islands and they loaded their holds with cloves, indeed they again overloaded. Only the Victoria finally made it back to Portugal. Of the 265 men that began the adventure only 31 were aboard the Victoria upon its return. In spite of the enormous expense in those days to outfit such and expedition, the cloves in the hold of the Victoria brought enough profits to pay for the entire mission and the loss of the other ships.

The man killed on the beach in the Philippines is best known in American history books as Magellan. He changed his name to a Spanish Magallanes and in turn the English version of Magellan. Our history books give him a couple of sentences and say he was the first to go around the earth. Well, the expedition did, he didn’t make it and it was for trade that he made the adventure. He was on the cutting edge of commercial development of his day, an entrepreneur and innovator. The real story of historical figures is often far more interesting than the “fifteen minutes of fame” blurbs that become the accepted totality of the life.

Hey, the avowed socialist finance minister of France under Hollande is on to something. He is quoted this week as saying that a government that keeps adding debt is just making the country poorer. Hmm, wish our own closed socialist in the White House could get his head around that concept. The BO budget calls for another 9 trillion increase in our debt over the next decade, in addition to the 16 trillion we already have. www.olcranky.wordpress.com

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Government “Investment” And Management Of The Economy

Whether we like it or not since January of ’09 we have been in an era of much greater control of our economy by the Federal government than anything in the past.   Our landscape is filled with the examples of this expansion and domination.   GM, Chrysler, AIG, Solyndra, the Dodd-Frank bill and the Consumer Protection Act and the exponential growth of regulations and grabs for power by the Labor Dept and EPA all confirm this view.  Of course the elites and government groupies think this is the perfect formula for society and the economy.  They believe they can manage everything much better than the people who will only make bad decisions or allow themselves to be duped.   Their confidence in the common man is rather low but their confidence in the wisdom and goodness of government led by the elites is boundless.  History has had other examples of government expansion and central planning and mayhap we should at least consider how well those worked out before we take that next gulp of the cool aid the Dems offer.

The seventies were another time of tremendous government expansion.  It began in the second half of that decade under that fearless and dynamic leader Jimmy Carter.   The Dems had been planning for years how they were going to exploit and use the “war savings” from the wind down of the Viet Nam war to advance the next round of their social agenda.   That war had been very expensive and even some Dems and the media had been critical of Johnson for pursuing his policies of “guns and butter” at the same time on borrowed money.  Of course the war did wind down after Nixon came to office.  Regardless of what you may think of him that is a promise he made and kept–to bring the war to and end and it started as soon as he came to office.   You don’t have to take my word for it just look at the Viet Nam War Memorial and see how the deaths in the war starting dropping dramatically after he took office.   Then in ’75 we were out completely.  Unfortunately, that was followed by the election of Carter. 

Especially in the area of energy Carter and his cronies believed they could control prices and events and naturally protect us from ourselves.  We had already been through one Arab oil embargo and then a second came.  The continued and accelerated spending by the government made the already painful inflation a real disaster.  More regulations rolled off the presses at breakneck speed.  We also got FERC to control oil and its price.  Inflation was over 13% for much of this era; mortgages were equal that and the dollar wouldn’t buy a bucket of spit in the world market because no one wanted the dollar because it kept falling so fast.   The centrally planning for energy led to those awful gas lines and mis-allocation of fuel.  Oil  profits were restricted because they were “windfall” profits and not truly earned somehow.   They got one price for old oil and another for “new” oil and had to ship fuel were instructed by bureaucrats.  Guess what?   Lots of the oil people simple decided to sit on their hands and hope for a better day.   Why run the risk of drilling and building new refineries if you weren’t even sure you would make a profit or if you did then the bureaucrats might decide their were excessive or windfall and take the away from you.   Domestic production of oil and gas dropped and imports rose even more.   The Arabs loved Carter and his  bureaucrats.  

This was similar to the kind of “economy” they had in the Soviet bloc countries by this time.   The central planners  had their ideas about what should be manufactured and how and the industries of course had to follow suit.  They were required to comply.  No one in the Soviet Bloc and the world market really wanted the Czech steel or the East German machines and thus the central governments had to subsidize these and other industries even more heavily.   The planners were sure they were right and it was great redistributive policy and good social policy for the workers.  They ended up by actually subtracting value from their economies because the finished product they made were a net loss; the finished products were worth less than the raw materials.   During Carter the oil in the ground was worth more than taking it out so why drill.    East Germany made computers during the ’90’s but they weren’t very good and besides they couldn’t make enough of them; they only made 1/50th of what Austria produced during that time with less than half the population.  But when the central government and the elites have an idea they won’t take no for an answer from other parties or the people and pour even more money into their ideas.   Anyone heard of Solyndra?   Read the papers and you will also see the First Solar is shutting down some production as are many other solar companies around the world simply because there is little demand without heavy government subsidy and the Europeans are cutting back big time now that they have to try to balance their books.

What mattered to the Communists was not economics but politics.  (Judt–Post War).  That is true with all with a socialist bent.  The current administration is about politics not economic growth.  The growth is subject to their social agenda and the distribution of not only money but power.  If society is structured the way they want it to be then they don’t really care about the economy.  If economy was really important to the WH then why don’t they have many senior advisors and cabinet members with real backgrounds in the private markets?  The WH is filled with academics and career bureaucrats or politicians.   Nothing but elites.   They are pulling us in with a velvet rope that is all nice and soft but a rope nevertheless. 

“That way madness lies”  King Lear, Shakespeare…www.olcranky.wordpress.com


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2 Cents Worth On Life Its Ownself

We don’t have to even work to get the weird and disturbing headlines that fill the news, they come to us without us even trying.  Let’s explore some news of the day and thoughts of times past.

Many Democrats have for decades wanted the US to adopt the social contract and social welfare state approach to government and the economy that is dominant is Europe.  Big government, big government budgets and a huge so-called “safety net”.  Yet,  read the news of the last few months and last few days and there seems to be a consensus forming among the elites of Europe and the economists who guide their policies that the only way to ever improve their economies is to substantially reduce the size of government in their economies.  They are coming around to the notion that they must reduce government spending and government payrolls and not raise taxes as has been their historic norm for several decades.  You can find many such articles and comments.  Draghi the head of the European central bank even has stated that the old European policy of high government spending and bloated government payrolls is “already gone”.  Hmm, sounds like some Republican ideas are taking hold in Europe.  Why would anyone want to “spread the wealth” a la Europe and get the European results with the results of such policies becoming more obvious which each passing day.  Do some research for yourself.  The Democrats are pushing for progress using yesterday’s economic theories.  How 20th century!

BO stated that those who advocate more drilling for oil and gas to help ease our fuel supply and the cost of fuel don’t know what they are talking about and are just spouting bumper sticker slogans.  Well, some bumper sticker slogans happen to speak the truth.  Truth is where you find it not where you want it to be.  What does BO know about the energy business?  What about any of his top advisors?  Jarret, Axelrod, Bernstein,  and go on down the list;  they don’t have any experience at all in the industry or even in any private enterprise.  His energy chief Chu has made clear his belief that we should have prices as high as Europe to specifically discourage use of fossil fuels and use thoe believed renewables.  He also has no experience in the oil and gas industry or any industry.  Be nice if someone in the administration had at least a working knowledge of the energy industry.

We still have the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in existence since the Carter days.  Why do we need that?  It just costs money and produces no energy for us.  All it ever did was create those huge gas lines that so many don’t even remember or never experienced.  As always when the government gets involved in any industry or tries to control and manipulate the availability and price of any good or commodity they inevitably lead to shortages, mis-allocatioons and crony capitalism.  FERC could be the poster child for that allegation.  If we need data about the industry then we alrady have the EIA (Energy Information Agency) if you want to rely on their analysis.  If you ever drove around looking for those green flags the filling stations flew when they had gas and then got into a line and waited an hour to fill your tank you  would never trust the government to wisely allocate our fuel supplies again.  Back in the seventies believe me we all would have been glad to pay another dollar a gallon for gas if we could just get it when we wanted it.  But no, the Feds were there to help us and make sure the supplies were fairly allocated around the country.   It was a disaster.

The peach trees have started to bloom and in a couple of months we’ll have fresh peaches for a few weeks.   Can’t wait and it is always special to eat the fruits of your own labor.

Now is seems that perhaps a faulty cable was the cause for those neutrinos who alleged moved faster than the speed of light during the CERN experiment back in December.  Guess Einstein is still resting comfortably for a while.  Seems the scientists spiked the ball a little too soon.  

Note that  ms Pelosi is again blaming “Wall Street” and speculators for the rising price of oil.  Don’t you wish that just once when we hear these kinds of broad accusations that they would pin it down.  Name, names and explain exactly how those “speculators” are manipulating the market.  I mean how many hundreds of billions of dollars of pension funds and mutual funds are currently invested and investing in the energy sector?  Are all those union employees and government workers, those beloved teacher unions, all in cahoots together manipulating the energy market?  Is is me?  My paltry little IRA has a few thousand invested in the oil and gas energy sector.  Am I one of those manipulators?  Sure I love it when those stocks increase a little in value and I make a couple hundred bucks in a year but I don’t like paying the higher price at the pump anymore than anyone else.  Talk about bumper sticker slogans.

The Oscars are coming up this weekend.  There will probably never be another year like 1939 for great movies–Gone With The  Wind, Wizard of Oz, Stagecoach, Mr. Smith Goes To Washington, Goodbye Mr. Chips, Of Mice  And Men to name only a few of those great films.  They remain classics to this day and there are no explicit sex scenes and only one “damn” in the entire bunch. 

“When the State is corrupt then the laws are most multiplied”  Tacitus, Roman historian.   www.olcranky.worldpress.com

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2 Cents Worth On Life Its Ownself

You go to sleep for one night and the next morning there are all sorts of strange and curious matters spread across the media outlets that fuel the imagination and sets the mind to twirling.

Just when you think you have a handle on human nature you learn that over 70 people were killed and hundreds badly injured at a soccer game in Egypt!   Makes one suspect there was something more serious afoot than merely the score of the game.  In that strange land one can only wonder.

Which do you think is the more powerful emotion–hate or love?  I think its no contest and that love would win out.  Hate can be very strong within the human mind and our history is filled with stories of revenge and murders committed for real or perceived wrongs.  But love I believe is much more potent in human actions.  Take a look at what people are willing to sacrifice for others they love.  Some have given their lives out of love of family, friends or nations.  You can start with Jesus as an example.  He didn’t die because he hated the Romans or anyone else it was because he loved.  The guys at the Alamo didn’t stay because they hated the Mexicans it was out of love for the men with them and that amorphous concept of freedom and release from tyranny.

Why did Panetta announce publicly the possible attack by Israel this spring against Iran?  That was very strange.  Was it a warning to Iran?  I doubt that but possibly they think such a threat would cause them to back off the Nukes.  More likely they were making a shot across the bow to Israel that they shouldn’t make the attempt and by making the possibility public it would expose Israel to condemnation that would make them kennel the dogs of war.  If the latter then that is not the best way to deal with our only dependable ally in the region.  We could have told them privately that if they did make the attack they would be on their own.  Of course that would be a hollow threat by us.   The Jewish lobby in the US would not allow Israel to be counter-attacked without our coming to as much of a rescue as we could.

The push by our friends in Europe to convert much of their transportation fuel to biodiesel has run into a snag it seems.  Already several of the centrally planned governments have backed and funded large projects to produce biodiesel.  But, but, but, now there are some second thoughts about whether it really works or not in reducing carbon emissions.  The concern is that to get the bio base materials will require the destruction of forest and other crop lands and grasses which naturally reduce carbon dioxide without any special help or incentives of any government.  The EU braintrust (nattering nabobs of negativity if ever there was) now suspects that biofuels might produce a net loss of carbon reduction capacity.  They are debating which is what bureaucrats do best and endlessly in Brussels.  Of course they big difference is when government make a policy and then back it with funding the amounts are enourmous.  If private industry tries to create a biofuel market and it fails then the loss is on them and the numbers are not so large and the taxpayers aren’t on the hook.  Of course PETA folks should be upset because a major ingredient in biofuels is animal fats and waste.   They literally clean out the slaughterhouse.  It will be interesting to see what the bureaucrats ultimately decide.  We’ll see if the Europeans are willing to pay even more for a gallon of gas….like maybe $10 per.

How many times can Chicken Little warn us of the falling sky?  Overnight we hear again that a Greek restructure deal for its bond debt is “imminent”.  What creditor in their right mind would be willing to exchange a bond due next month for a new one at 50% of that face value and then the new one wouldn’t be due for decades and at a very low interest rate?  You’re right not a one.  But there aren’t very many really private people holding that debt.  It is mostly pension plans, banks and insurance companies that are all highly regulated by the respective governments and they will ultimately have to do as they are told.  Of course there are always consequences because the beneficiaries and depostors in those respective entities will demand their money.  Surprise, surprise.  Then the governments will have to step in the make the loss good so their citizens aren’t hurt.  But that will mean higher taxes or reduced government spending in those lands.  The game of musical chairs has some undeniable facts–sooner or later there will be a loser standing.

If you think you have a difficult wife you might thank your stars that you don’t have Rosamund the Roman Emporess of the 7th century.  She was not loyal shall we say and had numerous lovers.  Apparently she was quite the looker and charmer.  She got tired of her boring old partner the Emporer Justin and eventually convinced one of her boyfriends to dispatch him in exchange for a promise to back him for the throne.  That happened and all was well for a short period of time.  But Rosamun didn’t like witnesses more than she liked her new beau.   She poisoned him by her own hand and the dance went on.   Alas, more sober heads ultimately decided she was a bit too much even for the looser standards of the royalty of that day and she was removed with a divorce from all government, exile.  The successor Sophia was just a much a cold blooded killer in her turn.   There must have been something in the water in the royal palace in old Constantinople.

If the current administration really believes as it states that Americans have an innate sense of fairness and they want a tax system based on fairness, then why don’t they  trust in that belief and let  each of us pay what we determine is fair?  Seems fair to me.

The more I listen to Bernancke and the other Fed pundits the more I am reminded of the old Bible saying about looking through a glass darkly.  I get more convinced everyday that they really don’t know more than we do that is of value and they don’t have any better idea about how to “manage” the economy than Joe Six pack.  They keep trying to make it some algerbraic or alogrithmic formulation when it is only simple math–adding and subtracting.   www.olcranky.wordpress.com


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Government And The Zero Sum Game

We all endured another of those showy state of the union addresses.  I really don’t like what they have become and have said so before.  Regardless of party or President we should revert to the former ways and have a simple written report to Congress by the Executive.  If they really want a meeting it should be a business meeting.  Bring in the books and records.  Go over those boring but vital details about the costs and functioning of government.  The political speeches have been the norm now for generations and they are pointless and detract from the serious business at hand of governing.  As to be expected from the current incumbent it was a laundry list of new proposals.   I lost count of how many new agencies, commissions and the like were put forth.  Every time there is a new government entity with the powers to enforce new laws we diminish our own freedoms.  The balance between the individual and government is and has always been a zero sum game.

Other than the extreme tree huggers, occupiers and PETA types most of us believe in some amount of government.  That has been true since the earliest days of man.  As soon as we formed cities and some could do other jobs than work the fields for crops, we needed some kind of government to protest ourselves.  That was the first and remains the foremost responsibility of any government–to protect its people from enemies.  The ancient Kings had a bargain with the people even though never overtly expressed.  Me and my army will protect you and in exchange you will pay taxes to support me and my army and ministers.  From those ancient states to those states of today, this has been the bedrock of government whether by King, dictator or elected leader.  Additional layers of government were added to assure prosperity.  Fair and predictable laws for trade  as well as enforcement of standard weights and measures for commerce.   Property rights and family law were established quickly by the ancients and the Romans codified and modified those laws many times over the years.   The criminal laws grew from the mutual fear of random violence and thievery.  The Old Testament is filled with many examples of the growth of government and the laws regulating society.

Each incremental growth of government took away some freedom or right from the individual.   We collectively agreed to cede some of our independence for the protections afforded by a government that protected some people and offered some perceived essential service or infrastructure.  The Roman army built the roads but all of the Romans were benefitted by being able to move the produce to market.   The people had to pay taxes for those roads.  Since the Garden of Eden, nothing has come free.  But they people gave up control over some of their money.  If the government grows the people are diminished in matching increments.  When the benefits are no longer perceived to be worth the loss of rights and property then the government faces revolt by its people.   The collapse of the Soviets is a perfect example of this and the Arab Spring is another from recent headlines.  There is a limit to what the people will allow to be taken from them.  It is not universal around the world.  The mores of each society differ but that there is a limit is without argument.  The “King” must have at least a substantial minority to keep control of the government and the people.   He has his army, bureaucrats dependent on him  and the police and then those that live upon his largesse taken from others in the Kingdom.  But when the tipping point is reached and that magic number (whatever it is) is reached and the people no longer will cede their rights and property to government his reign will fall.

Our government and Constitution is founded on the very notion of limiting how much of our freedoms and property will be ceded to government.  That is what the contract is as set out in the Constitution between governed and government.  Our Founders understood clearly the zero sum game and that is why the Constitution is so restrictive of Federal powers.  Only specific enumerated powers were granted to government and the 9th and 10th Amendments were vital to the passage of the Constitution.  Remember that every law written takes a right of restricts and activity, every regulation bans action or demands others every cent taken in taxes denies a person the free use and exploitation of their own money.  The trick is to find the right balance between the government and governed so that the benefits of government are worth the candle and not consuming us in the flames of regulatory hell.  No rational person would advocate anarchy but any man who values his freedom and takes pride in his own unique worth will wish the government to remain at bay and be very circumspect in its request to take more rights or property from him.  Too many take today but too few pay the price of government.  The zero sum game is tilted and tilting farther in favor of government.  When tilted enough everything will fall off the table.

“More” was the word of Oliver Twist  Samuel Gompers the Union boss and now our own government.   Are we willing to give more now?  There is only a finite amount of resources in the US and the government wants more and they can only get it by denying them to us.   www.olcranky.wordpress.com

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2 Cents Worth On Life Its Ownself

It’s a cool winter day but the wires are filled with hot news items worthy of a thought or two.

So the Italian captain tripped and fell into the lifeboat by accident.  That was some lucky fall for him.   Then when asked to return to the boat to aid in the ongoing rescue attempts he found one excuse after the other as to why he couldn’t quite manage that.  He even commented once with the coast guard commander that it was dark  and the ship was listing badly–hello!  The Commander was in a helicopter above him.  All one can say is that he showed the same resolve as the Italian army in North Africa during WWII fighting the British.  I mean did Mussolini realize they were shooting real bullets at them.   If you can’t do the job, don’t take the job.

It is interesting that they are having serious discussions about how to adjust our time calculations.  Maybe you saw one of those back page articles about the tinkering with the leap seconds in the near future.  Our time these days is calculated by atomic clocks.   We started doing this several decades ago as it proved my accurate than the revolutions around the Sun by the Earth.  Just as we have the leap years to adjust for that extra one-quarter of a day every four years for the journey around our Sun, even the modern clocks needs adjustment on occasion.  They add a second every now and again but they have two standards for measurement at the moment and are meeting to reconcile the methods.  Paris and London vied for the central median which is critical in determining a uniform time for a very long time and London finally won out with Greenwich Mean Time and as the location for 0 degree longitude.  You need a reference point to set the clocks and that became and still is the location the whole world uses.

Speaking of measurements–I only recently learned that they have changed again the method for determining standard distances.  Making correct measurements have been critical since recorded time.  The Bible is filled with references to rods and cubits  for all manner of buildings and distances.  Likewise other ancient writings refer to measurements.  These were important for regulating honest transactions in trade.  You might remember the old myth about the yard being the distance between the King’s nose and his fingertips.  We got quite a bit more precise over the years and used special rods made from precious metals as the standard for yards and meters here in the US and around the world.  Now they measure a meter with the speed of light.  A meter now is determined by how far light travels within a zillion, or whatever it is, seconds.  I have no idea how that make that measurement but I suppose it is even more precise.  It was felt this was more accurate because any solid object will deteriorate over time by natural decay and thus change but light is a universal constant that will not vary.

Just think how you could control the effect of the news on the general population even if you didn’t get to write the basic news story or news script.  If you only got to control the story that would be published or broadcast, the headline and the choice of using or not using adverbs and adjectives.  I mean think about those headlines alone which is all that many folks even read or hear.  Then those adjectives–they always carry an impact on the hard news.  I mean when it is described as an environmentally sensitive” area it sends a message.   Who determined it was sensitive?  What is sensitive about it?  Sensitive to whom?   Then there are phrases like those “special” provision or break” in the tax code.   What makes it special?  The Code is the Code.  All the provisions are equal.   Everyone has to comply with all the provisions whatever they are.  I doubt you will read anywhere in the Code a paragraph that starts off “Special Provision”.  It is special only as viewed through the eyes of some particular group.  Don’t mind any discussion of the Code at all, would love that in fact.  Why is it a special provision for capital gains to be taxed at 15% but not a special provision for someone to get a personal exemption of $3500.00?   I mean that exemption level seems pretty special to me.  Just drop the rhetoric and say plainly what is own your mind is all I ask of the news media and separate commentary for alleged news reporting.  Express any opinion you want but don’t conflate news with opinion.

The allegation by BO this week that Romney’s 15% effective tax rate is lower than a teacher (always a teacher, fireman or policeman) who makes $50,000.00 is a flat-out lie and BO knows that.  I don’t mind arguments about disagreements on policy but I hate lies and bumper sticker populist rhetoric to win votes.  A teacher making $50,000.00 a year would first off be a newbie almost everywhere.  The average would be much higher than that in most states and certainly in California or New York.  But we’ll play along with that number.  First, that teacher pays no tax on first $16,000.00 so now we are down to about $34,000.00.  Next she gets a personal exemption of at least $3500.00 and now down to call it $31,000.00.  Then she would get at least the standard deduction or at least $5500.00 so we are now down to call it $26,000.00.  Her tax would be no more than about $3000.00.  This is using numbers a couple of years out  of date and the exemption and deduction levels are higher now and the actual tax would be less than that in reality.  So we are talking a tax rate of around 12% at most.  If she was a single mom she wouldn’t owe hardly anything because of the earned tax credit.  We can debate tax policy and rates all we want and that is fair game but politicos shouldn’t be allowed to lie about the facts.

“A world of facts lies outside and beyond the world of words. ”  Thomas Huxley, British biologist.  www.olcranky.wordpress.lcom

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Recess Usurpation Of Power

The recess appointments to the NLRB and the so-called Consumer Protection agency have spotlighted the dangerous turn the current White House occupant has taken to exercise power over Americans even at the cost of our Constitutional heritage and freedoms. Just this week one of the prominent supporters and alleged legal experts, Lawrence Tribe of Harvard law school (where else?) made the case that the Senate was not really in session and that the current meetings of the Senate were merely pro forma and thus the Senate was in recess.

That argument and the others submitted entirely miss the Constitutional point and the ominous harbinger of things to come if these appointments are sustained and allowed to exist. The issues go far beyond the immediacy of these particular appointments and the concerned agencies of government. They are a frontal attack on our very system of government. Systems and procedures are critical to our founding and method of governance since the inception of our Union. From the beginning the Constitution was designed to make all three branches of government co-equal partners and independent of one another. No one branch was to have governmental hegemony over the others. Yes, it is a bit awkward and sometimes very frustrating but it has served us very well for over 200 years through difficulties of all sorts both economic and even in war. We have consistently rejected the European style of Parliamentary government where the prevailing party can pass any legislation it choses and the losing side can only vote no and wait for a change in the body politic and new elections. That majority has pretty much free rein while in power. We have built-in restraints even on the majority party in power under our division of power.

There are two references in the Constitution regarding the recess of Congress and the powers of the branches of government. You can read them for yourself.  You will find them in the first two Articles of the Constitution.   The plain reading of the Constitution makes it clear that the appointments were made without proper authority.  But the even bigger issue is the inherent power of each branch of government.  That phrase “plain language  is important because the Supreme Court has always ruled that when a Constitutional provision is challenged that first one must look to the plain language of the document before embarking on some Just as the Senate can not tell the President when to meet with his Cabinet or which foreign dignitary to entertain at the White House, the President and the Supreme Court can’t tell the Senate or House how to conduct their business.  The President can’t order who will be on which committee or when they will meet or how they will consider legislation and make their votes.   The President doesn’t get to make his own interpretation of the Senate rules, they make that determination. 

It doesn’t make any difference what the President thinks about the recess of the Senate or even the Supreme Court.  The Senate and the Senate only makes the decision as to whether or not it is in session.  The determination is binding on the other branches of government and can’t be challenged by either of them.   The Senate was in pro forma session but a session nonetheless and even conducted business like the last  minute deal on unemployment benefits.   As others have noted if the President gets to decide when the Senate is in session then he could make “recess” appointment during the middle of the night when no one is there and take the position the Senate was in recess.  Again, it is not whether that is a silly position or not, it is about whether the President has that power at all, period.  

There will be many more elections and many more Presidents but the Constitution will hopefully live on and the principles of our mutually agreed governance under it.   Just as BO has used executive orders to implement his ideas that can’t be passed by Congress this is a plain and dangerous usurpation of power.   Process and procedure are critically important to our freedoms and method of government.  The Constitution is filled with process and procedure provisions.  Contrary to most countries around the world even our military doesn’t take an oath to defend the country or a particular leader or party but to defend the Constitution.   If our military is asked to die for our Constitution then our President must be held accountable to also defend that instrument and respect the traditions and precedents of the Congress and more importantly its Constitutional authority.

What is particularly egregious is the way these appointments were made and the position taken by BO.  It would be understandable if he had said up front that he believed the Senate was in recess and that it was an important issue to resolve and therefore he wanted to have a determination made by the Judiciary regarding the question.  An honest dispute is one thing but it is quite another to attempt to subvert Constitutional requirements by appealing to the sentiment of the moment and the mob as they did in ancient Rome.   The Courts have consistently ruled over our history that it can’t and won’t get involved in telling the other branches of government how to operate.  They can determine if their actions are unconstitutional since Marbury v. Madison but that is very different from getting into the inner workings of the Executive or Legislation branches.  The Supreme Court would defer to the decision of the Senate and follow whatever it said about its own recess.  Otherwise we have a dictatorship of one branch of government which the whole Constitution was designed to prevent.   For all our sakes and the sake of our progeny let’s hope this action is defeated and that the people will realize the issue rises far above the political disputes of the moment.

A “franchise” is a special privilege conferred upon an individual by the government that is not a privilege granted to the general population.  The President has no franchise to usurp the powers of the Senate.  www.olcranky.wordpress.com

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The Happy Pill And The Democrats–A Fable?

There was this nerdy little fellow who went to work in his garage with his cochemistry set from Toys R Us and after months of laborious endeavor created a pill that would make people happy. The manufacturing process was simple and cheap; it could be made in vats mputers and the with the right mix of chemicals and herbs and then poured out into molds for the pills.  The costs were incredibly low.  He figured it would cost no more than a nickel per pill and he could sell them for a dime.  They would last for a day, so for $3.00 a month everyone could be happy regardless of their circumstances or difficulties in life.   The beauty was that there were no adverse effects either physically or emotionally.  Everyone was aware of their lot in life but were happy with it even those in jail or on the bread line. 

He rushed off and filed his patent application and with only a few thousand borrowed dollars from his family he was ready to go into production and get rich.  A dime a day from millions in the US alone would make him a fortune not  counting the rest of the world.  Alack and alas someone close to him started talking about the miracle he had created and the vast wealth to be reaped.  Sure enough the sleuths in the White House got wind of the pill and its imminent opening on the market.   An emergency White House meeting was convened with all hands on deck.

BO opened by saying that this product had serious consequences and they had to figure out how to take advantage of the situation and he wanted ideas about how to respond to this development of the Happy Pill and its implications for the elections.   HHS went first with a proposal to stop the sell of the pill with regulations.  Even though it was herb and natural chemical based and wasn’t directly regulated she was sure that they could draft new rules right away and use emergency powers to prevent its distribution for a very long time, at least through the election cycle.  They could ring the tocsin that it was dangerous and even hint it was a terrorist plot.  The media would gladly be their megaphone.  This could keep the Pill from affecting the upcoming elections but they would have to work hard to keep the lid on the story and downplay the reality of the Pill.

Treasure was next and took the opposite approach.  The Pill was too valuable and vital to be left in private hands.   The government badly needed revenue and if they could co-op ownership and reap the financial benefits it would dramatically reduce the deficit for years to come.   They suggested maybe a GSE would be the way to go and offer the inventor a plum job with the new GSE to placate him.   Tim said that even the poorest would be able to afford the three dollars and month but multiplied by 300 million and that was a huge number and that was before they began to market it worldwide.  They would offer special discounts to the Third World and still make billions.  Besides the country didn’t need anymore of the 1 percenters.

DOD was adamant that the Pill should never see the light of day.  How were they going to recruit and train and army or navy if everyone in the world was happy all the time?  That would be the end of wars.   They believed the Pill should only be distributed to the countries that were hostile to the US and banned from any sell or use in the US.  We had to maintain a class of warriors or the happy people would swarm the world and subsume all government.  

State jumped on that last immediately by observing that governments would become irrelevant if everyone was happy all the time.  Who would they be able to negotiate with around the world?    Such a development would diminish the role and function of government world-wide.

Last was the political advisor.  He didn’t care whether they used a GSE or bought off the inventor but the Government and thus the Democratic party MUST have complete control of the Pill.   Regulations, taxes or condemnation proceedings didn’t matter it was just the result.  With control of the Pill they could allocate it to those they wanted.  He asked everyone to imagine a polity that was composed of the un-pilled in their Party but the rest of the country was happy all the time.   Those happy people wouldn’t be motivated to vote.  Hell, we’ll give the pills to them free if we have to he said.  They would be in charge forever he declared.   We’ll take as much from the happy people as we need to make our un-pilled Party partisans happy too without the Pill.  We’ll take all their wealth and keep the happy and subdued and transfer the wealth to our folks in exchange for votes.  All our various special interests groups will be merged into one and they will support us.  What is so great about this is that those happy folks won’t even complain as we steal them blind and impoverish them.  We just keep shoving the pills to them even after there is nothing else to take.  The only problem will be when we run out of their money but by then they will be our wards and will  be happy about it even if they all live in tents and go to our designated soup lines for their meals.

The group broke into applause after the politico had spoken.  The President nodded sagely and had that Cheshire cat smile on his face.   “Ok, we have our direction, let’s make it happen.”

“Those wo voluntarily put power into the hands of a tyrant or an enemy, must not wonder it it be at last turned against them.”  Aesop.   www.olcranky.wordpress.com

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Occupy Wall Street–Paris ’68 Redux

From the demographics about half the population wasn’t even born when the events discussed here occurred even though it was only about two generations ago.   The OWS protesters are quite reminiscent of the student protests that happened in Paris in the Spring of 1968.   Some of the similarities are striking and the outcome will likely be about the same.

One must remember that much of Europe after WWII was in ruins.  This was especially so in Germany, Austria and portions of Czechoslovakia’s industrialized zone in the western portions of the country.  The rest of Europe was dealing with a great deal of damage to infrastructure and logistical problems to get everything up and running again.  Naturally it was the Germans that lead the way in the recovery even though its destruction was the greatest by far.   The people of Europe were weary of wars and authoritarian leadership.  it is understandable that they wanted a quiet life and material well-being as much as possible and as quickly as possible.  Indeed with the help of the Marshall Plan Europe made a rebound for 20 years after the War.   They were doing pretty well.   They had just been through two wars and dictatorships of one sort or another and wanted stability.  Even though many were Socialist leaning, they did want freedoms and a strong measure of free enterprise.   They did not want to dwell on the past.  This was true not only in Germany but most of Europe.   They were more interested in their personal bank account than they were in political leadership.

Their sons and daughters were born during the War or afterward and didn’t have a real knowledge or appreciation of the horrors the older generation had endured.  They mostly saw only a bourgeois society and many were disparaging of that society.   Many of the young took their lead from Eastern Europe and the Communists countries including China.  Some even thought  European communism was too flexible and adopted the more radical approach of Chairman Mao.  They even called themselves Maosists in many quarters.  The Western European students had seen the uprisings in Eastern Europe during their lifetime in Poland, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Rumania and Yugoslavia.   All those uprisings were crushed by the Communists locally or with the direction and aid of Moscow.

Nevertheless, the students wanted a more socialist system, or so they said.  They wanted more power to the people in a socialist context.  Of course there was no way in heck the Communists leadership would ever have allowed that in their own lands.  That would violate the whole doctrine of the dictatorship of the proletariat.  Those Communists lands believed all power came from the central authority down the line, never was change or development to come from the bottom up.  Anyone suggesting such a thing was charged with “revisionism” or “bourgeois sympathies”.  You might laugh at such notions now but there were many who were tried and killed for daring to buck the established Communist authority in any way such as suggesting that collective farms allow some private ownership of plots to increase production.

The Paris students began their protest of tuitions and lazy professors or professors that were too rigid in their requirements.  (Take your contradictory pick)  This was in a suburb of Paris called Nanterre.  They demanded free tuition for everyone.  (Sound familiar?) Of course the students ignored the fact they many had not paid their rent, drug dealers were rampant in the area and many radicals had moved into student housing without authority.  It was authority more than anything they protested.    The protests moved to the Sorbonne in the heart of Paris a few weeks later.   They took to the streets with barricades and pulled up cobble stones to hurl at the police.  Naturally some unions supported their very vague demands and localized them to their own situation for shorter hours and more pay.   The Communist Party disowned the whole deal.  The students were even called fils a papa which translated meant’ daddy’s boys’.   Most of the students just as those on Wall Street were from the very bourgeois background they were criticizing.  The French held the police at bay for the most part to avoid provoking a bloody confrontation.  The leaders were somewhat paralyzed.  The student demands became more radical with each day.  Some very left leaning politicians voiced support for the students. 

That was the bell-weather event.  DeGaulle was good at judging the mood of the people and he knew the majority were not supportive of the student demands so under their parliamentary system he called for immediate elections.  The people of France could choose between the radical Socialist agenda of the students or the stability of the existing system.  A huge rally was held quickly by the “Right” to start the campaign.  It dwarfed anything the students had been able to muster even with the union support.   The choice was stark and clear.   The “right” by European standards won the day with an overwhelming majority in the National Assembly.  The striking union workers decided to go back to work and since summer had arrived the students decided to go on vacation.   The Communist Part had taken the position all along that this was nothing but privileged kids having a party and not a revolution.  The irony is that the very freedoms the students wanted so much and the right to assembly and protest in the name of Maoism would have been smashed by Mao.  No word of dissent was allowed there.  These students considered themselves “modern” socialists or communists because by this time  many of the evils of Stalin had been exposed.  They didn’t want that and of course they and we will never know the millions killed by Mao in an effort to have complete conformity to his version of communism. 

Would France have been better off if the students had prevailed?   I think the answer is the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the Soviet Union.  If that style of politics and economics was so good it would still be around.  

Remember—“What mattered most to Communist leadership was not economics but p0litics”.  Tony Judt   Reflect on those words when you assess the current White House.    www.olcranky.wordpress.com

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