8/31/2013

The Reality Of ObamaCare Hits Democrats

As the effects and costs of ObamaCare become more apparent, more Democrats are starting to realize that they were sold an illusion.

While the intent of ObamaCare - the so-called Affordable Care Act - was to help those without health insurance coverage get it, it turns out that the number of those without health insurance coverage will remain virtually unchanged once ObamaCare is in full force. I've heard the argument that ObamaCare will make sure everyone will have access to health care, but that argument is false as no one is barred from receiving health care even if they can't pay for it. Instead it was supposed to make sure that everyone had health insurance, with part of that effort making it illegal to not have it. (Like that's really going to make anyone go out and get it.)

Now that the reality of what ObamaCare means is striking home, a lot of Democrats who were all for it are finding out that it isn't the wonderful law that it was supposed to be. Instead, it is making them take a second look and what they are seeing is horrifying them. One Democrat in particular is finding that it may put him out of business if he doesn't cut costs once ObamaCare fully kicks in.

If you asked Link Christensen to describe his political beliefs a couple years ago, he'd say he was a liberal, a social activist and an Obamacare supporter.

But today, things are less black and white for the small business owner, who operates Tennessee Awning Co.

Christensen was originally concerned with patients who go to the emergency room for minor ailments instead of seeking a primary care physician and felt that Obamacare would allow people to stay healthier and remove perverse incentives that clog up hospitals across the U.S.

The only problem? He didn't realize how much it would cost him, and he's horrified by how much it's going to cost his employees.

"Some of those regulations about what the costs of my employees are going to be are horrendous, and I can't understand the math," he said. "Listening to the insurance providers and people providing webinars on how to figure out what our costs are going to be in this program, it's gigantically troublesome to me."

Not only does the math make his accountant shudder, Christensen is fairly certain that his employees are going to totally lose all coverage, he said. That's because the economical CoverTN program that he's currently using doesn't qualify under Obamacare's rules, and will disappear at the end of the year. CoverTN costs employees and Christensen about $60 each per month, but Obamacare would double that, placing it out of reach for those at the low end of the pay scale.

Raising his employees' pay to compensate won't help as his margin is razor thin now. If he raises pay he'll have to lay off some of his employees to make up for it. As he's finding out, ObamaCare should have been called the Unaffordable Care Act.

Many other provisions of ObamaCare that were supposed to encourage employers to provide health insurance to their employees are having exactly the opposite effect. Any business that has under 50 employees is unlikely to hire any more employees that would bring them to that number because at that point the business would be obliged to start covering their employees with very expensive health insurance coverage. Even with businesses with less than 50 employees will find many of the plans they had for their employees will no longer exist and will be forced to drop health insurance for their employees, forcing them to go to the exchanges, none of which will provide coverage cheaply.

"We have a new term in America known as "49ers" where employers are trying to keep their staffs below 50 even when they would otherwise like to hire more workers," Corker said. "That is hurting American economic growth."

Other employers are likely to shift more full-time employees, who must be covered with health insurance under ObamaCare, to part-time status under 30 hours of work a week so they don't have to offer such costly benefits.

So one of the other unintended bad side effects of ObamaCare is the move by employers to change some of their full time employees to part time so they won't come under the sway of ObamaCare. Some may fault employers for doing this, but it all come down to a matter of survival for the businesses affected. When the government mandates expensive 'solutions' to problems created by the government itself and businesses respond to those mandates by doing what they must in order to remain in business, the fault belongs not with the business owners but with the government.

Is it any wonder business owners, and particularly Democrat business owners are changing sides when it comes to their support of ObamaCare?

8/30/2013

Crime Rate On The Rise In California

Who'da thunk it?

If you release criminals from prison before they've served the minimum term of their sentences the chances are you're going to see an increase in crime.

How do we know that? Because that's exactly what's happening in California.

It wasn’t supposed to turn out this way, was it? In 2011, the United States Supreme Court ruled in Brown v. Plata that California must reduce overcrowding in the state’s prisons, overcrowding so severe that the Court — or five members of it, anyway — found that it constituted cruel and unusual punishment and thus violated the Eighth Amendment. The “Brown” of the case is California Governor Jerry Brown, who when faced with the predictably grim prospects demanded by the decision, saw through the legislation and implementation of what has been labeled “Public Safety Realignment.” This innocuous term is of course government-speak for “realigning” people out of prison where they belong and onto the streets of California’s cities, with the greatest share of them coming to roost in and around Los Angeles.

It’s impolite to say “I told you so,” but sometimes good manners must give way to good sense. I’ve visited this topic on three previous occasions here on PJ Media, in each case referring to the predictable consequences of failing to punish people for proscribed conduct. Today, fewer felons are in California’s prisons, perhaps making life a bit more tolerable for those who are so confined, but making life all the more intolerable for the rest of us. In 2011, 50,678 people were sent to state prison in California. The following year, after all that “realignment” started happening, the number fell to 33,990.

Though Governor Brown and the lesser lights of California politics have sought to put a glad face on what has happened since, the inescapable truth is that crime in California, after years of decline, is on the rise once again.

What did Governor Brown think was going to happen when these miscreants were released back on the streets en masse? Most of them are going to end up back in prison after committing more crimes, costing even more taxpayer money that the state doesn't have than if they'd remained in prison. California could have done what other states that find themselves in crunch for room have done and transferred some of the inmates to states that have room in their prisons. (It's done all the time.) While it means California would have to pay the other states to house their inmates, it would have been cheaper than letting the criminals back out on the streets to re-offend.

8/29/2013

Detroit After 60-Plus years Of Democrat Rule - A Pictorial

If you need to see the outcome of over 6 decades of Democrat rule in Detroit, just take a look at this.

8/28/2013

Sweet Lorraine


Nothing more need be said.

8/27/2013

Preventable Measles Outbreak In Texas

I hope Jenny McCarthy is feeling good about her stand on vaccinations, because it appears that a number of people who believe as she does are now paying the price.

An outbreak of measles in Texas illustrates the dangers of not being vaccinated, particularly when the unvaccinated are in close proximity to one another.

What happens if the next outbreak is something like polio? Will we see people being hooked up to breathing apparatus and put into wheelchairs because the polio virus has ravaged their nervous systems?

The long-disproven vaccine/autism link is still being used as an excuse to forgo vaccinations against diseases conquered decades ago. Now we're seeing the price as those diseases are making a comeback and are crippling or killing again. Whooping cough, measles, rubella, polio, diphtheria, and mumps have been on the rise, and not just among children but adults as well.

How many more will suffer because of the willful ignorance about the efficacy of vaccines? While there are risks involved with any medical treatment, they are outweighed by the risks of catching one of these otherwise preventable diseases.

8/25/2013

Thoughts On A Sunday

It's another summer weekend and another weekend of insane drivers here in the Lakes Region of New Hampshire.

The same craziness that has plagued us all summer continues and, it seems, has gotten worse. Maybe it's the weekenders trying to cram in as much vacation as they can before Labor Day weekend and the 'end' of summer.

*************

Speaking of traffic woes, a co-worker was delayed in arriving at work one morning last week because for most of his drive he was stuck behind a gazebo.

No, that isn't a typo. A gazebo.

Apparently it was being delivered to someone in the Lakes Region and my co-worker was stuck behind the truck and low-boy trailer carrying the gazebo. He had to follow it for over 20 miles at speeds between 25 and 30 mph on a highway with a posted speed limit of 55. With very few opportunities to pass and limited visibility past the truck hauling the gazebo passing was not an option.

The trip took twice as long as it usually did for him, meaning he got to work almost 20 minutes late.

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Oh, this will really help us.

It looks like the State Department may be putting off its decision about the Keystone XL pipeline until some time next year.

Frankly, I don't understand why the Obama Administration is waiting. We already know Obama hates the idea of the pipeline despite the jobs it will bring. He's delayed it on environmental grounds once even though the EPA admitted all of the necessary environmental impact statements had been filed, reviewed, and approved.

Obama should just tell the State Department to inform the Canadians that they can go pound (tar) sand and be done with it. Then the Canadians can build the pipeline themselves, but it will go to British Columbia (instead of to Texas refineries) where they will be able to load it onto oil tankers bound for China, Japan, and the rest of Asia.

Pretending that he really wants that pipeline built isn't playing well with anyone any more, even the MSM.

*************

With reports that the Syrian government has used chemical weapons against their own people brings to mind Saddam Hussein's use of chemical weapons against the people in Hadditha, Iraq. Pictures of the Syrian victims was eerily reminiscent of pictures from Hadditha.

If anyone still claims that Saddam never had WMD's (which he did have after Desert Storm as UN Inspectors actually counted them), then point to what happened in Syria. If you want to know where the chemicals for Saddam's weapons went, it was suggested more than once that they were loaded on to 4 tractor trailers and moved to Syria. The use of chemical weapons is Syria implies that Saddam's missing WMD's made their way to Syria.

*************

This ought to go over well with the general populace.

From Glenn Reynolds comes this warning: Beware of those crazy people who still believe in the Constitution.

Apparently anyone who does is considered an extremist that belongs to some type of hate group. It doesn't help matters that the leftist Southern Poverty Law Center is being used as a reference to help identify hate groups. I guess that includes all of the Tea Party groups, the American Legion, the Veterans of Foreign Wars, and a whole host of other hate groups.

*************

David Starr is asking questions about the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. It's years behind schedule, billions over budget, and now some are calling for the Marines and Navy versions to be canceled as a cost savings measure.

I had been enthusiastic about the Joint Strike Fighter concept when it was first laid out, but as time went by I started seeing a program that was in deep trouble. From a number of reports it wasn't going to be as capable, as fast, or as maneuverable as some of the aircraft it was supposed to be going up against, or even as capable as the aircraft it was supposed to replace. About the only thing going for it was that there would be economy of scale because the Air Force, Marines, and Navy would all be buying the same aircraft, though each had its own variant. (This was tried once before with the F-4 Phantom, with Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara ordering all three services to use the same airframe as a cost savings measure. While the F-4 was a capable aircraft, it wasn't really suited for all the missions it was supposed to perform.)

The F-35 was a great concept but the reality is that it isn't as good as it was supposed to be. Maybe it's time to scrap it and start over again.

*************

Dishonorable Dimwitted Left indeed!

For them it's always about race, particularly when it isn't about race.

*************

And that's the (abbreviated) news from Lake Winnipesaukee, where summer is holding on, the summerfolk are driving stupid, and where the kids go back to school this week.

8/24/2013

A Better Health Care Alternative?

By way of one of the comments in an op-ed piece I posted about the other day comes this proposal for an alternative the mess that is ObamaCare called the Intelligent Healthcare Savings Account.

While I don't agree with every aspect of the Intelligent HSA, I find it to be a more palatable alternative because it is market driven and more flexible than either our existing health/insurance system or ObamaCare.

The current business model of taking the money out of the hands of the patient before the service is rendered (and giving it to the insurance industry) promotes the current “buffet mentality”. That is a guarantee to increase utilization inappropriately. “If my money has already been taken for health care, then I want to spend it, dammit!” If you applied the same business model for food (which is just as basic a need) as we do for health care, the model would seem preposterous. If you had the employer take money out of the employee’s paycheck to pay for “food insurance”, had the employees make a co-pay at the restaurant or supermarket and then let the waiter or supermarket employee give advice to the consumer (why buy ground beef when you could get filet mignon!), the supermarket shelves would be empty and the restaurant inventory would be barren. If you thought obesity was a problem now, it would be more than epidemic in such a business model. We have that same “obesity” in our current health care model.

Is it perfect? No. But it is a heck of a lot better than what we're doing now and orders of magnitude better than ObamaCare.

As the saying goes, Read The Whole Thing.

8/23/2013

EPA Admits Ethanol Mandate Not A Good Idea

You know the government has really screwed up when even the government admits it screwed up. And so it is with the mandated use of biofuels in gasoline, something the Environmental Protection Agency admits was a bad idea.

WSJ.COM 8/18/13: A strong candidate for the most expensive policy blunder of recent years would have to be the mandate to blend corn ethanol and other biofuels into the nation's gasoline supply. This month even the Environmental Protection Agency essentially acknowledged that the program is increasingly unworkable and costly to consumers. The EPA just won't do much to fix it.

I don't expect the EPA to do much about it because it is Congress that must address the issue. It was Congress that crafted the law that mandated the mixing of ethanol in gasoline to begin with. But there is one thing the EPA might be able to do and that is stop fining refiners for not using a biofuel that doesn't exist.

One of the biggest debacles has been the law's requirement that the oil and gas industry mix cellulosic ethanol—made from the likes of switch grass and wood chips—into gasoline. The original law mandated the use of one billion gallons of cellulosic fuel in 2013, with even higher levels through 2022. This may have been the worst government forecast in history, which is saying something. Even with taxpayer subsidies, total cellulosic volume in 2012 was about 20,000 gallons. The government was off by a mere 99.9%.

In its annual program review this month, EPA reduced the mandate to six million gallons from 14 million. But even that is several million gallons above what can be bought anywhere. So the oil and gas industry has to pay what amounts to a fine (mostly passed on to consumers) for not buying enough cellulosic fuel that doesn't exist.

And you wonder why gas prices have been going up even as the supply of crude oil has grown by leaps and bounds? But wait, there's more! A federal court struck down the EPA's 2012 mandated use of cellulose-based biofuels as being unrealistic. The court saw it as an oxymoronic mandate: “Do a good job, cellulosic fuel producers. If you fail, we'll fine your customers.”

Ethanol has been a disaster from the word go. It hasn't lived up to its promises, is more expensive that promised, uses more energy to make it than it saves, and drives up the costs of food because crops that were once used for food are now being used to make ethanol.

The argument has been made the ethanol can be made to work, with many proponents citing its success in Brazil. But those touting Brazil as a model choose to overlook one big difference that makes ethanol viable down there: sugar cane.

For equal volume of feedstock, sugar cane produces 8 times more ethanol than corn. Sugar cane doesn't require fertilizer, pesticides, or irrigation. And one thing Brazil has a lot of is sugar cane. So using Brazil as an example of how ethanol can succeed is deceptive and doesn't address the realities of that success. But that hasn't stopped ethanol proponents here from pushing ahead full steam regardless of the abject failure of ethanol to 'get the job done.'

(H/T Pirate's Cove)

8/22/2013

A Physician's View Of Medical Care Costs

We've heard from politicians, pundits, economists, the Left, the Right, and just about everyone in between about our medical care system and the abomination that is ObamaCare.

Now we're hearing from a physician who aptly demonstrates why medical care is so expensive and why it will become even more expensive and, in the end, become less available to everyone, including the very people ObamaCare was supposed to help.

Dr. Jeffery Singer is a general surgeon in Phoenix, Arizona and has seen first hand why medical care costs are so skewed. The case he uses to illustrate the problems we have with medical costs involves a patient who was suffering from a hernia and the routine surgery he needed to repair it. The patient was self-employed and had a low-cost indemnity health insurance policy. That meant his insurer would pay a set amount and that the patient would have to pay the balance in advance. And that's where the problem started.

The insurance policy, the clerk said, would pay up to $2,500 for the surgeon—more than enough—and up to $2,500 for the hospital's charges for the operating room, nursing, recovery room, etc. The estimated hospital charge was $23,000. She asked him to pay roughly $20,000 upfront to cover the estimated balance.

I received a call from the admitting clerk informing me that he wanted to cancel the surgery, and explaining why.

--snip--

Most people are unaware that if they don't use insurance, they can negotiate upfront cash prices with hospitals and providers substantially below the "list" price. Doctors are happy to do this. We get paid promptly, without paying office staff to wade through the insurance-payment morass.

So we canceled the surgery and started the scheduling process all over again, this time classifying my patient as a "self-pay" (or uninsured) patient. I quoted him a reasonable upfront cash price, as did the anesthesiologist. We contacted a different hospital and they quoted him a reasonable upfront cash price for the outpatient surgical/nursing services. He underwent his operation the very next day, with a total bill of just a little over $3,000, including doctor and hospital fees. He ended up saving $17,000 by not using insurance.

So by using his health insurance the surgery would have cost the patient $20,000 out of pocket. Adding in what insurance would have paid for would have brought the total paid to the hospital to between $23,000 and $25,000.

But by paying for everything out of pocket the patient paid only $3,000 for exactly the same surgical procedure and level of post-operative care.

Dr. Singer explains why this disparity exists, putting it into terms just about everyone can understand. I won't repeat it here because he does a much better job of it than I could, so go Read The Whole Thing. Also read the comments as they expose the absolute ignorance of some folks who believe that health care should be free or that ObamaCare will cure all ills.

8/21/2013

Obama And The Dems Trying To Force Zero-Sum Wealth

The Obama Administration, Congressional Democrats, or the millions of progressives across the country haven't been able to explain why taking ever increasing amounts of money from the rich will help turn our economy around. It isn't like the wealthy are wasting it. It isn't like the wealthy didn't earn it.

One of the signature themes of the Obama administration is that the American dream is under attack due to "income disparity." The words divide the country into haves and have-nots, suggesting a national condition that needs to be corrected—presumably by "progressive" taxation as a mechanism for income redistribution. The American dream has traditionally been one of individual success that is rewarded and admired. But we are now urged to become a zero-sum society in which those achieving the American dream are envied and even resented.

--snip--

In other words: Every dollar that is taxed away from private investment and spent by government produces fewer jobs than the jobs destroyed by the loss of private investment.

Yet the politics of envy, promoted most notably by President Obama himself, continuously stokes the idea that the wealthy are not paying their "fair share." This injured sense of unjust rewards was summed up on a radio show I heard the other day, when a caller said of the rich: "How much more do they need?"

How much more do I need? How many more jobs do you want?

But that isn't how the wealth distributors see the issue. They assume all good comes from the government because it is full of well educated and wise people who know what's good for us. The problem is that view of government is naïve at best and delusional at worst.

Government is filled by people with the same flaws as everyone else. They are no more virtuous than anyone else. They aren't smarter. They aren't better educated. And they certainly aren't any wiser than the rest of us. In fact, these days it seems government is the last refuge of those who couldn't cut it in the real world, or worse, by people who haven't a clue about how things like businesses and the economy actually work.

That assessment may seem a bit over the top, but it's something I've noticed happening over the past 20 years or so. That's certainly true of the present occupant of the Oval Office as he hasn't run so much as a lemonade stand. But here he is, running the economy of the United States into the ground because for him it's all about some vaguely defined concept of fairness. (I doubt his definition of fair is anything like most folks.)

Reading the comments posted by readers of the linked WSJ opinion piece proves to me that there are far too many people out there who really don't understand the first thing about economics, the tax code, or the incentives and disincentives that drive businesses to do the things they do.

One of the biggest complaints made by some of the less enlightened commentators is that corporations have sent jobs overseas to 'screw the middle class', not understanding that Congress and the lobbyists that influence that once august body passed laws that made it unattractive to expand business here in the US. They also don't understand why American corporations refuse to repatriate profits made overseas. Why would anyone want to do that knowing the government is going to take 35% of that money once it reenters the US? Most of that offshore money was already taxed in the countries where it was made. As far as I can tell, we are the only nation that taxes overseas corporate profits once they are brought back in country. (It doesn't help that we have the highest corporate taxes in the world, bar none.)

I don't know about you, but it seems to me that a trillion dollars in overseas profits being returned to the US would be one hell of a boost to the economy. (Notice I didn't say “to the government”.) That money would be used here. Dividends would be paid, new investments in American businesses would take place, and in general that money would be used here. Instead it sits in banks overseas, is used to expand business overseas, is invested overseas, and makes more profits overseas. None of that money comes back here because the government thinks that 35% of it belongs them. How is it they think that such a draconian tax law would induce any corporation to repatriate profits made overseas. (And I am going to remind you once again that the US is the ONLY country that taxes repatriated profits. All other nations understand that the profits have already been taxed once and double taxation is a disincentive to bring the profits home. Even the more socialist European nations understand this.)

OK, I've gotten a bit off topic, but I think it helped illustrate the problem that we have with some of the folks in government that believe they know better how to spend our money than we do. They also believe that they know when someone has made enough money and that they are entitled to anything above that amount. Too bad for them that they have it exactly wrong.

It's time to show them they are wrong and that it's time to stop stealing from us, and particularly from those who managed to become wealthy through their own efforts.

8/19/2013

New Government Sequester Furlough Policy

Received via e-mail:

EMPLOYEE NOTICE
 
Due to the current sequester, the Government has decided to implement a scheme to put all workers 50 years of age and above on early, mandatory retirement, thus creating jobs and reducing unemployment.
 
This scheme will be known as RAPE (Retire Aged People Early).
 
Persons selected to be RAPEd can apply to the Government to be considered for the SHAFT program (Special Help After Forced Termination).
 
Persons who have been RAPEd and SHAFTed will be reviewed under the SCREW program (System Covering Retired-Early Workers).
 
A person may be RAPEd once, SHAFTed twice and SCREWed as many times as the Government deems appropriate.
 
Persons who have been RAPEd could get AIDS (Additional Income for Dependents & Spouse) or HERPES (Half Earnings for Retired Personnel Early Severance).
 
Obviously persons who have AIDS or HERPES will not be SHAFTed or SCREWed any further by the Government.
 
Persons who are not RAPEd and are staying on will receive as much SHIT (Special High Intensity Training) as possible. The Government has always prided itself on the amount of SHIT they give our citizens.
 
Should you feel that you do not receive enough SHIT, please bring this to the attention of your Representative, who has been trained to give you all the SHIT you can handle.
 
Sincerely,
The Committee for Economic Value of Individual Lives (E.V.I.L.)
 
PS - Due to recent budget cuts and the rising cost of electricity, gas and oil, as well as current market conditions, the Light at the End of the Tunnel has been turned off.

That is all.

8/18/2013

Thoughts On A Sunday

BeezleBub and I spent the evening at Meadowbrook Farm, catching the act of Bob Marley (the Maine comedian, not the dead reggae star).

All I can say is that he was wicked funny! He has captured the essence of New England humor.

*************

I liked this comparison by James Delingpole, equating shale gas with Rearden Metal of Atlas Shrugged.

One of the things [Ayn Rand] foresaw was the current nonsensical, dishonest, canting campaign against shale gas. In Atlas Shrugged it takes the form of Rearden Metal, the miracle technology which is going to transform the US economy if only the progressives will let it. But of course, Rand’s fictional progressives don’t want Reardon (sic) Metal to succeed any more than their modern, real-life equivalents want shale gas to succeed.

Why not? For the same rag-bag of made-up, disingenuous reasons which progressives have used to justify their war on progress since time immemorial: it’s unfair, it uses up scarce resources, it might be dangerous. Rand doesn’t actually use the phrase “the precautionary principle.” But this is exactly what she is describing in the book when various vested interests – the corporatists in bed with big government, the politicised junk-scientists at the Institute of Science (aka, in our world, the National Academy of Sciences or the Royal Society), the unions – try to close down the nascent technology using the flimsiest of excuses.

I've seen Atlas Shrugged as scarily prescient. It's like Obama and the rest of the progressives are using it as a guide rather than a cautionary tale.

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It seems the Democrats aren't wasting any time, having started rallying their 'hater' base for the 2014 mid-term elections.

Their target? Making sure their voter base - non-citizens, felons, 'multiple' voters, and the dead - can vote in the next election, much as they have in the past. The want to do away with voter ID laws in the states that have implemented them.

I can't wait to hear them explain how 115% of eligible voters voted in various Democrat districts. Not that I'm holding my breath as they haven't explained how that occurred during the last election.

*************

Who'da thunk it?

Is possible that Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick has become a union buster?

The action in question deals with the automation of all tool booths on the Massachusetts Turnpike. After a union sick-out back in 2009 caused massive traffic tie-ups at the tool booths along the Pike, changing over to all electronic toll collection was inevitable. In turn, that means all those toll takers will now be out of jobs.

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It looks like Connecticut has been going the way of California, Illinois, and some other blue states.

Where it once had a thriving economy, a strong middle class, and business-friendly climate, it now has heavy taxes, business-hostile regulations, and a struggling middle class.

...[I]t is one of those states, like California, which once were independent-minded and traditionalist Yankee Red, but gradually turned Blue and then finally Dark Blue. They took their prosperity for granted. Farms, inventors, entrepreneurs, booming factories, great private schools, and great universities and colleges; the summer homes of the prosperous of NYC and even Hollywood; a charming coastline great for swimming, sailing, and fishing; old-time Yankee towns and virtues.

Government policies did their damage. State taxes and local property taxes. Unions corrupted urban governments, along with some of the immigrant Mafioso components. Semi-skilled blacks from the rural South moved north in a vast migration for the industrial jobs, jobs which fled this high-tax, heavily-unionized post-War state leaving them with nothing while immigrant Mexicans happily do most of the hard labor and even skilled labor like masonry and construction, and are happy to work in our Dunkin Donuts shops.

Connecticut had the highest per capita income in the nation for decades, but that is no longer the case. Even though there are more wealthy residents in the state, the number of middle class residents has been shrinking. Businesses are either relocating out of state or thinking of doing so. All in all, Connecticut is heading down the same path as California and Illinois.

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First, they tell us to get out. Then they want us to come back.

I wish they'd make up their minds.

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And that's the news from Lake Winnipesaukee, where we've hit a stretch of good weather, the summerfolk are trying to cram in as much vacation as they can, and where once again Monday has returned all too soon.

8/17/2013

Sunspot Cycle 24 Still Quiet And Other Global Cooling Stories

Call this one a two-fer three-fer.

It appears the Earth's climate (and the sun) refuse to cooperate with the We're-All-Gonna-Die climate models, with still no evidence of warming for 16+ years and indicators that it's more likely that we'll be seeing some cooling for a considerable amount of time despite an increase in atmospheric CO2. One of the drivers of this lack of cooling may be the sun which is in the midst of one of its lowest sunspot maximums in over a century. Cycle 24 has turned out to be a wimp compared to its predecessor, Cycle 23, and it doesn't look like it's going to get any better. There has been a correlation between sunspot numbers and climate on Earth, with lengthy sunspot minimums being harbingers of a cooler climate. A number of solar physicists believe the sun is entering a lengthy period of such minimums. Whether this means we'll see global cooling is a question that still needs to be answered, but if history is any indicator, the answer to that question is yes.

While the argument has been made by the AGW crowd that the small decrease in Total Solar Irradiation (about 0.1%) can't possibly have a profound effect on our climate, there are others who say the TSI is trigger mechanism for processes that can have an effect 6 or 7 times greater than the change in TSI alone. The next few decades will prove that one way or the other as the next few 11-year sunspot cycles pass.

If continued cooling occurs, then maybe the time will come to admit it is the Warmists who are the climate change deniers.

Because they deny both science and fact to push an agenda that is demonstrably false. Yet have the temerity to call those who are skeptical of their claims “deniers”. And, of course, they have their “scientific” mouthpieces as well.

If there has been no warming over the past 16 years or so, that means elementary school kids worldwide have experienced only global cooling during their lifetimes.

Yep, the global warming is gonna make it awfully cold around here for the next few decades if the trends continue.

(H/T Maggie's Farm)

8/15/2013

Quote Of The Day

From the comments of this WSJ opinion piece comes the quote of the day:

"I think movies should be free. And actors should be paid no more than garbage men. In fact, the world can do without actors but not without garbage collection. Furthermore, garbage men often have a better grasp of reality. "

Indeed.

8/14/2013

This Climate Scientist Gets It

After years of the AGW faithful screaming about the ‘settled science’ and a number of climate scientists saying we’re all doomed if we don’t do something about the still unproven hypothesis of AGW, it’s nice to come across a climate scientist who firmly believes climate scientists shouldn’t be involved in the politics of AGW and specifically shouldn’t be advocating any particular policies. As Tamsin Edwards writes:

As a climate scientist, I'm under pressure to be a political advocate.

--snip—

I believe advocacy by climate scientists has damaged trust in the science. We risk our credibility, our reputation for objectivity, if we are not absolutely neutral. At the very least, it leaves us open to criticism. I find much climate scepticism is driven by a belief that environmental activism has influenced how scientists gather and interpret evidence. So I've found my hardline approach successful in taking the politics and therefore – pun intended – the heat out of climate science discussions.

It is the strident advocacy of many climate scientists that have so damaged the public’s trust in science. And it isn’t just climate science, but a number of other disciplines where advocacy has outweighed the actual science that has damaged the reputation of science. (The vaccination/autism link, anyone?) Their attacks upon those who disagree with their hypothesis (so-called ‘denialists’) and the conspiracy amongst a number of them to silence critics of their work even though their critics were just as knowledgeable and prestigious as they were. The science got lost in the “we’re right and you’re stupid” debate.

What makes this scientist's opinion even more extraordinary is that it was reported by the UK's Guardian newspaper, a very left-leaning publication.

8/11/2013

Thoughts On A Sunday

As I mentioned in last week's edition of Thoughts On A Sunday, traffic had been a little crazier than usual. Unfortunately that craziness has been with this this weekend as well.

Both Deb and I witnessed acts of vehicular insanity that topped anything we saw last weekend including someone who thought it was a perfectly good idea to make a three point turn in the middle of a very heavily traveled road. This jerk – an out of stater – couldn't be bothered with pulling into the next side street in order to affect their reversal in direction. I have to guess their need to get turned around outweighed the safety of everyone else.

Then there was the young woman who made a right hand turn from the left turn lane. I guess her time was more important than safety (and sanity) of everyone else. Some folks just don't get it.

I expect the traffic will be even crazier next weekend as the Timberman Triathlon will be taking place.

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Civil forfeiture laws have become nothing more than a legal form of theft by the state. When towns, counties, and states use the law to steal property from law abiding citizens, then the law must go. The government entities see it as a cheap means of filling their coffers with little risk of actually having to show that the targets of their thievery are guilty of anything more than having law enforcement see something they want and taking it from them.

People should be going to jail, and not the folks that have been the target of these looters.

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You tax dollars at work.

The federal government has been giving money to help build broadband infrastructure where it already exists. One would think that money would be better spent to bring broadband to places that have no access to broadband.

I've seen this played out here in my home state of New Hampshire when broadband stimulus funds were granted to towns in the northern tier that already had broadband while denying them to towns that had none. After all isn't that what those stimulus funds were supposed to be used for?

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You have to give them some credit for trying to explain away why their theories don't match reality, in this case by stating that the Little Ice Age was caused by the decline in the human population brought on by the Black Plague.

Too bad this new theory doesn't match the facts.

The Black Plague was brought on by a series of weather maladies triggered by the onset of the Little Ice Age which left the population malnourished as well as crowded into hamlets, villages, and cities. This in turn gave the plague infested rats and fleas an easier time spreading the plague.

It seems the Warmists have yet again reversed cause and effect in an effort to prove their religion is the 'correct' one.

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Speaking of the Little Ice Age, it appears yet “another major European media outlet is asking Where's the global warming?

Instead, Denmark's Jyllands-Posten is warning about the possible onset of another Little Ice Age.

So now even the once very green Danish media is now spreading the seeds of doubt. So quickly can “settled science” become controversial and hotly disputed. The climate debate is far from over. And when it does end, it looks increasingly as if it’ll end in favor of the skeptics.

The JP writes that “many will be startled” by the news that a little ice age is a real possibility. Indeed, western citizens have been conditioned to think that nothing except warming is possible. Few have prepared for any other possibility.

As Glenn Reynolds keeps reminding us, it may be a Fallen Angels scenario indeed.

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Mike over at Cold Fury reminds us that Sarah Palin was right about the “death panels”, even though Democrats who now find ObamaCare indefensible because it does contain those death panels have conveniently chosen to forget that little tidbit. After all they can't possibly admit that the public university educated former governor of Alaska was right. Their heads would explode if they even thought it.

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And the ObamaCare hits keep on coming.

The next victims being targeted by ObamaCare? Charitable hospitals.

How is it that hospitals whose sole purpose is to treat patients incapable of paying for their care should need to undergo even more scrutiny than they already receive. The answer is simple: The government doesn't want any competition, particularly competition that is more competent and more efficient than ObamaCare can ever hope to be.

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Tom Bowler reminds us the more things change, the more they stay the same.

The brilliant Barack is running things now, and he has been for the past five years. So things are so much better now, right? Well, not so much. In fact they're much worse, but how can that be?

Barack Obama was supposed fix the economy, end all wars, and spread Social Justice throughout the world. He was going to slow the oceans' rise, too, and that may help to explain why things aren't going as well as they ought to be.

I think it has gotten to the point where even Democrats look back upon the Bush years with nostalgia as things were so much better then.

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And that's the news from Lake Winnipesaukee, where the weather has been gorgeous, the traffic has been atrocious, and where preparations are being made for the annual Timberman Triathlon.

8/10/2013

The EPA Doesn't Want To Get It

If we need more proof that Washington DC doesn't get it then all we have to do is look at the latest bit of bureaucratic BS from the so-called Environmental Protection Agency.

They are still pushing the idea of increasing the amount of ethanol in gasoline despite pushback from refiners, automakers, the public, and mathematics. The law mandating the amount of ethanol that must be used every year has major flaws, the biggest being that it assumed gasoline demand would keep growing. However demand has fallen and is lower than it's been since the late 1990's and it isn't likely to increase in any great amount for some time. Yet the millions of gallons of ethanol that must be used far exceeds the demand. This apparently has gotten the watermelon environmentalists in the rogue EPA to push the idea of increasing the percentage of ethanol in gasoline from 10% to 15%, hence the pushback.

The EPA recently issued it's new annual quota for renewable fuels. Needless to say there are a lot of people not happy with it.

That mandate tells the nation's refineries how much renewable fuel (ethanol) must be blended annually into gasoline, a quota that is becoming a pernicious driver of gas prices.

--snip--

This matters because for refineries to stuff ballooning amounts of ethanol into a static gas pool, they must blend it at levels of more than 10%. Since the nation's auto makers have declared they will void the warranties of cars using gas with more than 10% ethanol, refineries face lawsuits. Most have instead turned to buying federal renewable "credits" to make up for the ethanol they don't blend.

As demand for these credits skyrockets, so has the price—jumping from a few pennies a gallon last year to close to $1 a gallon today. Oil refiner Valero has said the credits could raise its cost by a stunning $750 million this year, a hit that will be passed on to consumers. PBF Energy just told investors that its disappointing second-quarter earnings were rooted in the mandate, noting that the $200 million it expects to fork over for ethanol credits this year will exceed the salaries and wages that it pays to operate all three of its refineries.

Some refineries are lowering production simply to mitigate the credit costs. Others are beginning to export products to avoid the mandate. Both moves could tighten U.S. supplies and lead to higher prices at the pump.

The original intent on the biofuels mandate may have been a good one, but it was based on ignorance and has come under the sway of rent-seeking ethanol producers and a rogue EPA that doesn't care that many of its other actions are illegal (or so say a number of federal courts). But ethanol is not the “fuel of the future” so many have promised, at least not the type derived from corn. The energy input to produce a gallon of ethanol is greater than the energy contained in that gallon of ethanol. While ethanol is considered carbon neutral by some, it reality it generates more carbon dioxide to produce using fertilizer and water to grow it and diesel fuel to plant and harvest it. It's a net negative in return for both energy and its carbon footprint. So we have a mandate that does not meet one of its original intents, costs the consumer even more at the pump because refiners cannot use the amount of ethanol being thrust upon them by EPA quotas, thereby forcing many refiners to either dial back production to lessen their burden or shipping refined products overseas in order to escape the nonsense being thrust upon them.

Another promise made for ethanol – it would wean us off of the need to import foreign oil – now seems laughable. Over the past few years we have found we have more oil and gas under our feet than the rest of the world's proven reserves combined. If fully developed we wouldn't have to import a single drop of oil for the next 200 years, and in fact, would be a net exporter of oil.

So why are we even bothering with ethanol any more?

Because the aforementioned rent-seekers see their government mandated riches disappearing if we abandon it. It doesn't matter to them that ethanol causes more problems than it solves, including mechanical problems and fuel system difficulties with cars, trucks, boats, and any other gasoline powered engines. It doesn't matter to them that it's a scam and that it doesn't fulfill the promises made for it a decade ago. All they know is that if we do the right thing they won't be able to count on their government guaranteed riches to keep flowing into their bank accounts. It's crony capitalism and it stinks.

It's time to stop the madness.

8/09/2013

More PC BS From Seattle

File this under “This is just plain stupid!

Seattle wants to ban the use of “citizen” and “brown bag” because they might offend someone.

My take on this?

Too effin' bad. It's time for this politically correct bulls**t to end.

There isn't a word out there that can't, under the right circumstances, offend someone. But this crap has gone too far. I have firmly believed that politically correct speech offends everyone which is why I have never used it, nor will I tolerate its use anywhere within my earshot. If that makes me 'intolerant', so be it. But I refuse to become yet another of the PC drones. I intend to offend every PC jerk I come across. And if they voice their disgust at my totally politically incorrect speech, I have but one thing to say to them: “F**k you and the horse you rode in on, you fascist piece of s**t!”

So there!

8/08/2013

This Isn't Your Father's Chevrolet...err...Television

The battle between pay-TV providers (cable and satellite) and content providers continues. The latest bout is between CBS and Time Warner Cable along with Bright House Cable. At the moment over 3 million viewers cannot receive their local CBS affiliates because TWC and Bright House refuse to pay what they see as seriously overpriced retransmission fees. This sounds a lot like rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.

Unless CBS is totally clueless, their share of TV viewership is shrinking as it is for the other three networks (ABC, NBC, and Fox). Is it that people aren’t watching TV as much as they did in the past? Or is it that people are watching TV differently than they have in the past? Of the two, I’d have to say the latter is more likely because the number of traditional pay-TV subscribers is dropping. Subscribers are “cutting the cord”, particularly those with Internet-connected TV’s.

More people are using the Internet to watch TV, be it YouTube videos or episodes of their favorite shows directly from the TV network websites or through Netflix, Hulu, iTunes, or a host of other video streaming websites. This is a change that both the content providers, i.e. the various TV networks and cable channels, and the cable companies themselves ignore at their own peril. Because newer TVs or their peripherals (BluRay players, Roku, media players, or X-Box) are Internet enabled and the large number of computers, tablets, and smart phones, the need to receive programming by way of traditional methods – over the air (OTA), cable, or satellite – is shrinking. On the other hand the number of Internet subscribers is climbing, particularly for cable operators. For many cable companies the number of Internet subscribers is larger than pay-TV subscribers. It's also much more profitable than video.

The smarter cable providers are already pushing so-called Over The Top (OTT) Internet-based video services, preparing themselves for the time when most of their customers will be using the Net for all of their television viewing. It also stands as a warning to content providers that their days are numbered if they don't stop demanding increasing fees that prices them out of the market. But I have a feeling that a few of them are going to have to learn that lesson the hard way and will stand as object lessons to the rest.

8/05/2013

The Devil Came Up To Boston

Deb showed me this video and the instant I saw it I knew I was going to have to post it.

A warning: it contains “wicked haahsh language” and it's NSFW...unless you use headphones.


Family friendly version can be found here.

8/04/2013

Thoughts On A Sunday

During the summer traffic around here tends to be heavy and a little bit crazy on weekends. It's even heavier and crazier on those weekends when there's some kind of event going on in the area. This weekend it's been Soulfest at the Gunstock Resort just up the road from The Manse. That has driven the traffic flow and craziness up a few notches, with many of the out-of-towners doing incredibly dumb stuff on the road like making left turns that require cutting across two lanes of stopped traffic or pulling off to the side of a road to wait for someone at a place where two cars can barely pass by each other without scraping paint. It's like they disconnected the parts of their brain that controls driving and driving decisions.

I couldn't get back home fast enough.

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The New York Times has sold the Boston Globe for less than the cost of a Boston Red Sox outfielder.

The NYT paid over $1 billion for the paper 20 years ago and sold it for a little over 6% of what it paid for it.

Yeah, that was a great investment.

Tom Bowler also comments on the Globe sale and the recent sale of a local New Hampshire newspaper he'd stopped subscribing to some time ago because of its slanted coverage. Since the sale of the Nashua Telegraph it has shifted more towards right-of-center, something Tom hopes will continue. He also hopes that the Boston Globe will do likewise under its new owner, otherwise it may be doomed.

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Something cool I came across at Instapundit: J.K Rowling's accounts of what happened to Harry Potter et al after The Deathly Hallows.

I have been a Harry Potter fan from the beginning and was pleased how well the books translated to the big screen. Though the epilogue gave us a glimpse of characters' futures, Rowling's accounts helped assuage the curiosity so many of us had about them all. Of course this opens the door to stories about the next generation in the Harry Potter universe, doesn't it?

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By way of my dear brother over at Dean's World comes this time line view of the rapid pace of modern life put into perspective.

Heh.

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I've been saying this since 2008:

President Obama hasn't a clue about how economies actually work.

The President, who has never worked a day in the private sector, has no systematic view of the way in which businesses operate or economies grow. He never starts a discussion by asking how the basic laws of supply and demand operate, and shows no faith that markets are the best mechanism for bringing these two forces into equilibrium.

Because he does not understand rudimentary economics, he relies on anecdotes to make his argument.

Unfortunately, our President rules out deregulation or lower taxes as a way to unleash productive forces in the country. Indeed, he is unable to grasp the simple point that the only engine of economic prosperity is an active market in which all parties benefit from voluntary exchange. Both taxes and regulation disrupt those exchanges, causing fewer exchanges to take place—and those which do occur have generated smaller gains than they should.

We already know what his primary focus is in regards to the economy: fairness. But the problem is that he has never defined 'fairness', though I and others suspect that it has something to do with sharing misery and poverty equally and nothing to do with actually restoring the economy to vigor.

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If we need even more evidence that the Obama Administration doesn't understand economics and better than Obama himself, there's the $500 million of taxpayer money wasted on training for “green” jobs that don't exist and aren't likely to exist any time in the near future. Call it the Solyndra of jobs training programs. My only question is where did that money actually go?

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Here's a racial crime that should make it to the big media...NOT.

Three black teens savagely beat a younger white student as he was trying to get off a school bus. There's even video of the incident.

Yet who is facing possible prosecution after this incident?

The bus driver. While it's true he did little to intervene other than calling for help on the radio, he isn't the one who brutally beat the 13-year old boy. The teens in question (all 15-year olds) were arrested and charged with aggravated assault and unarmed robbery, then released from police custody.

If the races of the victim and perpetrators were reversed, there would be a universal outcry at the brutal hate crime. But because the victim was white and the perpetrators were black, there's been nary a peep from the national media.

Welcome to Racist America.

(H/T Pirate's Cove)

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July was a crappy month for Bogie. It got even worse towards the end of the month when she had to put down one of her beloved dogs.

Earlier in the month she lost her aunt as well as another beloved pet, Shadow.

Hopefully August will be better for her and her family.

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Dr. Mercury gets into the dollar coin versus dollar bill debate.

I've believed the time was long overdue to make the switch to the coin, but Congress, as usual, effed it up by not doing away with the bill once the coins were introduced. That's why previous efforts failed.

The argument has been made that vending machines won't be capable of handling the coins (that can be changed) and that cash registers don't have a place for the coins. Both arguments are specious. In regards to the latter, once the dollar bills are gone the slot that normally holds them can be used for the coins.

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And that's the news from Lake Winnipesaukee, where fall-like weather has moved in, the traffic is crazy, and my weed-whacker is still broken.

8/03/2013

Signs Of An Early Winter?

Scary Yankee Chick tells us that she's seeing signs of an early winter in some of the wildlife around her home as well as her dog, Apollo. Between bucks with larger than normal racks for this time of year and her dog's undercoat growing back in earlier than usual, the signs are there.

As I mentioned in a comment to her post, I'm seeing the same thing with the feline contingent here at The Manse. One cat, Tom, was at the vet's the other day for a check up and the doctor mentioned he had a rather thick undercoat. This was despite the regular brushing receives. She then said something that stuck with me – she's been seeing the same thing in a number of other cats as well as some of the dogs, too.

Are we headed to an early and harsh winter? As I commented to Ruth's post, “Does someone want to tell me about Global Hotcoldwetdry again?”

8/02/2013

Automobile Sub-Woofer Repurposed

I had to watch this a couple of times before I was sure I was seeing what I thought I was seeing. And all this time we thought the cars with the heavy bass thumping from their powerful subwoofers were playing their music loud just to annoy us.

We were wrong.

8/01/2013

Is Chicago At The Brink?

Detroit was the first 'big' American city to fail, falling into bankruptcy after five decades of Democrat misrule. A number of smaller California communities preceded it for many of the same reasons – too many promises made by corrupt politicians that depended upon never ending prosperity, entrenched cronyism, and a stranglehold by unions.

Yet another big city is following the same path to destruction for many of the same reasons. While not yet in the dire straits that caused Detroit's failure, it is heading there at gathering speed. It has been cutting back on vital services like police, closing schools, and is carrying pension obligations that are seriously underfunded. Violent crime is on the rise, and people and businesses are leaving in increasing numbers. Doing business in the city has been difficult for a long time but has been made even more difficult because of rising taxes, higher business 'fees', and an ever less responsive bureaucracy.

What city is this that is at the precipice and faces a fate like that of Detroit?

Chicago.

It looks like Detroit may yet have competition for the distinction of America’s most poorly run city. The unprecedented triple-drop in Chicago’s bond rating and the city’s shiny new long-term debt figure—$29 billion—should have pols quaking in their boots.

--snip--

It hasn’t all hit the fan quite yet, but Chicago seems perilously close to real trouble. The city is all out of money, and with an imploding public education system and harrowing levels of violence, it is losing residents fast. Illinois, which itself lost more than 800,000 people to out-migration in the past two decades, is essentially Chicago on a larger scale, with hundreds of billions in unfunded pension liabilities and complete political sclerosis. The state cannot bail out Chicago, and judging by the feds’ reluctance to even lift a finger for Detroit, Chicago shouldn’t expect much more.

The only advantage Chicago has over Detroit is that it still has time to fix its problems. The question is whether or not the Powers-That-Be in the Windy City will recognize the city's actual problems versus its perceived problems. If history is any indicator, the answer is a resounding “NO!” They will likely continue on the path they have followed for decades and end up in the same condition as Detroit.