5/26/2017

Unemployment Rate Is Down...Or Is It?

The news has been reporting that the unemployment numbers are down to the lowest point in 28 years. As of April, the national U3 unemployment rate is 4.4 percent, with my home state of New Hampshire seeing an unemployment rate of 2.8%.

Sounds great, right? Too bad the numbers the government is using doesn't tell the whole story.

The U6 unemployment rate which includes both those who are still collecting unemployment benefits as well as those whose benefits have run out, those have taken jobs that are well below those they held prior, and those who are working part time while still looking for full time employment, and those who have given up looking for work shows us things aren't all that rosy.

The U6 unemployment rate is always higher than the U3 rate, but historically has been about 3 percentage points higher than the U3 rate. Right now it stands at 4.2 percentage points higher, though one non-governmental organization – Gallup – puts the U6 rate as high 14.1%, or 9.7 percentage points higher than the U3 rate.

We still have a Labor Participation Rate that is as low as it has been for 40-some years. Our workforce is also aging, with more Baby Boomers not retiring, either through necessity or because they don't want to retire. We have the millennials, probably one of the least ambitious generations entering the workforce, who are either unwilling to get jobs or are woefully unprepared for the jobs that are out there. (Useless degrees whose title ends with the word “Studies” usually leaves such a college grad qualified to work only as a barista, pizza delivery driver, or Uber/Lyft driver – assuming that even own a car - and not much else.)

What will truly turn around our unemployment problems? All it takes is a couple of things, the biggest getting government off the backs of businesses, particularly small businesses. Another – drop the confiscatory corporate tax rate to be more in line with the rest of the world and let the American businesses with trillions of dollars sitting in banks overseas to repatriate those funds. That kind of money pumped back into the economy through investment would do more to grow the economy, and the jobs that go with that growth than any new 'programs' that regulate the bejeezus out of businesses, big or small.

But that's just my opinion, backed up with decades of historical perspective that too many of our tax/spend/regulate-to-death “betters” choose to ignore.

5/21/2017

Thoughts On A Sunday

It's hard to believe that Memorial Day weekend is almost here. Where has the time gone?

Preparations for launching the Official Weekend Pundit Lake Winnipesaukee Runabout (aka The Boat) continue. The winter cover has been removed, the interior and the hull cleaned, the various drain plugs reinstalled, the batteries charged, and some of the gear has been stowed on board. The rest of the gear will be put on board over the upcoming week, the gas tank will be filled, and given the time and good weather conditions, The Boat will be launched and will be berthed at its slip before the holiday weekend arrives.

The summerfolk have been making their presence known as they gear up for the upcoming summer. Camps and cottages have been opened up and aired out, boats have been launched or prepped for launch, and a good number of summer businesses have opened their doors.

While the calendar says summer doesn't officially begin until June 21st, for all intents and purposes it's already here. While the water temps in the lakes, ponds, rivers and streams are still quite cold, that hasn't stopped some folks from enjoying themselves, even though briefly, in the water. We have certainly seen a lot of boat traffic out on Winnipesaukee and 'official' summer is still over a month away.

I'm not complaining.

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One has to wonder what the next thing the friggin SJW's are going t0 declare as racist? They've already said that math is racist. And so is wood paneling, apparently.

I have a solution for them if they really want to eliminate racism: go gather all of your like-minded SJW brethren, move to an island large enough to sustain you, and live the lives you are trying to impose on everyone else. Then we'll see if you can really actually survive.

My guess – most of you will be dead, killed off by one set of SJW's who feel the rest aren't really SJW's.

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And speaking of Social Justice Warriors, here's one who finally took a close look at the entire movement and decided it was nothing more than yet another religious cult, one becoming increasingly violent and dehumanizing, and decide it was time to divorce herself from it.

I see increasing numbers of so-called liberals cheering censorship and defending violence as a response to speech. I see seemingly reasonable people wishing death on others and laughing at escalating suicide and addiction rates of the white working class. I see liberal think pieces written in opposition to expressing empathy or civility in interactions with those with whom we disagree. I see 63 million Trump voters written off as “nazis” who are okay to target with physical violence. I see concepts like equality and justice being used as a mask for resentful, murderous rage.

How easy is it for ordinary humans to commit atrocious acts? History teaches us it’s pretty damn easy when you are blinded to your own hypocrisy. When you believe you are morally superior, when you have dehumanized those you disagree with, you can justify almost anything. In a particularly vocal part of the left, justification for dehumanizing and committing violence against those on the right has already begun.

As the saying goes, Read The Whole Thing.

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This article points to a growing trend amongst millennial women – dating up. In this case it means dating men who are older than they are.

The reason? Here's a clue:

More and more women I know are dating men twice, yes twice, their age. In her...film, The Intern, Anne Hathaway stands with Robert DeNiro and a bunch of young male colleagues in a bar and draws a harsh comparison: “How in one generation have men gone from guys like Jack Nicholson and Harrison Ford to . . .?” She gestures despairingly at the four men in front of her, archetypes of my generation in their hoodies, craft beer in one hand, iPhone in the other, with their untrimmed beards and general lack of ambition. I see what Hathaway means: Why put up with Tinder when there’s a whole generation of men out there who wouldn’t dream of using it?

In other words, they want real men, not a bunch of horny beta males.

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I have brought this up more than once and to this day no one from the “Tax The S**t Out Of Everyone” Left has been able to explain this away, at least not to my satisfaction. Too many times I've heard them bleat about feelz and little else. They are sure want to be pretty free with the money they want take from the rest of us who earned it.

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This is all too true. Too bad too many of our youth end up learning this years too late, if at all.

One of life's most important rules: You Must Learn To Live With the Consequences of Your Decisions…


She has a future working at Starbucks as a barista, or if she's really willing to dig deep, as an exotic dancer in a male privileged, misogynistic “gentlemen's” club...or a homeless bag lady.

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And that's the news from Lake Winnipesaukee, where wet weather is arriving for Monday, Memorial Day is just around the corner, and everyone's grill has been getting a workout regularly.

5/20/2017

A View From Edinburgh

From author Christopher G. Nutall comes this observation* about the reaction to Donald Trump's election, specifically the reaction from those whose candidate lost.

Writes Nutall:

Shortly after it became clear that Donald Trump had won the 2016 election, a campaign started in an attempt to convince the Electoral College to declare Hillary Clinton the President instead...on the grounds that Hillary Clinton had won the popular vote. This attempt failed and rightly so – the victory condition for a US Presidential election is not winning the most individual votes, but winning in the majority of the states. The President must command a broad swath of support from all over the country, not just the highly populated states. Like him or hate him, Trump won by the rules.

Indeed, if the rules were different – if an election could be won by individual votes – both candidates would have campaigned differently. Neither of them did because they both knew the rules.

--snip--

The point here is that the people involved – the political candidates as well as chess players and everything in-between - must have a shared understanding of the rules. If you go into a game of chess without that agreement, you're likely to run into arguments about legal moves or sensible tactics.

--snip--

In chess, the rules exist to allow two players to share a game without disputes; in politics, electoral rules exist to determine who actually wins and why. They impose order on a chaotic system. Breaking the rules – either by sweeping the pieces off the board or trying to redefine the victory condition when you're losing – should be punished. Why? Because if one side shows no respect for the rules, and if there is no punishment, why should the other follow the rules? And if neither side is willing to follow the rules, we have chaos.

Indeed. When many of Hillary's supporters tried to get around the rules inveighing the electors to ignore them and declare their candidate the winner, they were in effect saying to everyone “If you don't change the rules so I win, I'm gonna hold my breath 'til my face turns blue!” They also showed themselves to have little understanding about our electoral process, ignoring the fact that it is the states that determine the winner, not the individual voters.

The Framers of the Constitution understood the dangers of the tyranny of the majority and the tyranny of the minority which is why they designed Congress to have both a population-proportional chamber – the House of Representatives – and an equal-state chamber – the Senate. The two balanced each other so it was difficult for either a tyranny of the majority or the minority. It was also why they created the Electoral College and made the same arrangement – so that the large population states could not bully the smaller population states and force them into situations that was to the detriment of their citizens. Yet it it appears that's just what the folks complaining about Hillary's election loss want and are willing to abandon the rules to get their way.

I doubt any of them have thought what the outcome would be if they did get their way by throwing out the rules they don't like – a Second American Civil War. Of course if there was such a war, I have no doubt they would think that they would be the victors despite the fact that most of their opponents are better armed and that it is unlikely that most of the states themselves would go along with such an usurpation of the Constitution.

*This was in the afterword of his novel The Long Road.

5/14/2017

Thoughts On A Sunday

It was an exciting weekend, with the missus and our son, BeezleBub, graduating from the same college at the same time.

Today they headed to Vermont for a 'gathering of the cousins' for a chance to meet up with family they don't often have an opportunity to get together. It certainly offset the heavy rain we had overnight and into this morning.

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It looks like California is shooting its small businesses in the foot, again.

This time around the want to impose very strict rules on autographed books, requiring the same kind of measures usually reserved for sports memorabilia or classic items. The one side effect will be the virtual shutdown of book signings and yet another nail in the coffin for small booksellers.

Is there nothing the California legislature can't screw up while makes sure that the small business owners get the shaft? I would think they would focus on the important things like the huge pension deficit, crumbling infrastructure, and diminishing electrical and water supplies rather than trivial crap like this.

My message to the sane people still living in California: Get out now while you still can!

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Skip Murphy over at GraniteGrok has covered an idea put forth by Representative Steve Pearce that I can certainly get behind, that being allowing a “virtual” Congress.

Rep. Steve Pearce, after more than a decade in the House, thinks he knows why people are so unhappy with Congress. Once elected, lawmakers become creatures of Washington and lose touch with the people who sent them there. To fix it, the New Mexico Republican has proposed a resolution that would let lawmakers work the way millions of others do: remotely. His resolution, H.Res. 298, encourages the House Administration Committee to explore ways to let members work in a “virtual setting.” That would include letting members debate, vote, and even attend hearings while they’re home.

As Skip mentions, he and millions of other Americans do it every day. Since this past January I have been doing so (in my case due to an injury that severely limit my ability to travel or negotiate stairs), and I found it worked pretty well for me.

If members of the House and Senate could telecommute to sessions, committee meetings, and hearings, it would allow two things that I think would help insulate members of Congress from falling under the sway of the so-called Beltway Mentality: maintain a close connection with their constituents because the would remain amongst them; be less influenced by lobbyists and rent seekers.

That would be fine with me.

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Yeah, like this is the way for Democrats to win back the hearts and minds of rural American voters.

You know they're damn clueless when Democrat Representative Anna Eshoo (California) denigrates Middle America as “Podunk USA”.

I will admit to considering giving Democrats a pass since Eshoo is also from California, so it could be prejudice is based more upon the fact that she's from California and less that she's a Democrat.

No, just kidding!

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This is no surprise to me, having been a former union member.

It turns out that union presidents are most often paid more than CEO's, with their average salary being almost $60K higher than that of chief executives.

Leading union officials earned an average salary of $252,370 in 2016, outpacing the average salary of private sector chief executives, according to a new report.

The Center for Union Facts compiled the salary information from federal labor filings of 192 of the largest national, state, and local unions. The report found that labor presidents enjoyed nearly a $60,000 advantage over the take-home pay of the nation's business leaders, who earned an average of $194,350, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

I think it's ironic these union leaders are making many times that of their rank and file, and more than the 'greedy' CEO's from which the union is supposed to defend their union members.

What a friggin' racket!

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This is a question that must be answered.

How the heck did climate scientists miss 5 million square kilometers of forests and trees? That's an awfully large amount of carbon sinking vegetation to just misplace, particularly when it can have a net positive effect in regards to carbon sinking. That would certainly affect the assumptions they used to create all of their grossly defective climate models that predict climate Armageddon (even though their models couldn't seem to predict what actually happened over a span of two decades, let alone 100 years).

Then again, could those newly 'discovered' 5 million square kilometers of trees actually be the result of the increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere? (Don't say that too loud, otherwise Michael Mann might come by your house and beat you senseless with one of his hockey sticks.)

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This overly sensitive SJW triggered into a mental meltdown over a pro-Trump sign on campus doesn't need a 'safe space'. She needs a nice long stay in a mental facility and all of the anti-psychotic drugs they can pump into her before she is allowed to return to campus. Now we know where all of the people who used to be institutionalized went after the homeless people kicked them to the curb.

What a friggin' Looney Tune.

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And that's the news from Lake Winnipesaukee, where the rains will be ending soon, the temps are forecast to get warmer, and where yet again Monday has come to damned soon!

5/13/2017

Bring Sanity Back To Setting The Speed Limits On Our Highways

Like the classic Sammy Hagar song, I always found it difficult to drive at the speed limit on our highways when Congress made the mistake of making the temporary 55MPH speed limit permanent back in the mid 70's. The excuses used to justify the permanent 55MPH National Maximum Speed Limit, or NMSL, were based upon false and misleading statistics compiled by what were later come to be known as the Safety Nazis, or more facetiously, the Anti-Destination League.

The argument was made that “55 Saved Lives”, using data that showed the number of traffic fatalities declined when the speed limit was dropped by an executive order issued by President Nixon after the Arab Oil Embargo in 1973 as a means of reducing fuel consumption. What those statistics used didn't show, and for good reason, was that the fatality rate itself didn't change, meaning the number of motorists killed per millions of passenger miles traveled. What caused the drop in fatalities was the drop in the number of miles being driven by the American public. With a decrease in the number of miles traveled the number of traffic fatalities also decreased.

That was then and things have changed considerably.

For one thing, cars and trucks are much more fuel efficient than they were 40-some years ago. They are also a heck of a lot safer, between structural changes affecting crash survivability, better safety design and equipment such as 3-point seatbelts and airbags, and better tires and braking systems. That maske much of the “55 Saves Lives” mantra even more obsolete.

Around 1985 the NMSL was modified to allow states to set the speed limits in their highways up as high as 65MPH. Then Congress got around repealing the NMSL in 1995. The hew and cry form the Safety Nazis was loud and long, with claims that “blood would cover our streets and highways” with the higher speed limits. The reality – the number of traffic fatalities dropped.

Some states raised the speed limits on their highways back to what they had been before the NMSL. Some almost did so. (My home state of New Hampshire has a maximum speed limit of 70MPH on the Interstates, though in some sections it used to be as high as 75MPH.) Some of the western states have no daytime speed limit on their highways other than “safe and prudent for the conditions”.

But are the speed limits set according to what this post by Erik calls Traffic Engineering 101? The answer is, unfortunately, no.

Every year, traffic engineers review the speed limit on thousands of stretches of road and highway. Most are reviewed by a member of the state’s Department of Transportation, often along with a member of the state police, as is the case in Michigan. In each case, the “survey team” has a clear approach: they want to set the speed limit so that 15% of drivers exceed it and 85% of drivers drive at or below the speed limit.

This “nationally recognized method” of setting the speed limit as the 85th percentile speed is essentially traffic engineering 101. It’s also a bit perplexing to those unfamiliar with the concept. Shouldn’t everyone drive at or below the speed limit? And if a driver’s speed is dictated by the speed limit, how can you decide whether or not to change that limit based on the speed of traffic? The answer lies in realizing that the speed limit really is just a number on a sign, and it has very little influence on how fast people drive. “Over the years, I’ve done many follow up studies after we raise or lower a speed limit,” [Lieutenant Gary] Megge [of the Michigan State Police} tells us. “Almost every time, the 85th percentile speed doesn’t change, or if it does, it’s by about 2 or 3 mph.”

 … Years of observing traffic has shown engineers that as long as a cop car is not in sight, most people simply drive at whatever speed they like.

It all comes down to this: people drive at the speed at which they feel comfortable regardless of the posted speed limit.

Our town had a number of people that demanded that a approximately 1.5 mile portion of one state road that passed through our town have the speed limit lowered from 50MPH to 35MPH because of one intersection towards one end of that 1.5 mile stretch. The intersection was on the other side of the top of a hill and getting out was sometimes problematic with cars coming over the rise and down the hill at 50MPH. So their solution was to lower the speed limit almost a mile and a half away just to lower the speed at that one intersection.

At the public hearing held by our town selectmen, a number of people spoke in favor of lowering the limit. I was one of the few who spoke out against it and for one very good reason, that being that it would be universally ignored because that stretch of highway was four lanes wide with an unobstructed view, and driving that stretch at 35MPH would appear to be ludicrously slow. Not too many people liked my comment, but more than a few nodded their heads in agreement.

In the end the public hearing had no effect. The state DOT denied the request, stating the lower speed was too low for the road design and would likely see only a small percentage of motorists adhering to the lower limit. The rest would still drive up and down that state road at 50MPH just as they always did. The DOT understood the principles of Traffic Engineering 101 and used it to justify their rejection.

They did the right thing.

Now if they would only apply Traffic Engineering 101 to the Interstates and state highways and reset the speed limits to what they were before NMSL made driving so miserable for everyone.

5/07/2017

Thoughts On A Sunday

It was a fifty-fifty weekend here at The Manse, with the weather being a bit schizophrenic – warm and sunny part of the day, rainy, cool and damp another part of the day, and back again. Both Saturday and Sunday repeated this pattern, leaving little time to really get a good start on some of the yard work as the ground was still wet. The coming week is going to be rather damp, reducing the chance for outdoor work until next weekend.

And so it goes in New Hampshire.

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As a follow on to yesterday's post about the passing of the AHCA and the long overdue repeal of ObamaCare, there's this little tidbit about how ObamaCare would have lead to the death of one woman's husband if it had been in effect when he suffered his heart attack.

I doubt anyone can tell me it hasn't led to countless deaths since it went into effect.

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Dr. Helen comments upon the Netflix show 13 Reasons Why, the story of a teenage girl who commits suicide and leaves behind audio tapes of the 13 reasons why she killed herself.

While she is concerned that it glorifies suicide, I don't see it that way. Then again, I am an old fart who hasn't had to deal with teen angst for over 40 years. The responses in some of the comments are telling, many of them pointing out that while the show deals with the suicide of a teenage girl, a vast majority of teen suicides are commented by teenage boys, by almost a 3-to-1 margin. But most of the focus seems to be on girls killing themselves. Boys appear to be ignored. But then that's what the focus has been on over the past few decades. One comment hit the nail on the head:

Boys today are indoctrinated that they are worthless to the human species. They are constantly harangued for acting like adolescent hormone driven males, even when they have done nothing to deserve scorn. Hopeless and despondent, they fall into depression which leads to a lose, lose situation. What they see is, no matter what they do, it is wrong. So, after contemplating this very uneasy position, that they have been forced into, they opt for the easiest way out to end their suffering. They are not mentally ill, they just want their suffering to stop and cannot see the alternative way out.

Then again, maybe the gender feminists see teen boy suicides as an answer to their prayers. I wouldn't put it past them.

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I can agree with this: Get the US Government out of Washington DC.

As the Instaprof suggests, “...make the move in a way that takes federal employees out of Virginia, and puts them in the run-down parts of blue states. Fresno! Bakersfield! Utica! Lower costs, and a firsthand view of economic decline.”

Indeed.

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One has to wonder how long those in power in Venezuela will stay in power as the country implodes around them? To hear NBC tell it, the problem isn't because of socialism.

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As much as the greenies decry the use of fossil fuels to generate electricity, they always choose to ignore the actual efficiencies between the coal and gas-fired power plants and solar generated electricity. One of those efficiencies is the number of workers it takes for each source to produce the same amount of electricity.

Here are the cold hard facts: What takes 1 coal worker or 2 natural gas workers take 79 solar workers to produce the same amount of electricity. How is solar efficient at all, considering the amount of labor it takes compared to coal or natural gas?

I wonder how many nuclear workers it takes to produce the same amount of electricity?

If I had to guess, it's probably close to coal, if not better.

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I've read this a couple of dozen times and I still don't understand how these idiots can possibly believe the horses**t they're trying to pass off as being thoughtful, being considerate of the feelings of others, or politically correct.

The scientific journal Pediatrics has published a study that claims “It’s “ethically inappropriate” for government and medical organizations to describe breastfeeding as “natural” because the term enforces rigid notions about gender roles.

Really? So what is it, unnatural? Seems to me that it's perfectly natural for all of the other mammalian species on the planet, but somehow it isn't for homo sapiens?

These folks need to get psychiatric help before they can do any more damage.

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And that's the news from Lake Winnipesaukee, where our boat's launch will be delayed a week, the college graduation of my son and my wife take place next weekend, and where we're planning a big party to celebrate.

5/06/2017

Fatally Flawed ObamaCare Is Repealed - Let The Bleating Begin

The fallout from the passage of the ObamaCare repealing AHCA continues. While some are decrying the possibility of many people losing the health insurance covered provided to them by the fatally flawed ACA, those same people have chosen to ignore the millions of Americans who were hurt by the ACA. Millions lost their affordable “junk” health insurance plans, only for them to be replaced with very expensive and unusable plans that bent or broke many a household budget.

One such victim of ACA was Mary Katherine Hamm.

You may know me as a political pundit and writer who has spoken publicly about how the Affordable Care Act negatively affected my family. What you might not know is two years ago, I was a seven-month-pregnant widow with one toddler who got a letter two weeks after my husband died, informing me I’d lost my third or fourth health insurance plan since the Affordable Care Act passed. If you’ll remember, the promise was that I could keep my plan if I liked it. I could not.

--snip--

It has come to my attention that, even among those who should know, or assert they know a lot about health care policy and the market, many don’t know that people like me exist. But there are many of us, many with far fewer resources than I, who now have much more expensive, less effective, junkier, nearly unusable plans than we had back when our allegedly “junk” plans were outlawed. Again, we are not the only ACA story. But we are part of the story, we were sold a bill of goods, and we’re often overlooked.

A family member of mine saw their health insurance premiums skyrocket along with the out of pocket deductible, meaning they would shell out for over $12,000 between the two before their insurance even kicked in. Considering that was about a fifth of their annual income, that's one hell of a kick in the teeth, financially. How was this either affordable or health care?

Those screaming the loudest about the passage of AHCA are those enamored by the possibility of losing yet another outlet for “Free S**t”. A close friend of mine had thought his 'free' health insurance was great...right up until the point where he wanted to use it and couldn't find a doctor who would take him on as a patient because the practices he called couldn't afford to take on any more of the folks who were now covered by the expanded Medicaid program.

As I wrote some time ago about this particular problem, having health insurance did not guarantee health care. My friend was living proof.

I expect we'll soon be hearing about millions 'dying in the streets' because AHCA passed.