Global Warming Economics Don't Make Sense

Freeman Dyson, physicist and mathematician, has some real problems with the economics of “fighting” global warming, stating that many of the more popular cures, such as that proposed by Al Gore, will cause far more damage to both humankind and Earth's climate than doing nothing.

While I have seen many approaches to questioning the inconvenient truths of global warming, Dyson's approach makes more sense than most of the others.

Dyson is not a global warming skeptic, but he does question the methods put forward to reduce global warming. It makes no sense, he says, to spend trillions of dollars trying to do so if those efforts cause trillions of dollars more damage than they prevent.

With this, I can agree. Putting forward plans of dubious value and unproven efficacy is lunacy, particularly when far less would be spent adapting to global warming, assuming it's really going to happen. Dyson and I aren't the only ones questioning such a course. A number of governments have started to realize the amounts of capital they'll have to put up as well as how much damage they'll do to their economies with absolutely no guarantee their efforts will have any but a minuscule effect on climate change. Plus, too many people are skeptical their governments have the answers and aren't willing to give them the money and power to implement questionable policies.

As more evidence becomes available, I have become more skeptical that global warming, assuming it is taking place, can be laid at the feet of human activity. There are too many other factors that affect climate, almost all of which existed long before man existed and still affect Earth's climate today. Also, the Roman and Medieval Warm Periods showed that a warmer global climate has its advantages, with longer growing seasons, particularly in the higher latitudes. The true believers assume that global warming means catastrophe when historical records point towards better conditions, not worse.

In fact, I am leaning more towards those climatologists and solar astronomers that say it's more likely the sun is the cause of the climate changes we've seen over the past 100 years or more. If temperatures on Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, and the other planets have been rising as they have on Earth, then it's like they all have the same cause, and it's not human activity. And if it turns out the sun is the cause of climate change, then any activity we partake based upon the assumption that It's-All-The-Fault-Of-The-Evil-Humans™ will have little, if any effect on climate change. All it will do is waste time and a lot of cash.

I don't know about you, but I see spending of that magnitude based upon such flimsy evidence and defective computer models that don't even come close to predicting what's really happening as nothing more than a sucker bet.


How To Ruin A State Economy In One Easy Step

Why is it the first thing government thinks of doing in case of a budget shortfall is to raise taxes? It rarely occurs to The-Powers-That-Be to cut spending in order to roll expenditures back enough to match what income there is. It happens at town, county, state and federal level all too often. What's worse is when there's also a soft economy and tax revenues fall off. Somehow government thinks that pulling even more money out of the economy will make things better. Every time government has done that it only makes the situation worse and revenues fall even farther. It sets up a vicious cycle. I've seen this before.

Back in the mid to late 70's, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts was suffering from a growing tax burden and the erosion of its economy as a deep recession caused high unemployment. Every time the Commonwealth raised taxes, unemployment rose. Companies, large and small, left the state, looking for greener (and less expensive) pastures. The old joke back then went “Would the last person leaving Massachusetts please turn off the lights?”

We're seeing the same thing again, thirty years later, but this time in Michigan.

It's no fun to kick a state when it's down – especially when the local politicians are doing a fine job of it – but the latest news of Michigan's deepening budget woe is a national warning of what happens when you raise taxes in a weak economy.

Officials in Lansing reported this month that the state faces a revenue shortfall between $350 million and $550 million next budget year. This is a major embarrassment for Governor Jennifer Granholm, the second-term Democrat who shut down the state government last year until the Legislature approved Michigan's biggest tax hike in a generation. Her tax plan raised the state income tax rate to 4.35% from 3.9%, and increased the state's tax on gross business receipts by 22%. Ms. Granholm argued that these new taxes would raise some $1.3 billion in new revenue that could be "invested" in social spending and new businesses and lead to a Michigan renaissance.

Not quite. Six months later one-third of the expected revenues have vanished as the state's economy continues to struggle. Income tax collections are falling behind estimates, as are property tax receipts and those from the state's transaction tax on home sales.

Gee, they raise taxes during a weak economy, and what happens? Their revenues fall. No surprise there. Jobs and residents have voted with their feet, with twice as many people moving out of Michigan as are moving in. As taxes go higher the trend will only steepen. They're stuck in a vicious cycle, apparently unable to do the one thing necessary to turn things around: cut spending.

The same thing could happen here in my home state of New Hampshire. The legislature passed a biennial budget which included a 17.5% increase in expenditures. There's only one thing they forgot.

How to pay for it.

The budget's already over $50 million in the red, with a projected deficit of $200 million before the end of the biennium. The legislature did raise some taxes, but the revenues projected to be raised fell far short. Other tax revenues have also been well below projections. The governor did order a hiring freeze and directed all department heads to cut their budgets in an effort to stanch the slow of red ink. A few tax-and-spend groups have been calling for a state sales or income tax to make up for the shortfall, but we all know the legislature will find new an interesting ways to spend the money and the budget will still be out of balance. So they'll raise them...and revenues will fall, leaving an even bigger revenue shortfall.

The only answer is to cut spending and roll back the tax increases imposed at the beginning of the biennium. The only thing the state legislature here needs to do is look to Michigan to see how well its program of increasing taxes is working. Maybe they'll get the message. But that's not likely.


Discrimination Or Necessity?

As much as many employers try to be accommodating to employees when and where they can, there are times when an employer must draw the line, otherwise chaos will ensue.

When it comes to devout Muslims, some customs go against public health laws (certain hospital garbing requirements in the UK violate orthodox Muslim dress codes, possibly putting patients at risk) and no amount of complaining will change the need to follow those laws. In other circumstances it's a company policy, something developed over time for reasons of safety or cleanliness. But that doesn't stop some from claiming discrimination.

A group of Muslim workers claim they were fired by a New Brighton tortilla factory for refusing to wear uniforms rather than their traditional loose-fitting skirts and scarves, according to a civil liberties group.

Gruma Corporation, the Irving, Texas-based parent company of Mission Foods, released a written statement Tuesday denying that any employees were terminated or disciplined at the New Brighton plant. However, the company made clear the six women have been relieved of their responsibilities for the time being, and may ultimately lose their jobs if they don't wear uniforms.

''Should these employees choose to adhere to the current Mission Foods uniform policy, they may return to their positions with the company,'' the company statement said. ''However, these positions will need to be filled as soon as possible and cannot be held indefinitely.''

The company has every right to impose a dress code. However, the company doesn't necessarily hold the moral high ground here as they did allow the women in question to wear coats that allowed them to maintain their modesty, but took them away before changing their dress code.

Since I have no idea what work at the tortilla factory entails, I am making this comment in the blind: Loose clothing in a factory setting can be a killer. Anywhere there's machinery operating, loose clothing endangers the wearer as it can easily be snagged by the machinery and draw the wearer into it, causing injuries or death to them or their co-workers. Machine guarding can only go so far.

If the dress code was changed to reduce the threat of such accidents (and their insurance carrier may have insisted), then they are well within their rights to impose it. If these women were willing to sign a legally binding waiver absolving the company for any liabilities for injuries on the factory floor they might suffer due to their clothing, then the company should let them return. Otherwise why should this firm put themselves in a position for potential liability because of their employees dress? How far should any employer go to accommodate an employee's special needs?


Please Bear With Me

This blog site will be undergoing a few changes, most of which are temporary. I am still in the process of restoring the original look and feel of the Blogmosis-hosted site, and some of those efforts require me to make some major changes to the template of this back-up blog.

You see, I did something I shouldn't have done. Or rather, I didn't do what I should have done on a more regular basis: make back-ups of all my entries on the original site. My last full archive back-up I did back on January 1st of this year. I'm usually far more diligent than that, making back-ups once a month at least. But I let it slide, mostly because I just plain forgot, and it's come back to bite me in the ass.

Fortunately I do have this blog site which contains most of the missing material, but in order to retrieve it I have to do some strange things to the template. So if this blog looks incredibly strange, or looks like just text, that's me making pulling the archives in a form that makes it easy for me to merge the two back-up files. At least I hope it does. So please bear with me for the next day or two until I get it all squared away.

Regular blogging resumes on Wednesday.


Thoughts On A Sunday

The boating season finally arrived for us. The Official Weekend Pundit Lake Winnipesaukee Runabout was launched this morning and is finally in its home for the summer.

Unfortunately it took two attempts to launch The Boat. Apparently both batteries had been drained sometime after BeezleBub and I took care of running the engine to make sure everything was working properly. I figure the master battery switch was left on as well as the ignition switch.

In any case, my first attempt to start The Boat was met with nothing but the chattering of the starter relay. So we pulled it back out on the trailer, returned to the Manse, put the batteries on charge for about 45 minutes, then headed back to the boat ramp. The second attempt was met with success. The engine fired right up. I let it run for a few minutes before finally backing off the trailer, and I was off.

It took me about 45 minutes to reach the dock where we're keeping The Boat this summer. Not bad considering I was dawdling on my way there. After all, this was a shakedown cruise and I needed to make sure everything was working as it should.

One observation: there were a lot less boats out on the lake than I remember from this time last year.


I find this difficult to believe.

Some people in Santa Fe want the city to ban WiFi systems in public places because they claim they are allergic to the wireless Internet signals. They say that the city's WiFi installations violate the Americans with Disabilities Act.

If they are truly sensitive to such emissions, they must be in a living hell because there are plenty of other radio services transmitting at much higher power than that ever seen from WiFi transceivers. In fact they must live in homes without electricity, without microwave ovens, TVs, radios. Their homes must be shielded to eliminate all outside RF fields.

But I have major doubts. Before Santa Fe even considers responding to their demands, it should insist these people be tested to prove their sensitivity. All I see are some people trying to use the ADA to scam money from the city. And if they are sensitive, what are they doing living in a city rife with RF emitters, both fixed and mobile?


What if there are more scientists questioning the validity of global warming claims than those 'scientists' claiming the debate is over because anthropogenic global warming is a fact? How do the AGW believers reconcile the fact that a very large percentage their 'scientists' have no background or training in science of any kind?


It appears Senator Obama still has a lot to learn when it comes to foreign policy. The problem is much of this is something he should already know.


Could it be that global warming scientists were wrong? Could it be because their computer models don't work?

(H/T Viking Pundit)


As good as the weather was today, it's supposed to be even better tomorrow. We'll be out on the lake then, maybe even making it out twice during the day.


And that's the news from Lake Winnipesaukee, where the summer tourist season has officially started, gas prices are going through the roof, and where the summerfolk have reappeared in droves.


Memorial Day Weekend - Saturday

It's near the end of the first day of Memorial Day weekend and, despite reports in the media, it appears traffic and visits to the Lakes Region is heavy, though maybe not as it has been in past years.

The WP family was here at The Manse to celebrate WP Dad's 75th birthday, and every one of my siblings said the traffic was quite heavy, particularly those making the trip up from the Boston area. Deb said the local supermarket was mobbed, as was the farm stand at the farm where BeezleBub works.

Tomorrow I will brave the waters of Lake Winnipesaukee, as I will be launching The Boat in the morning. It will be interesting to see if high gas prices will have any effect on boat traffic.

I'm betting it will.


High Oil Prices - Paranoia Reigns Supreme

A Washington Post article reports how once again oil industry executives have been called in front of Congress to answer questions about the why oil prices are so high. But the fact is that there's no single answer to that question. Even the experts aren't sure why.

As interesting as the article and its conclusions are, it is the comments to that article I find far more interesting. They ran the gamut from “It's market forces and speculation!” to “It's all the Bush Administrations fault because they're all in the pocket of the oil companies!” and everywhere in between. Some folks commenting obviously had no clue about how a market economy works (“We should nationalize the oil companies!”), nor about the laws pertaining to such things as commodities markets (“Speculators should be tried by the Justice Department and imprisoned.”).

The paranoia exhibited by many those commenting seemed to grow with each new point and counterpoint. Some of it was a little scary. A lot of it was outright bizarre. Some commenters showed they had a pretty good grasp of the problem, using logic and reasoned thought, whether they agreed with what I think about it or not. A few examples:

“...it seems that many, if not most, Americans don't know or even care about the difference between fact and fantasy anymore. Their beliefs seem to be dictated by feeling, irrespective of referenced fact or evidence. From denial of evolution and climate change to magical thinking about vast untapped oil reserves and the quick and easy availability of energy-producing technologies, the combination of confidence and ignorance is breath-taking.”

“The decisions are made by a few obscenely rich and power-horny lunatics who want to be even richer.
Probably even the Bush administration is confused by the lack of self-control and foresight shown by this scum, but the high oil prices are no accident.”

First we have someone pointing out too many people are being emotional about this subject and ignoring facts which are readily verifiable. Then the paranoid conspiracy theorist adds his 2¢ worth.

Some more examples:

“Blaming the eco conscious is EXACTLY the tactic BIG OIL wants. If we allowed drilling tomorrow in ANWR no oil would hit the market for a decade, and at that point the most generous estimates are that it would provide a minuscule dribble of oil on the world market. TOP estimates are that it would in total provide about 3 months worth of current consumption. There simply is no way to "drill" our way out of our energy crisis. you can't invent a resource that does not exist just because you wish it were true. That is typical conservative/bush administration thinking. "Just because I want the world to be this way that means it is".

The REAL culprit are all those conservatives and oil/coal lobbyists who have squashed electric cars, squashed alternative and sustainable energy projects, who fought for decades against building more fuel efficient vehicles, who fight public transportation infrastructure. THOSE folks are the ones responsible for the current state of affairs. What is the point in doing irreparable damage to earth if all it buys is a few more months of driving your Yukon or Expedition?”

Really? And all this time I thought many of those blocking progress were the liberals in Congress and the state legislatures. When Ted Kennedy, a supposed supporter of alternative energy sources, pulled every string he could in an effort to kill a wind farm off the coast of Nantucket in Massachusetts, was he working for the Bush Administration, or was he showing the typical NIMBY mentality I've seen in far too many of the “eco conscious”?

It wasn't the oil and coal lobbyists that killed the electric car, but the lack of a sufficient battery technology. GM's EV1 was a great car except for two things: it was too damn expensive for the average motorist to buy (it was heavily subsidized by GM, which is why they only leased them); and the battery pack didn't have the storage capacity needed, nor the longevity to make it viable in the long term. There is no secret 'super battery' killed off by the oil companies, no 100 mpg carburetors stashed away in a dusty warehouse (Those carburetors worked...but they burned out the engines after a couple of hundred or a thousand miles. Not exactly a trade off that's economical.)

And a lot of the so-called eco-conscious liberals drive those big damn SUVs, or worse, use private jets that use far more fuel in a single day than I will ever use in a year or more. This commenter also mentioned public transportation, something I'm all for...but in areas where it makes sense. Where I live, rural New Hampshire, public transportation would cost far more to implement than would be saved in either cost or fuel.

More examples:

“The current price spikes; however, are not so much driven by changing supply and demand as they are by speculation. Players in today's commodity market for oil are willing to pay ever increasing prices betting that prices will go even higher. They're chasing quick profits—speculating.”

“This isn't rocket science. The media has reported the reasons many times over....4. Inability of the major oil producers to pump significantly more crude oil per day. 5. Unwillingness on the part of refinery operators to expand refining capacity. We must greatly expand the use of alternative fuels. Why are there so few biodiesel or compressed natural gas pumps, when there are plenty of cars that could be modified to accept either fuel? Answer: oil companies own the gas pumps and no one is doing anything to make them offer other fuels. We could also outlaw commodities speculation. Unless you can physically store the oil and gasoline you're trading, you should have no right to trade it. Gasoline speculation is endangering our national security and it should be stopped.”

The first example is closer to the truth than most folks will admit, but it isn't the only reason, nor the major one.

In the second example I cut out the points that I agreed with, mainly dealing with the growth of speculation/commodities trading, and the growing demand in the developing world. But then the commenter went off course, blaming the oil companies for not pumping more crude and for not building more refineries. First, if the oil companies in the US could pump more crude, they would. But in many cases they aren't allowed to because in order to pump more oil they have to explore for and drill for more oil. Congress has pretty much prevented that by making offshore drilling off the East and West coasts off limits. Second, it isn't the oil companies unwillingness to build new refineries that's the problem. They'd love to do just that. But they don't want to spend millions, if not hundreds of millions of dollars on projects that will inevitably be blocked by Congress or by state legislatures. We all want more of the products the refineries make, but we won't let any more refineries be built. It's a lose-lose situation for the oil companies, so why would they waste the time and money on a futile endeavor? I know I wouldn't.

I could go on ad nauseum as there are well over 400 comments to the WaPo article. Better that you read them for yourselves and come to your own conclusions.

UPDATE 5/24/2008: It didn't take long for the Congresscritters to show their true stripes. Maxine Waters (D - CA) stated outright in the open hearing with the oil company executives that the Dems goal is to nationalize the oil companies. Never mind what it will do to the stockholders, most of which are pension funds.

As the post linked above asks: "Can we call them Marxists yet?" I think we can because they are.


Joe Knows - Democratic Party A Shadow Of Its Former Self

Every time I read something Joe Lieberman has written or listen to one of his speeches, it make me wonder what's happened to the Democratic party I knew when I was younger. Not that I was ever a Democrat, but there have been plenty I have respected. Joe Lieberman is one of them.

While I don't agree with many of his beliefs, I do respect them as they appear to be based upon deep thought and logical reasoning. This is unlike so many of his former Democratic colleagues, many which have fallen under the sway of the extreme Left within the party. Feelings are more important to them than what is right, what is logical, or what is needed. Feelings are all well and good, but they are the last thing upon which any laws or policies should be based. The good of the nation should be paramount, not discredited social policies.

A few still remember that, including Joe.

How did the Democratic Party get here? How did the party of Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman and John F. Kennedy drift so far from the foreign policy and national security principles and policies that were at the core of its identity and its purpose?

Beginning in the 1940s, the Democratic Party was forced to confront two of the most dangerous enemies our nation has ever faced: Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union. In response, Democrats under Roosevelt, Truman and Kennedy forged and conducted a foreign policy that was principled, internationalist, strong and successful.

These days it seems the Democratic Party wants to weaken our nation all in an effort to make our enemies feel 'safe'. Unfortunately all that will do is make them feel safe enough to attack us and our interests.

These days it seems the Democratic Party has come to believe that we're all too stupid to make up our own decisions in life. Unfortunately for them we tend to be far smarter about running our own lives than they are.

And so it is also with how imperial many of the Democrats in Congress have started to behave. A perfect example of this behavior is the latest move by Senator Barbara Boxer. She decided a well known, well qualified and respected nominee to be general counsel for the Environmental Protection Agency didn't deserve to be confirmed because, horror of horrors, he dares to support a White House policy specifically dealing with policy supervision at the EPA. Never mind the nominee carries no political baggage and that he had passed confirmation on a similar post he held in the Department of Energy.

The committee is chaired by California's Barbara Boxer, who is livid that the EPA has so far declined to rewrite existing environmental laws to regulate greenhouse gasses. At a confirmation hearing, Ms. Boxer told Mr. Hill that he was incapable of "independent thought" because he didn't pay obeisance to her political agenda. Instead, Mr. Hill said he would only sign off on decisions that were "legally defensible." Anything but that.

“Incapable of independent thought.” Whet the heck is Barbara Boxer's definition of independent thought? If it includes having to agree with her political agenda, then it isn't independent thought, is it? Instead it's supposed to be a mindless adherence to a morally bankrupt and ideologically polluted political party? What crap. She's pissed off, she feels angry, so she let's her emotions dictate what to do rather than what is right, prudent, and necessary.

This blackmail is especially appalling because the EPA is being sued on dozens of fronts, and needs someone competent to head its legal office. But by Ms. Boxer's standard no one who doesn't bow to her policy could possibly be confirmed, ever. Remember all the partisan jabbering, not so long ago, about the Imperial Presidency?

Maybe it's time that Joe Lieberman to cut the final ties to a Democratic Party that shows its contempt for anyone not in the fold, a party trying it's best to wrest control of of the government away from the American people and instead make sure it's run by “right-thinking people” like themselves.

Maybe it's time for Joe to cross the aisle and join the GOP.


China Learning Price Controls Don't Work In A Market Economy

Politicians on both side of the aisle in Congress agree there should be some kind of national energy policy, with some calling for some kind of price controls, others for opening areas previously closed to oil exploration, and yet others pushing for more wind, solar, and nuclear power.

All may sound like a good idea, but at least one of them, price controls, is a bad idea that's been proven to be bad again and again throughout history. It's a lesson China is presently learning, finding that keeping the price of coal artificially low has that country suffering from the Law of Unintended Consequences.

Chinese power plants are running out of coal, with less than a three-day supply in some areas, the government said Tuesday, adding to China's logistical headaches following a devastating earthquake.

It is the second time in three months that Chinese power plants have run short of coal, an unintended effect of government-mandated price controls -- a throwback to communist central planning -- to shield the public from rising global energy costs.

As a commenter to the linked article stated, “We in the USA learned this lesson (most recently) back in the 1970's under Nixon's wage/price controls.” The Chinese are learning George Santayana's axiom about ignoring history is true.

Keeping the price of a commodity artificially low always fosters increased demand and reduced supply. It skews the normal feedback mechanisms inherent in a market economy, sometimes with devastating effects.

In China a number of coal-fired power plants have already shut down due to lack of fuel. It didn't help things that the government also froze the price of electricity, which put the power producers into a bind. As fuel prices have risen, despite government price controls, they haven't been able to pay the higher prices because the don't have enough funds to do so. It doesn't matter if the price of coal there is low, there's none to be had at that price. If the coal mines can't get enough money to pay the cost of mining and shipping the coal, they don't mine it. And if they don't mine it, there's none to ship. It's a cascade effect that is already moving through their economy and is likely to cause spreading power shortages as fuel becomes scarcer.

The price controls are also making themselves felt in the oil industry in China. Petroleum fuels are also becoming scarce even as demand is skyrocketing.

This is a lesson that we should take to heart and not be forced to learn yet again.


Is Henry Waxman The "Beverly Hillbully"?

Why is it that I'm not surprised that one of the most feared men in Congress is also a hypocrite, particularly when it comes to the environment.

Henry Waxman (D- CA) knows how to bully people he doesn't like, using the power of the Congressional subpoena and committee hearings in order to destroy those that have pissed him off. Never mind that in many cases those he decides to “investigate” are guilty of nothing other than doing something he doesn't like.

Mr. Waxman purports to be upset because the EPA's science advisory board had endorsed a standard between 0.06 and 0.07, down from the current 0.084. Many others, including government and industry officials from around the country, had urged EPA to keep the current standard. Mr. Johnson split the difference, explaining that virtually all of the remaining human health risks from ozone could be eliminated at 0.075 parts per million.

This is a reasonable judgment given that ever-tighter ozone standards cost a great deal to meet but yield ever-smaller gains in public health. The big problem with the science board's recommendation is that nearly 90% of U.S. cities would have been in instant noncompliance. They would then have had to limit vital economic activity – road building, factory production – to meet the standard. And unemployment is bad for public health too.

As it happens, Mr. Waxman's own 30th California House district is already in gross violation of even the 1997 Clinton Administration standard of 0.084. In fact, Southern California is the only area in the country that has been designated by the EPA to be in "extreme noncompliance" with the ozone standards, which conveniently means it has been granted 20 years to clean up its act.

The odds are close to zero that Mr. Waxman's district could come anywhere close to complying even with the new EPA standard, much less the one the Congressman wants to impose on the entire country.

So why would Congressman Waxman work so hard for these tighter standards? When it comes to his home district, that being an area comprising Santa Monica, Westwood, and Beverly Hills, he will do what he can to ensure his district won't have to comply with federal ozone requirements as laid out by the EPA. How does he go about it? Simply by making sure the federal ozone standards are so tough that no city anywhere in the nation complies with them. That takes the pressure off of his district to comply. His protestations to the contrary, he is no friend of the environment, nor of the economy. His actions, should he get his way, could seriously damage the US economy to meet standards that are damn near impossible for anyone to meet. The cost would be astronomical, with little, if any benefit to show for the funds spent. To make the ozone levels lower than what the EPA has suggested is a perfect example of going past the point of diminishing returns. The old axiom goes that it takes 10% of the money (and time) to reap 90% of the benefits, and 90% of the money (and time) to reap the last 10% of the benefits. At what point do you say it's enough, that further expenditures of time and money will garner little added benefit? I guess Mr. Waxman's answer would be "Never!"


Thoughts On A Sunday

The main Weekend Pundit site is still down and I haven't heard yet from the folks hosting it. This sucks.

In the mean time I'll be looking for a new home for WP, preferably one that will be a bit more local and allow me some more leeway in setting WP up that way I want it. My biggest problem in making a move will be restoring all the posts from the existing site, or at least a lot of the photos that have been posted over the years.

Sometimes blogging sucks.


Methinks he doth protest too much. Barack Obama, that is.

Barack took comments made by President Bush while addressing the Knesset in Israel as a slam against him. It became obvious to me from his response to those comments he really has no understanding of the situation in Israel. The Israelis know all too well that appeasing one's enemies does nothing but embolden them, that sometimes the only negotiations you should make with your enemies is how you are going to kill them if they don't surrender, or at least back down from committing further acts of war.

Barack shows his ignorance and inexperience of foreign policy by making blanket statements that embolden our adversaries and causes dismay among our allies. That is not the mark of someone with the knowledge , experience, or demeanor needed to sit in the Oval Office. That is not the only fault I have seen he bears. The more I hear from him, the more convinced I am that an Obama presidency would be a disaster for the US, both on the world stage and domestically.


Could it be that the real cause of “global warming” is fat people?

(H/T Maggie's Farm)


To show you how out of touch Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi happens to be, both the Iraqi government and Moqtada al Sadr think her idea for rapid withdrawal of US troops would be a very bad idea.

To show how truly out of touch she is: she doesn't care.

I guess that shows us what she thinks of the Iraqi people and of the sacrifices made by them and our armed forces serving there.


Bruce at No Looking Backwards points out some major flaws with the plans of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts for reversing the outmigration of its residents to other states.

I can certainly make a few suggestions to them about that: cut taxes, remember what the Second Amendment means, and stop treating the remaining residents of the Commonwealth as if they were too stupid to make their own decisions.


If you're in the market for an HDTV you might want to take a look at this guide to selecting the proper size screen for your home. Biggest is not always best.

(H/T Instapundit)


Work on The Boat continues in preparation for its launching later this week. All that's left to do is to finish applying wax to the hull and upper deck, buffing it to a semi-reasonable shine, vacuuming out the cockpit, and reloading the gear into the appropriate lockers. A quick check of the navigation lights and installing the bilge plug will finish the pre-launch work. Then, if the weather cooperates, we'll be launching sometime Friday, just is time for Memorial Day weekend.


And that's the news from Lake Winnipesaukee, where the summerfolk have been opening up their cottages, the locals have been out on the lake, and where Motorcycle Week will soon be upon us.


Kitty Cat Workout

A belated cat blogging post, something I wanted to get onto the main blog but, for obviosu reasons, is being posted here instead.

I know Bagheera will have something worth saying about this...

http://view.break.com/502351 - Watch more free videos

Where's My Weblog?

It appears my main blog, Weekend Pundit, is down. The folks that host the site, our friends Matt and Vicki Drachenberg, haven't yet responded to the e-mail I sent last night when I couldn't reach my blog or their main page. Until then, this backup site will have to do, just as it was intended. While not as fancy and lacking many of the links of the primary blog, it will let me continue blogging.

Until Blogmosis reappears or I can make arrangements through another host to resurrect my site, I will be found here.


Keep The Immigrants

When I saw the title of a particular Wall Street Journal opinion piece by Jason Riley, I knew I had to read it and, once read, pass it on. The title? “Keep the Immigrants, Deport the Multiculturalists.”

What a wonderful sentiment. I can honestly say I like the idea.

It seems to me it's been those pushing multiculturalism the hardest have been the cause of many of the problems with immigrants, trying their darnedest to prevent them from assimilating into American culture. To them American culture is inferior to all the others because of past wrongs committed by those long dead. However, these same multiculturalists are willing to overlook the brutal nature of many of the other cultures they hold in such high regard, cultures many of those immigrants worked so hard to get away from. Who are they to tell these folks they must not join with the millions of immigrants that came before them?

If American culture is under assault today, it's not from immigrants who aren't assimilating but from liberal elites who reject the concept of assimilation. For multiculturalists, and particularly those in the academy, assimilation is a dirty word. A values-neutral belief system is embraced by some to avoid having to judge one culture as superior or inferior to another. Others reject the assimilationist paradigm outright on the grounds that the U.S. hasn't always lived up to its ideals. America slaughtered Indians and enslaved blacks, goes the argument, and this wicked history means we have no right to impose a value system on others.

The problem isn't the immigrants. The problem is the militant multiculturalists who want to turn America into some loose federation of ethnic and racial groups. The political right should continue to push back against bilingual education advocates, anti-American Chicano Studies professors, Spanish-language ballots, ethnically gerrymandered voting districts, La Raza's big-government agenda and all the rest. But these problems weren't created by the women burping our babies and changing linen at our hotels, or by the men picking lettuce in Yuma and building homes in Iowa City.

Keep the immigrants. Deport the Columbia faculty.

While I don't agree with all of Mr. Riley's sentiments or with his ideas, particularly for open borders, I do agree with his take on the multiculturalists. Deport them. Let them live in the cultures they hold in such high regard, live by their laws, their mores, their customs. Let them make a direct comparison between that culture and American culture. I have a feeling that they would gladly return to the decadent American culture and all its flaws rather than live in one of those 'superior' or 'equal' cultures.


Smarter Consumers Needed?

As some of you that might read this blog on a semi-regular basis may know, I am an engineer. I have dealt with, used, and designed high-tech equipment for over 30 years. I'd like to think I'm pretty tech savvy, that I have a handle on just about any piece of consumer electronics I come across. But I have to admit that there have been times when I have been baffled by one piece of consumer electronics gear or another. And if I have problems with some of the gear out there, what about the rest of the folks out there that are far less technologically knowledgeable? It isn't as uncommon as you might think.

The consumer-electronics industry needs smarter consumers—that’s the takeaway from a Wall Street Journal article titled “The War on Returns.” The article cites a study by Accenture noting that the US electronics industry last year spent about $13.8 billion to re-box, restock, and resell returned products.

While the technology inside a lot of the consumer electronics products out there is amazing, the biggest downfall to that technology, and one of the leading reasons for a good percentage of returns, is that the user interface is poorly designed or poorly executed. What good is the latest piece of wizbang cracker jack bleeding edge technology if it's difficult to use?

I've experienced the problems with poor user interface design first hand, having worked hard to convince someone in a marketing department that the user interface on a piece of equipment we were designing was too confusing, too difficult to navigate, or just plain outright awful.

The properly designed interface should be intuitive, requiring little need to study a user guide or memorize a series of arcane commands in order to use a device. That's true whether dealing with a piece of laboratory gear or the latest iPhone clone.

When the consumer electronics industry says they need smarter consumers, better that they check their preconceptions about their customers before going any further.

My conclusion—perhaps it’s the manufacturers who are stupid, not the consumers. If you make a product with a user interface that’s so poor the average consumer can’t figure it out, then your product is defective, even if all the transistors, buttons, displays, and other components work. (Emphasis mine)

You'll get no argument from me on that point. Quite a few of those commenting to that post on an industry blog agreed.

- “I recently purchased an LG HDTV and home theater combo. Together they have about 50 pages of instructions - all out of context and two separate remotes that each work both devices - sort of. I have a masters degree in EE and am a registered P.E. (Professional Engineer – ed.) and I am having trouble getting all of this stuff to work together.”

- “I do believe the problem is with the manufacturers, who seem to have people intimately familiar with the set-up needs write the instructions, which are NOT checked out by a neophyte. Furthermore, many instructions are obviously written in a non-English speaking country and can be confusing for that reason. A lot of problems could be resolved if they would just have 2 or 3 employees, working independently, set up the system with the instructions and not be given any additional information and not be allowed to converse with others on the set-up.”

- “When there were only a few things to remember I felt like taking the time to learn arcane procedures to make consumer items work. But when so many devices clutter our modern world that require special non-obvious steps to operate, I give up. Good instructions help a lot, but these don't usually come with the device. Many consumer items aren't expected to last more than 3 years, but the new one to replace it will have a completely new set of instructions.”

The last thing anyone needs is a 100 page manual in order to figure out how to make a call with their cell phone. But that's what it's come down to in many cases. Manufacturers should go back to the drawing board and come up with user interfaces for their products that don't require an advanced degree just to turn the damn things on. Until then they'll have to put up with the returns and the costs associated with them.


Not Buying The Hype

It appears the women in our institutions of higher learning have ceased buying the feminazi “All sex is rape” credo. The damage done by those such as Katherine MacKinnon and Andrea Dworkin has made itself felt on college campuses and in society for well over a decade. But young women have stopped being taken in by the All-Men-Are-Rapist claims made by these two over the years. They're not taking what they're being told as gospel, questioning the so-called conventional wisdom as being taught at seminars about campus date rape. They ask inconvenient questions at these seminars, showing they can think for themselves.

Rape consultant David Lisak faced a similar problem this November: an auditorium of Rutgers students who kept treating women as moral agents. He might have sensed the trouble ahead when in response to a photo array of what Lisak calls “undetected rapists,” a girl asked: “Why are there only white men? Am I blind?” It went downhill from there. Lisak did his best to send a tremor of fear through the audience with the news that “rape happens with terrifying frequency. I’m not talking of someone who comes onto campus but students, Rutgers students, who prowl for victims in bars, parties, wherever alcohol is being consumed.” He then played a dramatized interview with a student “rapist” at a fraternity that had deliberately set aside a room for raping girls during parties, according to Lisak. The students weren’t buying it. “I don’t understand why these parties don’t become infamous among girls,” wondered one. Another asked: “Are you saying that the frat brothers decided that this room would be used for committing sexual assault, or was it just: ‘Maybe I’ll get lucky, and if I do, I’ll go there’?” And then someone asked the most dangerous question of all: “Shouldn’t the victim have had a little bit of education beforehand? We all know the dangers of parties. The victim had miscalculations on her part; alcohol can lead to things.”

In other words these ladies understand the consequences of their own actions, understand that consensual sex is just that and not rape, and that all men are not rapists. They get it.

It appears there is hope for our youth after all.


Thoughts On A Sunday

It is another round of the annual battle against the weeds, with Deb, BeezleBub, and I cleaning, weeding, and mulching around The Manse. I expect this will be the last weekend we'll have that all three of us will be available to attend to the grounds. Usually BeezleBub is working down at the farm Saturdays and Sundays, but he had today off, partly because of Mother's Day and partly because he has a ton of homework to finish. We figured he could take an hour or two to help us out around The Manse.


The trailer for The Boat is now at the marina, waiting to have The Boat pulled out of storage. It will make a trip back to The Manse for its pre-launch maintenance, cleaning, and check-out. BeezleBub and I will be going over it from stem to stern, making sure everything is ready before it is put back into the water. I have a feeling we'll have one of the better boating seasons here in a long time, mainly because I believe that we won't be seeing as many boaters on the lake as usual.

Seeing that the cost of gasoline at marinas is already above $4 per gallon, with an anticipated price during the summer months of $4.50 per gallon, I expect there won't be as much boat traffic on Lake Winnipesaukee as we've seen the past ten years or so. When gas was $3.50 a gallon last summer, boat traffic was down considerably in July, with a rebound in August (though still not as many boats out there as we would normally see then).

The high gas prices have already affected business around the lake, with many boat slips going unrented. The same is true summer cottages, resorts, and campgrounds around the Lakes Region. There are quite a few places with gaps in their reservation schedules at a time when every available place would already be rented. This does not bode well for the tourist industry in the area.

Our only hope: the strong Canadian dollar will lure tourists from north of the border to replace those not making the trip up from southern New England, New York, and New Jersey.


From American Thinker, a list of danger signals that warn us when the liberal elite are planning to force the rest of us to do something 'for our own good'. The example provided covers a smoking cessation program, but it applies to just about any idea the so-called elite put forward.

A group of individuals anoints themselves as better-informed than the rest of us. They base this largely on the fact that they listen to the same programs on NPR and consistently vote Democrat.

The self-defined elite group comes to an agreement that the rest of us are not as enlightened as they. This is expressed in many ways, usually involving code words such as "clinging", "mean-spirited", or "greedy". If you hear these words being applied to you or your associates, this is a clear indication that you are not one of the elites.

The elites begin to develop a sense of responsibility for their lessers. This is often expressed in statements like, "It's just makes me so sad to see them like that. I wish there were something we could do to..."

The elites form a plan. The plan generally involves making everyone else behave like them. As enthusiasm rises, what were once "differences" become "problems" and finally metamorphose into a "crisis". When the word "crisis" appears, this usually signals the end of planning phase. The Plan predictably contains the following elements: coercion, moral superiority, lack of debate and voting, and a succession of "experts" who testify on its behalf.

The plan is imposed. If the legislative branch refuses, the judiciary is prevailed upon to conjure up a constitutional justification.

The plan begins to fail. This step is usually followed by demands for more resources to "properly implement the plan", (see the War on Poverty), and angry accusations at non-elite groups for their mean spirited, clingy refusal to change.

The plan fails.

The elites meet to form a new, better plan.

And so the circle of ever more intrusive plans and an erosion of rights continues. All of this in an effort to save us from ourselves. The question is, who will saves us from these busybodies?

(H/T Maggie's Farm)


Instapundit has more about the growing trend of parents not having their children immunized and the consequences of that failure.


Winter's grip is gone, but planning for next winter's heating season here in northern New England is already under way. Customers of heating fuel companies are already being warned pre-buy prices for heating oil and propane will be a lot higher than last year. Pre-buy prices for propane last year were about $1.90 per gallon. This year we'll be lucky if we see under $3.30 per gallon.

It looks like our decision to heat The Manse with firewood was a good one. Even if we purchased all of the cordwood we would use for heat at $160/cord for green wood, it would cost us only $1200 dollars for the winter. Of course that means we would need to buy it now in order to make sure it would be dry enough to burn come November. But we don't have to buy it, thanks to the WP Dad-In-Law. But we do have go down to the In-Laws with the big deuce-and-a-half and load it up, twice, and unload it, twice. Even with this, our means of heating will have a much smaller carbon footprint than using propane.

It's a small price to pay to stay warm.


And that's the news from Lake Winnipesaukee, where all the snow is gone, the boats are reappearing on the lake, and where the yard work never seems to end.


Open Office Rocks!

Glenn Reynolds made mention of Open Office, a free office suite that I've been using for the past few years. While the first version I downloaded and installed some years ago, Open Office 1.1, wasn't exactly perfect, it was far better than nothing at all. Since then it has improved greatly to the point where I prefer it over Bill Gates' flawed Microsoft Office.

I presently use Open Office 2.4 on both my Windows and Linux machines and I find it to be far more useful to me than MS Office (I use MS Office at work). While it doesn't have all the bells and whistles of MS Office, it does do everything I want or need it to do, and does it well. But the one biggest kudo I have for Open Office is that it doesn't try to help me or automatically format a document I'm working on when I don't want it to. That is one of Microsoft Office's biggest annoyances, that it “knows better” what I want to do than I do. I've lost count of how many times I've had to undo something MS Office insisted I wanted to do even though I had no intention of doing what MS Office did for me.

Other than a few obscure functions available in MS Office, I haven't found anything that I do in MS Office at work that I can't do in Open Office. In many cases Open Office does it better.

These days I steer friends to Open Office if they're in the market for an Office suite. If nothing else the price is right: Free!


An Enlightening Lecture

Obviously I made no post last night, but I had a great excuse.

I was at a lecture at MIT's Lincoln Lab outside of Boston.

Some of you may be thinking, “Yeah, so what? Isn't that a geeky thing to do?” Well, you're right. It is. So sue me. After all, I've got one of those tee shirts that says “What is it about the quantum theory you don't understand?”, and I wear it quite regularly. I am indeed a geek.

So what was the subject of the lecture I attended that prevented me from getting home last night after 10:30PM? How about this:

Slow and Stopped Light – Theory, Practice, and Practical Applications.

Yup. It was a real humdinger. John Howell from the University of Rochester let us in on the discoveries he and his team have made, as well as bringing us up to speed on the progress made by other teams across the world in the practical applications of slow and stopped light.

Boring, right? No, not really. In fact, being able to slow down or stop light makes all kinds of interesting things possible. For us telecommunications types it could mean fully optical delay lines and better optical switches. For those out there making use of computers and creating gigabytes and terabytes and petabytes of data, it could point us towards a practical means of optical data storage with capacities and speeds orders of magnitude greater than anything in existence today. Data could be stored at unheard of speeds in unheard of amounts. The limits of data storage imposed upon us now could be wiped away. The old hard disk could become a thing of the past. For physicists it could mean better instruments for measuring such things as gravity waves.

The possibilities are mind boggling. And my mind has been boggled. Hence the long delayed post. Hopefully my mind will have recovered from its bogglement by Saturday afternoon so that regular blogging will resume.


Another Example Of Greedy Corporate Capitalism

Here's an example of greedy American capitalism that's sure to make the Left take to the streets in an effort to quash it.

Wal-Mart and its Sam's Club pharmacies will fill prescriptions for as many as 350 generic drugs costing $10 for a 90-day supply, an expansion from the existing 30-day supplies that cost $4. Wal-Mart also is adding $9 women's generic prescription drugs for up to a 30-day supply that are used to treat osteoporosis, breast cancer, menopause and hormone deficiency.

More than 1,000 over-the-counter medications, including its private label Equate brand versions of drugs such as Zantac, Pepcid and Claritin as well as its Spring Valley private label prenatal vitamins, also will be priced at $4 or less, a price rollback of up to $7, Wal-Mart said.

How dare they!! However will the socialist Left be able to bring about the coming socialist utopia if the greedy capitalist corporations like WalMart keep giving the proletariat what they want at a price they can afford without the need for the government to intervene? Maybe Hillary or Barack can put a stop to this once they're in the White House.....


Pick A Side

I don't remember where I saw this. Maybe Instapundit. Maybe someplace else. Frankly, I don't remember. Even so, I found I agreed with this fellow. I even read the 100+ comments left at the site where I first saw this. The comments from the Left were, sadly to say, quite predictable. Watch this for yourself and decide for yourself. But I have to mirror what this fellow said:

“Pick a side.”


Perceived Risk Triumphs Over Fact

The choice of parents to not vaccinate their children has become all too prevalent. Far too often they choice is made in fear and ignorance, not understanding the risks of leaving their children unprotected. Because of this, communicable diseases that became rare over the past 60 years or so are making a comeback. And sometimes these diseases cripple. Sometimes they kill.

Most of the time a parent that refuses to have their child vaccinated cites the increasing incidence of autism, blaming it upon the preservative in the vaccine, thimerosal. This shows their ignorance as this preservative hasn't been used in vaccines in the US for years. Instead, they'd rather endanger their children, as well as the children of others, by refusing or delaying their vaccinations. It's just so much pseudo-scientific mumbo-jumbo, showing how people in this country have lost the ability to think critically and are now unable to separate fact from fiction. They let fear rule them and fall prey to a skewed perception of threat, believing a minuscule risk is far more dangerous than the consequences of not vaccinating against deadly diseases. And far too often they pay the price, that being the life of their child, who dies of an otherwise preventable disease.

But at least they won't be autistic when they die. [/sarcasm]


Thoughts On A Sunday

The contrariness of weather has certainly made itself known here in New Hampshire, with rain over the weekend turning to warm and sunny for the week. It certainly delayed some of the yard work we had planned, meaning we'll have to get it done during the week after work or school. Normally I wouldn't mind that all that much except I won't be available after work due to meetings in town and a seminar down in Boston. I can't expect BeezleBub to get it done by himself.

The work needs to get done for two reasons – we want to get the work done before the bugs return and; the mulch pile is in the way of the trailer for The Boat, which comes out of storage sometime over the next week.


Could the election results in the UK foreshadow what will happen here in the US?

The voters had enough of the tax-and-spend Labour Party, voting in conservative Tories in large numbers. One of the high profile offices handed over to the conservatives was the Mayor of London. Could Prime Minister Gordon Brown suffer the same fate?


This crap has got to be stopped cold. The last thing we need is a return to 7th Century morality. If we start stringing up the perpetrators of honor killings, I have a feeling they'll stop. If immigrants want to keep their customs and mores intact, then they shouldn't move to a country that outlaws such barbaric practices.

(H/T Viking Pundit)


Blue Crab doesn't like all-electric cars, or at least he doesn't like the hype that surrounds them.

The big problem is there is a disconnect (no pun intended) between the efficiencies of generating electricity on a large scale and the burning of petroleum in an internal combustion engine. Even if the electricity is generated using fossil fuels, the efficiencies are far greater than that of ICE's. Even taking into account the transmission losses, the electric car still has lower total carbon footprint than traditional vehicle.

Here in New Hampshire a large percentage of our electricity comes from nuclear, with hydro a close second. Coal is third, with biomass (think wood chips) fourth. There are a few petroleum-fired power plants in the state, but for the most part they are peak-load plants used only when electricity demand is high.

(H/T Maggie's Farm)


If this is 'normal', then bring on global warming!


There's finally a good use for Britain's National Health Service: it's so bad it drives immigrants, both legal and illegal, to leave the UK. If nothing else it's an endorsement for how not to run a health care system.


This is just plain silly.

No, not the video. Rather it's the people that take it seriously. It shows how decadent the West is in danger of becoming.

These folks need to get a life.

(H/T Instapundit)


Despite the bleatings of Hillary and the other We-Hate-The-Oil-Companies wackos, the price of gasoline, diesel fuel, propane, and heating oil is driven mainly by the price of crude oil.

Drivers paying ever-increasing prices for fuel can primarily blame two factors — the rising price of crude oil and government taxes, in that order.

Service station owners tend to make just a few cents per gallon, while a whopping 72 percent of the money paid for every gallon goes for crude oil, which rose to $120 per barrel on Monday on the New York Mercantile Exchange, according to the federal Energy Information Administration.

Meanwhile, 12 percent of the price paid for each gallon of gas goes to state and federal taxes; 8 percent goes to refineries; and another 8 percent covers retail, marketing and distribution costs, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

So it isn't the the greedy oil companies making obscene profits causing the high gas prices, but the price of crude oil and the taxes levied upon gasoline sales.


A comment to this post on my New Hampshire blog prompted me to repost a series I wrote and posted on Weekend Pundit five years ago giving advice to those urban and suburban dweller contemplating relocating to 'the country'. Most of the advice is specific to New Hampshire, Maine, and Vermont (sort of), but can be used as a general guideline. The posts are being updated to include new information and new links.

If nothing else you may find it amusing, being able to relate to the topics in the posts. Then again you may find yourself rethinking your plans to move away from the urban or suburban areas.


Some are predicting the price of polysilicon photovoltaics will be dropping soon as the supply of the polysilicon slugs and wafers will soon be increasing as new manufacturing capacity starts coming on line.

That would suit me just fine as I can see more residences and small businesses using PV cells as the costs come down.


Talk about being wrong on so many levels. A lot of people should be fired and the family should sue for millions.


There's stupid, and then there's stupid. This guy is definitely stupid.

Thirty-seven-year-old Frank Drake was arrested last October when state police drug officers saw him tending about 44 marijuana plants about 50 yards off the highway in Warner.

Obviously this genius never figured the State Police would recognize marijuana growing within sight of an Interstate highway. I know the stretch of highway where this guy was growing his crop, and it's plainly visible from the road. I guess this guy figured it would be easier for him to tend his plants if they were close to the highway.

What a dolt.


And that's the news from Lake Winnipesaukee, where summer is approaching, gas prices are rising, and where the summerfolk are already making their presence known.


Taxes Will Be The Issue

Despite the multitude of issues that will be debated during the presidential campaign, all others will pale in comparison to taxes.

In these tough economic times, the last thing any of us need is the burden of increasing taxes. Tax increases will do nothing more than strain already strained household budgets. The two Democrats have already told Americans they will raise taxes, but only on the “rich”. The problem with this is their definition of rich. For far too many years the Democrats have defined rich as anyone with a job. That means you and me, folks.

They somehow have the belief the American people will stand still for that, not realizing the backlash against continually rising taxes has already started.

Mr. [Bart] Peterson was, until recently, the popular Democratic mayor of [Indianapolis]. Then voters went to the polls in November and threw him out in favor of an unknown and underfunded Republican. It was among last year's biggest political upsets, and marked the first time in 40 years Indianapolis voters had canned a sitting mayor. The source of their anger? Taxes.

In particular, the county's income tax rate, which Mr. Peterson raised to 1.65% from 1%. Coming into an election year with a 75% approval rating and a mountain of campaign cash, Mr. Peterson thought he could risk the tax-hiker label. He felt further bolstered by his argument that the tax was earmarked for crime fighting. He squeaked his levy through in July; by November he'd been washed out on a tide of outrage.

Indiana isn't alone in its tax discontent. As the economy has slowed and home values have slipped, state and local governments have been raising taxes to cover revenue shortfalls. This has squeezed middle-class households, just as surely as higher gas and food prices, or rising medical costs. Voters last year responded by shooting down tax-and-spend proposals in Oregon, New Jersey, Iowa, Washington and North Carolina.

Include New Hampshire on that list, at least when it comes to municipal taxes and budgets. Unfortunately at the state and county level the message about holding the line on spending and taxes has been ignored. The state legislature increased the biennial state budget by 17.5%, flawed and seriously out of balance. They overestimated the expected tax and fee revenues at a time when just about everyone else realized a slowdown in the economy was just starting to make itself felt. Housing sales and values were falling, and with it, revenues. Some of the counties in the state were no better, increasing their budgets while ignoring the calls by the towns within their borders to keep spending in check. Ironically, the county commissions are made up of the same representatives serving in the state legislature. That means the same people that worked to increase state spending are doing the same thing at the county level. It's obvious some changes need to take place and I think many of these representatives will find themselves out bag and baggage, asking themselves “What happened?”

With few exceptions the towns and cities in the state held the line on spending, keeping budgets flat or even slightly declining, knowing the taxpayers could not afford increases in their property taxes. Even so, property taxes will go up because of the actions at the county level.

The same thing is happening in other states. It all comes down to taxpayers being very unhappy with their elected representatives. And when the taxpayers are unhappy, tax and spend candidates tend to find themselves on the losing side of an election. That's what happened in Congress in 2006 and why so many Republicans found themselves replaced by Democrats. In 2008, the freshmen Democrats in Congress and a number of state legislatures may find themselves replaced in turn. They have to learn that the people are not ATMs to be tapped for funds whenever government overspends. Instead they have to learn that when times are tough they have to cut back on spending, just like everyone else does under those circumstances. Until they do, our wallets and bank accounts are in peril. It's up to us to teach them that their actions have consequences. In this case the lesson is this:

If they burden us with more taxes, we'll be more than happy to help them join the ranks of the unemployed.

'Nuff said.


An Uncomfortable Agreement

I find myself in an awkward position, one I thought I'd never experience.

I agree with Barack Obama on an issue.

Hillary Clinton and John McCain both think the government should suspend collecting federal gas taxes during the summer season. But both Barack Obama and I disagree with them. It would be foolish to do so as I believe it would have the effect of boosting gas usage rather than easing the burden upon the motoring public. This move would be yet another example of the Law of Unintended Consequences. It would also leave the government coffers with a bigger deficit than the one we're already seeing, unless of course Hillary's plan to tax the “windfall profits” of the oil companies were implemented. But that merely means that gas prices would remain the same. Only the location of where the tax was imposed would change. It's the old bait-and-switch ploy.

Cat Tutorial....By Engineers

Yes, I am definitely like the guys in this video. You know, an engineer. And as many of you also know, I have cats. Not one or two cats, but four cats.

Now sit back and enjoy the tutorial.