Thoughts On A Sunday

We were blessed with another round of snow that started yesterday around mid-morning, dumping another 5” or so here at The Manse. Fortunately this was a very light 'fluffy' snow, easy to move though not quite as easy to snowblow.

At least this time around our local TV station didn't go into a snowstorm frenzy, merely reporting the snow was coming and to take care out on the roads. (Some folks apparently didn't listen and caused a 20 car pileup on I-93 North late yesterday morning.) However some stations in Boston did a repeat performance of the Nor'easter that hit a few days ago, with their always ominous “Storm Center” graphics and matching music.


BeezleBub and I had to make some small repairs to the Official Weekend Pundit Woodstove. Because we had lost some control over the burn rate we knew there was an air leak at the door. Since the door gasket was three years old we figured it would be a good idea to replace it, which BeezleBub took care of early this afternoon. There were also some missing pins on the air tubes above the firebox which allowed the tubes to rotate, meaning their nozzles weren't always pointing in the right direction. This also affected the efficiency and burn rate.

Now that everything's been fixed, we now have full control of the stove and should be able to extract the maximum amount of heat out of each load of wood we burn.


Tom Blumer ponders whether his home state of Ohio might be the next one to become a right-to-work state. He also states that it won't be through the actions of the governor or the Republican leadership. Instead, it will be because the union leadership has been coming under more scrutiny and particularly their spending of members' dues, where less than 25% (at least in Michigan) of those dues are actually spent on representing workers. I'd have to say it wouldn't surprise me to find the ratio is the same in Ohio.

I'm still hoping there's some chance that my home state of New Hampshire will become a right-to-work, but I doubt we'll see that happen as long as we have a Democrat governor beholden to the unions.


Frankly, I think we should work even harder to make the Saudis nervous, at least when it comes to oil and petroleum products. As the U.S. and other oil-using nations develop their own resources through fracking and other advanced oil and gas production technologies, the need for Saudi resources will dwindle, meaning they won't bet getting anywhere near as much money as they have in the past. And as Glenn Reynolds notes, “Terroristic Islam worldwide is basically a Saudi export, fueled by Saudi money. The less Saudi money, the better.”

Amen to that.


The New England Patriots played their last regular season game against the Miami Dolphins in Foxborough, beating them 28-0. Because of this win the Patriots have a bye week in the playoffs, meaning they won't be playing again for two weeks.


As we have been learning for a number of years, particularly since Obama took office 4 years ago, laws are for the little people. They do not apply to the 'anointed' and their minions...like David Gregory, but are applied in a capricious and, dare we say, idiotic manner that under normal circumstances we would never see.

All common sense has been driven out of the judicial system, where minor violations are seen as major felonies and the 'perpetrators' are imprisoned, while the serious offenders walk the halls of justice with impunity, knowing their fellow travelers will excuse almost any violation committed by them.

When laws cease to have meaning, chaos often follows, something the would give the Progressive totalitarian movement all the leeway they need to create yet another failed socialist state.


What is it with cats and boxes? I've never been able to figure that one out.


And that's the abbreviated news from Lake Winnipesaukee, where the temps have been plummeting, the lake still is mostly open water, and where the woodstove will be well stoked over the next couple of days.


Intellectuals Tear Down Civilization? Umm...Yes

From Thomas Sowell comes this, something that many of us have known for a long time:

The more I study the history of intellectuals, the more they seem like a wrecking crew, dismantling civilization bit by bit -- replacing what works with what sounds good.

Yes, it's about feelings, not facts. They can't be bothered with the facts, can't be bothered by the examples of history that show their vaunted ideas of how things should be don't work. They'll try again and again, making the claim that this time they'll get it right because they're more intelligent/thoughtful/moral/ethical/better (pick one) than the last bunch of intellectuals who tried it. But they're wrong, as history has shown. They're no different.

Remember, it is the intellectuals in Europe who twice tore that continent apart in one century, each time turning it into an abattoir. Some of that same thinking was imported into Asia with the same result.

When are we going to get it into our heads that intellectuals are fine...as long as they aren't running things? When are we going to make them run their 'ideals' through the stink test? (If it smells like a full diaper then we don't want to do it. Call it a way to head off the Law of Unintended Consequences.)

Even the intellectuals who helped found this nation made mistakes, some that cost us dearly “four score and seven years” later. But at least the non-intellectuals were able to correct some of their errors (while making a few of their own).

Another intellectual view we must demolish is that we can make the world a place without danger. As is usual, some of the efforts they have made to make things safer have had just the opposite effect. (Again, the Law of Unintended Consequences bites them in the ass.) It is another version of doing something that makes them feel better, makes them feel they've accomplished something, even if it's the wrong something. (I feel I have to characterize this need with a more descriptive term. Let's call it the Do Something Syndrome.)

(H/T Maggie's Farm)


Our First Real Honest-To-Goodness Winter Storm

In case you're wondering why I didn't post last night, I have a simple explanation: I was preparing for our first significant snowfall here in the Lakes Region of New Hampshire. Anything outside needed to be stored away or secured or covered. Gas cans needed topping off and the oil in the Official Weekend Pundit Snowblower needed checking. (It also needs to be changed soon.)

The Weather Guys have predicted up to 18 inches (46cm) of snow in this area before it's all over.

As I write this I have been out twice (so far) with the Official Weekend Pundit Snowblower – at 7 this morning to clear the driveway for BeezleBub so he could get to the farm on time, and again at 1 this afternoon to make sure the driveway would be clear enough for Deb to make it out using the trusty F150. (Since I'm on vacation this week she can use the Ford to get where she needs to go despite the inclement weather.) I've cleared away about 8 inches total since this morning.

Why am I going out now rather than waiting for the snow to stop? Two reasons.

First, I don't want BeezleBub's truck or the F150 packing down the snow on the slope of the driveway any more than necessary. It makes it difficult to remove and more slippery.

Second, it's easier to move smaller depths of snow than trying to move it all at once. It takes about 30 minutes to clear the driveway and parking area in front of and next to the garage when the snow is less than 6 inches deep and up to 90 minutes if it's over 12 to 15 inches deep. (You have to run at a much slower speed in the deeper/heavier snow in order to get it to go where you want. It also means you have to muscle the snowblower around at a time when traction is lower, something that is always more dangerous.)

I do have only one gripe about the weather: the media coverage of the storm.

The local TV stations (including the ones in Boston) make it seem like Snowmageddon is upon us. As if. It's winter. In New England. We get snow all the time in the winter so it's not like it's unexpected. Even 18 inch snowfalls aren't unusual. Now if this were Atlanta or Miami or Key West, that would be one heck of an unexpected weather event. But for us this is normal.

These media folks have got to get a grip.


A Lesson That Must Be Repeated Until They Understand

Stuart Schneiderman delves into the issue of taxing the rich and how, in the end, boosting taxes on them rarely delivers the promised revenues.

As he writes:

[T]he rich are not cardboard figures, dramatic personae who roll over whenever they are told to give more to the government.

In other words, the targeted rich will take the appropriate measures to reduce their tax obligations, including finding ways of reducing their income such as deferring any dividends, not selling stocks, or not cashing in bonds. To think they won't react to the government's attempts to take even more of their money is a foolish, if not a deluded belief. The argument often put forward by those who believe the rich don't pay their fair share? “Oh, they can afford to pay a little more.” But in the real world that 'little more' adds up until it is a lot more. We've already reached that point, but the “gimme” crowd doesn't care. They want their “free” stuff and they figure the rich should pay for it all.

We are on the backside of the Laffer Curve, where increased tax rates will not generate the expected revenues. We've seen that again and again the People's Republic of California, where recent tax rate increases collected $800 million less than was projected during the first month they came into effect, leaving an even bigger deficit than if they had done nothing. (While the state did collect a bit more revenue, the increase in state spending outstripped the new revenues because the spending was based upon the projected revenues, not the actual revenues collected.)

It's time that those who are so generous with other people's money realize they can kill the goose that lays the golden eggs, that those being forced to support the every growing number of takers will at some point say “Enough!” and go Galt, leaving the takers with nothing to take.


Thoughts On A Sunday

Christmas is the day after tomorrow and the incipient Last Minute Shopping madness is about to descend upon us all.

While I have yet to pick up Deb's gift (though it's already bought and paid for) all of our other Christmas shopping is done. Quite a bit of it was done online, doing away with the need to brave the madding crowds at the malls. And those gifts that weren't bought online were purchased at local shops, obviating the need to go to the malls and supporting our local retailers in the process.


Speaking of Christmas, it appears that we will indeed have a white Christmas here in New Hampshire with snow forecast to fall starting sometime early Christmas morning. While a good portion of the state does have some snow cover, it's spotty or non-existent in the southern tier. Even here in the Lakes Region (central New Hampshire) it's spotty. But this snowfall will blanket most of the state with the exception of the northern tip, which already has good snow cover.

On Christmas Eve Deb, BeezleBub, I, and possibly Horse Girl, will follow another WP family tradition by watching A Christmas Carol, specifically the George C. Scott version. Of all the variations I've seen, I believe Scott was one of the best Scrooges I've seen, though Patrick Stewart is a close second.


Despite claims by the government that things are better to the contrary, this has to be one of “the most depressing Christmases many can remember.” I'm not talking about clinical depression, but economic depression. As the Barrister's missus says, we've reached a tipping point.

Things are not getting better. This is not surprising considering the Obama Administration has done everything in its power to make sure things get worse, promising even more “free stuff” to the voting block most likely to keep voting for the Progressive politicians. Never mind that there are fewer and fewer people paying into the system due to Obama's policies, putting even more of a financial strain on those who are still supporting the “gimme” portion of the populace.

Looking at economic numbers just for my home state isn't encouraging. Until recently we were the only state in the Northeast that was still creating good paying jobs. But since 2010, that hasn't been the case as job growth has been flat or slightly negative. We're still better off than the other states in the Northeast, but that's not saying much considering economic conditions in the Northeast stink.


Part of the problem causing things to get worse is the federal government's inability to adjust to some new realities. Bill Whittle addresses this inability by providing a short history lesson about our form of government and how it has changed over the past 200+ years due to the progression from an agricultural age economy (first wave) to an industrial age economy (second wave) to an information age economy (third wave).

One of Bill's best lines: “There is simply no way this monolithic, lumbering, stupid, uncompetitive, top-down hierarchical, fossilized dinosaur of a government could manage the [information age] economy.” He also explains why unions are taking it on the chin, calling them a holdover from the “second wave” - the industrial era. As he says, “There are no graphic designer or web developer unions.” Nor will there be as most of these kinds of jobs do not follow the “IBM-type top-down, hierarchical, one job and benefits for life” stereotype.


[Obama] is implementing policies that worked 100 years ago and are utterly out of step with the realities of the new economy.

Whittle thinks the needed changes will make our government look more like the first wave government of our Founders – decentralized. It will be network connected and more responsive while at the same time requiring less people to do the job of government.

We can only hope.


The New England Patriots played the Jacksonville Jaguars down inf Florida this afternoon, defeating them 23-16. Only a last minute interception by the Patriots allowed them to win the game.


Bogie finishing up her preparations for Christmas, much as we are here at The Manse. While we won't be hosting any family visitors this year we still had plenty to do (and still do).

Bogie got the fire going in her woodstove, something she hasn't needed to do because the sunlight has been keeping her home in the mid-60's. (We have to keep ours going 24/7 when the temperatures outside are below 50 degrees. Though like Bogie the sun does a pretty good job keeping the living room, dining room, kitchen, and the master bedroom in The Manse quite comfortable, it isn't enough to keep the rest of The Manse warm.)


I have to agree with the Jedi on this one: Swearing in public in the town of Middleborough, Massachusetts is punishable by a $20 fine.

I have to ask this: Who decides what is swearing and what is not?


Gee, yet another left-wing talk radio station is going under. No loss, as far as I can see. But what makes this one different is that they are blaming Obama, his campaign, local advertisers, and just about everyone else. Could it be they weren't providing programming anyone was listening to and advertisers didn't want to buy ad time from a station that had no listenership? Could it be that some of them didn't want to be associated with a radio station that advocated all kinds of statist ideas, including ruining the very businesses the station needed to buy ads in order to survive?


The gun control rhetoric after Newtown has resulted in the volume being turned up to “11” and the MSM quoting their own polls showing a vast majority of the American people want more gun control. Too bad the more reputable polling organizations have polls showing just the opposite.

There is no lie, no misinformation, no propaganda, no whitewashing they won't use to push their agenda.

All of this is driven purely by emotion and the need of the Left to “Do something!” in order to make themselves feel better. It doesn't matter to them that the “something” they're advocating will do nothing to stop another Newtown. They Don't. Care.

All their “something” will do is make law-abiding citizens even more vulnerable to the criminal and insane elements in our society.

Rather than taking guns away from the law-abiding gun owners perhaps they should spend their efforts to imprison the criminals and commit the insane. It would be far more effective.


And that's the news from Lake Winnipesaukee, where temps have plummeted, snow is on its way for Christmas, and where our preparations for Christmas are just about finished.


They're Not Serious

Now that Congress is in recess until after Christmas, I think we can safely say that neither they or the President are all that serious in dealing with our nation's financial crisis – the upcoming collapse of our economy due to decades of spending more than we take in and making promises we can't keep.

As Bill Whittle explains in this edition of Afterburner, Congress and the President aren't serious people. They merely play at being serious. What's scary is, as Bill tells us, even if we shut down the federal government, fired every federal employee, mothballed every piece of military gear (planes, ships, submarines, tanks, guns, bullets, and paper clips), we still wouldn't be able to pay for all those entitlements politicians created in order to get elected and re-elected. Our taxes might go down a little bit, but we'd still be in the hole to the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars every year.

But if we did away with the unpayable entitlements and stuck to just running the government (including the military) our taxes would plummet and we'd have a balanced budget. But there's no way the unserious people we keep electing will do either, leaving it up to our grandchildren and the grandchildren of those we've borrowed trillions from to pay for it all.


Beginning Of The End Of AGW Alarmism?

Could it be that the end is coming?

No, I'm not talking about the end of the world (be it the end of the Mayan calendar or the Book of Revelations). Instead I'm talking about the end of the seemingly endless climate alarmism.

Frankly, most people are sick to death of the endless prognostications being put forth daily by the Climate-Change-Is-All-The-Fault-Of-The-Evil-Humans warmists. So many of their predictions have come to naught, their climate models so defective as to be useless, and too many of them keep trying to convince people that weather is synonymous with climate and that the occasion bout of bad weather is the beginning of the end. (Bad weather cycles have been happening since long before we were around and will continue long after we're gone.)

Climate does change. It always has. To say that we puny humans can be the sole cause of warming (or cooling) is extreme arrogance. We may have an effect on local climate as in the heat island effect regularly seen around cities, but the area of all those cities combined would amount to such an infinitesimal amount of warming compared to the rest of the world.

All we can hope for is rational discussion based upon observable phenomena, accurate data, and experiments easily repeatable by others. Should the trend away from alarmism continue, we might just be able to go about our lives devoid of emotionally charged doom-saying.

But I'm not holding my breath.


Gun Control Advocates At It Again

It didn't take the gun-grabbers very long after the tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut to start their clamoring for heavier gun control, as if restricting access to guns from the 99.9999% who are responsible law-abiding gun owners will have the magical effect on the 0.0001% who use guns for nefarious activities. Better that they look at what really caused the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School – a mentally ill young man who apparently found out his mother was going to have him committed to a mental institution and decided he wasn't going to go.

I have seen all kinds of gun control advocates quoting all kinds of 'statistics' that prove gun related violence has been climbing at an alarming rate. Of cousre what they don't tell you is that most gun-related violence is committed by criminals against other criminals. The massacre in Newtown was a statistical blip, what's called an outlier. But that won't stop the gun grabbers from playing it for everything it's worth, trying to make it seem that the massacre is happening everywhere, all the time. (They almost never mention the blood shed by criminals in those cities with strict gun laws because law abiding citizens aren't allowed to protect themselves.)

Instead it is the people committing the crimes upon which these gun control advocates should be focusing their efforts. But that's too hard and the ACLU will likely do everything it can to make sure such miscreants will remain on the streets to continue committing acts of violence against the citizens who wish nothing more than to be left alone.

My dear sister-in-law put it in perspective when she told my wife “Taking guns away from the people is like banning automobiles because of accidents caused by drunk drivers. It punishes the large majority of the people for the actions of a very small minority. It makes no sense.” Then again, the gun grabbers don't care. They somehow think we should leave it to the police to 'protect' us. The only problem is that when seconds count, the police are minutes away. (In the case of Newtown it allegedly took the police almost 20 minutes to respond to the first 911 call. A lot of people died in that 20 minutes. How many would not have died if someone in that school had been able to end Adam Lanza's rampage by putting two rounds in his head?)


Thoughts On A Sunday

We were fortunate to receive our delivery of firewood early, with two cords being dropped off in front of the garage at The Manse early Friday afternoon. Delivery was originally scheduled for this coming Tuesday, but a couple of cancellations moved it up a few days and that was a good thing for two reasons.

The first – we had all of one or two days worth of firewood left from last year's stack so the early delivery meant we wouldn't have to use the propane furnace to heat The Manse.

The second – we've got snow coming starting some time late today and more forecast for Tuesday. That would have meant having to bring snow-covered firewood into the garage which in turn can lead to problems with pieces of firewood being frozen together in the stack.

I spent a good portion of the day on Saturday moving the firewood inside the garage and getting a good start on getting it stacked against the back wall. (I could have stacked it as I brought it in but that would have slowed things down considerably. My main reason for getting it moved inside was to get it under cover before the snow arrived. Once inside I could take my time stacking it properly.)


Speaking of firewood, this year we didn't get ours from Farmer Andy due to his lack of supply.

His focus in regards to firewood was feeding the wood-fired furnace he uses to heat his greenhouses. As such he didn't have enough to supply firewood to his usual customers. But he's already taken steps to ensure a good supply next winter.

This year we bought a couple of cords from a local supplier that kiln-dries their firewood, meaning that as long as they have a supply of green wood they can provide dried firewood all during the heating season. It costs more - about $35 to $50 more per cord – but you know it's dry and will burn well. There's only one downside to kiln-dried firewood that I had forgotten: it splinters easily.

I noticed the splintering while moving the wood into the garage. A tossed piece of firewood would hit the interior pile or the floor and it would split off pieces in a manner you normally don't see with naturally dried wood. It could be the forced drying causes the wood to fracture inside due to the interior moisture creating pressure that forces the wood fibers apart. Once the wood experiences a sharp blow that fracture opens up, splitting off smaller pieces. I have a lot more kindling-sized wood than I did when I started moving it.


National Review makes the case for eliminating tax deductions for state/local taxes.

As I have stated before, should Congress eliminate this deduction the howling heard from the high-tax states (blue states all) will be deafening. After all they'll no longer receive tax relief 'subsidies' paid for by the residents of more frugal states (and mostly by those with lower income).


Glenn Reynolds opines that gun-free zones provide a false sense of security. Instead they provide a free-fire zone for madmen bent on killing as many people as they can because they know no one there will be able to stop them. Call it yet another example of the Law of Unintended Consequences.


Ann Althouse follows up in regards to the Newtown shootings with a link to a book by Clayton Cramer that shows that before deinstitutionlization the mentally ill were less likely to be arrested for committing crimes. In the past it was far easier to have someone involuntarily committed to a mental institution if they could be shown to be a danger to themselves or others. Since deinstitutionization this has become more difficult. Too often the mentally ill are now committed only after they have committed a crime.


Talk about a double standard!

No surprise there, really.

(H/T GraniteGrok)


The New England Patriots are playing the San Francisco 49'ers in Foxborough in a few minutes, a game that some commentators have said might be a preview to the Super Bowl.

I don't know about that. I just want the Patriots to win this one and keep the momentum going.


The Allstate blog asks whether 200,000 miles on a car is the new 100,000 miles? Having owned a number of cars and trucks since the mid-1970's I have to say that's a pretty fair assessment.

It used to be that once a car hit 100,000 miles on the odometer it was pretty much ready for the boneyard. These days a car with 100,000 miles on it is barely broken in. Some manufacturers even offer 100,000 mile, 10 year warranties.

I've owned a couple of cars that went more than 200,000 miles, one of them being a 1998 Dodge Daytona Shelby Z. Its 2.2-liter turbocharged 4 cylinder engine ate the #3 piston at 256,000 miles. I ended up selling the car to a friend and the two of us rebuilt the motor. He gave the car to his daughter and she drove it another 100,000 miles before it was totaled in a traffic accident. (She wasn't driving. The car was parked on the street and it was hit by a drunk driver.)

Cars are better designed, better built, and better maintained than the used to be, so 200,000 miles has become the new 'standard', and even then I think we'll see them last a lot longer than that.

(H/T Maggie's Farm)


And that's the news from Lake Winnipesaukee, where the snow has been falling since early this afternoon, it's feeling more like Christmas, and where almost all of the firewood here has been stacked.



It's taken me a while to process the reality of the horrid events in Newtown, Connecticut. I could have easily just responded emotionally to the massacre, writing about how horrible it made me and others feel. I could have just as easily tried to be logical about it, casting it as an act by a deranged individual that could not have been prevented. But in the end I did neither.

I wanted to put a little distance between me and the 27 deaths in the Sandy Hook Elementary School before I sat down in front of my computer to write this. I wanted to be able to look at what happened with a dispassionate eye while at the same time remembering that so many families have lost loved ones, mostly children. And what makes it worse is that it happened just before Christmas, for how many unopened presents will remain under Christmas trees in a number of homes in Newtown this year? How will parents cope with the senseless death of their child? How will brothers and sisters deal with the death of their sibling? How will children deal with the death of a parent? These are questions none of us want to contemplate, but something that we must. It's something that many of us will have to deal with at one level or another at some point in our lives.

The more 'passionate' amongst us – mainly those who “won't let any good crisis go to waste” - are already pointing fingers. The problem is that they're willing to point them at those in no way connected to the madman who perpetrated this atrocity. They aren't looking to blame the madman, believing that somehow “it's all society's fault.” Instead they're trying to lay blame on everyone else. These are the same people who will now be demanding that we “Do something!” at the top of their lungs, even though it might be the wrong something. They'll want to ban or confiscate guns, turn our schools into fortresses, try to implement 'programs' and 'initiatives' that are supposed to prevent something like this from ever happening again. The problem is that they're focusing in the wrong areas. In the end none of those somethings will prevent such things from happening again. All they will do is give a false sense of security and waste a lot of money and effort, but the “Do something!” crowd will feel better about it...until the next time.

But the problem isn't society. The problem isn't guns. The problem isn't the lack of programs and initiatives. The problem is the individuals who decide it's permissible to use violence against people who have done them no harm. Whether the motive is revenge for wrongs real or perceived, a mental breakdown, or drug induced psychosis, it is the individuals who commit these heinous crimes who are to blame. It is best to keep that in mind as the story of what happened in Newtown is revealed.


Right To Work Success In Michigan Spreading Despair...Or Not

The rending of clothing and tearing of hair by the labor union faithful continues in Michigan. They see it as the end of the world as they know it and they don't know what's going to happen. If I had to guess, I'd say nothing will happen, at least not immediately. Eventually there will be some fallout as unhappy members of the rank and file in formerly “closed shops” will pull their financial 'support' for the unions that have done nothing for them other than take their dues money and support politicians and causes these now former union members have found reprehensible.

Despite unsubstantiated claims by union supporters that all Right To Work means is the “right to work for less pay”, there are plenty of stats that prove otherwise. Considering the unemployment rates are higher than in union states compared to RTW states, I have to respond to their claims thusly:

I'd rather have a job that pays $15 an hour than have no job that doesn't pay me $30 an hour.”

I find it amazing that many of the staunch and unquestioning union members cannot fathom the idea that businesses will survive quite nicely without them and might even provide better pay and benefits than unionized businesses. Many non-unionized businesses can afford to do so because there's no featherbedding or continued employment of incompetent or non-performing workers which usually require even more employees to make up for their lack of productivity. This phenomenon is something I saw all too often during my 20 years as a union member. This was particularly galling to me when a more senior worker would get a higher-paying open position for which he/she was not qualified to fill due entirely to seniority. Then one or two more of the same positions would be opened in order to get someone who could actually do the job because the first worker couldn't. All this did was add unnecessary costs to the programs in which we were employed. (I think the only reason this practice continued was because the employer was a defense contractor, so the usual rules of economics didn't always apply. If the company had been a commercial operation in the private sector it would have gone under decades ago.)

If Michigan, the bastion of labor union power, has gone RTW, can my home state of New Hampshire be far behind? We did have one shot at it two years ago when the New Hampshire House and Senate passed RTW legislation, only to have it vetoed by the Democrat governor. The House tried to override the veto but failed by 10 votes. (The New Hampshire House has 400 members, meaning 256 representatives voted to override and 144 voted against it.) With a Democrat majority in the House for the upcoming session, the chances of it happening in 2013 or 2014 are unlikely. But after the 2014 mid-term elections that might change.

We can only hope.


Typical Union Thuggery Ensues In Michigan

With it appearing the labor unions are taking it on the chin again, this time in Michigan, we see the usual response by the unions, in this case violent thuggery.

I've talked to more than a few former and present labor union members (I'm not including anyone from public employee unions as they're a different case) about Right to Work laws and they've been pretty evenly split. For those who still think unions are the end-all and be-all I have asked them these two questions:

If unions are so great then why do they need closed-shop rules in order to survive?

Since unions operate more like a business, shouldn't they be held to the same economic rules, being that if they are good at what they do and add value for their members they'll survive, and if they don't they won't?

In the WSJ opinion piece linked above, more than a few pro-union commenters kept up the same mantra: “Yeah, right to work means right to work for less!” One kept harroping, using the same 'statistic' over and over again, that many RTW states had lower per capita incomes than union states. But his 'proof' was blown out of the water when more than a few RTW supporters showed this drone that while that might be the case, the cost of living was also considerably lower in those same states, and the net balance between income and cost of living in RTW and union states was close to zero.

I've also argued that unions should have to sell themselves to potential members, just like any organization. They shouldn't be dependent upon rules that would make guys like Al Capone green with envy for the amount of money collected in “dues”. (I liken it more to paying protection money, at least from my experiences being in a closed shop.) If they can't make the sale because they aren't offering anything of value to potential members, then maybe they've outlived their usefulness and should fold.

Monday Night Football

It was quite obvious I didn't post anything last night.

I have a perfectly good excuse...or at least it's good enough for New England.

I was watching the “big” game between the New England Patriots and the Houston Texans. With two top teams battling it out I expected a close game.

It wasn't.

The Patriots pounded the Texans, beating them 42-14.

Over the last three games I've expected a close game and it has been anything but, with the Patriots dominating.

Could New England be Super Bowl bound again?


Thoughts On A Sunday

It's been another half-and-half weekend, weather wise. Between snow and sleet overnight Friday and into Saturday morning, a foggy Saturday evening, to a sunny and (relatively) warm Sunday, it has made for interesting driving conditions. At least the poorer weather hasn't kept us from taking care of our weekend chores.


I went to our local mega-multi-cineplex last night to see Rise of the Guardians with my firend Dawn. (She of Submarine Tim's boss.) Imagine my surprise to see Submarine Tim there as well! While we have e-mailed and phoned while he's been away, it isn't the same as actually seeing him. He was home for a long weekend and he and Dawn decided to surprise me.

He'll be gone again for a couple of weeks and then home again between Christmas and New Year's. We've already made plans for our two families to get together while he's home.


Our woodpile has shrunk, leaving us with only a few more days worth of firewood. The two cords of firewood we ordered won't be arriving until the 18th of the month, so for a few days we'll have to use the propane furnace to keep The Manse warm.

I will keep one or two days worth of firewood available 'just in case', but I doubt we'll need it.


File this under “Like we didn't see this one coming.”

It turns out the economy wasn't doing better just before the election. In fact it was doing worse and the numbers since the election aren't looking any better.

Now that Barack Obama is safely ensconced in the White House for another four years, several items which should have been noticed or revealed before Election Day have come to the fore. Collectively, they tell us two things: that the pre-election economy was worse than voters were led to believe, and that the prospects for meaningful improvement under the current regime are bleak at best. Additionally, in at least one instance, economic activity itself was likely manipulated.

Between inventory stuffing by GM, a decrease in single family home sales, poor jobs numbers being blamed on Sandy, and the possibility of trillion dollar deficits for years on end, how anyone can say the economic numbers look good is baffling.

As the old saying goes, “Don't piss on my back and tell me it's raining!” That's what the Obama administration seems to be doing with help from the MSM.


I agree with Senator Coburn on this one: Government is wasteful, incompetent, and stupid.

On more than one occasion while debating some of my more statist progressive acquaintances, I have made the argument that government, and particularly our federal government, is neither wise enough or smart enough to run our lives. Government officials are no better at running their own lives, so what makes the statists think they'll be better at running our lives? Or is it that progressives don't want to be bothered making the tough decisions in their lives?

(H/T Maggie's Farm)


I can get behind this.

Maybe it's time to stick it to the blue states.

Get rid of the income tax deductions for state taxes and mortgage interest and “let the stuck pig squeal.” If blue staters think raising taxes on the rich is such a great idea, then do away with those deductions and the federal taxes owed by the rich will go up. Unfortunately most of the so-called rich seem to live in the blue states (the same ones calling for increasing taxes on the rich). So rather then putting forward an income tax increase with some carefully crafted 'exemptions', do away with the tax and mortgage exemptions and watch the howling begin. In the bluest of blue states like California, Illinois, New Jersey, New York, and Massachusetts those exemptions are windfalls for the “rich”, in effect a subsidy of the rich by the 'poor'. (I put rich in quotations because the definition of rich keeps changing. Soon I expect it will come to be defined as “anyone with a job.”)


Also from Powerline comes this little bit about how welfare spending dwarfs poverty.

I'll bet a lot of that spending is in the form of administrative costs, kind of like what we've been seeing in higher education where administrators now outnumber faculty by up to 2 to 1. The ratio used to be the reverse of that. And when applied to welfare, perhaps we should go back to welfare being handed back to the state and local level like it was prior to LBJ's disastrous Great Society.


David Starr opines about the UK's displeasure with the EU.

For some time I've been of the opinion that the UK should leave the EU and join NAFTA. David is of the same opinion.

Leaving the EU would allow the UK to regain sovereignty over their own affairs and give them an alternative tariff-free market (Canada, Mexico, and the US) to replace the EU. Besides, unless the EU can reign in the profligate social spending by a number of its members (Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Greece, and Spain being the worst of the bunch, with France not too far behind) it's not likely the EU economy will be able to sustain itself. Germany can bolster these spendthrift nations for only so long before they're pulled under or stop the hemorrhage of cash by pulling their support.


Theodore's World reminds us that regardless of what happens with the fiscal cliff issue, taxes are set to rise January 1st because of ObamaCare.

(H/T Pirate's Cove)


Emperor Misha tells us about the crumbling finances of Brokeifornia and how the tax increases voted into existence November 6th have had the resulted in the 'unexpected' effect of a revenue shortfall of over $800 million last month.

Since cutting spending is clearly off the table, you could always ask the parasite electorate of California to vote to jack up taxes on the people still around to provide them with jobs even further. It worked so well the last time, didn’t it? And the last, and the last, and every single time in all of recorded human history.

But THIS time it will work out, right? And then, then we’ll have the Obamunist Obamutopia of Next TuesdayTM, at long last.

Yeah. Right.


And that's the news from Lake Winnipesaukee, where the weather hasn't quite made up its mind, Christmas shopping is still in full swing, and where our woodpile has almost shrunk to nothing.


Geek Humor - Part 'e'

By way of Maggie's Farm comes this bit of humor geeks like me enjoy...or understand. (This means you, Skip!)

Einstein, Newton, and Pascal are hanging out one afternoon.

Einstein is bored, so he suggests, "Let's play hide-and-seek. I'll be it!"

The others agree, so Einstein begins counting. "One... Two... Three..."

Pascal runs off right away to find a place to hide.

But Newton merely takes out a piece of chalk and draws a mid-sized square. He finishes and steps into the square just as Einstein shouts, "Ready or not -- here I come!"

Einstein looks up and immediately spots Newton standing right in front of him. He says, "I found you, Newton!"

Newton replies, "No, you found one Newton per square meter -- You found Pascal!"

'Nuff said.


Socialism Is "The Monkey's Paw" Writ Large

I've heard socialism called a lot of things, but somehow this description is apt: a great monkey's paw. For in the end that's exactly what it is.

Like the powerful yet cursed object in the traditional story (which has appeared in many forms throughout human history, including in modern horror cinema...socialism promises our heart's desires... but at a terrible and unforeseen price. That price (or, more accurately, an integrated, interconnected matrix of "prices"), however, is always said by the prophets of a "better world" to be either minimal or nonexistent; a figment of our fears, prejudices, ignorance, and lack of political or social will.

The present occupant of the White House, and the party of which he is an iconic if standard feature, was born into and suckled upon the milk of zero-sum economics, perennial class antagonism, class envy, and a neo-feudal status centered mentality of human relations. Like many of his generation and worldview, he is convinced there is a "better world" possible in which humankind can be redeemed and made whole through a moral regeneration imposed by sheer force of will by the state and by the cleansing influence of a purifying ideology. With the dawning of the Obama era, and a renewed animus toward free-market economic relations and the key importance of the individual to a free society, this mentality is in process of arriving at its apogee.

Ah yes, the “burn our way to a new paradise” ploy. Unfortunately that “new paradise” is more often a hell on earth, with the leaders who made the promises instead turning the lands under their control into an abattoir. We've seen it often enough just in the last 100 years - the Soviet Union, Nazi Germany, Red China, Cambodia, Uganda, Rwanda, Afghanistan, Iran, Sudan, and a whole host of other countries.

Not all socialist states take it to that extreme, but they do tend to cripple their economies because of beliefs they hold that in no way reflect reality.

One of the most damaging is the so-called “zero sum” paradigm, meaning they believe that wealth is a zero sum game – in order for someone to become wealthy they had to take that wealth from someone else and make them poor. But that isn't how the real world works...except in socialist states that take the wealth from those who earned it and give it to the “poor”...and enrich themselves in the process.

The other one I personally find nonsensical, illogical, and quite annoying is the “no one can have 'X' until everyone can have 'X'” paradigm. The problem is that no one will ever have 'X' because the socialists have made sure it's impossible. Someone has to be first. More often than not it's the wealthy. Those wealthy early adopters pave the way for everyone else, in effect helping the flow of investment capital that spurs further development and less expensive means of making the goods that eventually leads to something that was once only available to the wealthy to be available for just about everyone. Too many socialists seem to think that all of these fine goods that even our poor enjoy just spontaneously appeared at a price that everyone could afford.

Not that the realities that rule economics will sway these folks from changing their beliefs.


When Is A Budget Cut Not A Cut?

As the negotiations between Congress and the White House continues, the talk of spending cuts remains at the forefront. But as always whenever government talks about spending cuts we always have to take the word 'cuts' with a big grain of salt.

In my experience budget/spending cuts are rarely what they appear to be. More often than not those supposed cuts are not actual decreases in spending. Instead they are a cuts to the proposed increases in spending. An example:

A proposed budget for some government agency for the upcoming fiscal year is $400 million. The budget for that same agency during the present fiscal year is $360 million. Congress decides to trim the proposed budget item by $20 million, reducing the proposed budget to $380 million. To Congress, that is a budget cut. However to the rest of the world the budget will still be increased by $20 million. That by no means is a budget cut. But if the proposed budget was reduced to a level below that of the present fiscal year, say to $350 million, then that would be an actual cut in spending.

So keeping in mind these two examples, when both Congress and the White House talk about budget cuts, more often than not they will still increase spending. Only the amount of the increase has been cut, not the actual amount of money to be spent.

And so it goes in our increasingly out of touch government.


Fiscal Cliff Negotiations

I, like many others, have been watching the negotiations between congressional Republicans and the White House in regards to the approaching fiscal cliff. What I'm seeing so far is not filling me with confidence.

First, we have a president who does not understand the twin concepts of negotiation and compromise. It appears that he believes what he wants is what he will get and that compromise is for the other party. (That isn't compromise. That's capitulation.)

Second, we have the Republican congressional leaders who don't trust the president to negotiate in good faith. They have good reason to be distrustful considering Obama's history in regards to negotiations. The last time the Congressional Republicans went through this they thought they had a deal with the president when at the last minute he dropped a deal-killing bombshell on them, demanding a non-negotiable additional $400 billion in tax increases. As the saying goes, once burned, twice shy, and Obama has burned them one too many times. So any deal he proposes that sounds like a compromise will be looked upon with a lot of skepticism.

Will the president and Congress be able to come up with an acceptable deal to fend off going over the fiscal cliff? Or will Obama act like Nero and fiddle while the economy burns to the ground around him?


Thoughts On A Sunday

It's been quite wintery here in the Lakes Region of New Hampshire this weekend, with light snow falling all day yesterday. It made the roads a bit slick, particularly after sundown.

The driving conditions were challenging for one of BeezleBub's friends at the farm, a fellow from Brazil. He's never had to drive in snow before so it was a learning experience for him.

This morning it was foggy, indicating warmer air had moved. The Weather GuysTM have predicted temps in the 40's for today and the 50's and 60's for the beginning of the week so any snowfall will likely melt away before temps fall again.


The Official Weekend Pundit Christmas Tree went up today, with BeezleBub and Horse Girl taking care of the decoration. BeezleBub decided it was time to update things a bit by changing the lights over to LEDs as he liked the two strings we had that I picked up a couple of years ago. So he and Horse Girl headed out to Walmart to pick up more LED lights for the tree.


Chris Muir has the right of it – the Progressives are not revolutionaries.


Found on Facebook – Socialism versus Capitalism.

One commenter takes it a little farther, writing:
To be a good capitalist, you must pay very close attention to what other people want and need. The socialist decides what they should want and should need rather than bothering with paying attention to other people.

Quite true.

(H/T Maggie's Farm)


The New England Patriots played the Miami Dolphins in Miami today, beating them 23-13.


ObamaCare fall-outs continue to mount, with colleges, cities, and retailers taking steps to minimize their exposure to the onerous requirements mandated by that POS legislation. ObamaCare has even driven Walmart to take steps to lessen its exposure.

If this continues we'll see America become a part-time nation.

Way to go Pelosi, Reid, and Obama, for showing us yet another example of the Law of Unintended Consequences!

(H/T Pirate's Cove)


Here's a two-fer from fellow Granite Stater Tom Bowler.

First, he directs us to Let's Play Name That Party!, which points us to a Ruth Marcus column that covers Susan Rice and the double standards Marcus claims are being applied to Rice. The problem is that it's not the Republicans applying the double standard.

Then there's Tom's coverage of the so-called Tax Hike Champions, multibillionaires all, and all members of the board of Costco. That in itself isn't the important part. But this is:

There is newsworthiness here. It came about when the Costco board voted voted itself a $7.00 per share stock dividend in time to beat the Obama tax hikes. Not only that, they're borrowing $3.5 billion to do it. The payout to the board amounts to about $29 million, of which $14 million goes to [Costco founder and former CEO Jim] Sinegal. He will pay taxes on his $14 million at the rate of 15% instead of up to 43.4% if they had waited until the first of the year. That 's a difference of about $4 million in taxes that Sinegal won't pay.

Gee, there's no self-interest there, is there? Talk about hypocrisy.


And that's the news from Lake Winnipesaukee, where the snow has been replaced with rain, the temps are rising, and where we're one week closer to Christmas.


Economic Ignorance Rules The Land

The more I talk with people, read articles and blog posts, it has become quite evident that too many of the people making decisions about how government is going to tax and spend our money haven't got a clue about how economics actually works.

One of the latest examples of economic ignorance is Economics Ph.D. candidate Catherine Ruetschlin who advocates a $12/hour wage for retail workers. Her reasoning?

In Ruetschlin’s alternative universe, if retailers raised all employees’ wages to at least $12 per hour, “the new floor would mean a 27 percent pay raise” on average for those earning below that threshold. Then, as if by magic, because of that increase and others granted to higher earners who would also demand to be paid more: “More than 700,000 Americans would be lifted out of poverty, and more than 1.5 million retail workers and their families would move up from in or near poverty.” Employing her trusty Keynesian stimulus calculator, she further projects: “As a result of the economic growth from a wage increase, employers would create 100,000 to 132,000 additional jobs.”

One of the biggest flaws in her theory is that she seems to think the extra money the retailers will have to pay will just come out of thin air. Oh, she makes noise that it will merely come from the profits made by the retailers, but considering how razor thin the margins are for some shops, the pay raise will wipe out those margins and turn barely profitable businesses into money-losing businesses.

And just like every time Congress raises the minimum wage, it's the entry level job seekers that will pay the price. (Some, like Ruetschlin, seem to think entry level jobs are supposed to be able to support a family of four. If you're still making minimum wage after being in a job for years, the problem is not the employer. Maybe it's because you aren't willing to make the extra effort to earn anything above it.)

It seems a lot of the Democrats in Congress are just as ignorant, not understanding that as they suck more capital out of the economy in an effort to “help” those they feel need it, the less capital will be available for businesses to expand the economy and create more jobs. The economically illiterate seem to think the government can create jobs, but the only jobs the government can create are government jobs and government jobs do little to help expand the economy. After all government jobs rely on taxes to exist and taxes are a drain on the economy. It is only the private sector that creates jobs that actually help the economy, something too many in government are unable to see.


Will Congress Finally Kill The Dollar Bill?

Could it be that Congress will finally get around to doing something that is long overdue? No, I'm not talking about balancing the budget, but I am talking about money. In this case it's the dollar bill, or rather doing away with the dollar bill.

One more than a few occasions I have lamented the waste of taxpayer money in efforts to replace the dollar bill with a dollar coin. One of the biggest advantages to the coin is that it lasts up to 30 times longer than a bill. Despite the coin's higher cost to produce, about twice that of a dollar bill, it's longer life in circulation more than offsets the higher initial cost.

But the Treasury's attempts to replace the bill with a coin have failed more than once, with the biggest failure being the Susan B. Anthony coin due to its easily being mistaken for a quarter.

The Sacagawea was the next attempt, a gold colored coin with smooth edges, slightly larger than a quarter. It was popular when it first came out, but with the reluctance of Congress to kill off the dollar bill, billions of them soon languished in bank vaults, unused.

The last attempt was the so-called Presidential series, again gold colored smooth-edged coins the same size as the Sacagawea dollar. And again Congress' reluctance to do away with the dollar bill doomed it, too.

But now it looks like Congress will finally kill the bill and make the coin the “coin of the realm” and stop wasting the taxpayer's money on money no one wants.


Non-Thinking New Hampshire Leftist Parrot At It Again

One of my favorite local liberals, James Veverka, is at it again. (I say he's my favorite because he makes it so darned easy to show him up for the unthinking, intolerant, progressive parrot he is.)

This time, in response to a local conservative's remarks about the election results, he writes in the November 27th issue of the Laconia Daily Sun “...out of the six counties in Virginia that have a median income of $100,000 or more, Obama won five. [He] doesn't realize that four years of hysterical right wing fiscal, birther, and religious foaming at the mouth got them nowhere.”

One thing I realized right off the bat is that Veverka doesn't mention anything about those five counties in Virginia other than he median income. Then again he probably doesn't know anything else about those counties other than a bunch of well off people live there, thereby proving his point that even the rich love Obama. But I know far more about those counties that blows Veverka's claim right out of the water.

Those five counties are heavily populated by government bureaucrats, lobbyists, and others whose livelihoods depend heavily upon federal government largess. Their $100,000 (or more) median income is by way of direct or indirect government money (meaning our money). Very few of those within those five counties are CEOs of manufacturing, service, or other private commercial companies or corporations. So when the voters within those five counties in northern Virginia voted for Obama they were doing so to ensure their continuing employment at taxpayer expense.

A well known GOP pollster told me back in August that only two states he polled where people believing things were better in the country since 2008 were Virginia and Ohio. The Virginia perception was almost entirely the result of the massive amount of government spending and employees that spill across the Potomac bridges each day into areas as far away as Prince William and Faquier Counties.

The people living in those five counties are out of touch with the economic and political realities the rest of us must face every day. So to use them as an example of wealthy voting for Obama is ignorant at best and disingenuous at worst. Knowing Mister Veverka from his long history of vilifying non-Democrats in the local newspapers, in his case I'd have to say it's both.


Thoughts On A Sunday

We managed to survive the Thanksgiving holiday weekend without much in the way of drama. Probably the biggest issue we had to deal with was the change in weather, going from the 50's on Friday to the lower 40's on Saturday, and the upper 30's today.

BeezleBub had two friends from the farm join us for dinner on Saturday, our 'second' Thanksgiving dinner as it was the one where Deb, BeezleBub and I all had the day off. Horse Girl also joined us.


The New England Patriots have the weekend off as they played Thursday night against the New York Jets.

This was another game I expected would be a close one, but the Patriots blew out the Jets 49-19, in one case scoring three touchdowns in 52 seconds, with two of them only 9 seconds apart!


I've been checking out The People's Cube for some time. Call it a tongue-in-cheek look into the socialist utopia that so many on the left want America to become.

One of my favorite posts dealt with the recycling of old Soviet jokes that are germane to America today. This one scared the bejeebus out of me because I could see how they apply to Obama's America.


Since the unions brought down Hostess, it appears they're redoubling their efforts to get a foot in the door at Walmart, using the same old Walmart-doesn't-pay-a-living-wage-provide-health-insurance-and-has-miserable-working-conditions ploy to worm their way into the American retailer. However, the reality is that Walmart does a far better job in regards to pay, insurance, and working conditions than most other retailers and without the need for a union.

Is it any wonder they've gone to the NLRB to complain about union harassment? (Not that it will do them any good seeing as the NLRB is nothing more than a union-owned government organ.)

The latest union attempt at coercing Walmart to give in – 'occupy' Walmart and disrupt Black Friday sales – failed spectacularly. (Almost all of the protesters, what there were of them, were non-employees.) I believe any future attempts along this line will fail in the same fashion, after all the unions aren't offering anything Walmart employees don't already have, except for protecting lazy goldbricking wannabe employees from being fired for being lazy goldbrickers.


I spent a good portion of the morning cleaning up the aftermath of our 'second' Thanksgiving dinner with BeezleBub's friends and co-workers. A majority of the cleanup was done last night but there was still plenty left to take care of this morning.


In case you've missed it, Stacy McCain has sprung the trap on psycho-stalker Bill Schmalfeldt, aka 'The Liberal Grouch”.

Apparently Mister Schmalfeldt doesn't realize that many of his actions taken while attacking and smearing McCain are illegal.

I liked one comment made by Dianna Deeley about dealing with a stalker:

Once, when faced with an obscene phone call at work, when he asked if I knew who it was, I responded, "Yes. A dead man."

These trolls need to find out that there are consequences to be paid for their actions.

(H/T DaTechGuy)


Coyote asks the question: “Can the majority vote to have the minority send them money?”

That seems to be what Obama thinks, but as we have been warned by more than a few intelligent people, our republic will stand until the voters find out they can vote themselves money from the treasury. We've just about reached that point, if not gone past it like California.


And that's the news from Lake Winnipesaukee, where winter temps have arrived, shopping madness has begun, and where I still have a lot of getting-ready-for-winter chores to do.


They Will Never Be Satisfied

It seems it's timely that after a lengthy Thanksgiving Day debate with my brother-in-law about climate change (he believes a majority of it is due to human activity and I don't) and what to do about it, this piece about how the US has reduced its carbon footprint more than anyone else shows up. What makes it ironic is that it was all done without the need for Kyoto or draconian measures that would cripple the already weakened economy. But even with that, the environmentalists say it isn't enough fast enough.

What I find funny is that even if these environmentalists got their way, the effect of the reductions they want would be minute on the environment based upon their own projections.

These so-called environmentalists (I say so-called because this flavor of environmentalist isn't concerned about the environment but about controlling everyone under the mantle of protecting the environment) will not be satisfied until we're back to subsistence farming, except for themselves, of course. They talk a good game about “green” this and “green” that but work against actually implementing those very same green technologies and energy. One example - promoting solar and wind but then protesting against the infrastructure needed to get the power where it needs to go, i.e. power lines.

I think my biggest gripe is that many of these 'environmentalists' make dire predictions about how a warmer planet would be disastrous despite plenty of historical evidence that says just the opposite, the Roman and Medieval Warm Periods being just two examples. They take any weather event that causes destruction, Hurricane/Tropical Storm Sandy being the latest example, and extrapolate it to show how every hurricane or tropical storm will be worse from here onwards. It doesn't matter that the severity of hurricanes and tropical storms hasn't lived up to their hype and there are plenty of hurricanes in the past that were far more destructive. I have to say that part of the reason Sandy was more destructive was because of the heavy development along the coastlines of New Jersey and New York. If those areas had been built up like this when the 1938 hurricane paid a visit to the northeast the destruction and death toll would have been orders of magnitude higher.

To get back to the matter at hand, it appears to me that the 'environmentalist will not be appeased until we're living the nightmare of Fallen Angels, proclaiming global warming is a dire threat even as glaciers bury Boston, New York City, Chicago, and Seattle.


Maybe It's Time To Stop Rebuilding In Areas Prone To Regular Flooding

The lessons of 1993 have been forgotten.

What exactly am I talking about?


Back in 1993 there was major flooding along the Mississippi River, in many cases wiping entire towns. A large number of these towns had been rebuilt more than once over the years. So what did the federal government do?

They told those living in those towns that if they decided to rebuild again in their original location that they would no longer be eligible for flood insurance.

It made no sense to have to shell out millions upon millions of dollars every few years to rebuild – again – in an area that sees floods on a regular basis. So a number of towns or sections of towns prone to regular flooding were moved to higher ground. One last payout and the government wouldn't have to pay out the next time the Mississippi River overflowed its banks and flooded those same towns again.

And so it should be with those communities built in areas that are flooded out by storm surges every time a hurricane or Nor'easter drives the ocean water over barrier islands and low lying coastal flood plains.

Why should taxpayers be hit with the bill for rebuilding expensive homes in areas that are known for being flooded on a regular basis whenever hurricanes, tropical storms, or Nor'easters hit? (A 'once-in-a-century' storm is one thing, but this is ridiculous.)

It's time to end the endless taxpayer bailouts for those who insist on building homes in places that are regularly swept by damaging storms.


It's Time For A Major Overhaul Of The Tax Code

As the upcoming debate over the looming “fiscal cliff” starts, this may be an opportunity to fundamentally change the tax system in the United States.

One of the biggest mistakes made in regards to the US Tax Code has been the reliance upon income taxes, including capital gains taxes. The income tax code is convoluted, arcane, contradictory, incomprehensible (even to the IRS), and too easy to get around. It's time to do away with the tax code as it exists and replace it with something simpler that also reduces the amount of enforcement required to deal with it.

It's time to switch to a consumption tax.

With few exemptions (necessities like food, clothing, and one or two others) it's a much fairer and level tax structure. The more one spends the more taxes one pays. For the most part, the 'poor' would pay a much smaller percentage of their money towards taxes and the wealthy a much higher percentage. (The wealthy will buy a lot more stuff than the poor and with the 'necessities' exemptions the poor will pay very little.) There will be no tax loopholes, no tax shelters, and the bookkeeping will be quite simple.

Revenues will be a bit more stable than those under income taxes as income levels, particularly among the rich, swing wider than spending. A consumption tax does not differentiate between income types. Whether the income is based upon salaries, dividends, capital gains, those monies spend the same. There's no dodging the consumption tax.

The biggest issue with the consumption tax will be its breadth. That will require a lot of work, but if done properly the need to fill out the annual 1040 forms will be eliminated. (Of course a lot of tax attorneys, accountants, and tax preparers will find themselves out of work, but that's a small price to pay for a better system.)

I have no doubt that any such reasonable rewrite of the tax code will be opposed by all “right-thinking” folk, meaning the special interests. (This includes the aforementioned tax attorneys, accountants, and tax preparers, just to name a few.) There are too many who have a vested interest in keeping the tax code as complicated and incomprehensible as possible as otherwise they will be unable to bury tax breaks, exemptions, and other giveaways in exchange for like kind support in other areas. There are too many out there who want to keep the existing tax code because they see it as a means of providing “social” justice, meaning taxing the rich out of existence and redistributing their wealth to the “more deserving” leaches, layabouts, and looters.

Keeping those factors in mind, I give the chance of such a rewrite of the tax code to be between slim and none. There are too many who benefit from the existing one to ever see it changed to something understandable to all and much fairer in its application.

UPDATE: I almost forgot another reason to support the idea of a national consumption tax: California, New York, Illinois, and a host of other blue states would scream bloody murder because the rich socialists so fond of spending other people's money to assuage their guilt would no longer be able to write off their state taxes as they can under the existing tax code.


Statistically Impossible Election Results

The Democrats like to claim there is little to worry about in regards to election fraud, but the results from the 2012 Presidential elections in a number of precincts in two cities, Chicago and Philadelphia, put the lie to that claim.

In Chicago Mitt Romney received absolutely no votes in 37 precincts. In Philadelphia he received no votes in 59 precincts.

Statistically, such results are virtually impossible. The odds of that happening are trillions to one. Even if no one voted for Romney, there should have been erroneous votes that would have given Romney at least one or two in such a precinct. But he received none in a large number of precincts. Not one. There's no way that could happen naturally. Instead it indicates coordinated large scale voter fraud.

And who benefits from such voter fraud? The Democrats, of course.

People need to go to prison, and not just for voter fraud, but for civil rights violations. (As such, being convicted of civil rights violations of this type can lead to lengthy prison sentences in federal take-it-up-the-butt penitentiaries, particularly if it can be proven there was a conspiracy to do so.) But don't hold your breath because we already know the Attorney General of the United States won't bother to investigate. He's got his marching orders from The One to ignore this assault on the Constitution. (We also know The One has little use for the Constitution.)

A number of American citizens were denied their voices in the election process, making them second class citizens in the eyes of the perpetrators. Who the hell do these fascists think they are? (Oh, that's right, they're fascists and the rights of people who disagree with them don't matter.)

And so it goes in the United States of Obama.


Thoughts On A Sunday

Preparations have begun for Thanksgiving. Unfortunately the WP clan will not be gathering all at the same time or place this year. Deb has to work Thanksgiving Day and BeezleBub will spend the day with Horse Girl's family. I will be driving the WP Parents and one of the WP nephews to the youngest WP Sister's home on Thanksgiving Day.

Deb, BeezleBub and I will celebrate Thanksgiving on this coming Saturday along with two of BeezleBub's farm friends, one from Brazil and the other from Poland.

While not our traditional Thanksgiving celebration, it will do!


I am off from work all this week, burning off some of my unused vacation time. Even with this week off and the week between Christmas and New Year's I'll still be leaving some vacation time on the books. Blame it on my usual summer vacation schedule being thrown off because The Boat wasn't in the water this year.

I'll be spending most of my time off taking care of still unfinished chores around The Manse, getting everything ready for winter.


Could the reason so many urban areas vote heavily Democrat is because they are insulated from the economic realities that make their lifestyles possible?

In their urban cocoons, city-dwellers take for granted the abundance and availability of the economic goods that they consume. For instance, many well-to-do, educated urbanites see no downside to supporting stricter regulations and higher taxes on energy producers, because to them, energy is something that is always there at the flip of a switch (except during the occasional hurricane, as some New Yorkers recently discovered). Life in the city for affluent Americans creates the illusion that all they have to do is demand something and – presto! – it will be there when they want it.

When that's the case it's easy for them to promote and vote in favor of issues and politicians that will make it even more difficult (and expensive) to provide the very things they expect to be there while at the same time adding heavier burdens on the people who actually provide the things they take for granted. Call it the out-of-sight-out-of-mind syndrome.

Should the feces to hit the rotary oscillator and supplies to the urban areas were to be cut off, how well would those cocooned urbanites fare? Not well at all. The rest of us would likely survive with far fewer hardships than the urban folk.


Jay Solo has noticed the downsizing of various foodstuffs containers for some time as some items now come in much smaller packages. Others appear to be the same size but closer inspection shows changes in the shape of the packaging that makes it appear it is the same size as always but in truth holds anywhere from 10 to 25% less product than the older packages. There's less product but the prices are the same, if not higher.


This does not surprise me in the least.

Glenn Reynolds links to a Guardian article reporting that 56% of Britons polled would vote to quit the EU.

Talking to friends and business acquaintances in the UK about this issue over the past few months, most of them would like nothing better than to shed themselves from the increasingly invasive and unaccountable dictats from Brussels.

One saving grace for the UK is that they decided to maintain the pound as their currency rather than buying into the euro. Should they decide to back out of the EU that's one less thing they have to worry about.

As one of Glenn's readers opined, it might be better if the Brits joined NAFTA instead, something I and many others (including Glenn) have been advocating for some time. It certainly has far more advantages than their present relationship as members of the EU.


Here's a follow up to the entire Hostess debacle, with an interesting graphic showing people's reaction to the closing of an American icon business.

There are also over 1500 comments (and climbing) to this WSJ article about Hostess' demise.


As if the Hostess debacle weren't bad enough, another union is about to learn the hard way that they can demand too much and drive a business into bankruptcy.

This time the target is a regional grocery chain in north central California where even after allowing the union – the United Food and Commercial Workers - to take a look at the books to show the dire financial straits of the chain, the union has demanded even more from the company, including a “re-signing bonus” for the workers who were on strike for 9 weeks before they come back to work and amnesty for striking workers who intimidated customers and destroyed company property during the strike.

Were I the head of the company I would be so tempted to throw in the towel, close the stores, and let the UFCW thugs go find work elsewhere. It's time for the unions to learn a hard lesson in economics.


The People's Cube has a great screen shot of Obama's computer desktop.

(H/T Pirate's Cove)


The New England Patriots played the Indianapolis Colts in Foxboro today.

The Patriots buried the Colts, 59-24. Frankly I expected a much closer game, but the Patriots defense forced a number of turnovers, some of which were immediate scores for New England.

The Patriots play again on Thanksgiving day against the New Your Jets in New York.


And that's the news from Lake Winnipesaukee, where preparations continue apace for Thanksgiving, Christmas decorations now adorn most stores, and where there's still plenty of work to do around The Manse.


Union 'Victory' Over Corporate Greed A Win For Labor?

I have to admit that I've held off commenting upon the demise of Hostess, trying very hard not to point out the Pyrrhic victory of the baker's union over the corporation. But it's reached the point of parody and I can no longer contain myself.

When you have union bosses saying the loss of over 18,000 jobs is a win over corporate greed it's an indication that you need different union bosses, or better yet, no union at all.

This isn't the first time a union has had a cut-your-nose-off-to-spite-your-face 'victory', leaving their members with no jobs and no prospects for new jobs any time soon. Is it any wonder labor union membership has plummeted over the past few decades as the unions have lost touch with both economic realities and the rank and file? How many unions have generated insane, incomprehensible, and contradictory work rules that made it more difficult and more expensive for any company to get anything done? (Speaking as a former union member, I can tell you from personal experience that some of those work rules were asinine. One such rule we had to deal with constantly was that governing fans – the large fans with the round metal floor stands used to circulate air when needed – requiring an millwright to move it and an electrician to plug it into the wall socket and turn it on. You could neither move, adjust, or turn the fan on or off without either one of those workers, otherwise they could file a grievance and cause you all kinds of trouble.)

While unions boast that they protect the rights of workers, and in the past they did, that is no longer true. Much of what the unions fought for is now codified in labor law, leaving the unions floundering for new relevance. Unfortunately much of that new relevance is directed at trying to overthrow the entrepreneurial spirit and capitalist economy that has made this nation great. The problem is that few in the private sector are buying the line of hokum the labor unions are selling...except for the socialists. (It's not like the socialists have all that great a track record in regards to jobs, either.) It's time for the labor union bosses to understand that it's very easy to kill jobs by remaining intractable. Once any company realizes it's impossible to come to an agreement with a union that will allow it to remain economically viable it will pull the plug and close its doors. That's what happened with the baker's union and Hostess.

I'm sure all of those now unemployed baker's union workers are exultant that they've shown Hostess they won't back down. I'm sure they're also overjoyed at the fact that they've lost their jobs just before the holiday season.


2012 Presidential Election Breakdowns Show Interesting Results

Now that the 2012 Presidential Election is over and the final votes are being counted, taking a look at the breakdown of the votes makes for some interesting graphics.

Looking at the results from each state in regards to which candidate won in which state gives as a very basic look at the outcome, but a somewhat deceptive one.

Here's what the results looked like state by state, with blue signifying a win for Obama and red a win for Romney:

Note: Click on map images to enlarge

But if you look at the results on a county by county basis the view is quite different, again with blue signifying an Obama win and red a Romney win:

Of particular interest to me were the results in my home state of New Hampshire which showed three of the ten counties taken by Romney.

Looking even closer, if the county by county results are recolored using shades between blue and red to show the relative ratio between Obama and Romney voters we see and even more striking result:

Notice that the shades of purple show a better representation of how people voted on a county by county basis. Looking at both county maps we can see that while Obama may have won in more states than Romney, Romney won in more counties than Obama.

There are more maps showing different weighting for the results, again county by county. Again, the results aren't quite so cut and dried as the state by state maps imply.

Over all, it looks like the metropolitan counties were invariably blue while the non-metropolitan counties were heavily red. No real surprise there, is there?


A Neat Machine

This video shows a rather neat contraption...made entirely of Legos.

The engineer who built this machine spent almost 2 years assembling it in his house.

It's amazing what you can do with Legos when you put your mind to it.


Thoughts On A Sunday

Some of the last fall preparations for winter started this weekend with some cleanup outside, moving the Official Weekend Pundit Lake Winnipesaukee Runabout – aka The Boat – to its winter location next to the garage, moving some fire wood to make repairs to a side brace that holds up one side of the fire wood stack in the garage, and the gathering of materials to start sealing the slider and some of the windows to reduce heat loss during the coming months.

It's ironic considering it's been getting warmer over the past few days and will be in the upper 60's on Monday. I let the woodstove go out this morning because it will be warm enough without it for the next couple of days.


The News Junkie wonders about the timing of David Petraeus' resignation, calling it something right out of a Tom Clancy novel. He also brings up a point I wouldn't have thought about:

Nobody gets a senior job without a meticulous colonoscopy. If you were ever cheating, they pursue every rumor and know all about it. Unless one is an elected Democrat, of course, in which case one's sexual history is irrelevant.

It sounds more like the Obama administration needed a means of deflecting questions about its failure in Benghazi and decided the throw Petraeus under the bus. It also means he probably won't be testifying in any congressional hearings now that his reputation has been besmirched and any testimony he gave would be suspect.


I have found one means of keeping the squirrels and chipmunks away from the bird feeder on our main deck – make sure there are plenty of blue jays around. When ever we have seed that appeals to the jays they drive off the squirrels and chipmunks trying to partake of the seed we've put out. When the jays arrive the rodents disappear.

Unfortunately when the jays appear the other birds also disappear.


And speaking of birds, both Scary Yankee Chick and Bogie have pictures of some wild birds that have graced their back yards over the past few days, including Evening Grosbeaks and even a few Harris's Sparrows. Neither is all that common to upstate New York or New Hampshire.


As David Starr reminds us, Alexis de Tocqueville warned us that we will exist “until that time when the voters they can vote themselves largess from the public treasury.”

I have a feeling that the 2012 election will be the turning point considering many voted for Obama to get “free stuff.” Only that free stuff isn't free and inevitably those receiving the free stuff will be shocked once they get the bill, particularly once the rest of us are bankrupted by these folks. As the old saying goes, TANSTAAFL (“There ain't no such thing as a free lunch.”).


If you need yet another in an endless list of examples of what a Progressive Utopia looks like, you only have to go as far as Oakland, California for a preview.

It's gotten so bad that criminals are committing crimes against news crews while they are on the air, live. Now news crews will require armed guards to protect them, just like in a number of Third World countries. Then again California is becoming more like a Third World country, at least as far as its government and tax tax tax/spend spend spend economy is concerned.

(H/T Instapundit)


The New England Patriots came off a bye week to play the Buffalo Bills in Foxboro this afternoon. The managed to beat the Bills 37-21 despite the defense playing only 3 ¾ quarters.


Cap'n Teach has started referring to California as “Brokeifornia”, an apt description. He also links to three stories detailing Brokeifornia's deepening fiscal troubles.

As if the rest of us didn't see this coming.


Apparently spending isn't just a problem in Calfornia. Brevard County in Florida may have to close four of its elementary schools because voters rejected a ½ cent sales tax increase. Never mind that school enrollment has dropped by 7,000 students over the past few years (and by 705 students this year).

That tells me they have a spending problem and not a revenue problem. Maybe it's time to shed some of their excess school personnel since they're no longer needed for students that are no longer in the school system. That alone should free up millions of tax dollars that are otherwise wasted.

(H/T Pirate's Cove)


And that's the news from Lake Winnipesaukee, where we're enjoying another round of warmer weather, boats are still out on the lake, and where Thanksgiving will arrive all too soon.