08 November 2012

The Tax System Explained with Beer

Credit to Dr. Kamerschen.

Suppose that every day, ten men go out for beer and the bill for all ten comes to $100. If they paid their bill the way we pay our taxes. it would go something like this:

The first four men (the poorest) would pay nothing.
The fifth would pay $1.
The sixth would pay $3.
The seventh would pay $7.
The eighth would pay $12.
The ninth would pay $18.
The tenth man (the richest) would pay $59.

So, that's what they decided to do.

The ten men drank beer in the bar every day and seemed quite happy with the arrangement, until one day, the bar owner threw them a curve. "Since you are all such good customers," he said, "I'm going to reduce the cost of your daily beer by $20." Drinks for the ten now just cost $80.

The group still wanted to pay their bill the way we pay our taxes, so the first four men were unaffected. They would still drink for free. But what about the other six men - the paying customers?

How could they divide the $20 windfall so that everyone would get his 'fair share'?

They realized that $20 divided by six is $3.33. But, if they subtracted that from everbody's share, then the fifth man and the sixth man would each end up being paid to drink his beer. So, the bar owner suggested that it would be fair to reduce each man's bill by roughly the same amount, and he proceeded to work out the amounts each should pay.

And so:

The fifth man, like the first four, now paid nothing (100% savings).
The sixth now paid $2 instead of $3 (33% savings).
The seventh now paid $5 instead of $7 (28% savings).
The eighth now paid $9 instead of $12 (25% savings).
The ninth now paid $14 instead of $18 (22% savings).
The tenth now paid $50 instead of $59 (15% savings).

Each of the six was better off than before. And, the first four continued to drink for free. But, once outside the bar, the men began to compare their savings.

"I only got a dollar out of the $20," declared the sixth man. He pointed to the tenth man, "but he got $9!"

"Yeah, that's right," exclaimed the fifth man. "I only saved a dollar, too. It's unfair that he got nine times more than I!"

"That's true!!" shouted the seventh man. "Why should he get $9 back when I got only $2? The wealthy get all the breaks!"

"Wait a minute." yelled the first four men in unison. "We didn't get anything at all. The system exploits the poor!"

The nine men surrounded the tenth and beat him up.

The next night the tenth man didn't show up for drinks, so the nine sat down and had beers without him. But, when it came time to pay the bill, they discovered something important. They didn't have enough money between all of them for even half of the bill!"

And that, boys and girls, journalists and college professors, is how our tax system works. The people who pay the highest taxes get the most benefit from a tax reduction. Tax them too much, attack them for being wealthy, and they just may not show up anymore. In fact, they might start drinking overseas where the atmosphere is somewhat friendlier.

David R. Kamerschen, Ph.D.
Professor of Economics
University of Georgia
For those who understand, no explanation is needed.

07 November 2012

2012 Elections

Wow. After the primaries I thought Romney was going to be a good match to take on Obama. He went after Newt, Cain, and all the others with abandon. But, come the dance, he let Obama off the hook. Romney never really challenged Obama on his record, or even on his attacks. Romney was on the defensive when he had the perfect reason to go full press. But he didn't and lost.

Will America be a different country in four more year? I fear yes. 

How? These are my fears:

Obamacare will be fully entrenched. I bet the middle east will be run by extremists. Israel may be a completely different place. We will have taken away many of our nukes from the world theater, leaving Russia as the largest threat to the world. And the US economy will stagnate and look more and more like Greece. Who knows, maybe Christians will be further chastised and labeled as extremists by a larger number of Americans.

One thing is certain: the "have nots" won last night.

Someone made a point on Rush yesterday. It was this: If you split the country in half and gave Obama and his supporters one side and Romney and his supporters the other, which side of the country would you choose to live on? Which side would have the nicer restaurants, the well maintained roads, job creators, and lower crime?

07 August 2012

Curiosity Rover

I love space related (and physics) news, so, the success that we saw this morning with Curiosity actually landing without a massive failure is fantastic.

So, go here to learn more about the rover. This thing is a beast!

Obama History Video

I'd describe this as being disturbing if it is true. Of course, even as Obama calls for Mitt Romney to release his tax returns for years past, we still know very little of the truth regarding Obama's crucial developmental years.

30 July 2012

Albert Einstein

Albert Einstein, who navigated the twilight turf between consciousness and matter for much of his life, argued that “Man” suffers from an “optical delusion of consciousness” as he “experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest.” His cure? Get some n/um. “The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious,” he said. “It is the source of all true art and science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead: His eyes are closed.”

I found it here: http://www.themorningnews.org/article/the-heretic?src=longreads

23 July 2012

US Employment Graphs

I'm trying to put together some graphs on the real story regarding the employment rates in the US. When you hear about unemployment numbers, they always leave out a few bits. The first is that "Unemployment Rate" is defined as the percentage of people who are in the labor market who don't have a job. This often does not count stay at home moms, retirees, homeless, etc. What I am plotting is the percentage of the population who have a job (Employed) + percent of people who are looking for a job/claiming unemployment (Unemployed) + percent of people who aren't in the labor force (the group defined above). The percentages are of the entire population. So, unemployment of 6% in this graph means something different than the 8-10% talked about on the news. However, anyone not in the labor force is, by my definition, unemployed. They aren't actively contributing to the tax base in any way. It's real disturbing that less than 60% of the population is considered employed.

The important thing to notice is that the percent of people employed has not increased at all in the past 3+ years under Obama. In fact, this is the lowest the employment rate has consistently been since before Carter. Additionally, the percent of people "Not in the Labor Force" has been trending upward for the past 4 years... and we know that this is not because people are suddenly getting wealthy and being able to retire.

I'm adding a new Employment Rate chart using the latest June 2012 data. Except it now extends back to 2000. It shows how disturbing the employment rate drop has truly been.

This will continue to be revised as I work on more plots. Eventually, I will link to the final spreadsheet.

17 July 2012

America Needs a Visionary

You want America to be great? How do we do that? By bitching all the time? By providing individual groups here and there with their incentives to vote a certain way?

Hell no. You do it through vision. Vision that can pave the way forward to giving the United States the single greatest infrastructure in the world. Infrastructure is key to the movement of people, accessibility of services, and the exchange of resources. The more robust the infrastructure, the more resilient we can be as a country.

The standard of living in the United States is as high as it is because there is a huge uniformity in available services. Highways criss cross the country allowing a business to get the goods it needs from anywhere in the country. Airports allow for quick travel and goods to arrive quickly from around the world. A satellite system for instant communication. Radio. Television. Knowledge.

What are we missing? Well for one, the weather can easily wreck havoc on our country. Why is it that no one talks about creating infrastructure to help deal with some of the greatest concerns we have?

Water is quite possibly the single most important resource our country has. It is also one that can cause death and destruction just as easily as it provides life. It's a fine balance... one that if we had a nation-wide distribution system for would possibly revolutionize this country.

Every year, throughout the country, there will be regions with too much water to handle and regions praying for the same rain that is ruining a small town to drop some water on their dried up farms.

When a region has excessive flooding, it would be possible to pump the excess back to "the grid" and hopefully mitigate the damage. It may not be possible to mitigate all potential damage, but it could possibly avoid the situations where there are flash floods or periods of extended rains that cause localized flooding. Some years there are areas in the country that in the middle of extreme droughts while other areas can't get rid of the water fast enough.

A nation-wide water distribution system would stabilize the farming industry as it would eventually be possible to irrigate every farm in the country.

This is a "blue sky" sort of dream. This would take trillions of dollars over dozens of years. However, it is this kind of dreaming, the dreaming that only the most powerful country in the world could undertake successfully.

Instead, we have Captain Blame up in DC talking about congress doing nothing. How the economy is Bush's fault. And for whatever reason, Romney screwed it up too. Obama has no vision and no idea as to what he is doing. Why can't people see that?

09 July 2012

Healthcare the Pragmatic Way

If America is going to do healthcare, do it the pragmatic way. That means being plain spoken about the system and having equal benefits to all people. Think of the US highway system - it allows all people the opportunity to use it. People can drive a Ford Pinto or a Ferrari on the road, but the quality is there regardless. This is the mentality we need to apply to any injustices that may exist in our country.

Obama's method is deceitful, plain and simple. It is presented not as a tax, but as a no-cost social benefit with a penalty for inaction. It was forced through congress on reconciliation. When SCOTUS barely gives it the thumbs up, it is only by re-defining it as a tax. But, even with this, the President and Pelosi are still insisting it isn't (can we get that vote back?). All of the tv and radio ads talk about all the "free" services we now have. How we can be thankful to Obama for his mercy on us. However, there is NEVER any talk about the cost (We can thank the hapless republican leadership for their silence) or that it only covers a small number of people. For the record, everyone is NOT covered under ObamaTax.

What is the Right way? Well, I'd say if Americans are insisting on providing everyone with a level of healthcare, then that level needs to be clearly defined. Once it is defined, it is firmly set as a not-to-exceed level except with a large majority of congress. Further, the cost would have to be at the forefront so there is no doubt that there is a cost. And finally, the cost is equally borne by all citizens and the benefits only apply to citizens.

How would this work? Well, that would be quite the debate. But, I'd want to see these basics covered:

No "out of pocket" for ALL citizens when:
  • Going to the doctor for emergency situations. This would be a child with a very high fever, or a child who cannot stop vomiting, etc. 
  • Medication for major illnesses such as strep throat and other highly contagious sickness or easily preventable disease.
  • The most basic of vaccines. Not the stupid rotovirus, but ones such as hepatitis, MMR, and others that can lead to pandemics. (Please note I am not a fan of vaccines, but I can't be convinced that they should be eliminated.)
What wouldn't be covered? Well, all the things that people choose to do on a voluntary basis.
  • Pregnancy is a tough one, but it shouldn't be covered. Neither abortion (rape and/or incest is such a touchy subject... I don't even know how to approach that). In the majority of cases, pregnancy is a preventable condition by the simple act of not having sex. Deal with it. And barely half of the population is capable of being pregnant, so it can't really be considered something where it would be "fair" to share the load. 
  • Same goes for birth control. Don't have sex.
  • Pain killers. OTC meds. Etc. If you need it, you can buy it. It isn't life threatening.
  • Any injury that is associated with the intentional engagement in a potentially dangerous activity. This includes walking the dog.
  • Cancer
  • Disease caused by lifestyle choices (AIDS - don't have sex)
The premise is this: If society as a whole can benefit from the medical treatment, then society as a whole can chose to provide that treatment. And the whole thing would be collected as a tax. Up front and personal. Medical insurance would still be available for all other specialty and extreme cases that may need the extra coverage. It should be easily accessible by all people regardless of their employment status (This is one thing that I do hate about the current state of health insurance). And insurance options should be available for those with pre-existing conditions. Not a blanket, mandatory statement that all insurance providers must not show discrimination due to Pre-con, but that there would be reasonable coverage with exemptions specific to the pre-existing condition. There are so many cases of Insurance companies being inhumane because someone forgot to disclose a single doctor visit year and years ago... Those are heart breaking stories... The loopholes need to be closed.

There is an easy argument that it is good for the society to be healthy and not spreading extremely dangerous diseases around. We all benefit from having a system in place that allows us easy access for the most basic of health provisions. The only way this is possible is by being transparent about it up front, only allowing equal coverage of all citizens, and having extremely limited coverage.

Is universal healthcare a conservative value? By definition, I'd have to say no. The US government should not place itself in control of our personal welfare. It should be focused on the welfare of the country as a whole. However, society moves in directions based on illogical sentiment. So, if we are going to insist on doing something, why not let conservatives do it in a way that actually makes sense?

08 July 2012

Media Bias: Islam vs Christianity

I'm sure most social conservatives in this country would agree that Christianity is seen by the liberal world as a source of evil. I can accept that a group of people would have a negative opinion - it's their right. What I find most frustrating are the times when this opinion gets expressed in the journalism world. Deep inside, I still hope and expect journalists to be neutral. This doesn't happen often these days, but I am allowed the hope. The recent Dearborn, Michigan clash between a group of Muslims and Christians has further proven that I need to keep on hoping.

Where has the media coverage been? Even on conservative talk, there has been hardly a peep about this. Every now and then it was brought up, but that is it. They practically laugh about it. Sure, they laugh in the, "Hey, look, here's another case of Muslims being violent and it being ignored," and say nothing more. Then there is the Christian community itself. Crickets.

Remember what happens when someone posts a picture of Muhammed... They (Muslims) threaten to bomb you. Seriously. But, all Wikipedia has to say about it is there were numerous demonstrations. (Wikipedia does say there were some fires, but no one was hurt, and most of the 139 people killed were because of police shooting into crowds. Nothing to do with Muslims going crazy over a simple cartoon. No. That's A-OK.)

Back to the Michigan event. A Christian group called the Acts 17 Apologetics showed up at an Arab International Festival. They were supposedly there to pass out flyers and to spread the gospel. I have to say, I do have a qualm with this. They carried signs that highlighted phrases "Sin and Hell" and "Lake of Fire"and "Islam is a religion ... Blood and Murder" which to me isn't exactly WWJD compliant. But, I'll save that rant for another time. They, however, did not take part in any actual violence. Sure, they may have chanted, spoke over a bullhorn, etc, but they didn't take to violence. It is their right to gather. You can disagree with what the signs say, their presence, etc, but they have a right to gather. The DearbornPatch described the Acts 17 Apologetics as radical and the Examiner described it as "a religious fiasco of minor import [with] a small group of Christian provocateurs" and "Christian extremists".

The worst that was said about the Muslim group, the ones that threw stones, bottles, chairs, concrete, etc, was "they were angry" or "angry Muslims". They were also called "counter-protesters" who reacted with "words and actions".  Additionally, when interviewed, the Muslim Sheriff Jaafar is quoted saying, "[It's a] great family-oriented festival. The atmosphere right now is phenomenal - all the kids are having a good time, and we're doing our best to keep everyone safe and I think our guys are doing a great job at it." Please notice the picture of the group of teenage boys throwing the bottles and other debris. Good fun, that!

My issues of this whole incident relate to this:

No one was arrested. A whole group of Muslims violently react to an, admittedly, annoying group of Christians. Christians get arrested for creating gun clubs. (It might have been more, but they hadn't committed any crimes at the time they were arrested. And I think it is fair to say the Federal Gov't is out of control. According to Jefferson, it is expected that groups SHOULD rise up when this happens. Read the Declaration of Independence if you doubt.) Muslims start a mini-riot and get patted on the back. Well, except for the two Muslims charged with disorderly conduct. Except, there were a lot more than two participating.

The police were there. They saw the whole entire event. They watched the Muslim crowd get angry and react by throwing stones and other objects they could find. They watched the bleeding Christian group stand their ground even as they were being pelted. The police even told the Christian group they were not allowed to use a megaphone. But, at no time, did the police try to stop the Muslims from getting violent.

The discrepancy between how the Muslim group is described and the Christian group. The Muslims were "angry" while the Acts 17 group is radical and extremist. There is no outrage or surprise that not a single "counter-protester" was arrested for being violent. And there is benevolence toward the police, even as the police say they were happy with the outcome.

If the roles were reversed, and it was the Christians that reacted with violence towards a Muslim group, I guarantee the headlines would read, "Overzealous Christians attack and injure several innocent Muslims. 10 Arrests Made." There was that church in Indiana that had a video posted of a boy talking about homo's not making it to heaven that made all sorts of headlines. And this was indoor. On private property. And no stones were thrown. Yea. Media bias against Christians.

29 May 2012

College GPA Redistibution

I love it when college students have communism explained in a way they can relate.
Fittingly, some not in the upper 10% welcomed the free points. “Why not? I’m down,” said one student with a low GPA  (eagerly signing the petition), but then the student’s friend standing next to him said, “It takes away from people working hard… and obviously it’s paid off with their higher GPA.” Later in the conversation, when the first student told his friend to sign the petition, the friend responded, “How about trying harder for a semester?”

Apple and Greenpeace

One thing that surprises me about Apple is how they harass any group that they feel is not doing a good enough job to be 'green'. I personally would have thought that Apple is doing a rather excellent job, not that I particularly care about green-ness. However, I am surprised at how much lee-way Apple allows Greenpeace to have.

Apple isn't a company to let people "advertise" on their property, yet, here we have GP doing just that. They are projecting their disgruntlement onto one of Apple's buildings... Now, I don't know how long they were permitted to do this, but still. Someone got it a picture. Further, GP has continually complained about Apple not doing enough.

I mostly wonder about the moves Apple is making. For example, are they making their NC solar farm to acquiesce GP or because it was always part of the plan. For a company that is as focused on profits as Apple, intentionally making a solar plant doesn't seem to fit.

25 May 2012

Capitalism: Obama's Greatest Threat

Rush Limbaugh has been talking about how Obama will be the first incumbent president to campaign against capitalism. I have nothing other than 100% agreement for that statement! When Mitt Romney was asked about this position by Fox, he said:
Well, it certainly sounds like that is what he is doing. There's no question but that he's attacking capitalism, in part, I think, because he doesn't understand how the free economy works. He's never had a job in the free economy. He either, as Vice President Biden, they spent their lives as either community organizer or as members of a political class, and frankly the American people understand that the free economy and free enterprise is tough, it's hard work. 
When they hear that a business like Bain Capital was successful 80 percent of the time and five percent of its investments only went bankrupt, they say, "You know, that's a pretty good record. If all the president wants to do is talk about their failures, why, he's misrepresenting the nature of free enterprise."
Jed Lewison on Daily Kos, in typical liberal leaning ways, refutes the premise and claims that Obama has been better for capitalism than George W. Bush. He uses this, rather weak and mis-guided argument, as his basis.
Second, the notion that President Obama is an anti-capitalist president is really, really nuts. Since Obama took office, the stock market has soared—the Dow is nearly double what it was on January 21, 2009. Compare that with President Bush, under whose economic leadership the market fell. Or take a look at private sector job growth: despite inheriting Bush's economic collapse, private sector jobs have actually grown since Obama took office, including four million over the last two years. Under Bush, we lost more than six hundred thousand private sector jobs.
I would say a few things against this.
  1. The market is hovering at 12,500-13,000. Numerically lower than it's peak of 14,093 in Oct of 2007. And really, if you use inflation adjusted dollars, it looks even worse for poor Obama (yes, that graph is a year old, but the Dow has been in the 12,500- 13,000 range for a good while now).
  2. Bush's 8 years ended with the start of a massive recession which can largely be blamed on democratic/liberal policies such as Fair Housing acts and has not recovered thanks to ideas by Dodd-Frank, Affordable Health Care Act, suspension of drilling in the gulf, no Keystone, uncontrolled spending, etc.
  3. Private sector jobs have not increased at all. See my plots here. Unemployment has "decreased" as people have left the market, but as a percentage of our population, the employment rate has not increased.
  4. Under Bush we had a net loss of jobs because of the financial crisis. Period. Otherwise, we maintained a rather nice 4-5% unemployment rate for most of his term.
  5. Denial much?
Finally, continuing from that lovely Limbaugh program (link to the transcript), I recorded the radio old-school style (audio link, I don't know how to embed an audio player, sorry) of their Obama against capitalism montage and managed to capture most of the sound byte. 

The quotes I recorded are:
  • If somebody wants to build a coal power plant, they can, it'll just bankrupt them.
  • The insurance industry is making this last ditch effort to stop reform, even as costs continue to rise and our health care dollars continue to be poured into their profits
  • Cost cutting has become embedded in their operations and in their culture. That may result in good profits, but it is not translating into hiring.
  • Speculators can reap millions while millions of American families get the short end of the stick.
  • If that same diabetic ends up getting their foot amputated, that's 30,000, 40, $50,000 immediately the surgeon is reimbursed.
  • The market will take care of everything.  Here's the problem.  It doesn't work.  It has never worked.
  • White folks' greed runs a world in need.
  • In this country, broad-based prosperity has never trickled down from the success of a wealthy few.
<sarcasm> So, yea, Obama is the most aggressive supporter of capitalism since Reagan. </sarcasm>

PS - If I have in anyway infringed in making this post, I apologize. Just trying to summarize Rush's on-going theory about Obama and capitalism and some of the left's ridiculous rebuttal. I am linking to all the original content and giving recognition.

21 May 2012

Election 2012: Character

What is wrong with character attacks, if and only if, they are honest and factual?

I'll add that this would be the only way to justify character attacks. Further, I believe that we should fully investigate a person's character if they are putting themselves forward to be in a position of leadership. I don't care whether they are a Sunday School teacher, Scout Troop leader, HOA president, Congressman, or US President.

When you decide to become a public leader, you take on a huge responsibility because the people you are promising to protect and to help have entrusted on you their livelihood. This is why I get rather upset when media talking heads start complaining about "dirty campaigns" and "character attacks". In most cases, they are only upset because their guy is getting criticized. In the case of the US Presidential elections, or any country leadership election for that matter, everyone should be hyper critical of the person they are considering to vote for.

Character matters. When it comes to our leaders, it is the most important trait, and one that we should be keen to understand. Character is commonly defined as "what you do when no one is looking". Here it is from dictionary.com:
char·ac·ter [kar-ik-ter] noun
1. the aggregate of features and traits that form the individual nature of some person or thing.
2. one such feature or trait; characteristic.
3. moral or ethical quality: a man of fine, honorable character.
4. qualities of honesty, courage, or the like; integrity: It takes character to face up to a bully.
5. reputation: a stain on one's character.
Going into the 2012 election, we have some serious items that need to be brought to light. Barack Obama was practically an unknown when he was elected. For 2008, we knew he was a junior congressman who voted "present"129 times out of four thousand. He was a regular attender at Rev. Wright's church in Chicago. He is a married father. There were a few other details, such as some associations with Bill Ayers and his "Chicago Politics", but that was it. No one really tried to find out who he was in his heart. No one really seemed to care about his character.

He won 2008 because he was not Bush, McCain had a horrible campaign, we were at the start of a severe economic turn down, Iraq, and because he is African American (which prompted the single greatest black voter turnout).

But, now we have a much greater understanding of Mr. Obama's character, and it is particularly gray. He will deny accusations readily, especially if they put him in a negative light. Any opposition is referred to with insult, such as people who want to cling to their guns and their religion, flat earthers, tea baggers, etc. Or he will very openly say that his opponents want to destroy the earth and let the elderly die. Or he will claim to have the most transparent administration in history (+1100 days and still no budget!). Or that his health care reform will be the end-all cure to the financial issues we are facing in providing medical aid to the country (see some real research that isn't regurgitated talking points). He even likes to claim that we are drilling for more oil than ever (see flat earthers link)... any increases in drilling has nothing to do with Obama (they haven't approved drilling permits in the gulf region since the BP spill) and everything to do with private land owners finding new ways to access the natural resources beneath them!

Obama's lack of character should be reason enough to evict him from the post of president. We will likely only have one choice - Romney - and Romney does have a few things going for him. He appears to be remarkably humble. I hope we can learn more about Romney's character, his moral beliefs, what defines him on the inside. I doubt that we will experience another great debacle such as the 2008 election, so even by voting against Obama, I think we are safe. However, from what I know so far, Romney is a step far above Obama.

16 May 2012

Greek Crisis

Interesting article in what appears to be a crisis that is just getting closer and closer. Will Greece try to get out of the Euro? Will her people riot at the austerity measures that are required for the bailouts?

If the Greek government is finally able to form after the June 17th elections, and they choose to force austerity on the people... The public will revolt. They are too addicted to their government money. If Greece does not accept austerity, and it looks like it won't as Alexis Tsipras has a lot of momentum, then their only real option is to revert to the Drachma. Which will immediately cause hyper-inflation as no lending institution in their right mind would accept Greek denominated currency. I would be surprised if Merkel and company let Greece continue down the path it has followed up until this point.

So, as the people of Greece sit on the street starving because their currency is worthless, will they finally realize that they have to work for their income? Will they finally realize the government cannot provide their every need when they do no work?

Here's a great quote at the end of the article:
"Oddly, I can say that in many ways my Greek experience gave me wonderful opportunities.  Nonetheless, my epiphany came when Greece's economic collapse and the government's implosion revealed just how reliant on the government we are, and just how vulnerable to government mismanagement we are."
If the Greek economy collapses, will Americans and Europeans alike comprehend the reason? Will we recognize that big government is a failed experiment?

15 May 2012

Bellwether: Urgent California Budge Cuts

I am actually surprised to hear a democrat governor that is practically begging the state to enact severe budget cuts. In California, they are facing a $16B budget deficit. That is more than Iceland's GDP. That's just their budgetary deficit. It doesn't go into their total debt of $361B.

The really surprising part is that Jerry Brown wants to cut so much (I use this loosely) from education, health care, and welfare.
Brown on Monday proposed $8.3 billion in cuts across education, health care and welfare programs in laying out a plan to address the state's $15.7 billion shortfall, an amount equal to 17 percent of the state's discretionary fund. He warned that additional cuts are ahead if voters reject his tax-hike initiative in November.
Unsurprisingly, he wants to increase taxes. That'll just encourage all of those wealthy 1%'ers to keep on hanging around the state, don't you think? California is an expensive place to live, and as much as $250k per year is considered in many places as being well-to-do, in California it doesn't quite get you as much.
In addition to the cuts, Brown hopes to close the deficit with $5.9 billion in new revenue from the tax initiative he proposed earlier this year that would temporarily add a quarter cent in the state sales tax and collect higher income taxes on those who make $250,000 a year or more.
Frustratingly, for us conservatives, is that liberal democrats are only just now starting to wake up. We've been yelling for years that you can't keep giving away the farm! It's all well and good to want to help people through the difficult times. To want to provide everyone with a baseline standard of living. But, the small percentage of people who pay taxes cannot afford the size of the burden this "mandate" has become. Even Gov Brown is comparing what California has to face to the austerity going on in Greece (which also has obscene amounts of social programs):
Brown said the cuts are real and will impact every school in the state. He likened California's fiscal challenge to the federal government and European nations, including Greece and Spain. 
The real issue we face is that so many people, such as unions in Wisconsin, president Obama, Harry Reid, the "Drive By" media continually attack conservatives as being fear mongers for trying to get our local, state, and federal governments to wake up! Look at Governor Scott Walker who is facing a recall election because he STAVED OFF A BUDGET CRISIS! It is horrible that by doing the right thing fiscally, for saving a state economy, he has been completely castigated by the left. But, do the people of Wisconsin realize that their fate could instead be that of California if it hadn't been for Walker?

You can't spend yourself out of a fiscal crisis. It's not possible. We need responsibility across the board. Local governments, state, federal. Once government is beaten down to size (including reduced regulations and taxes), then business can again flourish and we will have a return to the low unemployment and increased individual wealth. Let people take their wealth and put it to the causes that they feel impressed to support and keep the government out of our social programs.

But what do I know. I'm not from the elite.

iOS 6: Low Hanging Fruit

I've got a few nit-picks that I would consider to be Apple's low hanging fruit for the iOS 6 update.

The first key item that always annoys me is how Apple has forced 3rd party devs to store in-app content. I listen to lots of audio books for when I am on the road. Often driving 2-3k miles at a time. At the same time, I will have my iPhone connected to a wifi hotspot in the car. Which means that I can get Photo Stream updates or other app purchases that will automatically install.

The issue occurs when large swaths of data decide to get sync'd automatically. Apple has decided that, for example, Photo Stream files will get precedence over existing in-app data. Such as audio books. So, on my last long road trip I intentionally cleared off lots of space on my phone in an attempt to mitigate the likelihood of my audio books getting deleted. But, I had failed to realize one key detail: I didn't turn off auto-upload of photos on my iMac. While driving, and listening to part one of my book, my iPhone was silently downloading gigs of photos. The next day, when I went to listen to part two, lo and behold it was not there and I received the lovely message that I was out of space on my phone. Suffice it to say, I think Apple needs to do something to improve where developers can store downloaded files. Other apps should not have the power to delete files without discretion. I should be prompted prior to anything being deleted without my express permission.

Which leads me to my next pet peeve. iCloud. And I really mean Photo Stream. Although I do wish  documents were handled in a manner akin to accessing a document in a Dropbox folder...

So, Photo Stream. As I alluded to above, I have a couple of Macs. One for work (MacBook Air) and one as my desktop at home (iMac). I have my iPhone that I use for both work and personal use. Let's ignore any iPads for the sake of simplicity.

I like the auto image uploads from my phone going to iPhoto. It's great! But, it needs to be smarter. Maybe location based? For example, if I were taking pictures at work, I should be able to configure Photo Stream to recognize this and only transfer photos to my Air. If I am at home, then go to my iMac. Things get dicey if we're travelling. The same goes for uploads from the full fat computers. I don't want pictures from my iMac getting sync'd to my laptop - it doesn't have the space to be honest (300 6+ MB images at a time is a lot of space!).  However, I do like them going to my iPhone (if it weren't going to delete my books!) as I know they are automatically scaled down in resolution.

Currently, Photo Stream is an all or nothing. My iPhone can either get all the benefits of Photo Stream or none of them. iPhoto can either upload all or nothing (it can receive separate from the upload). I'm not certain how to cleanly solve this without requiring a very manual process. But, we should be able to turn off automatic features, but still allow for manually sending photos to the stream. Or to be able to direct which device will get the pictures (and I am well aware of being able to sync selected photos in iTunes - but this doesn't help when working from an i-Device).

So, these seem like relatively easy items to resolve in iOS 6. Improved handling of Photo Stream configuration and a safe location for apps to store downloaded content. I hear Apple is supposedly working on some sort of photo sharing capability...

14 May 2012

Climate Change: 2012 US

Interesting summary of some NOAA data for the first part of 2012. All of us in the states could hardly deny that it was definitely warmer this February! However, I had been eagerly awaiting some data from the rest of the planet. And now we have it. As it turns out, only the US and Europe experienced the unseasonable weather in force.
 Even as the US has experienced record-breaking extremes, the GISSTEMP index has seen global temperatures that were roughly equivalent to the ones we experienced last year, and well below those of 2010, the warmest year on record.
I'm looking forward to the climate returning to being viewed as a force beyond our direct control. The politicizing of nature is ever frustrating. We have much more immediate issues at hand.

12 May 2012

Austerity: Spanish Backlash

Once you give a society all that it needs, the whole cradle to the grave mentality, they will revolt when you take it away. Little do they realize that it simply is not sustainable. People have got to be willing to take responsibility for their own lives and not count on the government for their daily needs. In Spain, there were nearly 100,000 people protesting in the streets today about the austerity measures that are being enacted because THEY ARE OUT OF MONEY.
"I'm here to defend the rights that we're losing and for the young people who have it so tough," 57-year-old middle school teacher Roberto Alonso said. "They're better educated than ever. But they don't have work. They don't have anything. They're behind and they'll stay that way."

Look, buddy, getting free services from the government is not a "right". It is called wealth re-distribution. And it is probably one of key indicators as to why all of your well educated young people don't have a job.  

11 May 2012

December 21, 2012

The news has been spreading. There has been mounting evidence that the Mayan calendar really does extend beyond December 21st this year.
The calculations include dates some 7,000 years in the future, adding to evidence against the idea that the Maya thought the world would end in 2012—a modern myth inspired by an ancient calendar that depicts time starting over this year.
I'm seriously disappointed! The party that night is now going to be completely underwhelming.

I can't, in good conscience, joke about the end of the world in 7 months time since this revelation. However, I hope that there will be several true believers still wandering about making all sorts of ruckus about the end of time. That gives me some solace.

10 May 2012

Congressional Pay

This is just a little something that always bothers me. Congress is a group of people who get to determine how much money they make every year. To be completely fair, in 2010 and 2011, the automatic income adjustment did not take place. But, ever since 1989, each year every congressional member gets an automatic bump in their pay if they do nothing. That's kinda cheeky.

I wish I could afford to give myself an automatic pay raise every year.

They need to change the law to make it a bit more... manual. You know, it should even be contingent on how well congress as a whole performs. You and I, well if you also hold a private sector job, have to perform to a certain level, and for the company in general to be doing well, to justify a pay raise.

Congress currently has an approval rating hoving in the mid-teens. They have not enacted any significant piece of legislation since the dreaded "Obamacare". Additionally, their ability to address Obama's spiraling spending (face it, Congress hasn't passed a budget in well over 1100 days, Obama and his Czars just spend as they will) has caused some debt issues to get larger. Basically, they aren't doing their job, they don't deserve to get a pay raise.

I think we should all get to vote on our income tax returns every year. As we watch our money be yanked out of our hands, we should be presented with some questions about how that money will be spent.

"Shall Congress be given a pay raise this coming year?"

"Shall Congress mindlessly spend your money?"

Ummm... let me think about that... "No."

I like several other people's suggestions that we need to enact various concepts like a balanced budget amendment requiring the entire federal government to only be able to operate on a zero-based budget. Or that members of congress don't receive any salary if there is no budget. Or, how about something a little more harsh? Members of congress get automatically fired if the approval rating is under a certain threshold? Say, 30%. Which is overly generous. Even the original Buffett Plan was nice.
"I could end the deficit in 5 minutes," he told CNBC. "You just pass a law that says that anytime there is a deficit of more than 3% of GDP, all sitting members of Congress are ineligible for re-election."
Instead, we have a congress that gets a pay raise by doing nothing.

Will they get one in 2012?

Climate Change: We are the Gods

In ancient days, cultures, society, people in general worshiped nature around them as the gods. They had their sun gods, water gods, earth gods, druids, gods on stars, gods on planets, gods who battled in the sky as lightning and thunder, gods who made the volcanos explode, gods who controlled the seas... and gods which ruled the weather.

The weather has always been a finicky lady. She changes her mind without warning. Regions around the world have had droughts for years on end. Mountains rise and turn deserts out of fertile farm land. How many climatologists talk about the world wide sudden climate change that happened in 2200 BC?

In the ancient days, people prayed to their gods to grant them rain. Just a 200 years ago, Native American Indians performed rain dances to please the gods. Until recent years, mankind around the world have always known that the weather was beyond their direct control. That's not to say they didn't try to control it. They were human. And as humans, we need control. It's our nature.

So they danced.

Then we had science. And science has been the key to slowly converting the west to its latest god. Us.

We now believe that we are gods. We control our own destiny. We have decided that our science has explained how this amazing world can exist. We explain away the miraculous universe in which we live.

We are learning to control our day to day lives. To control our ability to travel where we want, when we want. To have control over the day and night. To have access to what seems like an unlimited amount of knowledge instantly. We can dive to the depths of the ocean, or can explore the reaches of space. We try to see the beginning of time itself.

While we are at it, we have decided that through our actions, we are destroying our world. That, because of our interactions on this planet, it is getting "warmer". However, I do beg these scientists, politicians, self-theists, to please explain all the other historical, sudden, climatic changes that the Earth has experienced prior to our ability to affect the climate.

In any case, the public is more than willing to accept this claim that we now control our complete destiny, the climate included. Why should we not? We have been conditioned to believe that we are gods. In what ways are we limited? So, of course we are responsible for the way the Earth's climate changes. And we must do all that we can to prevent our own destruction by following the instruction of these climate activists.

That is the real plan. We have been deceived into believing we are in control. In doing so, we are willing to accept a different form of austerity. We let these few educated superiors tell us how we must live our lives. We let them enact ridiculous carbon taxes, force on us the idea that hybrid cars are the answer... or that we all need wind mills in our back yard, or that we have to spend $60 on a light bulb (make that $10M in tax payer dollars), or... or... the list can go on for a long time.

We get threats of our imminent destruction by our own hands. And the only solution is to trust these new-fangled dictators. That is the crux of the plan. That we give up and listen to those that are enlightened. That we willingly walk away from ideas like capitalism (the greatest equalizer the world has ever known) and trust this superset of mankind to lead us.

“Isn’t the only hope for the planet that the industrialized civilizations collapse? Isn’t it our responsiblity to bring that about?” 
- Maurice Strong, founder of the UN Environment Programme; Opening speech, Rio Earth Summit. 1992

FYI: The oceans aren't rising that fast after all.


How do you tax something which is a natural bi-product? How do you effectively turn carbon into a form of currency when it is something that, for all economic purposes, is near limitless? Burn a few trees in your back yard and get a bill? Run too hard and pay a fine?

Hybrids currently are more harmful to the environment when you account for the entire process and life of the car.
In some cases, hybrids consume four times as much energy in production, and in turn are responsible for four times as much harmful pollution that is released into the atmosphere, when compared to non‐hybrids.

09 May 2012

Reason for Delays

Just a quick update:

I was out of the country on business and it made updating challenging! I'm back, so I'll be better.

I don't like advertising my absence while actually being away, hence the lack of warning.


Politics: French Choose Communism

Sarkozy has lost his 2012 bid for re-election as the French President. Not really news, but it is a key indicator of what Democrats have been pushing for here in the US.

The month-long session is scheduled to pass legislation ending several tax exemptions, imposing tax surcharges on banks and oil companies, approving a top tax rate of 75 percent for the wealthy and quashing a social VAT introduced by Sarkozy.
Armed with pump-action shotguns, sidearms and stun grenades the officers look like they belong in a war zone. In fact they are elite French policemen who were deployed to the historic centre of Lyon yesterday to deal with rioting students. President Nicolas Sarkozy took the extreme measure in the face of growing protests against an unpopular law aimed at increasing the retirement age from 60 to 62.
Ms. Merkel has expressed her support for Mr. Sarkozy over Mr. Hollande, who has promised fiscal measures to support France’s ailing economy and called for more growth efforts in Europe.

How does it fit? Well, Democrats are continuously pushing for more and more public dependence on the government. Health care, getting a job (detroit clothing program that cost $10M and helped 2 people!), government regulations, government funding to private businesses (Solyndra!), higher taxes (fair share), etc. The basic plan that government will take care of you from cradle to grave (see Obama campaign's "Life of Julia").

The end result is that the people can't give it up. Which keeps the party giving away all the goods in power. Regardless of the cost of the power. It will implode. See Greece. See Spain. See Italy. France may follow much quicker now... What will we do in November?

04 May 2012

Patents: Google vs Oracle

The judge overseeing the Java case between Google and Oracle seems to actually be handling such an advanced subject very wisely. Ars has some good coverage on the subject.
"If someone were to give you an assignment and say, 'Go write a guide book on how to drive from San Francisco to Monterey,' and everybody could sit down and write their own two-page thing on that, there would be some similarities. But the idea is not protected," Alsup said in court last Friday.

01 May 2012

Unfit to be Boss

It seems inappropriate to me for a set of lawmakers, in this case UK, to determine that a private individual citizen is "unfit" to run their company.

It should be his company's Board of Directors or maybe a judge. But lawmakers? I.E. Congress?
"We conclude, therefore, that Rupert Murdoch is not a fit person to exercise the stewardship of a major international company," the report by the panel of 11 lawmakers said.

Continued TSA Idiocy

This agency simply needs to be removed. It is filled with robots who have no understanding of people and the true threats that we face. They follow their rules and instructions blindly. They continue to invade our privacy, terrorize our children, and humiliate the elderly, disabled, and mothers.

Here is another example of TSA abusing their "authority" and performing a pat down on a screaming 4-year old girl.
The incident went on for maybe 10 minutes, until a manager came in and allowed agents to pat the girl down while she was screaming but being held by her mother. The family was then allowed to go to their next gate with a TSA agent following them.
If politicians actually cared about the citizens, this is a prime example of an organization that needs to be removed. But, I have yet to hear Obama or Congress speak out on the subject. I think Rand Paul is about the only one who has been vocal.

We should take the Israeli approach and start profiling dangerous people. Much more effective. Either that, or allow citizens who hold concealed/carry permits to carry on a flight. Let me a terrorist try to blow up that plane!

If they pull you aside, you had better tell them the truth. They'll ask you so many wildly unpredictable questions so quickly, you couldn't possibly invent a fake story and keep it all straight. Don't even try. They're highly trained and experienced, and they catch everyone who tries to pull something over on them. 
Because I fit one of their profiles, it takes me 15 or 20 minutes longer to get through the first wave of security than it does for most people. The agents make up for it, though, by escorting me to the front of the line at the metal detector. They don't put anyone into a "porn machine." There's no point. Terrorists can't penetrate that deeply into the airport.

30 April 2012

Liberals, Capitalism, and Taxes

There is a massive disconnect between Liberalism and Capitalism. It can be captured very easily under a single day-to-day activity: taxation.

(Side Note: Liberalism is decidedly different than Obama's Anti-colonialist mentality)

I found an article talking specifically about how Apple is managing to have a global 10% (or so) corporate income tax rate. I'll pull some quotes from this article and try not to be out of context.
As it stands, the company paid cash taxes of $3.3 billion around the world on its reported profits of $34.2 billion last year, a tax rate of 9.8 percent.
The disconnect is most obviously seen with companies such as Apple and other industry giants in that they are large enough organizations that it is advantageous for them to exercise as many options possible to reduce their operating costs. The various executives, CEO's etc have this fiduciary requirement to the share holders and the employees to do everything legally possible in order to maximize the growth of the company. 

Liberals, and many people who consider themselves to be social progressives, feel that a person's (and by extension, a business') responsibility is to their community and government. If a business is benefitting from a local university, then it should provide the funds necessary for the university to operate. 
“I just don’t understand it,” he said in an interview. “I’ll bet every person at Apple has a connection to De Anza. Their kids swim in our pool. Their cousins take classes here. They drive past it every day, for Pete’s sake. 
“But then they do everything they can to pay as few taxes as possible.”

If the government (local, state, fed) is in need of income to make impossible to keep promises to buy votes, I mean in need of income for their programs to help those in need, then it is the responsibility of those earning the income to pay the bill.

This is reminiscent of where unions were with the Big Three very recently. Unions felt they were entitled to a certain dollar amount that was not tied to the well being of the business. Thus, the Big Three have suffered. The US government (and state governments), tax recklessly without realizing that yes, businesses will leave if it becomes advantageous. Now, governments are feeling the pain of their poor tax decisions.

Liberals are disconnected from the business demand to be as profitable as possible. If governments (and schools, programs, etc) were run as a business, then we would all be better off. But, right now they are intent on blaming businesses for demanding lower rates which cuts into state "revenue".
Such lost revenue is one reason California now faces a budget crisis, with a shortfall of more than $9.2 billion in the coming fiscal year alone.
A business has no room for wastefulness. It cuts into profit, employee efficiency, product realization, public opinion. If a company overlooks the slightest of gray spots within its walls, then there is a potential that the area could release a product the leads to poor public reaction which can manifest itself with reduced sales, reduced profit from extra work required to fix a problem area, reduced profit from unsold inventory, reduced profit from expenses which cannot be recouped. 

The US government is the perfect model of wastefulness. 10's of millions get lost in appropriations, campaigning expenses, "deal making" for a bill to pass, random projects receiving funding which have no need, nearly complete projects being cancelled, etc, etc, etc. This extends to state governments to a lesser extent, but it is still the same. But, law makers have resorted to these various projects as their way of winning votes. They call fiscal conservatives criminals, haters of the elderly, people who want to make the poor suffer, racist. And it works. Rant over, sorry.

There are genuine liberals out there who do not see the government as the problem, but the solution. Fine. But, they feel that the way to give the government its funding is through raising revenue through increasing taxes. Corporations, the creators of jobs, have it as their duty to figure out how to avoid as many taxes as possible. So, when the tax rates start rising to fund the programs Liberals are after, businesses start moving the jobs to where taxes are lower.

This includes Nevada, Luxembourg, Singapore, Ireland… They open offices in states and countries with low tax rates. The corporations are going to do their business. They are going to make money. And they are going to do it in a way that is as advantageous as possible. Liberals don't get this idea. 
“Apple, like many other multinationals, is using perfectly legal methods to keep a significant portion of their profits out of the hands of the I.R.S.,” Mr. Sullivan said. “And when America’s most profitable companies pay less, the general public has to pay more.”
Solution: Make government more like business. A simple idea is to just be competitive tax wise! How much more money would California have if it wasn't in Apple's interest to open a business in Nevada for tax reasons? Look at Cupertino - Apple threatened to move away from the city if they didn't allow Apple to build their new campus. It wasn't blackmail, it was a reality of doing business. Cupertino realized this and backed down from demands of Apple. They now get to keep their tax income. And remember, tax income is more than tax from the sale of goods - it includes income tax from the people employed in the state.

If the US government lowered corporate tax rates to be competitive with Ireland or other countries which have become tax havens, how much more money would the government now have in its coffers? Or, how about if the elected officials were less concerned about being re-elected and more concerned with making the government as streamlined and efficient and a positive force in the life of individuals, wouldn't we be better off?

But no. Apple (and others) are dubbed as villains for being wise and shrewd. For not doing their "fair share" in giving the government the un-checked funds that it feels it needs (for election purposes). 

America, we need change.

26 April 2012

The AP's Former Glory

Passing out money just doesn't work. It teaches laziness, squander, and dependence. Even members of the AP used to believe this. Unfortunately, they too have jumped on the bandwagon that groups who encourage independence and self-reliance are people haters. Times have changed since 1949.

How To Make America Fail

Excellent video. I encourage everyone to share and to like the video.

23 April 2012

Medicare Used for Political Advantage

Now this is hardly surprising:
In a statement, Hatch and Camp said they were concerned that the government might be “using taxpayer dollars for political purposes, to mask the impact on beneficiaries of cuts in the Medicare Advantage program.”
Well, there has also been a study that says several of the "clean energy" businesses that received loans were major Obama campaign donors. Need to find a link...

22 April 2012

Austerity and Responsibility

Why is it that the liberals are allowed to continue to push their push for greater government control? Where is it that the liberal agenda has been allowed to have the greatest influence in the past two decades? Europe. And, unless people enjoy the continuation of a life filled with denial, which "developed" countries are already existing under a state of austerity?

- Greece
- Italy
- Portugal
- Ireland
- Spain
- France
- Netherlands
- Germany
- UK
- Did I forget Greece?

Nearly every single major country in the Euro zone is facing a significant budget crisis. Greece has been experiencing riots left, right, and center as its overly coddled populace is having to face reality; Italy's public debt is 120% GDP; Ireland is cutting 6B Euro's (the US congress argues over $1B - pathetic); Portugal has nearly 15% unemployment; Spain's unemployment is nearly 24% and they are cutting 35B Euro's; The UK has gotten rid of the vast majority of their military; France is raising retirement ages (they also only have a 38 hour work week); Germany is cutting 80B Euros by 2014; And the Netherlands are trying to agree on their own budget cuts.

So, why is it that we are struggling in the US to accept conservative values? Progressive liberalism is being proven through all the European countries to simply be the most ineffective form of ruling the populace. Well, Communism actually already took that title, but Progressivism isn't much further behind.

The government is not your salvation. It cannot directly interact with you on a daily basis. It has no clue what you are capable of. All it can do is waste your money as it becomes a larger and larger behemoth. Look at Detroit: They received $11M for a program to help poor people get clothing so they could do job interviews as part of the stimulus... $11M. It was to help 400 people. $11M for 400 people. That is $27,500 per person. Isn't there something fundamentally wrong with signing off on a program this ridiculous? Let's ignore the fact that it only helped 2 people.

Or you could buy a fancy US government sponsored light bulb for $60. It's made by Phillips. A Dutch company. And it cost US tax payers $10M. Another waste of our money.

A federal government is incapable of helping the average, everyday individual. It is too big. Too far removed. Too bureaucratic. Too corrupt. WHY RAISE TAXES to fund an organization that cannot be trusted to spend the funds with discretion?

For that matter, why do we blame the government for our own inability to succeed? Dave Ramsey was talking on Friday about the question, "Are you better off today that you were 2 years ago?" And his statement was simply: You are stupid if you think that your situation today is a result of the government's actions. You are in the position you are because of your own choices. Period. No one forced you to take out a loan you cannot afford. No one forced you to buy a car. No one forced you to marry some crazy person that spends all you money and has ridiculous credit card debt. No one forced kept you at home after you lost your job (move to North Dakota). If you have stopped paying your bills hoping for a government bailout.... If you are in a difficult financial situation, it is your own fault. Do something about it. Don't count on someone to come and wave a magic wand and fix your incompetence.

Conservatism is about taking responsibility for yourself. It is about saying "No" to government intrusion into our lives. It is about being independent and free to succeed or fail based on our own individual choice. The government is here to provide us these freedoms. It is not here to be our sugar daddy. If we keep on believing the liars who say the government will give you all that you need, then we will be where Europe is today. Austerity. Take responsibility for yourself and your world will be a better place.

21 April 2012

Gov't or Private Sector: Space X

Space X is a fantastic example of the capability and prowess of small, entrepreneurial businesses in the US. Within a few short years, the company which was founded in 2002 has developed a system capable of launching a space vehicle into Earth's orbit and have it dock with the space station.  It will do this for the first time next month. This was completely unthinkable 20 years ago.

A lot has changed since NASA first began its mission to explore space. The agency is controlled by a ridiculously whimsical government; a government which cannot decide where to spend all of the massive amounts of printed money next and one where each successive administration feels the need to cancel anything desired by the opposing party. A government which has become risk adverse. A government where decisions are made by opinion polls and committees formed by committees. See despair.com for a laugh.

As has been the story of the ages, what NASA accomplished in the 60's with the Apollo missions is neigh on miraculous. Everything they did was state of the art, do or die, cavalier, never been tried before. I don't think we have enough adjectives for the significance of the lunar landing. For crying out loud, the computers that they used were woven by hand.

The equivalent would today would be if we found a new propulsion system, maybe something like a railgun, developed a craft using entirely new materials and quantum or biological computers, with the goal for it to take a small crew of astronauts to lead a Martian expedition and safely return. With a deadline of 2025.

Companies like Space X are becoming the new NASA is the original spirit of the group. In a period of 10 years, Space X will have developed an entirely new rocket and be able to transport humans to the ISS. While being privately funded.

NASA succeeded in the 60's because it was free of the bureaucratic mess that is rampant today. Space X (and Virgin Galatic, etc) is making such amazing progress because it can focus and get the job done by motivated individuals working towards a common goal without the constant nagging by the Nanny State.

The US Government is too big to be success at enterprise. It needs to get out of the way and let individuals invest and create and take risks. America was founded by people willing to risk everything - and much of this mentality can still be found today. Unfortunately, the welfare state government that leftists are trying to impose on us is sucking the life out of our great culture! We need to fight back to get government down to size so that the spirit of America can be unbridled again. It is still here. We still have it. Space X is the proof.

19 April 2012

Nuclear Power: Fukushima

Right off the bat: I love nuclear power. I'm a geek. A nerd. Nukes, whether as a bomb or as a power source, are just amazingly interesting. So, it saddens me to see all the anti-nuke attitudes in the world.

Let's get some things straight: Fukushima was a horrible accident. But, in the grand scheme of nuclear incidents, my opinion is that it actually proved how safe nuclear power can be if properly handled. The radiation in the area simply doesn't compare to in scale to what has happened in other parts of the world. There was a great chart made up by Randall over at xkcd.com (April, 2011) which really puts it into perspective. I've got it below for you to see.


  • Chernobyl would have exposed someone to 50 Sv (sieverts) of radiation. 
  • Severe radiation poisoning requires an exposure of about 2 Sv.
  • The EPA limit for emergency workers is 250 mSv.
  • The two Fukushima plant workers were exposed to >200 mSv.
  • The approximate dose received at the Fukushima Town Hall over a 2-week period 100 uSv
  • On a flight from NY to LA you are exposed to 40 uSv

The greatest tragedy is the loss of life due to the tsunami. Not the nuclear reactor. People were able to safely reside in the area around Fukushima for weeks afterward without significant injury. If there is the time available to properly react, Nuclear reactors simply don't pose a threat to life. But, people around the world have got it in their craw that nuclear power plants are deadly time bombs waiting to destroy all life.

I have to admit there are other concerns surrounding Fukushima: Denial, over confidence and poor damage control. There is evidence that the situation isn't being handled properly. Water levels are not at the expected level within the containment buildings thus causing radiation levels to be higher than expected. Did this happen because people thought the initial solution would work and didn't follow up? I would have to say, yes. You don't just let a situation intentionally get worse. There had to have been a degree of confidence that the fix in place was adequate without daily monitoring verifying this one way or another. However, it isn't an insurpountable problem.

So, while there is certainly a degree of risk associated with nukes, they are a lot safer than many other options in the world (such as continuing to fund radical Islamic states through purchasing their oil which could land us with more terrorism and dirty bomb threats). And nuclear power is simply getting safer as we are able to invest in concepts and ideas to ensure the safe management of the power source. The latest nuclear plant design by Westinghouse proves that we have the ability to safely live with nuclear reactors.

I hope it is not too late. 70% of respondents to a poll in Japan favor ending reliance on nuclear power. Another poll has the number at 59% against.

Japan has in total 54 nuclear reactors. As of May 5th, they should all be shut down for maintenance. The supplemental power is being provided by "old fossil fuel" plants (Oil? Coal? NG?), but I'd be immensely surprised if they have the necessary capacity for the country to operate without any Nukes running.

xkcd info link
radiation info link

18 April 2012

Ted Nugent meets the Secret Service

Seriously guys? Here's the article. Mr. Nugent had some very satirical comments and it seems to have caused some people to hyperventilate. Why are we becoming a society that just over-reacts to everything? Are metaphors and similes too complex of a gramatical statement to be understood by people of certain view points? Evidently, yes. Unless Bill Maher says it. Or Chris Matthews.

I wonder if Obama's Secret Service will have prostitutes waiting in the room next door? Or Cocaine? Ah, that was below the belt. So sorry.

Liberals Loving the Constitution

Liberals love the 5th Amendment. I think it is the only aspect of the constitution they love. They plead it every time they are being held responsible for their irresponsibility. They also love their ability to use freedom of speech (when it benefits them) and the right to privacy (when they are caught helping organize underage brothels). Linked is a great clip showing Neely of the GSA pleading the 5th. Over and Over and Over.

It reminds me of people who live by religiosity and pick and choose which parts of their religion they feel is important. Or conservatives who are only conservative when they don't like how money is being spent (a liberal loves it when the government spends on everything but the military). Or how liberals love their freedoms gained by conservative values, but hate conservatives. Frustration abounds in my head.

Eric Bolling on Oil Speculation

I heard about this while listening to Mark Levin. Eric Bolling is a former commodities trader on the New York Mercantile Exchange and in the video here he rationally explains what the daily trading is like in the oil markets on the NYME. The premise is that on a given day, the amount of oil consumed is magnitudes of order smaller the the quantities of oil traded on the same day. In my mind, the greatest issue raised isn't the quantity of oil that is traded. Instead, it is that the banks and other major players in the market are able to make significant quantities of transactions without having to outlay any significant amount of capital (and if the trade is completed on the same day, no capital at all). This, by virtue of the rules enacted and the amount of volatility surrounding the product, effectively creates a massively desirable environment to these large banks as they can play the markets and make significant amounts of money. And since the banks are simply using this as an avenue to generate revenue, they greatly benefit from the rules while the individual consumers (you and I) are seriously affected.

In Indianapolis, we have weekly - daily - swings in the price of gas by 20-40 cents a gallon. If you time it wrong, it is ridiculously easy to go to work with a quarter tank of gas and see the price at $3.49 per gallon. On the way home, and needing to fill up, the price will be $3.89.  It happens every week. It has to do with some strange law that was enacted several years ago about how tightly connected to the closing price of oil or gas is required vs the price at the pump. Basically, I live the volatility.

Bolling argues that by changing the trading rules such that only a certain percentage of the commodity in the market is allowed to be gambled that we could see a drop in price by nearly $1/gal overnight. Alternatively, it could be required that the players involved have to put up more capital to participate. The idea is simply to discourage purely speculative players from entering the trading. To cut out the completely random spikes in price that are solely related to groups jumping in and buying up product to make a quick buck.

I don't really see anything wrong with the idea. Regulation is indeed something that is the role of the federal government and regulating such a necessary commodity more tightly seems very appropriate.

17 April 2012

CEO Pay vs Superstars

I'll never get this, and it really bothers me that this is the state of play in our country. CEO's have been made to be horrible, evil people for making a lot of money. Superstars, on the other hand, are left alone. Their large, unfairly large pay checks are completely ignored by the media. If a CEO makes millions, whoa, this is just evidence of the injustice that pervades the system.

Why is one okay, but the other is not? Granted, Leo Apotheker had no business at HP. He still received his golden parachute. It is outrageous. But, doesn't it seem outrageous that some thug athlete (the ones who are out there saying "I'm not a role model" and getting arrested all the time) is able to get paid millions to catch a ball? If there is to be outrage over how much an individual gets paid, the same outrage should be applied across the board.

This is the same sort of disparity we see towards women. It is okay to insult Sarah Palin - don't deny that you have seen and heard and maybe laughed at the jokes towards her. But, don't you dare say anything against the ridiculousness of the Sandra Fluke incident (Yes, it was outrageous, and Rush likely over did it. And I did laugh. But, I also laughed at the SNL skits for Palin). The same disparity we have with religion (insult Christians all day, but don't say a thing about a Muslim). The same disparity we have towards race (joke about Asians and Indians (from India), but be careful with what you say about African Americans).

If we are going to have standards, they need to be applied towards all groups. Else, we should not have any standards and let anything and everything be allowed. But where do you stand? Are you an equal offender of all people? Or do you pick and chose when to show indignation?

For reference of CEO vs Superstar pay, take a look at the list I pilfed from Red State.

For comparison, here are the latest available annual compensation numbers for the CEOs of XOM’s competition: 
Jim Mulva,                 ConocoPhillips,         $27,713,594
John Watson,             Chevron,                    $25,000,000
Peter Voser,               Royal Dutch/Shell,    €5,208,000 = $6,800,000
Robert W. Dudley,      BP,                             $3,404,300
Actors                     Earnings (Millions) 
Leonardo DiCaprio     $77
Johnny Depp             $50
Adam Sandler             $40
Angelina Jolie             $30
Sarah Jessica Parker    $30
Jennifer Aniston          $28

American Athletes     Earnings ($Millions) 
Tiger Woods               $62.3
Phil Mickelson             $61.2
LeBron James             $44.5 
International Athletes Earnings ($Millions) 
Roger Federer                 $52.8
Manny Pacquiao             $52.5
Fernando Alonso            $45.0

Reality “Stars"          Earnings ($Millions) 
Kim Kardashian         $6
Lauren Conrad           $5

16 April 2012

Fox Trot to iPad

I love Fox Trot. Bill Amend has been keeping a very tight hold of his IP - which I must applaud. He's now releasing his work on the iPad. This is a must buy.

Now, for Calvin and Hobbes.

GM didn't learn to fish

There has been some hoopla about how much better off the US economy is in part because GM and Chrysler were bailed out. What happens, however, as time goes on. What have these companies learned through their bail out? Anything? I wonder.

The old saying, teach a man to fish so he can feed himself into the future is appropriate. Ford, who did not take any Government money (and look at the new Escape! Nice!), is on quite the roll. The Focus, Fusion, Escape, etc are all doing very good sales wise.

GM, though, has had some struggles. At the end of 2011, the Chevy Cruze was experiencing a very large inventory surplus. The bigger issue, other than the fickleness of car buyers, is some of the decision making coming out GM.

All manufacturers are able to improve profits through accurately predicting sales and supplying just enough of a certain type of product to meet the demand. In doing this, excess inventory is not being produced and the need for large discounts is generally mitigated. But, GM isn't following the Japanese example. At the end of February 2012, GM's dealers had around 667,000 vehicles (vs 420,000 in Feb 2010) in stock.

Other signs that GM hasn't learned anything (and the investors in GM are stuck getting screwed twice over - once from their investments that were wiped out, twice through their tax dollars) comes from GM making their own little sub-prime loan situation. GM is gambling through increasing its lending to people who are at a high risk of default.

I leave with one other comment. GM just invested $400 Million of tax payer money into Peugeot. A French car manufacturer. GM already ownes Opel (and it is struggling). They claim that Peugeot has technology GM needs to help it be competitive. What is this, two wrongs some how make a right? If you want to gain access to technology, buy someone GOOD. Or is this a hidden agenda by the Obama Administration (I love to go all conspiracist)? Have a government take over of various manufacturers in the US so that the government can indirectly send US tax dollars to foreign countries in order to "thank" them for their support? Well, Mr. Sarkozy did help Obama with Libya.

14 April 2012

Climate Change: Dr. Tim Ball Skeptic

I just heard about Dr. Tim Ball on Thursday. He is evidently a fairly well known climate scientist who, from his credentials, is quite authoritative on the subject. I was able to listen to a radio interview he did on the local WIBC radio station with Denny Smith (I don't know how to link directly to the podcast, but his interview was on April 12th, 2012).

The subject of the evening revolved around truth in the scientific community. About how everything is becoming more and more politicized. This is exactly what is happening with the outrageous global warming claims coming from the likes of Al Gore.

Why, do we as individuals, allow politicians to politicize everything? Why don't we call them out? Who is Al Gore in the scientific community (a propagandist)? How can someone with an agenda specifically targeted at increasing government control in you life be trusted as having a voice of truth in something as complex as the global climate? It's beyond me. Then again, in high school, I mocked the concept of being class president based on how impotence of the position.
"You don't accept anything at face value as a scientist" - Tim Ball
Back to Dr. Ball. He's a skeptic. As all good scientists should be. What is the scientific method if not a continual process to disprove the common beliefs until you are left with nothing but facts? And by following the scientific method, why is there such outrage towards the lone voices in the world who are saying that we should not fall into the topics which are really meant to be political traps? Tim Ball is skeptical of man created climate change. He doesn't doubt that there is definitely global climate change, or that we can have some impact, but the fundamental truth is that there has always been climate change and there always will be and we measly, weak, limited humans don't have the power to control this powerful force of nature (italics are my thoughts).

Why do we ignore the mechanisms of the sun? Why do we ignore interstellar effects? Why do we ignore changes to the Earth's orbit? Because CO2 was chosen specifically because it could be used as a tool to attack industrialized nations. It was chosen partly due to the work of socialist Maurice Strong.
Strong is considered to be the person behind the globalization of the foundation-funded environmental movement, and was the Secretary-General of the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment held in 1972, in Stockholm, Sweden.

“Isn’t the only hope for the planet that the industrialized civilizations collapse? Isn’t it our responsiblity to bring that about?”
- Maurice Strong, founder of the UN Environment Programme
Opening speech, Rio Earth Summit. 1992

The evidence that Tim Ball presents goes into great detail as to how much manipulation has gone into twisting the public perception regarding climate change. They have the bureaucrats on their side who have the power to shut down the voices of skepticism and the power to push their agenda to the governments around the world. This is more fuel to the fire that we need to get out of the UN.

Listen to this interview with Tim Ball. It is excellent. Be informed.