Sunday, August 31, 2008

Only If


Anything is possible... but maybe not probable. Therefore, if we average 124° today, we will have a "normal" August in our area.


Do Principles Matter?


Yesterday, I asked whether liberal women could vote for Sarah Palin. Implicit in that question was the assumption that having a woman on a presidential ticket was an important factor for women... just as having a man with black heritage was important to blacks. But underlying the question about Sarah Palin was whether women who felt strongly about women achieving parity with men on all levels could embrace a woman who has achieved such success even though they may have strong differences about some issues.

That same question can be asked of conservatives who disagree with some of John McCain's positions or progressives who are not ready to move as far left as Barack Obama.

To what degree do principles matter over special interests?
There are personal principles and political principles. Ideally, they should align. It is disingenuous to hold that you believe in certain principles, but that you don't feel it is important that others do also. Either you don't hold to those principles or you think that one position is as good as another... as long as you adhere to that position. What is not disingenuous is to say that certain issues are not as important as others... that given hard choices, you would not accept certain compromises.

Perhaps that is why Ronald Reagan achieved the level of success and adherents... followers... to his viewpoints. There were certain principles he would not abandon. He knew it. His rivals knew it. His enemies knew it. Sure, some people came to hate him for his successes. He didn't always have a "white paper" for every position he took. He didn't seem to work hard to get more power or get his way. He simply let everyone know what he stood for and he stood his ground.
It wasn't the "Washington Way." He put his principles before political expedience. And American felt in their guts that they could trust him to do the right thing... even if he seemed unconventional or a political "maverick."
Maybe that is why many people are drawn to Obama. He believes that government is the answer for all human ills. His primary principle seems to be that government should grow and manage personal and societal challenges for the good of all. He draws people to himself who believe that. But there is a side of Obama that isn't aligned with his apparent political principles.
He has a history of work and social interaction with Bill Ayers, a notorious criminal [who admits he got away with murder] and anarchist [NY Times article]... but one that provided money and political connections. Expect a lot more to come of this.

He aligned himself with black-racist, America-hating preacher, Jeramiah Wright to help establish his political credibility with the black, Democrat, Chicago populace [ABC News article] even though he belatedly abandoned that relationship.
Sen. Obama has shown a characteristic of expedience... a willingness to be other than he claims.

Compare that with what we already know about Sarah Palin... a woman with at least an equal level of political leadership and a greater level of business leadership than Sen. Obama. Examine her alignment of principles and conduct with Sen. Obama's. There is a distinct difference.
There are distinct differences in the "contents of their characters." Does that mean that any of them are "perfect?" Obviously not. But integrity of principles is a significant part of any progress toward perfection.
Still, you may disagree vehemently with the principles held by any of them. In that case, you may be inclined to accept a far greater level of "imperfection."


Saturday, August 30, 2008

The Political Dilemma Of The Liberal Woman


From Stanford University "Encyclopedia Of Philosophy":

Feminism is both an intellectual commitment and a political movement that seeks justice for women and the end of sexism in all forms. However, there are many different kinds of feminism. Feminists disagree about what sexism consists in, and what exactly ought to be done about it; they disagree about what it means to be a woman or a man and what social and political implications gender has or should have. Nonetheless, motivated by the quest for social justice, feminist inquiry provides a wide range of perspectives on social, cultural, and political phenomena. Important topics for feminist theory and politics include: the body, class and work, disability, the family, globalization, human rights, popular culture, race and racism, reproduction, science, the self, sex work, and sexuality.
We presume that Feminists are radical, leftist, man-hating, child-spurning, career-focused women based on the Gloria Steinem model. But that is like defining black Americans by using Louis Farrakhan as the model.
Yesterday, Sarah Palin stepped into the national scene and created the news story of the year... even eclipsing Barack Obama's nomination for president. Certainly, for 10% of the U.S. population, nothing could be more important than Obama's nomination. But for 50%+ of the population, this represented the future... and it wasn't because there was legislation calling for "fair play."
Here, at last, was America's potential "Maggie Thatcher." A strong, intelligent, independent, successful woman, who appears to put principle ahead of expedience, being selected to run for Vice President of the U.S.
This is the new model for Feminists.
How's that? The old Feminist required a rejection of men and family and the creation of a female oligopoly to allow women to rise to power. But over the decades since Ms. Steinem's preachings were popular, women have learned to become CEOs and governors and community leaders while not rejecting the rest of what has traditionally made life fulfilling.
Now comes a woman who has embraced the "non-Feminist" traditions of family, children, home, husband... and then gone beyond to become the head of a state, the owner of a business, one who stands up to big business and big government alike. She represents the woman who can go beyond the Steinem model of self-focus to the woman who becomes a leader of both women and men.
So why is this a dilemma for liberal women? Simply stated: it forces them to face a new reality... a change which they were not expecting or for which they were not prepared to embrace: being a Feminist does not mean rejecting a large part of life to have another; being a Feminist does not mean embracing radical political solutions to ensure personal success; being a Feminist does not mean rejecting faith or philosophies of responsibility.
Gloria Steinem's message was that you can have it all as long as you give up some of it. Sarah Palin's message is that you can have it all... if you are strong enough.
Liberal women are now faced with that dilemma. Do they turn their backs on the old model that has offered so much reinforcement and do they recognize that the world has passed that model by and they are allowed to celebrate the success of the New Feminist Model? Or will they remain locked into a 50-year old message?

I suspect for many, accepting that change will be asking too much. But for some, it will be a revelation that success has more than one definition. They may not agree with some of Sarah Palin's choices and philosophy... specifically her reproductive choices and philosophy. But that's not the central point.
The central point is that Sarah Palin has made her personal choices based on personal principles and has not allowed personal convenience or expedience to override those principles.

The central question is then whether liberal women, holding dear the principle that women should be treated as equals in all things, can vote for a woman who, in principle, agrees with that, lives that, and has achieved that... and who has accepted the personal consequences of her principles and her personal choices... even if it means they must change old affiliations?

Friday, August 29, 2008

Political Change


Obama's campaign is based on "Change."

Is this change?

Or is this Change?


The Illusion Of Obama


The stadium filled with chanting masses. The new leader speaking of a brighter future. The promises. Ah, the promises.

Sen. Obama's platform can be considered his goals. There truly is something for everyone.

Sen. Obama's speech at the convention did clarify his goals.

For example, in the areas of energy, economy, and national security:

  • We will be independent of Middle Eastern Oil in 10 years. Ten years is the blink of an eye in terms of establishing a whole new market and infrastructure. But 10 years is a lifetime for a president... actually 8 years is the lifetime. So anything promised beyond 8 years is not a promise that can be kept.
    Regardless, we will no longer be connected to the Middle East for oil after Obama's presidency.

    • This will be accomplished by not drilling for offshore oil and natural gas [where are those new natural gas reserves Obama will tap?].
    • This will be accomplished by not developing our shale oil resources.
    • This will be accomplished by increasing taxes on oil companies.
    • This will be accomplished by mandating unproven technology with no supporting infrastructure for automobiles.
  • We will reduce taxes for individuals and raise taxes on corporations and investors. These same corporations will then be expected to hire more people and increase benefits while competing against foreign companies that do not share those burdens.
    • You will have more sick leave and family leave.
    • Your social security will be protected while your taxes are lowered.
    • Everyone will get the same pay for their work regardless of expertise and years of service.
    • You will have health insurance paid for by the government that will get the money from the corporations
  • We will withdraw from Iraq and focus on "a terrorist network that operates in 80 countries" "with a clear mission."
    • Thanks to the Surge I did not support, I will end the war in Iraq responsibly and then rebuild alliances, such as NATO, so that other countries will eagerly participate in in defeating al Qaeda... even if that means going into Pakistan or other Central Asian nations.
    • Troops will be well equipped despite past efforts to cut off military funding.
    • We will have tough diplomacy to talk Iran out of its nuclear ambitions.
    • We will ensure that genocide doesn't happen and, if it does in places like Darfur, we will end it "with a clear mission."
Obama has promised change. Can we live with his brand of change?


Thursday, August 28, 2008

Winds Of Death


Many articles have been circulating about wind turbines causing the deaths of certain bat species. Here is a U.S. government article.

The other striking pattern is that the vast majority of bat fatalities at wind turbines occur during late summer and autumn.
I presume that the environmentalists will be suing the government to ensure that all wind turbines are shut down during this period. Okay, seriously... they all don't really worry about some bats that are so stupid they mistake a wind turbine tower for a tree. And what are a few bats? There are millions... billions... of those creatures. Not endangered... nothing to look at here.

Besides, if we can't build anymore coal fired power plants, we'll have to build more wind turbines like those that the Pennsylvania governor supports.
Of course we won't connect them to the power grid. Okay, that's just the agenda of the fringe environmentalists who put bats and slime mold ahead of "green" solutions.

Don't you think "mainstream" environmentalist groups would come up with some way to differentiate themselves? The "Green and Cleans" versus the "Shut it Downs?"
Hey, being environmentally friendly just might mean something has to die. Get over it.
Besides that, don't you find the "foomp, foomp, foomp" sound and the strobe effect of the rotors fascinating... hypnotic even?

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Global Cooling


Recently, there has been increasing talk... not of global warming, but global cooling. There is even talk about a possible recurrence of the "little ice age."

Some of the conjecture is a little fanciful... at this point. Still, it is ironic that as soon as the politicians have been convinced that the global warming debate is over, scientists are beginning to come out of the woodwork to say that we don't have to fear the warmth that might be coming our way... we'd better fear the cold.

This points to the very weakness of climate science and climate models... they contain a lot more conjecture than hard proof. It also points to the very weakness of "popular science"... it looks to simple answers for complex problems. CO2 is a prime example of the faulty "climate-science-theory-of-it-explains-everything." Others will latch on to land use changes... we're cutting down our forests and changing the climate. Others find environmental drivers at fault... China and India are cooling the planet from pollution. Others point to the sun. Or its "all of the above, but we don't understand how it all fits together."

So, while politicians are now ready to spend trillions of dollars to prevent global warming, maybe they should be figuring out how to get all of our homes insulated better and converted to efficient geothermal heating... forget the cooling. Maybe our scientists need to figure out how to get crops to grow faster to feed us with shorter growing seasons.

Maybe we should all buy stock in snow-thrower companies.

Or have you forgotten last winter already?


Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Winds But No Change


Via Dr. John Ray... the Wall Street Journal reports:

In this year's great energy debate, Democrats describe a future when the U.S. finally embraces the anything-but-carbon avant-garde. It turns out, however, that when wind and solar power do start to come on line, they face a familiar obstacle: environmentalists and many Democrats.

To wit, the greens are blocking the very transmission network needed for renewable electricity to move throughout the economy. The best sites for wind and solar energy happen to be in the sticks -- in the desert Southwest where sunlight is most intense for longest, or the plains where the wind blows most often. To exploit this energy, utilities need to build transmission lines to connect their electricity to the places where consumers actually live. In addition to other technical problems, the transmission gap is a big reason wind only provides two-thirds of 1% of electricity generated in the U.S., and solar one-tenth of 1%.

Only last week, Duke Energy and American Electric Power announced a $1 billion joint venture to build a mere 240 miles of transmission line in Indiana necessary to accommodate new wind farms. Yet the utilities don't expect to be able to complete the lines for six long years -- until 2014, at the earliest, because of the time necessary to obtain regulatory approval and rights-of-way, plus the obligatory lawsuits.

In California, hundreds turned out at the end of July to protest a connection between the solar and geothermal fields of the Imperial Valley to Los Angeles and Orange County. The environmental class is likewise lobbying state commissioners to kill a 150-mile link between San Diego and solar panels because it would entail a 20-mile jaunt through Anza-Borrego state park. "It's kind of schizophrenic behavior," Arnold Schwarzenegger said recently. "They say that we want renewable energy, but we don't want you to put it anywhere."

California has a law mandating that utilities generate 20% of their electricity from "clean-tech" by 2010. Some 24 states have adopted a "renewable portfolio standard," while Barack Obama wants to impose a national renewable mandate. But the states, with the exception of Texas, didn't make transmission lines easier to build, though it won't prevent them from penalizing the power companies that fail to meet an impossible goal.

Texas is now the wind capital of America (though wind still generates only 3% of state electricity) because it streamlined the regulatory and legal snarls that block transmission in other states. By contrast, though Pennsylvania's Democratic Governor Ed Rendell adopted wind power as a main political plank, he and Senator Bob Casey are leading a charge to repeal a 2005 law that makes transmission lines slightly easier to build.

Wind power has also become contentious in oh-so-green Oregon, once people realized that transmission lines would cut through forests. Transmissions lines from a wind project on the Nevada-Idaho border are clogged because of possible effects on the greater sage grouse. Similar melodramas are playing out in Arizona, the Dakotas, the Carolinas, Tennessee, West Virginia, northern Maine, upstate New York, and elsewhere.

In other words, the liberal push for alternatives has the look of a huge bait-and-switch. Washington responds to the climate change panic with multibillion-dollar taxpayer subsidies for supposedly clean tech. But then when those incentives start to have an effect in the real world, the same greens who favor the subsidies say build the turbines or towers somewhere else. The only energy sources they seem to like are the ones we don't have.

The answer is... more blowing in the wind.

Multitudes of environmentalists have come to worship the wind turbine... not connect it to the power grid.


Monday, August 25, 2008

Winds Of Change Or Just More Blowing In The Wind?


From Wikipedia:

In the 1972 election, McGovern ran on a platform that advocated withdrawal from the Vietnam War in exchange for the return of American prisoners of war[9] and amnesty for draft evaders who had left the country,[10] an anti-war platform that was presaged, in 1970, by McGovern's sponsorship of the McGovern-Hatfield amendment, seeking to end U.S. participation in the war by Congressional action. However, during a meeting with Democratic Governors conference, Nevada Governor Mike O'Callaghan asked McGovern what he would do if the North Vietnamese refused to release American POW's after a withdrawal. McGovern responded, "Under such circumstances, we'd have to take action," although he did not say what action.[11]

McGovern's platform also included an across-the-board, 37% reduction in defense spending over three years;[12] and a "demogrant" program giving $1,000 to every citizen in America [13] that was later changed to creating a $6,500 guaranteed minimum income for Americans, and was later dropped from the platform.[14] In addition, McGovern supported ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment. An infamous incident took place late in the campaign. McGovern was giving a speech and a Nixon admirer kept heckling him. McGovern called the young man over and said "Listen you son of a bitch, why don't you kiss my ass!" Mississippi Senator James Eastland later asked the Senator if that was what he had said. When McGovern said yes, Eastland replied that it was the best thing he had ever said in the whole campaign.
Just a coincidence... I'm certain.
The answer, my friend, is... blowing in the wind....
Oh, just one other thing. Check here for Sen. Biden's alignment with Bush versus Obama on foreign policy... especially Iraq.
He was with him until he was against him. Did I say that?

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Inflation Control Without Raising Interest Rates


Bernanke calmer on inflation threat

By Krishna Guha in Jackson Hole, Wyoming

Published: August 22 2008 15:14 | Last updated: August 22 2008 23:46

The decline in oil prices and the rally in the dollar was “encouraging”, Ben Bernanke said on Friday, suggesting the Federal Reserve thinks global inflationary pressures could be starting to ease.

Speaking at the start of the Federal Reserve’s annual retreat in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, Mr Bernanke said the shift in currency and oil prices, as well as weak growth, “should lead inflation to moderate this year and next”.
Isn't that amazing? Oil prices declining and inflation moderating... without the Fed stepping in and raising interest rates to 10%. Back in 1980 when faced with a similar situation... oil driven inflation..., the Fed simply raised rates over 10%... and totally quashed the economy.

This time it decided that wiping out the economy might be worse than temporary inflation. And guess what? Market economics seems to be working.


More Michigan Summer


Last night at dusk, this appeared on the lake.

click on images for larger view


Saturday, August 23, 2008

Look Who Has Joined Hope And Change


I haven't written much about Sen. Joe Biden. He's an affable fellow who seems to know how to work the system. Back in 2007, he appeared on the now-defunct Don Imus show. Here's more.

It looks as if Hope and Change have been joined by More of the Same.


Friday, August 22, 2008

Automobile Engine Improvements


In The Detroit News:

Ford EcoBoost: Small to mighty
Automaker's president touts performance of new turbocharged and fuel-injected engines.

"People think environmentally friendly cars are boring," says Ford Americas President Mark Fields. "Watch this."

He punches the accelerator on a Lincoln MKS sedan equipped with a prototype of Ford's new EcoBoost engine. The vineyards of the Old Mission Peninsula become a blur.

"This will put a smile on your face," Fields says. "But you get 20 percent better fuel economy with 15 percent less CO2. I call it the great taste, less filling school of powertrain technology."
Why focus on a gasoline-powered vehicle? Isn't the future electric plug-in or natural gas or something else besides oil-based power?
Even Toyota is looking at using a similar approach in some of its new engines.

"I suspect everybody's looking at it," said analyst Jim Hall [not related] of 2953 Analytics LLP in Birmingham. "The question is where they are in deployment. Ford has outlined the most aggressive strategy. But it will be operating costs and reliability that make one better ."

Hall is one of the few people outside Ford who has driven an EcoBoost-equipped vehicle. He was impressed with it, but said it is important to continue to develop hybrids, too.

"The only viable strategy is deploying both strategies where they are needed," Hall said. "The only way you can build a 40-mile-per-gallon mid-sized sedan is with hybrid technology. The only way you can get real performance without sacrificing fuel economy is with something like EcoBoost.

Fair enough, but my only question is this: if Ford is about to bring over its next generation car from Europe, why not bring over the engine that goes along with it... a 1.6L turbocharged diesel?

I'm hoping to get to ask that question tonight. I suspect the answer will be, "government regulations."


Summer Evening


[natural light at 8:00 pm with iPhone camera]

Summers in Michigan are like gold. You can't get enough of it and it never seems to lose its luster.

Last night I attended an outdoor theater on a hillside setting with a new stage. The evening was clear and mild and dry... perfect. My wife sings as part of this community chorus and has done so for almost 30 years. She started shortly after our second son was born. Stay-at-home moms need some diversion and music has always been one of her great loves. Our sons have all participated with the chorus in one way or another during those almost 30 years. It's been a great family activity.

We're hoping in a few years that the next generation can have some enjoyment out of this music community, too.


Thursday, August 21, 2008

The Real Russian Threat To Europe


Much speculation swirls about after the Russian invasion of Georgia and the strong words to Poland about being the possible target of nuclear missiles if a missile defense system is deployed.

On August 12, I wrote:

If the Georgian pipeline is disrupted and Iranian oil supplies can be made chronically unreliable, then Russia owns Europe... and the Bears are back! Russian Bears, that is.
That is the real nature of the Russian threat. They can control oil out of Georgia and they can simply wait until November and announce that they have no interest in honoring their oil and natural gas commitments to Europe unless certain "understandings" are made. And that understanding is simple: the Russian bear is to be treated like the Alpha Dog... and you give the Alpha Dog what it wants.
You don't have to look in Putin's eyes to know what is in his soul.
The likely reactions? The French will sniff the air and check the power output of their nuclear plants while they drink a fine wine. The Germans will be asking Angela Merkel when their solar power grid will be ready while they bundle up with extra layers of Alpine clothing. The British will investigate what happened to their coal and oil resources, but nothing will get done. The Poles will continue to use their "old school" coal and export electricity to the more "progressive" European nations. And Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi, and Harry Reid will announce that they are sending over hope and change... so no one should worry.


Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Democrat Platform


With the Democrat Party convention looming ahead, let's have some fun and speculate on what might not be said....

  • Iraq - although we strongly supported going into the war, we were misled because of the dozen plus violations of UN sanctions and restrictions and the faulty intelligence information that the Bush administration stubbornly continued to use from a previous administration we believed in. We strongly opposed the "Surge," but we are responsible for the possibility of pulling out troops earlier than anticipated regardless of the Surge success since we recommended pulling our troops out before the Surge.
    A vote for us is a vote for our troops.
  • Energy - although oil and gasoline prices were relatively low until we took control of Congress and pledged to resist any increases in domestic oil exploration and output, we know that we represent the hearts and minds of the working class despite any hardships they face. We will continue to oppose any energy policy based on oil because we want to save the planet and we see hope in the sun and change in the wind, in both of which we have personally invested and for which we will guarantee government subsidies, as the only viable means. We will mandate electric plug-in automobiles, but prohibit additional coal or nuclear power plants to provide the needed electricity... except for California which can import electricity produced from any type of power plant because California is a "clean" state that does not actually produce the electricity it needs.
    A vote for us is a vote for our planet.
  • Taxes - we will raise your taxes, but show you that relative to business and higher income taxpayers that your taxes will be lower. Then we will mandate that those businesses and higher income taxpayers create more jobs for lower income taxpayers who will then be able to afford the taxes.
    A vote for us is a vote for more fairness.
  • Health care - you'll all be covered and doctors will be required to accept our lower payments if they want you as patients.
    A vote for us is a vote for a healthy tomorrow.
  • Illegal immigrants - unjust laws must be changed and those who have been harmed by unjust laws that make them criminals must be "fast tracked" into citizenship where they will vote for those who support them.
    A vote for us is a vote for fewer criminals and more voters.
  • Unions - you are not required to join unions except if you wish to work, but we all know that working is strictly optional.
    A vote for us is a vote for more benefits.
  • Equal pay and discrimination - you will be protected against hiring discrimination if you are a woman or minority and you will be paid whatever anyone else is paid for your job regardless of your abilities or performance. You will have the right to sue if you do not get a job or get paid less than someone who is purported to be more qualified, and those who have oppressed you will have to prove their innocence which, de facto, cannot be done.
    A vote for us is a vote for getting even... eh, getting equality.
  • Military - we support our military except those who engage in corrupt wars against the oppressed started by Republicans.
    A vote for us is a vote for world peace.
  • Marriage and children - We believe in the sanctity of life and marriage as an institution of the family except where it interferes with those who do not.
    A vote for us is a vote for more marriages and greater employment for lawyers.
There may be some more... okay, there are a lot more. But do you really need to read them? These are quite clear enough.


Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The Future Is XP


I guess I'm not surprised that state government doesn't want to be innovative, but this from the 2008 plans just struck me as going backward:

in the light of this...
It's probably because a lot of the hardware is not able to handle Vista's requirements... and Vista has had some bad PR. But quite honestly, I have a 4-year old 2GHz computer with XP that runs like an old horse drawn wagon compared with my Vista laptop. The problem is, by the time you've loaded the 3 "service packs" on top of the base XP load, you've choked the system anyway.

My personal experience with Vista has been extremely satisfactory... and that is running Office 2007, Dreamweaver, Macromedia Fireworks, among other applications. It just doesn't break like seven-year old XP used to.
Besides, just how old are some of those operating systems the state is using? Those computers can't be much more than paperweights at this point.

Perhaps it is time, if not being done already, for state governments to work with computer and software experts from state universities [that get $1.8 billion in state aid] and major suppliers such as Microsoft to figure out how to make "government more cost effective and efficient," as the goal states. Otherwise, there will be another budget line item in a couple of years to upgrade computer operating systems to Vista.


Monday, August 18, 2008

Logic And Economics


This was part of a post at Econbrowser:

Anon admonishes me to read Barry Nalebuff's book Thinking Strategically (actually it's Dixit and Nalebuff); I confess I have not yet done so. But having endured some amount of game theory over the years, I'm going to wade ahead nonetheless.

First, consider this exchange from April 2004, where Nalebuff suggests investing $5 billion to enable Iraq's oil industry to export a million extra barrels of oil a day, thereby negating OPEC's monopoly power. One interesting aspect of Nalebuff's argument is that he doesn't propose something like exploiting US offshore reserves. I think the reason is quite simple, and is rooted in game theory -- Iraq in principle can be a low cost producer (after security is established). Supply from offshore sources in the US would be (and is known to be) a relatively high cost (per unit production) venture relative to, say, Saudi oil production. Hence, it's not clear increasing US production can have the strategic effect often suggested. (Example, see: [2])

I do agree with Anon that a lot of world production is undertaken by state owned enterprises, which lack proper incentives for responding to price signals. But I'm unconvinced that foreign state owned enterprises would be privatized simply because the US removed its moratorium on OCS exploitation.

So, opening up production in the currently inaccessible areas of the OCS might have substantial effects (perhaps on trade balance, or oil company profitability, Federal leasing revenue), but in my view is unlikely to have a substantial impact on oil prices (just as in the case of opening up ANWR).

My comment was this:

Actually, the issue is beyond offshore drilling. Congress has refused to clear the way for regulations related to shale oil production which has a vastly greater potential to impact oil supply.

The argument that a course of action has no value because it has no immediate results is specious and deceptive. Using that simplistic thinking... AIDS research is of little value because it may be 25 years before there is a cure and all we are doing is driving up medical costs for society [driving up environmental risks for society].

Either increased supply reduces prices by meeting demand or increased supply reduces the level of price increases by partially meeting demand. If you don't believe in the dynamics of supply, demand, and prices, you should be reading RealClimate instead of Econbrowser... or writing there.

Just for reference:
Just so we all have this straight:
  • Anything that does not produce immediate results is not worth pursuing.
  • Increasing the supply of oil will not reduce prices as long as we are successful at preventing an increase in the supply.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

NATO To Rescue Georgia


In comments likely to irk Moscow, the German chancellor also said Georgia remained on track to eventually join Nato, as agreed at a May Nato summit. “Every free, independent country can together with Nato members discuss when it can join Nato. In December, we will have a first evaluation of the situation and we are on a clear path in the direction of Nato membership,” she told reporters at a press conference with Mikheil Saakashvili, Georgia’s president. --
Yup, here comes NATO...


Budgeting In Downturns


Last Thursday, I wrote critically about the Michigan state budget. The essence was that despite a chronic economic malaise in this state, the government feels entitled to increase spending. This proposition was challenged in the comments. What should be cut and when?

Rather than get into a debate about the merits of individual programs... which should be a key component of the budgeting process... I chose to respond this way:

I spent three decades in the automotive industry and saw both good and bad times several times. In several of my jobs, I prepared executive budgets. Obviously, in good times, the budget process was far simpler than when faced with declining revenues and calls for increased spending. Not once during economic pullbacks did executives express reluctance to curtail spending in non-critical areas. Of course, it was up to the executives to provide direction regarding what was "critical" versus "important."

When I look at the state budget , it is obvious that there is a reluctance to limit the "critical" expenditures. Our state executives are not willing to face economic realities. These economic realities include:
among others. Yet the governor talks about "investing" in our future... translate that into spending money not available.

When one looks at the state budget, one is struck by the disconnect with economic reality:
2004 $39.4 (bil.)

2005 40.4 ________ 2.5%

2006 41.3 ________ 2.2

2007 41.9 ________ 1.4

2008 43.6 ________ 4.5

2009 44.8 ________ 2.8

Rather than "biting the bullet" as everyone else must do, our governor has pushed for expanded state government. This is unconscionable. It is the result of chronic failure to plan and act effectively over the past 5 years. The problems facing the state should be no surprise to the governor, but the budget seems to reflect surprise. We need to spend more because we have problems!

No, we need to examine our assumptions about where and how money should be spent. There are several programs that are "money pits" where there are no discernible changes on the improvement side. An old saying is, "If you do what you've always done, you'll get what you always get." It's pretty obvious that the governor feels that continuing to spend more money when the economy is bad is the appropriate state response to problems. Perhaps it is time for the governor to recognize the new environment and quit trying to drain a piggy bank that has already been broken.

What would I do? First of all I would never have allowed the 2008 budget increase. That goes against all good business sense. Secondly, I would never have allowed the 2009 budget increase. At a minimum, the 2009 budget should not exceed the 2007 budget. Set the bar at the appropriate level and let the departments figure it out. There are too many in the state legislature that obviously feel they are entitled to increase their pet budgets regardless of the situation. They serve no one but themselves.

If Michigan is to recover and attract... and hold... businesses, it must display good business acumen. So far it has done none of the above.

Saturday, August 16, 2008



Despite cool temperatures... this last week the temperatures have averaged in the 60s..., we bravely set out across the lake wrapped in our blankets and determined to indulge in the Michigan summer experience. And as you can see, another group of hardy souls carried on the tradition.

We may see some warmer temperatures this coming week, but no 90s this month. It must be the work of some wackos trying to keep our water cold... although I haven't seen the screen anyplace around here.


Friday, August 15, 2008

More Telling Tall Tales With Trends


This Spring, I pointed out a couple of times [here and here] that the inherent flaw in the Global Warming argument was the selection of an unusually low temperature period as a starting point. This results in an upward overall linear trend for all conditions. It is this "cherry picking" of historical data that allows alarmists to make "startling" comments that earth's temperature has increased by about 1° F over more than a century. This chart was used to illustrate the phenomenon:

[illustrative only]

Now a post at Icecap by George Taylor, CCM, points out another tall tale using trends. This time, the starting point was from an exceptionally snowy period so that a return to a more normal period would be seen as a dramatic reduction of snow cover in the Northwest.

The top chart was used to "prove" that global warming was causing a dramatic reduction in snow cover. The bottom chart shows the "unabridged" version. Where's Waldo?

The Machiavellian approach of alarmists is obvious: the end [proving global warming] justifies the means [deception and deceit].


Thursday, August 14, 2008

Economic Growth


It took a little digging, but on page 100 of the Michigan "Executive Budget Fiscal Year 2009" I was able to locate the state budget summary for 1999 through 2009. The "bottom line" is compared with state employment totals from the Bureau of Labor Statistics [I averaged the monthly numbers].

Except for the brief rise in employment in 2000, the state has shed 300,000 employed people. During that same time, the automobile industry has been struggling to survive... the primary source of the lost employment... and generating lower profits.

But somehow the state has managed to see its budget grow by $12 billion or 37% from 1999 to 2009. Inflation, as measured by the CPI, was up about 30%, so real government spending increased by about 7%. That is small for 10 years. Hardly noticeable... except the revenue base was leaving the state.

I might be wrong here, but it seems like something... or someone... may be getting squeezed to feed that growth.
Admittedly, a lot of the growth occurred before the state government intelligence gathering agency recognized the severity of the economic situation facing businesses and individuals. But that didn't stop the economic growth... of the government.
Perhaps I missed the part where Lincoln spoke about "Government of the Government, by the Government, and for the Government." But it seems to me that an inflation-adjusted decline of 7% may have been more appropriate for the government's budget.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Packaged Communications


Consider that there is an opportunity in the marketplace that every cell phone provider, every television provider, and every internet provider may be hoping will stay buried.

Consider the average consumer owning a cell phone, a home phone, a computer requiring internet access, a television requiring program feeds.

  • Maybe he has more than one cell phone on his account and maybe those have email and internet access.
  • Maybe he has a home phone line and a separate fax phone line.
  • Maybe he has more than one computer and a home wireless network.
  • Maybe he has more than one television and would like to have DVR recording on all of them.
Consider that this consumer may have cell phone service from one provider, home phone service from another provider, internet service from a third provider and television service from yet another provider... although it is likely that the internet service is combined with either the home phone or the television service provider, but may be different from the cell phone internet provider.

Consider that this consumer might want to simplify his communication and television packages into a single service from a single provider. Where does he look? Some companies do offer all of these services, but you must deal with different parts of their company. Most companies can offer everything except cell phone service. But as far as I can tell, no company offers a comprehensive package with a reasonable package rate.
For example, I checked into AT&T and found that their cell phone marketing department has no relationship with their television marketing department which has no relationship with their conventional land line department... although you can get an internet land line and DSL with their television. And you pay separately for internet service to your computer versus your cell phone.
Considering the opportunity, why hasn't some company made it easy for consumers to do business with them for everything?
Perhaps it is as simple as the profit opportunity from consumer confusion and service fragmentation is greater than the profit opportunity from providing a simplified, comprehensive approach to meeting consumer wants.

Nothing is standard; everything is optional.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The Russians Are Coming


It's difficult to criticize the Russians for taking advantage of a situation that enhances their influence in the wobbly world of oil politics. Sure, no one will say that is what it is all about, but there really was no other reason to bomb the hell out of Georgia. If the Georgian pipeline is disrupted and Iranian oil supplies can be made chronically unreliable, then Russia owns Europe... and the Bears are back! Russian Bears, that is.

The rest of the world makes some fuss about what's going on, but Bush won't do anything so neither will any of the NATO countries. McCain and Obama both made feeble attempts to turn the Georgian situation into presidential politics, but come on....

The reality is that if Russia wants to mess around in the Caucasus region, it will not be opposed. The U.S. is too busy in the Middle East and China doesn't care about that area. European nations? They are all paper pussy cats. There is no leverage against Russia's incursion into Georgia.

The only Georgia most Americans ever heard of is north of Florida, so there is probably just confusion for 50% of the electorate. How the hell did those Russians get through Florida anyway, Billy Bob? And does it mess up the football season?
Don't worry, Europe. Nancy and Harry have a plan for wind and solar energy for you. You don't need no friggin' oil from those Ruskies.


Monday, August 11, 2008

Kwame Kilpatrick - No Surprise


Some of my previous posts about Detroit's soon-to-be erstwhile mayor:

Sure, it should have been obvious to the residents of Detroit what they were getting when they kept Kilpatrick around for a second term... and probably was. The question remaining is will Detroit select a new mayor in the Coleman Young - Kwame Kilpatrick tradition or one in the Dennis Archer tradition?

Let's hope stupidity does not continue to reign supreme in that city. After all, stupidity has its own rewards... and that's why Detroit is dying.


Sunday, August 10, 2008

Summer Michigan Style


Michigan rolled out the green carpet for the PGA pros and the PGA Championship this past weekend. The golf was hot; the weather was not. No global warming around here. You can move along now.

iPhone picture of streaming video
[note the weather box on the right]


Oil "Bubble" Burst?


Before everyone starts celebrating the return of "the good old days" of cheap gas because oil prices are declining rapidly... declining not low..., there are a couple of issues to resolve:

  1. political instability remains and may be growing in major oil supply areas... especially with the Russian bombing on Georgia which has a pipeline that supplies over 1 million barrels per day... and has been shut down... plus ongoing potential for an Iranian oil shutoff... plus never-ending conflict in Africa that could be a supply disaster anytime
  2. politician intractability in the U.S. Democrat party remains a leading cause of failure to expand domestic oil supplies despite knowledge of vast reserves available offshore and in shale... which are imperative even if there is a transition to new fuels and transporation power sources... because oil is used in nearly every product produced for consumption... from fertilizers to plastics... and the transition simply can't happen as fast as these politicians fantasize.
  3. economic decline is temporary and a partial recovery in the next year will lead to further upward pressure on oil prices
The Saudis have already set an $80 per barrel baseline... so don't look for $50 per barrel anytime soon. Rather, expect that it is more likely that $4 per gallon gas will be more common than $3 per gallon... even in the winter "off season."

Failure on the part of our politicians to act now will become a bigger crisis on our part in the future.


An interesting comment received from J. Gillman. Check out his link.


Saturday, August 09, 2008



She gets to vote, too. [shudder]


50% Improvement And 75% To Go


From The Detroit News:

GM says the Escalade -- a sibling of the Green Car award-winning Chevy Tahoe hybrid -- is billed as the first large luxury hybrid SUV. The vehicle gets 50% better fuel economy in city driving and will sell for a suggested retail price of $71,685 -- $3,600 more than a non-hybrid Escalade.

The Escalade hybrid achieves fuel economy ratings of 20 miles per gallon in the city and 21 m.p.g. on the highway.

All well and good. However, in 6 years, if the 35 mpg mandate sticks, that 20 mpg has to increase by another 75%. What does that mean. Either the laws of physics must change or an entirely different approach to powering this sized vehicle must be deployed. Regardless, don't expect to see many of these vehicles produced 5 or 6 years from now.
I wonder how many politicians will be scrambling to buy vehicles like this... or what agencies like the Secret Service will do when their Suburbans are replaced by these:
A nice enough vehicle, but no room for those 6'3" agents and their honkin' big guns. Maybe they can use one of these to ride on as they protect Nancy and Harry when they tour the country.

It looks as if the little rack at the back is big enough for an extra Glock.

A small price to pay for holding fast against those who want to increase the domestic supply of oil.


Friday, August 08, 2008

Oil On A Slippery Slope


Oil has declined to about $116 per barrel from its high of over $146 per barrel.

That's some good news for most of the economy. Of course, the bad news is that is because of reduced demand due to an economic downturn.

As Obama's website states:

Plan for a Clean Energy Future

“Well, I don't believe that climate change is just an issue that's convenient to bring up during a campaign. I believe it's one of the greatest moral challenges of our generation. That's why I've fought successfully in the Senate to increase our investment in renewable fuels. That's why I reached across the aisle to come up with a plan to raise our fuel standards… And I didn't just give a speech about it in front of some environmental audience in California. I went to Detroit, I stood in front of a group of automakers, and I told them that when I am president, there will be no more excuses — we will help them retool their factories, but they will have to make cars that use less oil.”
Well, yes. Conservation has always made sense. Forced conservation in the form of an economic malaise seems to make far less sense. Can we conserve our way to economic prosperity? Probably not in our lifetimes. Can we come up with a replacement for gasoline/diesel fuel vehicles? Probably not for at least 25 years. Is it the fault of the automakers that the marketplace sought larger vehicles? Probably not. Is Congress' mandate, which Obama has claimed as his own, the answer to more fuel efficiency. Probably... through the elimination of larger vehicles and replacement with much more expensive powertrains.

The real question is whether Obama's plan is necessary if Congress gets out of the way of the marketplace and stops restricting the supply side of the price equation. Despite Obama's best protests to the contrary, removing restrictions on supply will freely affect prices at least as much as forcing the people of the U.S. to do without... or with much less.


AT&T Uverse And iPhone


First let me say that I have had some good experiences with AT&T and I even know a Michigan executive within their ranks. In fact, he was the one who raised my awareness of Uverse... AT&T's answer to cable television.

AT&T has made some significant moves toward cornering a large part of information and entertainment distribution, not the least of which was their partnering with Apple on the iPhone launch and service. And I'd have to say that the service I've received through AT&T has been quite good so far. That's why I was disappointed when AT&T apparently forced Apple to remove the Netshare iPhone Tethering application offering for the iPhone.

It was exactly what I was hoping to have and I couldn't really see why after paying $30 a month each for 3 iPhones [and a 4th soon to be added] in addition to a heft slab of text messaging minutes and "Anytime" minutes, that AT&T was trying to wring some more pennies from my family's pockets... especially since they provided that utility with other phones on their network.
Now, back to Uverse. The other day we had to have a land line wires fixed outside of our home. After the serviceman reported that all was back together, I asked him about the availability of Uverse because I thought it might make sense to see what AT&T might have as an all-inclusive package for us. But before I got around to calling, this Netshare iPhone Tethering fiasco broke out.
Now I'm just not sure if I want to trust all of my telecommunications, television, and internet service to a company that seems inclined to employ a good old-fashioned "shakedown."
They may see it as à la carte pricing, but I believe customers see it differently. Penny wise, pound foolish?


Thursday, August 07, 2008

Something For Everyone


One might ask the question: if you are for everything, are you really for anything?

I have spent some time reading Barack Obama's website. It is really very well done. Clean looking. Red, white, and lots of blue. And there is literally something for everyone in his proposals. It reminds me of the Apple store. Goodies galore... and you barely notice the price.

The guys at General Motors could learn something about marketing on the Internet from this.

But back to the point: if you are for everything, are you really for anything? The list of everything is extensive. I am truly amazed by his grasp of everything.

But there is one theme common among all... Obama will give you something. Below are summaries or dot points... you can read more at Obama's site. As you read these, ask just one question: who pays?

Certainly not me! I'm going to get something!


For women and minorities

Combat Employment Discrimination

Obama will work to overturn the Supreme Court's recent ruling that curtails racial minorities' and women's ability to challenge pay discrimination. Obama will also pass the Fair Pay Act to ensure that women receive equal pay for equal work and the Employment Non-Discrimination Act to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity or expression.

For National Defense
  • Invest in a 21st Century military [Barack Obama supports plans to increase the size of the Army by 65,000 soldiers and the Marines by 27,000 troops. Increasing our end strength will help units retrain and re-equip properly between deployments and decrease the strain on military families.]
  • Build defense capabilities for the 21st Century [We must rebalance our capabilities to ensure that our forces have the agility and lethality to succeed in both conventional wars and in stabilization and counter-insurgency operations. Obama has committed to a review of each major defense program in light of current needs, gaps in the field, and likely future threat scenarios in the post-9/11 world.]
  • Restore the readiness of the National Guard and Reserves
  • Develop "Whole of Government Initiatives" to promote global stability
  • Restore our alliances [America's traditional alliances, such as NATO, must be transformed and strengthened, including on common security concerns like Afghanistan, homeland security, and counterterrorism. Obama will renew alliances and ensure our allies contribute their fair share to our mutual security.]
  • Reform contracting [Barack Obama will require the Pentagon and State Department to develop a strategy for determining when contracting makes sense, rather than continually handing off governmental jobs to well-connected companies. An Obama administration will create the transparency and accountability needed for good governance. Finally, it will establish the legal status of contractor personnel, making possible prosecution of any abuses committed by private military contractors.]
For criminals
Reduce Crime Recidivism by Providing Ex-Offender Support

Obama will provide job training, substance abuse and mental health counseling to ex-offenders, so that they are successfully re-integrated into society. Obama will also create a prison-to-work incentive program to improve ex-offender employment and job retention rates.

For the disabled
Obamas comprehensive agenda to empower individuals with disabilities fits in with the campaign's overarching message of equalizing opportunities for all Americans.

In addition to reclaiming America's global leadership on this issue by becoming a signatory to -- and having the Senate ratify -- the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the plan has four parts, designed to provide lifelong supports and resources to Americans with disabilities. They are as follows:

First, provide Americans with disabilities with the educational opportunities they need to succeed.

Second, end discrimination and promote equal opportunity.
Third, increase the employment rate of workers with disabilities.

And fourth, support independent, community-based living for Americans with disabilities.
For states
  • Provide Additional Tax Rebates to American Workers - Stimulus: $20 billion
  • Establish a $10 billion Foreclosure Prevention Fund
  • Provide $10 billion in Relief for State and Local Governments Hardest-Hit by the Housing Crisis to Prevent Cuts in Vital Services
  • Extend and Expand Unemployment Insurance - Stimulus: $10 billion
For taxpayers
  • Obama will cut income taxes by $1,000 for working families to offset the payroll tax they pay.
  • Eliminate Income Taxes for Seniors Making Less than $50,000
For Unions
  • Fight for Fair Trade
  • Amend the North American Free Trade Agreement
  • ...more...
For Business
  • Invest in our Next Generation Innovators and Job Creators
  • Double Funding for the Manufacturing Extension Partnership
  • ...more...
For Infrastructure
  • Create a National Infrastructure Reinvestment Bank
For Education
  • Early Childhood Education [multiple]
  • K-12 [multiple]
  • Recruit, Prepare, Retain, and Reward America's Teachers
For the Environment
Plan for a Clean Energy Future

“Well, I don't believe that climate change is just an issue that's convenient to bring up during a campaign. I believe it's one of the greatest moral challenges of our generation. That's why I've fought successfully in the Senate to increase our investment in renewable fuels. That's why I reached across the aisle to come up with a plan to raise our fuel standards… And I didn't just give a speech about it in front of some environmental audience in California. I went to Detroit, I stood in front of a group of automakers, and I told them that when I am president, there will be no more excuses — we will help them retool their factories, but they will have to make cars that use less oil.”
  • Reduce Carbon Emissions 80 Percent by 2050
  • Invest in a Clean Energy Future
  • Support Next Generation Biofuels
  • Set America on Path to Oil Independence
  • Improve Energy Efficiency 50 Percent by 2030
For Ethics in Government
“I am in this race to tell the corporate lobbyists that their days of setting the agenda in Washington are over. I have done more than any other candidate in this race to take on lobbyists — and won. They have not funded my campaign, they will not run my White House, and they will not drown out the voices of the American people when I am president.”
For the Religious

In June of 2006, Senator Obama delivered what was called the most important speech on religion and politics in 40 years. Speaking before an evangelical audience, Senator Obama candidly discussed his own religious conversion and doubts, and the need for a deeper, more substantive discussion about the role of faith in American life.

Senator Obama also laid down principles for how to discuss faith in a pluralistic society, including the need for religious people to translate their concerns into universal, rather than religion-specific, values during public debate. In December, 2006, Senator Obama discussed the importance of faith in the global battle against AIDS.

For Families
  • Provide a Living Wage
  • Expand the Earned Income Tax Credit
  • Expand Paid Sick Days
  • Expand the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
  • Encourage States to Adopt Paid Leave
  • Expand High-Quality Afterschool Opportunities
  • Expand the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit
  • Protect Against Caregiver Discrimination
  • Expand Flexible Work Arrangements
  • Strengthen Our Schools
  • Provide Universal Health Care and Lower Health Costs
  • Protect Homeownership
  • Strengthen Families at Home
  • Strengthen Retirement Security
For improving Foreign Diplomacy
Obama is willing to meet with the leaders of all nations, friend and foe. He will do the careful preparation necessary, but will signal that America is ready to come to the table, and that he is willing to lead. And if America is willing to come to the table, the world will be more willing to rally behind American leadership to deal with challenges like terrorism, and Iran and North Korea's nuclear programs

[multiple points]
For the Uninsured
Plan for a Healthy America

“We now face an opportunity — and an obligation — to turn the page on the failed politics of yesterday's health care debates… My plan begins by covering every American. If you already have health insurance, the only thing that will change for you under this plan is the amount of money you will spend on premiums. That will be less. If you are one of the 45 million Americans who don't have health insurance, you will have it after this plan becomes law. No one will be turned away because of a preexisting condition or illness.”
For Homeland Security
  • Protecting Our Chemical Plants
  • Keeping Track of Spent Nuclear Fuel
  • Evacuating Special Needs Population in Emergencies
  • Reuniting Families After Emergencies
  • Keeping Our Drinking Water Safe
  • Protecting the Public from Radioactive Releases
For Immigrants
  • Create Secure Borders
  • Obama wants to preserve the integrity of our borders. He supports additional personnel, infrastructure and technology on the border and at our ports of entry.
  • Improve Our Immigration System
  • Obama believes we must fix the dysfunctional immigration bureaucracy and increase the number of legal immigrants to keep families together and meet the demand for jobs that employers cannot fill.
  • Remove Incentives to Enter Illegally
  • Obama will remove incentives to enter the country illegally by cracking down on employers who hire undocumented immigrants.
  • Bring People Out of the Shadows
  • Obama supports a system that allows undocumented immigrants who are in good standing to pay a fine, learn English, and go to the back of the line for the opportunity to become citizens.
  • Work with Mexico
  • Obama believes we need to do more to promote economic development in Mexico to decrease illegal immigration.
For Iraq

“Here is the truth: fighting a war without end will not force the Iraqis to take responsibility for their own future. And fighting in a war without end will not make the American people safer.

So when I am Commander-in-Chief, I will set a new goal on day one: I will end this war. Not because politics compels it. Not because our troops cannot bear the burden- as heavy as it is. But because it is the right thing to do for our national security, and it will ultimately make us safer.”

For the Poor
  • Expand Access to Jobs
  • Make Work Pay for All Americans
  • Strengthen Families
  • Increase the Supply of Affordable Housing
  • Tackle Concentrated Poverty
For Farmers
  • Ensure Economic Opportunity For Family Farmers
  • Support Rural Economic Development
  • Improve Rural Quality Of Life
For Volunteers
  • Enable All Americans to Serve to Meet the Nation's Challenges
  • Integrate Service into Learning [Obama will set a goal that all middle and high school students do 50 hours of community service a year.]
  • Invest in the Nonprofit Sector
For Seniors
  • Protect Social Security
    Obama believes that the first place to look for ways to strengthen Social Security is the payroll tax system. Currently, the Social Security payroll tax applies to only the first $102,000 a worker makes. Obama supports increasing the maximum amount of earnings covered by Social Security and he will work with Congress and the American people to choose a payroll tax reform package that will keep Social Security solvent for at least the next half century.
  • Strengthen Retirement Savings
  • Affordable Health Care
  • Protect and Honor Senior
For Technology
Barack Obama understands the immense transformative power of technology and innovation and how they can improve the lives of all Americans. He sees that technology offers the tools to create real change in America. Obama’s forward-thinking 21st century technology and innovation policy starts by recognizing that we need to connect all citizens with each other to engage them more fully and directly in solving the problems that face us. In tandem with that goal, Barack Obama understands that we must use all available technologies and methods to open up the federal government, creating a new level of transparency to change the way business is conducted in Washington and giving Americans the chance to participate in government deliberations and decision-making in ways that were not possible only a few years ago. To achieve this vision, Barack Obama will encourage the deployment of the most modern communications infrastructure. In turn, that infrastructure can be used by government and business to reduce the costs of health care, help solve our energy crisis, create new jobs, and fuel our economic growth. And an Obama administration will ensure America remains competitive in the global economy. [multiple points]
For Urban Areas
  • Strengthen Federal Commitment to our Cities
  • Stimulate Economic Prosperity in our Metropolitan Regions
  • [multiple subpoints of other issues]
For Veterans
  • Allow all veterans back into the VA
  • Strength VA care
  • Combat homelessness among our nation's veterans
  • Fight veterans employment discrimination
  • Help for returning veterans [multiple points]
  • Improved mental health treatment [multiple points]
For Women [multiple subsets of other issues]

For Fiscal Responsibility
  • Reinstate PAYGO Rules
  • Reverse Bush Tax Cuts for the Wealthy
  • Cut Pork Barrel Spending
  • Make Government Spending More Accountable and Efficient
  • End Wasteful Government Spending

What do you mean you couldn't find a promise for you?


Can"t Find It?

Use the SEARCH BLOG feature at the upper left. For example, try "Global Warming".

You can also use the "LABELS" below or at the end of each post to find related posts.

Blog Archive

Cost of Gasoline - Enter Your Zipcode or Click on Map

CO2 Cap and Trade

There is always an easy solution to every human problem—neat, plausible, and wrong.
Henry Louis Mencken (1880–1956)
“The Divine Afflatus,” A Mencken Chrestomathy, chapter 25, p. 443 (1949)
... and one could add "not all human problems really are."
It was beautiful and simple, as truly great swindles are.
- O. Henry
... The Government is on course for an embarrassing showdown with the European Union, business groups and environmental charities after refusing to guarantee that billions of pounds of revenue it stands to earn from carbon-permit trading will be spent on combating climate change.
The Independent (UK)

Tracking Interest Rates

Tracking Interest Rates


SEARCH BLOG: FEDERAL RESERVE for full versions... or use the Blog Archive pulldown menu.

February 3, 2006
Go back to 1999-2000 and see what the Fed did. They are following the same pattern for 2005-06. If it ain't broke, the Fed will fix it... and good!
August 29, 2006 The Federal Reserve always acts on old information... and is the only cause of U.S. recessions.
December 5, 2006 Last spring I wrote about what I saw to be a sharp downturn in the economy in the "rustbelt" states, particularly Michigan.
March 28, 2007
The Federal Reserve sees no need to cut interest rates in the light of adverse recent economic data, Ben Bernanke said on Wednesday.
The Fed chairman said ”to date, the incoming data have supported the view that the current stance of policy is likely to foster sustainable economic growth and a gradual ebbing in core inflation”.

July 21, 2007 My guess is that if there is an interest rate change, a cut is more likely than an increase. The key variables to be watching at this point are real estate prices and the inventory of unsold homes.
August 11, 2007 I suspect that within 6 months the Federal Reserve will be forced to lower interest rates before housing becomes a black hole.
September 11, 2007 It only means that the overall process has flaws guaranteeing it will be slow in responding to changes in the economy... and tend to over-react as a result.
September 18, 2007 I think a 4% rate is really what is needed to turn the economy back on the right course. The rate may not get there, but more cuts will be needed with employment rates down and foreclosure rates up.
October 25, 2007 How long will it be before I will be able to write: "The Federal Reserve lowered its lending rate to 4% in response to the collapse of the U.S. housing market and massive numbers of foreclosures that threaten the banking and mortgage sectors."
"Should the elevated turbulence persist, it would increase the possibility of further tightening in financial conditions for households and businesses," he said.

"Uncertainties about the economic outlook are unusually high right now," he said. "These uncertainties require flexible and pragmatic policymaking -- nimble is the adjective I used a few weeks ago."

December 11, 2007 Somehow the Fed misses the obvious.
[Image from:]
December 13, 2007 [from The Christian Science Monitor]
"The odds of a recession are now above 50 percent," says Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's "We are right on the edge of a recession in part because of the Fed's reluctance to reduce interest rates more aggressively." [see my comments of September 11]
January 7, 2008 The real problem now is that consumers can't rescue the economy and manufacturing, which is already weakening, will continue to weaken. We've gutted the forces that could avoid a downturn. The question is not whether there will be a recession, but can it be dampened sufficiently so that it is very short.
January 11, 2008 This is death by a thousand cuts.
January 13, 2008 [N.Y. Times]
“The question is not whether we will have a recession, but how deep and prolonged it will be,” said David Rosenberg, the chief North American economist at Merrill Lynch. “Even if the Fed’s moves are going to work, it will not show up until the later part of 2008 or 2009.
January 17, 2008 A few days ago, Anna Schwartz, nonagenarian economist, implicated the Federal Reserve as the cause of the present lending crisis [from the Telegraph - UK]:
The high priestess of US monetarism - a revered figure at the Fed - says the central bank is itself the chief cause of the credit bubble, and now seems stunned as the consequences of its own actions engulf the financial system. "The new group at the Fed is not equal to the problem that faces it," she says, daring to utter a thought that fellow critics mostly utter sotto voce.
January 22, 2008 The cut has become infected and a limb is in danger. Ben Bernanke is panicking and the Fed has its emergency triage team cutting rates... this time by 3/4%. ...

What should the Federal Reserve do now? Step back... and don't be so anxious to raise rates at the first sign of economic improvement.
Individuals and businesses need stability in their financial cost structures so that they can plan effectively and keep their ships afloat. Wildly fluctuating rates... regardless of what the absolute levels are... create problems. Either too much spending or too much fear. It's just not that difficult to comprehend. Why has it been so difficult for the Fed?

About Me

My photo
Michigan, United States
Air Force (SAC) captain 1968-72. Retired after 35 years of business and logistical planning, including running a small business. Two sons with advanced degrees; one with a business and pre-law degree. Beautiful wife who has put up with me for 4 decades. Education: B.A. (Sociology major; minors in philosopy, English literature, and German) M.S. Operations Management (like a mixture of an MBA with logistical planning)