Obama’s Way versus the American Way

On the way home this afternoon from running errands, my wife told me about a friend of hers who attended a benefit last night. A local 16 year old has a rare form of Muscular Dystrophy which is almost always fatal. The benefit was for that kid.

A bunch of people got together; they freely associated as we Americans do; and put together a fund-raiser to help pay for an extremely expensive experimental therapy. The amount of money raised is not the issue nor is the cause, necessarily.

What is at issue is the ability of Americans to band together to make things happen and how the state is superseding this ability at every chance. Whether it is a corporation to make money; or to build a hospital or raise money for good causes, which is one of our great virtues, Americans come together like nowhere else in the world to make things happen. This is one of the reasons we are called the Land of Opportunity.

Alexis de Toqueville wrote in 1835:

“Americans of all ages, all conditions, all minds constantly unite. Not only do they have commercial and industrial associations in which all take part, but they also have a thousand other kinds: religious, moral, grave, futile, very general and very particular, immense and very small; Americans use associations to give fêtes, to found seminaries, to build inns, to raise churches, to distribute books, to send missionaries to the antipodes; in this manner they create hospitals, prisons, schools. Finally, if it is a question of bringing to light a truth or developing a sentiment with the support of a great example, they associate. Everywhere that, at the head of a new undertaking, you see the government in France and a great lord in England, count on it that you will perceive an association in the United States.”

It was one of the fundamental differences between the statist monarchies of France and England and the new republic all the back to our Revolution. And Barack Obama and his allies are doing their best to subvert one of our most glorious achievements.

In his Inaugural Address last week, the President, emphasized time and again not the role of the individual, but that of the state in dictating public life. This idea is foreign to our very nature. The freedoms and responsibilities delegated to government, the people, and its secular institutions in the Constitution are being redefined by the Administration and its supporters.

And that is the tragedy of the young person my wife spoke of. The American Way is to band together as individuals and do things. The Obama Way is for the state to dictate the outcome and the means to that outcome. In the past this was the way of monarchs, sultans, dictators, and communists. Statism is an outcome concentrating power in the hands of the few.

Under the American Way, this kid may have a chance to get the treatment he or she needs. People will work hard and long hours for nothing except the knowledge they did the right thing.

Under an Obama, statist system, the bureaucracy will decide who gets treatment and how it is administered. The shocks of Obamacare are already being felt as insurance rates rise and treatment options are circumscribed. Ask anyone in the military covered under Tricare. He’s already tried to sell them out.

The voices of the Left are ready to abandon the obese, the smokers, and other “fringe”” dwellers who do not conduct themselves in the politically correct manner. Do you really think that government would authorize millions of dollars in care per patient for a miniscule minority?

Under an Obama, statist system bureaucrats decide how big your soft drink is and which cooking oil you use and the school lunches your kids eat. Under an Obama, statist, system, bureaucrats decide how you use your land, how much money you can make, and on a myriad of other vanishing freedoms.

Under and Obama, statist system, government reverts to the failed models of the past. The romance with socialism and Marxism or simply enhanced state involvement has been proven wrong in virtually every case in which it has been tried. Western Europe is under crushing debt while the East has only recently seen an economic renaissance after the failure of the Marxist socialist experiment. Russia itself is a mess of a dictatorship. China is authoritarian and still cannot provide for most of its population. And these are the models that Obama’s teachers and advisers ascribe to. Government knows best.

The president was absolutely clear in his speech. He outlined his vision of our future. he has a sycophantic media establishment and an intellectually lazy and corrupt political class. He has an agenda. An agenda that is at odds with the American Way.

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The short and sweet ballad of Al Gore

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There was an Emir from Oman
Who had a nefarious plan
He’d buy up a station
in a very large nation
and make Gore a very rich man.

That Al sold the turd to a Sheikh
Was considered completely unique
After carbon tax credits and fraudulent edits
Even Begly thought Gore was a freak.

So Al flew on to the Great Green Northwest
Where in his hotel he undressed
But the masseuse wasn’t buying and ended up crying that Al was just there to molest.

So the gist of the story is clear
Mr. Gore is just not sincere.
When he tells us one thing and he does something else we know that his actions are queer.

Senator Coburn’s Government Waste List – The new phone book’s here!

Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn has come up with his latest Waste Book listing many of the wonderful, bizarre spending projects our federal government funds. The preface points out that since the last budget was passed on April 29, 2009, our government has spent $11.2 trillion and added more than $4.8 trillion to the national debt which is now over $16 Trillion.

One of the first takeaways is that the NFL, and many other sports leagues are classified as non-profits, costing the economy approximately $91 Million/year in tax revenue. Roger Goodell and Jerry Jones have the best of all possible worlds; rapacious ticket prices; stadiums financed by local government; and no taxes on the partnerships that are the major sports leagues. I guess we should have pity on the poor NHL owners, but the PGA is right in there as well. There’s nothing quite like subsidizing professional golfers.

Burger King, KFC, Godfather’s Pizza, and McDonald’s all accept food stamps and while cities and school districts are waging war on soft drinks, over $2 billion in Food Stamp money was spent on these products last year. In Seattle, Starbuck’s is a popular food stamp item.

Parque Alegria, a series of 10 minute telenovelas being broadcast on Spanish language stations at a cost of $3-8 Million, including time buys, instructs viewers on how much healthier the Food Stamp program is, weaning them from El Pollo Loco to Burger King, I guess.

An unused airport in the Senator’s home state comes in for over $750,000 in subsidies over tha past few years. Morroccan pottery classes for $27 Million, Alex! Yep, we funded a series of useless classes in Morocco, where they have a ceramics tradition dating back over 1,000 years. There is also funding for NASA to develop pizza on Mars.

In another project called “Look! Squirrel!”  San Diego State University and UC Davis have developed a robotic squirrel that  “will help perform public outreach, mentor students, and develop the next generation of robot animals.”

For the 1%, the government is also funding marketing programs for American caviar producers.In Alaska, $3.3 Million was spent subsidizing a ferry to nowhere in Alaska. This is not the ferry the bridge to nowhere was supposed to replace.

Senator Coburn also points out that it now costs us $0.02 to produce a penny. And we’re supposed to believe that the Health Care Bill will bring costs down? And yes, there is a program funded by the NSF to test gaydar.

Pepsi got $1.6 million to build a yogurt factory in New York. USC in Los Angeles got $40K to develop a Henry David Thoreau video game. Apparently the user simply contemplates the screen for months at a time. The Army spent $1.5 million last year to develop combat ready beef jerky.

The GSA, that hard partying junketeering fun-loving crowd, spent $24 Million on trophies and awards. Everyone gets a trophy at the GSA!

The list goes on, but during this hard-fought election season, some light reading helps break the tension.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Obama’s war on conventional energy and problem with the facts

The President spoke at length last night about his energy policy. He implied that under his administration the United States was producing more energy than ever before and took credit for the current shale oil and gas boom. And yet he has a terrible record on energy.

His War on Coal began long before the 2008 election. On January 17, 2008 in an interview with the San Francisco Chronicle, the candidate said:

“So if somebody wants to build a coal-powered plant, they can; it’s just that it will bankrupt them because they’re going to be charged a huge sum for all that greenhouse gas that’s Thousands of jobs at both coal mines and power plants have already been lost.

Immediately, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Interior began to work hand in glove to re-write existing regulations on emissions; on new technology implementation; and even on the remediation of mining sites. Energy Secretary Chu re-stated this in early 2011. Credit Suisse estimated that by 2020 the targets would take over 35 Gigawatts of power off-line. Already numerous power plants and mines have been forced to close.

In the meantime, Secretary Chu, long before he took the job stated while at Lawrence Livermore Laboratories: “Somehow we have to figure out how to boost the price of gasoline to the levels in Europe.” in order to reduce dependence upon foreign oil. he seems to have gotten his wish.

A few weeks into the new administration in March 2009, the President proposed his Cap & Trade Bill in the depths of the worst economic recession in 75 years. This would have done absolutely nothing to reduce greenhouse gases but would have created a market for hundreds of billions of dollars in credits to be traded. The power companies would have passed the bill onto the customer, and people like Al Gore, who has already made over $100 Million on the practice, would have made even more. The bill passed in the House but died in the Senate. Both houses were controlled by the Democrats at the time, but the bill was so egregious enough Democrats voted against it to kill it. But it was very close.

The president was proud to point out “Over the last three years my administration has approved dozens of new pipelines, including from Canada.  And we’ve opened millions of acres for oil and gas exploration.  All told we plan to make available more than 75 percent of our potential offshore oil and gas resources from Alaska to the Gulf of Mexico.” A small part is true, but the rest is clearly pure smoke, as will be demonstrated.

It is true that the president approved the southern part of the Keystone XL pipeline but he dramatically cancelled the much more important northern portion, which would make Alberta’s massive oil sands an integral part of the North American oil infrastructure. He wildly misstated his pipeline approvals.

He also said: “In 2010, our dependence on foreign oil was under 50 percent for the first time in over a decade.  We were less reliant on foreign oil than we had been.  In 2011, the United States relied less on foreign oil than in any of the last 16 years. ” Perhaps the worst financial downturn since the great depression may have had something to do with this.

But the Energy Information Administration reported in January that production of oil and gas  on federal and Indian lands is down 40% from 10 years ago. In January, the Bureau of Land Management reported that 2010 was the worst year since 1984 for new lease sales, and there was only one lease auction in all of 2011. Once again, the president’s statement is at odds with the facts.

Between 20 April, 2010 to mid 2011, all offshore and much inshore drilling in the Gulf of Mexico was shut down because of the Deepwater Horizon moratorium. It was only  in early – 2011 that permits for offshore drilling began to be issued. Only recently have those levels returned to normal in the face of $4.00/gallon gasoline..Deepwater Well approvals

The war on conventional energy in Alaska alone is worth noting. In Alaska, The Department of Interior just banned drilling in 50% (11.5 million acres) of Alaska’s National petroleum reserve.The state of Alaska sued the federal government in 2010 for violating federal regulations in banning offshore drilling in the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas. Shell Oil has been trying to drill for several years and has been blocked by various federal agencies at every step by any means possible. Exploratory drilling in the Cook Inlet has also been blocked by methods including the Jones Act, which requires U.S. hulled ships to be used. But in this case, there are no U.S. hulled ships that can be used. Catch 22 again.

The President also touted his approval of new nuclear power plants. There have been four reactors approved; all of them additional reactors at existing plants. No new plants have been approved. New plants are caught up in a Catch 22 because the President’s Office of Management and Budget (OMB) was supposed to offer a form of credit insurance that would allow the operators to go to the markets for capital, but has yet to do so. Vague, yet effective Senator Harry Reid was also been very effective in quashing the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste storage site in cooperation with Obama’s NRC Chairman Gregory Jackzo. Jackzo was forced to resign in May for intimidation, harassment and a harsh working environment. Jackzo was adamantly against new nuclear power plants.

Last night the President bragged about the new natural gas rush. the only problem is that the federal government has once again done its best to stop this bonanza. If you recall, in 2010 EPA Regional Administrator Al Armendariz, responsible for the Texas/Louisiana oil patch, recommended (video) that the EPA crucify companies engaging in fracking. he was involved in a number of controversial cases in his region where he was apparently using these tactics and was forced to resign earlier this year. This seems to be official policy as there have still been no leases granted on federal land and the EPA has repeatedly been challenged successfully on their data.

Oil, Coal, Nuclear, and Natural Gas. The facts contradict the president and yet he remains unchallenged. The war on Hydro in the Northwest is also well-known, but is not at the same level yet.

Green Energy is problematic and a niche resource at best. I am not sure what the President’s game is, but he has done his best and has lied about it. Watch what he does; not what he says.

Krugman’s harmonic dissonance on UK economic policy

Paul Krugman today ripped into the British Government’s efforts to get the country’s economy back on track, calling austerity fundamentally mad. As one of the world’s most prominent Keynsians I am not surprised, but as a rational thinker I am deeply disturbed.

IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde has also expressed her reservations regarding deep government cuts. And yet profligate spending policies without corresponding balance have drained government coffers around the world and we are standing on the edge of a deeper crisis than in 2007 based upon exactly the economic policies so strongly advocated by Mr. Krugman. The fundamental rule that at some point governments run out of other peoples money has still not sunk in.

John Maynard Keynes was reacting to the Great Depression when he formulated his policies and they began to be implemented. His work on government stimulus assumed that  structural deficits were acceptable in the short-term but did not address a long-term in some cases running for decades with interest compounding along the way.

The postwar economic boom funded the extension of the social welfare state. Huge and incredibly expensive promises were made that Mr. Keynes would not have comprehended. Keynes argued that nations avoid deflation even at the cost of allowing their currency to depreciate in order to keep internal prices stable.

But now we are faced with core commodity inflation. There simply are not enough resources to go around. There are deep structural changes occurring in the global economy.

Both the ECB and Federal Reserve have been running the printing presses at an accelerating rate which has set off the first salvos of currency wars. Mr. Krugman and respectfully, Ms. Lagarde have also failed to note the results of expansive monetary policy and public spending in their host country. The Yen continued to rise in value from the ¥180/$ level of the early 90’s to ¥78/$ today, making their economy uncompetitive. The massive shift of manufacturing in China partially driven by the currency shift not only in Japan but elsewher has also had a deep impact on the pillars of the global economy.

Since the early 1990’s after the Japanese banking collapse, that government has engaged in a Keynsian stimulus program aimed at reviving the economy. The Great Tohoku Earthquake was in many ways another Keynsian  economic event, but the result has still been deeply damaging economically. Imports are cheap, but there are no jobs and the debt burden of the Japanese government is growing, not shrinking.

Japanese national debt as a percentage of GDP is the highest in the world with the United States and the UK right behind. This is financed primarily by Japanese savings, which mitigates the damage somewhat, but the reality is that the government is still teetering on the edge of its own abyss, but simply owed to its rapidly aging citizens, who are now putting an even greater strain on retirement funds.

The horrific debt of the United States was one of the other primary topics of the IMF meeting.

While Keynes argued for government spending to even out the depths of financial crises, the constant reliance by modern governments on public debt not only creates the environment in which we find ourselves, but sucks the oxygen from private capital markets where the real engines of growth reside.

Krugman has been hectoring world leaders for more stimulus for the past year just as he has ignored the economic realities staring him right in the face. The bill must eventually be settled and government does not create value; it simply redistributes and regulates economic activity.

He has gotten the stimulus he sought in the world’s two largest economies; Europe and America. But he seems to have forgotten the study of history. Massive stimulus is a very limited weapon with unintended consequences.

The news out of this weekend’s Tokyo meeting is not good. There are many brushfires in the global economy and the tinder for a major economic event is very dry. Every night I pray for some answer, for if we do not find new answers, we are doomed to repeat the past.