ARC's 1st Law: As a "progressive" online discussion grows longer, the probability of a nefarious reference to Karl Rove approaches one

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Life Imitates the Onion

Sad that this is what it has come down to.

In The Know: Should The Government Stop Dumping Money Into A Giant Hole?

By the way, if the federal government is losing it's @ss on Medicare, how exactly will it "save" anything when it comes to universal health care?

Also, Barack may say that he doesn't want to run General Motors: He just wants to:

  • Select executive management
  • restructure it's distribution network
  • select the location for corporate headquarters
  • determine key aspects of its entire supply chain
  • set labor costs
  • determine equity ownership
  • fix fuel efficiency standards
  • determine future automobile design & technology; and
  • determine it's capital structure
That's all... so, you know.... nothing to worry about!

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Libertarians will never be in the Liberal (Progressive) Sphere

Bruce Bartlett has this column which makes the case that Progressives & Liberals might be able to accommodate libertarian members within the ranks of the Democratic Party, essentially the fusion of political thought into Liberaltarians.

Here's an excerpt of his column:

I recently attended a dinner with a group of prominent liberal and libertarian bloggers to see if there is a community of interest that might lead to closer cooperation on some issues.

On the surface, there would appear to be potential for an alliance. Libertarians tend to be liberal on social issues, favoring such things as gay marriage and drug legalization; and also liberal on defense and foreign policy, opposing the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and opposing torture and restrictions on civil liberties in the name of national security.

But libertarians are conservative on economic policy--favoring a free market with virtually no government intervention except the enforcement of contracts, and no government spending or taxes except those to pay for a very minimal police force and military.

Libertarians' views on social policy and national defense make them sympathetic to the Democrats, while their views on economic policy tend to align them with the Republicans. If one views social, defense and economic policy as having roughly equal weight, it would seem, therefore, that most libertarians should be Democrats. In fact, almost none are. Those that don't belong to the dysfunctional Libertarian Party are, by and large, Republicans.
One is not likely to run into that type of libertarian at a Washington dinner party. These libertarians tend to be well-educated, arriving at his or her philosophy through reading obscure books or random contact with some libertarian in graduate school. They don't own guns--probably never even fired one, don't mind paying taxes too much, have no particular nostalgia for the gold standard and certainly would not choose to live in isolation on a mountaintop. They are cosmopolitan, urbane, articulate and interested in ideas more than just about anything else. They are not especially career-oriented--they are happy to be paid less than they probably could make as long as they don't have to compromise their principles and can do work that advances the cause. For the most part, they aren't family-oriented or religious, and they mostly fit the stereotype of a nerd.
I believe there should be more balance in the libertarian strategy, with civil liberties and non-interventionism having closer to equal weight with economic freedom.

In return, liberals can learn something important about economics from libertarians. Liberals often turn to government to solve social problems simply because that is their default position. But often, there are private-sector alternatives that may in fact be superior. The rich diversity of America's states and localities shows there are many different ways of dealing with social problems that don't necessarily require more government.

I hope the dialogue continues.

Bruce Bartlett is a former Treasury Department economist and the author of Reaganomics: Supply-Side Economics in Action and Impostor: How George W. Bush Bankrupted America and Betrayed the Reagan Legacy.

Bartlett points to the extension of the Civil Rights Act and Women's suffrage as two examples where the Feds action resulted in more freedom for the individual, demonstrating that there may be common ground between libertarian and Democrat initiatives. (Never mind that the GOP passed the deciding votes for the Civil Rights Act.) Unfortunately these examples are few and far between.

Another point I would like to make with Bartlett's analysis is that he's talking to inside the Beltway Libertarians. These folks do not represent the vast majority of people who might rally to the cause of individual freedom. In all likelihood, these D.C. libertarians are steeped in Libertarian thought, but their daily life is spent at the teet of the Federal government or of some wonkish think tank.

The final piece of analysis that Bartlett doesn't consider is how far afield the Democrat/Liberal/Progressive movement has gotten from the concept of liberalism (as defined by classical liberalism). While the Left may push for Gay Marriage, Abortion, drug legalization (certainly not a position any conservative would ever tolerate - please don't look at Clarence Thomas or William F. Buckley), in the end the Democrat/Progressive/Liberal animating force is to eliminate individual freedom and transfer that power to the collective.

Education? Democrats have no interest in letting you decide on the best education for yourself or your family. This is clearly an individual rights issue which would put the Left and Libertarians at odds.

Health Care? Rationing of care to the sick guided by the state is the end goal. Similarly controlling your health (e.g. every decision you make throughout any given day which might impact your health) is a major initiative of the Left, from taxing soda and sugar to outright banning of smoking, amounts of salt, and trans fats.

Foreign Policy? I doubt a libertarian would appreciate liberal foreign interventions (only in cases where no national interest is involved) over "conservative" interventions (where there are geopolitical, economic, and humanitarian concerns).

The Environment? The progressive push is to limit individual choice and free market innovations to increase the role of government in identifying and selecting technologies to improve the environment.

Private Property? The progressives are eager to seize property under the takings clause if it can be justified as expanding the tax base. Seizing large, multinational corporations for the benefits of the workers and public policy is not something that Libertarians would view as compatible with their philosophy.

Abortion? I could make an extremely compelling argument that the practice of abortion - especially late-term abortion - is anathema to libertarian philosophy, since the liberty of the child is the penultimate factor which turned me away from a "pro-choice" position. (My wife was born to young parents and there was much discussion amongst the wider family about whether her teenage should take advantage of the now legalized and "safer" procedure. I am grateful that the teenage mother and father thought about her right to live.)

I see little in the philosophy of the Left which would make it appealing to a true libertarian. Bartlett makes the mistake of equating Libertarianism with only economics. He fails to understand the economics is actually not about money (taxes, spending, fiat money, etc) but the freedom to choose - the freedom to weight the costs and benefits of a particular action and make your own decision on what is best for you.

Bartlett fails to understand that individual activity is economics.

While many libertarians may focus on tax policy, red-ink spending, etc., the underpinning for libertarian thought is that the individual is better able to make decisions which (in the aggregate) are better informed than a centralized bureaucracy.

The decision to drive to work? Economic decision.
The decision to eat at a fast food joint? Economic decision.
The decision to see the doctor about a cold? Economic decision.
The decision to spend an hour visiting a friend instead of shopping? Economic decision.
The decision to go to a private school of your choice vs. the local government run school? Economic decision.
The decision to purchase a large vehicle which can transport you and your family in safety and comfort over a small car? Economic decision.
The decision to fire an employee who is underperforming? Economic decision.
The decision to have another child? Economic decision.
The decision to go to a 4 year university or start your own business instead? Economic decision with long-term implications.

You get the point. And each and every one of these decisions has a cost and benefit to the individual which he or she weighs against a myriad of alternatives. This is economics.

I do not see the Left/Progressive/Democrat philosophy ever moderating itself in this regard.

If Bartlett wants to get a better understanding of libertarian thought, perhaps he should do a bit more than read 1) the talking points from single website and 2) have cocktails with inside the beltway libertarians.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Yet Another Inconvenient Truth - Part 1,779

Past Inconvenient Truths are here.

Wait, I thought the "science was settled" and that a consensus had been established. (Nevermind that the scientific method makes the establishment of a "consensus" impossible - something is either proven or it is faith. I seem to recall the church had a consensus about the earth being the center of the universe until someone questioned the "consensus."

From our very own EPA:

The author(s) of the memo suggest the EPA did not thoroughly examine the relationship between greenhouse gases and human health.

"In the absence of a strong statement of the standards being applied in this decision, there is concern that EPA is making a finding based on…'harm' from substances that have no demonstrated direct health effects," the memo says, adding that the "scientific data that purports to conclusively establish" that link was from outside EPA.

Additionally, the new regulations triggered by the finding would likely harm the economy, the brief warns.

"Making the decision to regulate CO2…is likely to have serious economic consequences for regulated entities throughout the U.S. economy, including small businesses and small communities," the memo reads
"This is a smoking gun," Barrasso said, accusing the EPA of making the finding for political reasons.

Jackson responded that the finding was based on science and was in no way politicized.

"That analysis had been done really before I took the oath of office," Jackson said.

She acknowledged that curbing climate change might have economic impact, and added that the costs could be minimized through the administration's favored cap-and-trade system.

"We do understand that there are costs to the economy of addressing global warming emissions, and that the best way to address them is a gradual move to a market-based program like cap-and trade," Jackson said.

Let me translate that last statement:

"We do understand that there are costs to the economy of addressing global warming emissions, and that the best way to address them is to spread out those costs to every human activity and direct the payments of those costs to the federal government."

nothing to see here... move on.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Must See Smackdown of Stewart

Bill Whittle has this excellent, must see response to Jon Stewarts idiocy regarding Harry Truman being a war criminal for dropping the A-bomb on Hiroshima.

Unfortunately, I doubt Stewart will even see it. And if he did, his response will surely be, "I'm just a comedian!!! Don't take anything I say seriously! I mean, come on... I'm on right after puppets!!!"

The Daily Show - Where our next generation gets its news.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Gettelfinger Motors

Or, why I will never buy a GM car for the rest of my life.

Gettelfinger Motors
The mauling of GM's bondholders reveals Treasury's political hand.

President Obama insisted at his press conference last night that he doesn't want to nationalize the auto industry (or the banks, or the mortgage market, or . . .). But if that's true, why has he proposed a restructuring plan for General Motors that leaves the government with a majority stake in the car maker?

The feds have decided they should own a neat 50% of GM, yet that is not the natural outcome of the $16.2 billion that the Treasury has so far lent to the company. Nor is the 40% ownership of GM that the plan awards to the United Auto Workers a natural result of the company's obligations to the union.

Yet Secretary Timothy Geithner and his auto task force, led by Steven Rattner, have somehow decided that Treasury and UAW chief Ron Gettelfinger will get to own a combined 90% of GM. If there's a reason other than the political symbiosis among the Obama Administration, Michigan Democrats and the auto union, it's hard to discern. From now on let's call it Gettelfinger Motors, or perhaps simply the Obama Motor Company, though in the latter they'd have to change the nameplates.

The biggest losers here are GM's bondholders. According the Treasury-GM debt-for-equity swap announced Monday, GM has $27.2 billion in unsecured bonds owned by the public. These are owned by mutual funds, pension funds, hedge funds and retail investors who bought them directly through their brokers. Under Monday's offer, they would exchange their $27.2 billion in bonds for 10% of the stock of the restructured GM. This could amount to less than five cents on the dollar.
Memo from the Obama administration to private investors, retirees, citizens of this great land who decided to lend some cash to GM for a profit:
DROP DEAD!!! You're not politically connected!!!
The Treasury, which is owed $16.2 billion, would receive 50% of the stock and $8.1 billion in debt -- as much as 87 cents on the dollar. The union's retiree health-care benefit trust would receive half of the $20 billion it is owed in stock, giving it 40% ownership of GM, plus another $10 billion in cash over time. That's worth about 76 cents on the dollar, according to some estimates.

In a genuine Chapter 11 bankruptcy, these three groups of creditors would all be similarly situated -- because all three are, for the most part, unsecured creditors of GM. And yet according to the formula presented Monday, those with the largest claim -- the bondholders -- get the smallest piece of the restructured company by a huge margin.
But of course! This isn't about fairness. It's about political pull. And this is just the beginning.
This seems to be by political design. GM CEO Fritz Henderson says Treasury insisted that bondholders receive, at most, 10% of the company. "We went to the maximum and offered 10%," [...]
Why the Treasury is empowered to decide what percentage creditors should receive is beyond me, but I do know we're not in Kansas anymore!
Some Treasury officials have told the media that 50% government ownership is important to ensure that taxpayers get repaid for the $16.2 billion in Treasury loans. But this is false logic. Taxpayer-shareholders are likely to be far better off with a smaller stake in a truly private company that is better insulated from political meddling. Private owners are more likely than the Treasury or the unions to try to run the company for profit, and so increase its equity value over time. Treasury says it would be a hands-off owner, but that hardly seems plausible and in any case that would merely leave the UAW in control. At the next labor contract bargaining session, the union would sit on both sides of the table.
This isn't about taxpayer money, return on investment, or any of those things. This is about turning GM into a political machine that, oh by the way, produces cars that are politically approved.
[...]GM's SEC filing on the debt-equity swap also warns darkly that if the requisite 90% of bondholders don't agree to these terms, they may recover little or nothing in bankruptcy court. But given the choice between a 10% stake in Gettelfinger Motors and the independent mercies of a bankruptcy judge, bondholders could be forgiven for taking their chances in court.

Certainly the bondholders deserve to take a haircut like everybody else. But squeezing them in such a blatant fashion has other consequences. Who would be crazy enough to lend GM money in the future? The Treasury also says it wants banks that do poorly in its "stress tests" to try to raise private capital before putting in more public money. The mauling of GM creditors tells investors not to invest in TARP banks because everything this Treasury touches turns to politics.

Monday's offer is so devoid of economic logic or fairness that it confirms the fears of those who said the original bailout would lead to a nationalized GM run for political ends. This fiasco will in part go down on George W. Bush's copybook, since he first decided GM was too big to fail.

But rather than use his early popularity to force hard decisions through the bankruptcy code, President Obama has decided in essence to have the feds run GM and Chrysler. This inevitably means running them for the benefit of the UAW that is so closely tied to the Democratic Party. Next up will be tax changes and regulations intended to coax, or coerce, Americans to buy Gettelfinger Motors cars. This tale of taxpayer woe is only beginning.
I just know that the quality of the product that the new Federal Gettelginger Motors will be far superior to anything created by the semi-private General Motors of Wagoner.

Of course, with regard to GM I always love to point out that only in the US is GM unprofitable. GM's non-US divisions were always more profitable than their US division. And the attempt by Fiat to pull off a turn-around at Chrysler, something that Daimler and Cerberus could not achieve, is absolutely laughable. Of course, if Fiat has any sense as it watches the debacle with GM, it'll back away from Chrysler in short order.

Given this evidence, one might begin to ask the question as to why the US market is so unprofitable. Perhaps it has to do with the cost inputs for the vehicles manufactured in the US?????

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The Stupid. It hurts!

How stupid do you have to be to think that flying a massive 747 low over the skyscrapers of New York City would not cause a panic?

Apparently, stupid enough to also think that you're prepared for the presidency based on your prior experience as a community organizer.

Of course, we all know why Obama decided to get the photo op of Air Force One updated. The one of it near Mount Rushmore just wouldn't do, you know?

He just wanted to have a more exciting picture to use for his acceptance speech for being theWinner of the Iowahawk Earth Week Virtual Cruise-In.

And the Winner Is...

Yow! Despite tough economic times, 2009 saw the biggest Iowahawk Earth Week Virtual Cruise ever. The 4th annual edition attracted over 60 contestants from every corner of America, plus Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Korea, Dubai, Qatar, and Iraq; in total almost 100 beautiful carbon spewing conveyances of every type, pushing out an estimated total 200,000 horsepower and over Five Million (?!) climate-soothing foot-pounds of torque. Best yet, those 100 green machines totaled nearly 500 miles per gallon -- now that's efficiency!

The downside of all this, of course, is the difficulty it poses for the Grand Prize Selection Jury. All of the entries were worthy in their own way. If we were to go by the objective fuel consumption numbers, the 1600 gallons / minute Wartsila-Sulzer would win handily.
Yet, neither of those yardsticks captures the true spirit of the Cruise, which is really about attitude. It's that menacing glimmer that warns Gaia: my pimp hand is strong. The sassy insouciance that invites the moralist biddies and prim religious scolds of the green movement to Kiss. My. Ass.

Luckily, there was one last minute entry which exemplified that spirit more than any other, perhaps in the entire history of the cruise. And thus I am please to announce the unanimous 2009 Iowahawk Earth Week Virtual Cruise-In Grand Champion Carbonator is:

New champ pops down to Whole Foods in the family SUV to pick up some free range arugula

Although he did not submit an entry of his own, President Obama was nominated by several admiring Iowahawk readers. Sure, his customized Boeing Air Force One only gulps about as much fuel as a typical Earth Week Cruise-In vehicle, but, by golly, the Carbonator-in-Chief knows how to burn it with panache. The feat that cinched the coveted Carbon Obelisk of Excellence for the Prez: taking a joy ride to Newton, Iowa on Earth Day to deliver a lecture on energy conservation. (h/t: Instadude). No word on whether he cruised over to Maid-Rite for a root beer and parking lot burnouts.

The sheer, mindboggling nerve it took to pull off a eco-prank like that simply shames anything I've ever accomplished, and I daresay the same goes for you. And here's the best part: most of the clueless ecoweenie marks still don't realize they've been punked! Now that's what I call "The Audacity of Carbon."

Well done, Mr. President, and congratulations. On behalf of the readers, creditors, and fuel suppliers of Iowahawk, here's hoping you will wear your crown with pride!
It is hilarious that while Barry is pushing to tax energy out of our lives, his massive jet is flying circles around New York City at high speed, killing the planet & sending New Yorkers into a panic for a photo op! No doubt NYC air traffic control had to delay flights to Newark, Laguardia, and JFK during the photo op.

I know, I know... let's move on.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Monday, April 27, 2009

The Aristocracy of Pull, Part 6

Another Rovian Conspiracy has pointed out numerous instances where the desire to centralize & nationalize economic decisions only increases the likelihood of corruption and reduces the freedom of the individual.

This story from points to the problem of government regulation which results in market inefficiencies, resulting in the government trying to resolve them through regulation or incentives, which invariably attracts "special interests" to make sure those regulations or incentives favor them.

Obama administration concerned about growing shortage of primary-care doctors
by Robert Pear/New York Times
Sunday April 26, 2009, 9:59 PM

Washington -- Obama administration officials, alarmed at doctor shortages, are looking for ways to increase the number of physicians to meet the needs of an aging population and millions of uninsured people who would gain coverage under legislation championed by the president.

The officials said they were particularly concerned about shortages of primary-care providers who are the main source of health care for most Americans.

One proposal -- to increase Medicare payments to general practitioners, at the expense of high-paid specialists -- has touched off a lobbying fight.

Family doctors and internists are pressing Congress for an increase in their Medicare payments. But medical specialists are lobbying against any change that would cut their reimbursements. Congress, the specialists say, should find additional money to pay for primary care and should not redistribute dollars among doctors -- a difficult argument at a time of huge budget deficits.
Replace the consumer in the health care system from the individual to the government and the government is the new customer. Therefore, the providers start to market to their new customer (which doesn't need health care, just campaign cash).
To cope with the growing shortage, federal officials are considering several proposals. One would increase enrollment in medical schools and residency training programs. Another would encourage greater use of nurse practitioners and physician assistants. A third would expand the National Health Service Corps, which deploys doctors and nurses in rural areas and poor neighborhoods.

Sen. Max Baucus, Democrat of Montana, chairman of the Finance Committee, said Medicare payments were skewed against primary-care doctors -- the very ones needed for the care of older people with chronic conditions like congestive heart failure, diabetes and Alzheimer's disease.

"Primary-care physicians are grossly underpaid compared with many specialists," said Baucus, who vowed to increase primary-care payments as part of legislation to overhaul the health-care system.
The experience of Massachusetts is instructive. Under a far-reaching 2006 law, the state succeeded in reducing the number of uninsured. But many who gained coverage have been struggling to find primary-care doctors, and the average waiting time for routine office visits has increased.

"Some of the newly insured patients still rely on hospital emergency rooms for nonemergency care," said Erica L. Drazen, a health policy analyst at Computer Sciences Corp.

The ratio of primary-care doctors to population is higher in Massachusetts than in other states.
Of course, I don't think health care rationing was the goal of the Massachusetts law, but I could be mistaken.

I would submit that the reduction in primary-care physicians is positively correlated to the decrease in the probability of a profitable career as a primary-care phycisian. I mean, going through school to take on huge amounts of debt with the ultimate goal of seeing & helping sick people every day is fine, but there's got to be some remuneration involved.

This is what happens when you turn over control to bureaucrats and elected officials. They, numbering in the hundreds, must make the decisions about supply & demand which historically would have been made by 300 million independent actors in the form of consumers.

Previous examples of the Aristocracy of Pull available here.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Thursday, April 23, 2009


This whole business of having the Obamessiah stipulate credit rates is just another sign of how ridiculous our economic system has become.

* APRIL 23, 2009, 2:58 P.M. ET
Obama Pushes New Credit-Card Rules

WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama said he will push for a law to provide "strong and reliable" protections for the millions of Americans who have credit cards.

The president on Thursday outlined his priorities after meeting with chief executives of the credit-card lending industry.

Mr. Obama said he wants legislation that will prevent consumers from facing a sudden, surprising rise in fees. He said credit-card companies must publish their forms in plainspoken language. The president said companies must make it easier for people to do comparison shopping and said there must be greater enforcement so that violators feel the "full weight" of the law.

Both the House and Senate are working on versions of such a law.

But the banking industry is warning that Mr. Obama's push for legislation could backfire, restricting lenders and making less credit available to Americans during the economic crisis.

Mr. Obama met with business leaders Thursday, a session the White House said would be an "open and productive conversation."

That's codespeak for "I won, get with the program."

Further down the story, we get this laughable commentary from Larry "Women Don't Like Math" Summers:
White House economic adviser Larry Summers said over the weekend that the administration wants to curb pitches that addict people to plastic.

"Individuals are going to have to save more. That's why savings incentives are so important," he said. "That's why we need to do things to stop the marketing of credit in ways that addicts people to it and so that our households are again saving and families are again preparing to send their kids to college."

Meanwhile, the Feds are using TARP in the same way that the Gambino crime family used their loan shark business: you wanna pay the money back? Nah.. I don't want my money back; I want you to do me a favor.

But, what is truly laughable is that the Obama administration - the same guys who are more than tripling our federal deficit - are lecturing the American people on saving money for the future.

And targeting credit card companies for making it too easy for consumers to spend money.

Perhaps we should pass a law making Chinese T-bill purchases more difficult, so that our government won't get addicted to plastic.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Monday, April 20, 2009

Mickey Kaus gets it wrong on Health Care

Mickey Kaus has this post on how the Obama admin is taking the wrong approach to marketing their universal health care rationing system.

For some reason, Mickey thinks that government bureaucrats will be more caring about patient situations than bureaucrats paid by privately run (but highly regulated) HMOs. This despite all of the evidence to the contrary from public health care systems around the world or even other aspects of government-run services (e.g. child welfare agencies, the public school system, the INS, etc). (For liberals, its always just a matter of codifying the right rules to get us to utopia!!!)

Here is the part where Kaus makes his mistakes:

The "rational," cost-cutting, "hard-choices" pitch isn't just awful marketing--I don't even think it's accurate. Put it this way: I'm for universal health care in large part precisely because I think the government will be less tough-minded and cost-conscious when it comes to the inevitable rationing of care than for-profit insurance companies will be. Take Arnold Kling's example of a young patient with cancer, where "the best hope is a treatment that costs $100,000 and offers a chance of success of 1 in 200." No "rational bureaucracy" would spend $20 million to save a life, Kling argues. I doubt any private insurance company is going to write a policy that spends $20 million to save a life. But I think the government--faced with demands from patient groups and disease lobbies and treatment providers and Oprah and run, ultimately, by politicians as terrified of being held responsible for denying treatment as they are quick to pander to the public's sentimental bias toward life--is less likely to be "rational" than the private sector.

Mistake 1 - Believing that the government will be shamed into making more caring decisions

So, the next time you get a serious illness which requires a bunch of moolah to treat (assuming you even hear about the possible treatment), Mickey assures us that you'll get treated - but you may have to lobby your local patient group/disease lobby or (even better) Oprah.

So, in the eyes of Kaus the possibility of negative publicity for the government will drive them to make more caring decisions regarding your life. Except, it would seem that most politicians (and to even a larger degree, nameless & faceless bureaucrats) possess very little shame (see Dodd, Spitzer, etc, etc).

In reality, companies operating in a truly free, competitive market (the current health care marketplace could not be considered one) would be even more likely to act with a bias towards treating the illness, for fear of losing more customers.

Mistake 2 - Assuming that an insurance company in the existing, highly regulated health care system would deny treatment based on this cold, cost/benefit analysis.

Yes, there are horror stories about the current health care system. However, they are usually confined to patients who discover that they have some catastrophic illness when they are not currently covered by health insurance. This is normally because they either: 1) are in between jobs and therefore not covered by their employers health care plan; 2) chose not to pay for health insurance because they thought they were healthy; or 3) because they were eligible to obtain free/subsidized health care under Medicare/Medicaid and did not sign up.

The only other exception to lack of coverage would be exceeding the maximum benefit cap that is common with most policies. However, in the example provided, no policy would have a $100k maximum and most are in the millions of dollars - and there are currently no treatments that are that expensive.

Ultimately, the only way to save money in health care while at the same time providing some protection against catastrophic illness is to put the health care consumer back in charge of the system.

Currently, we do not have a health insurance system - we have a health insulation system. Consumers are insulated from the costs of health care (from minor procedures, medicines, etc to major events). Unleashing the cost-consciousness and cost-sensitivity of the consumer on the system will bring down costs.

Let's try a free market health care system for once.

And remember, the "free" in "free market" stands for freedom. I know I want more, not less freedom in all decisions I make about my life.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Tax Day

Well my taxes have been filed for a while, but I couldn't help chuckling when I saw this "collection of 1040 forms" from previous decades.

We've come along way from 1913 when your tax was figured on 1%($20k-50k) -6% (>$500k!) of your income!

I eagerly await a Lilek's Bleat about the various font and style changes of the forms throughout the decades.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: Brian

Saturday, April 11, 2009

More Distractions for the Obama Administration

I wonder how Captain Phillips feels about his plight being labeled "an annoyance and a distraction?"

REFILE-ANALYSIS-Pirates pose annoying distraction for Obama
Thu Apr 9, 2009 7:21pm BST
(Deletes extraneous word, paragraph 10)

* First North Korea, Iran -- now Somali pirates

* Recent U.S. experience with Somalia not good

* Analyst: Pirates are test of U.S. resolve

By Steve Holland

WASHINGTON, April 9 (Reuters) - Ragtag teams of modern-day Blackbeards are posing an annoying distraction for Barack Obama, forcing him to add Somalia to an already long list of foreign policy challenges.
Used to be that "blackbeards" were summarily executed. These days, we want to setup multiparty dialogues with the organizers in order to understand & resolve root causes that make them take such strange actions
American presidents are told to expect the unexpected, and Obama is seeing that this week. First it was a North Korean test of a ballistic missile last weekend. Now comes a swashbuckling high-seas standoff with armed renegades.

Obama so far has sent U.S. Navy ships to protect an American-flagged freighter that managed to repel a pirate attack but whose captain was taken hostage.
Good to know that AFTER you retake your ship from armed pirates, the Navy will swing by to protect you. Reminds me of the police officers in Binghamton who waited outside the government office hours until after the shooting was over before opening the door to see if anyone could use their assistance. How many of the wounded could have been helped?
America's recent experience with Somalia has not been good, making caution a key element of U.S. policy in dealing with the country.
I would say that caution is not isolated to Somalia - it applies to any country that we have "issues" with.
The Obama administration was careful not to give the crisis too much prominence, with delicate negotiations under way to try to secure the captain's release.
Obama, just back from a week-long trip to Europe and a morale-boosting visit to U.S. troops in Iraq, already has a long list of foreign challenges from North Korea to Iran to Afghanistan, and beyond.
I'm sure Captain Phillips is reassured that the US Government doesn't want to give the barbarism he is now suffering "too much prominence.

And it is a shame that so many distractions, from Iran to North Korea to Somali pirates, are diminishing the Obamapalooza Tour.
He declined to comment on the pirate situation for the second day in a row on Thursday.
While he feels free to opine (and act) on how major U.S. companies should be run, it's interesting that when it comes to his actual duties as envisioned in the US Constitution, mum is the word!

President George H.W. Bush, describing it as "God's work," sent U.S. combat troops to the east African nation in late 1992 to lead an international U.N. force to secure the environment for relief operations.
Christ-o-fascist!!! (Why do they feel compelled to put that in there?

"We don't want to go back there," said presidential historian Thomas Alan Schwartz, a professor at Vanderbilt University. "This may be one of those points where Obama is going to have to cash in some of his international chips and get the U.N. to go in there."

"Somebody needs to go into Somalia and govern the place," he said.

ROTFL!!!! The U.N. to go in there?!? Is this guy serious? The UN did a bang up job in Rwanda.

And how did the UN's past efforts in Somalia work out last time? Oh, that's right... Perhaps we could have another book & film about the failure of the US leadership and the international community.
Democratic strategist Doug Schoen, who worked in the Clinton White House, called the crisis "a real test of national resolve" that the Obama White House and opposition Republicans need to work together to deal with.

"It's an annoyance and a distraction," he said. [...]

I also like how Reuters provides us with their editing comments on this story. Apparently it was modified & refiled with additional Analysis (from the first two words in the title). We also are informed that one of the edits was to remove an extraneous word in paragraph 10.

This is journalism that I'm willing to pay for!!!

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

It's Tax Time and I have just one questions for the Obama Admin

I'm watching all of the ridiculous segments on network news about tax tips for filing this year and have a very important question to ask the Obamessiah:

Is there a White House team of tax specialists helping the tax scofflaws in Obamessiah's administration file correctly this year? And perhaps this tax filing support could be provided to the entire Democratic party?

I mean, what is the probability that Tim Geithner will fulfill his patriotic duty, "be part of the deal," and correctly calculate the taxes he owes? 0.1? 0.3? It certainly can't be more than 0.6, so I hope the IRS is anxiously awaiting his return and has several agents ready to audit him.

And yes, I'm really looking forward to using my "It was an honest mistake and I'm way too intelligent and important for this economy for you to penalize me."

I just hope that the liberty minded (smirk) progressive blogosphere doesn't turn me in for making anti-Obama statements.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

New York Times Asks, How Can We Make Money at This?

Is this thing on? test... 1... 2... *ahem* Sorry for the lack of posting, although I suppose I could point fingers at my co-conspirators here as well. Things have been pretty hectic the past few weeks and, frankly... we are considering either launching a new blog (more in tune with current events), but for now please continue to check the site for updates.

I promise to post more regularly as we are certainly in a target-rich environment these days. On such target is this story from the New York Times which I found absolutely hilarious (I know, I'm a dork):

April 8, 2009
They Pay for Cable, Music and Extra Bags. How About News?

Just a year ago, most media companies believed the formula for Internet success was to offer free content, build an audience and rake in advertising dollars. Now, with the recession battering advertising online, in print and on television, media executives are contemplating a tougher trick: making the consumer pay.
Translation: What in the hell were we thinking?!? Let's put some crack reporters on the case and get some real, out-of-the-box thinking on how we can monetize it. I mean, let's go far & wide looking for a solution and float some of them as trial balloons in a news story.
Publishers like Hearst Newspapers, The New York Times and Time Inc.are drawing up plans for possible Internet fees. Jeffrey L. Bewkes, Time Warner’s chief executive, is promoting a plan called “TV Everywhere,” to offer consumers a vast array of television online, provided they are paying cable TV customers. And Rupert Murdoch, who once vowed to make The Wall Street Journal’s Web site free, is now an evangelist for charging readers.

“People reading news for free on the Web, that’s got to change,” Mr. Murdoch said last week at a cable industry conference in Washington.

The Associated Press said on Monday that it intended to police the use of news articles linked on countless Web sites, where many consumers read them free, to make sure the sites shared advertising revenue with those who created the material.
Yes... I'll share whatever advertising revenue I bring in with the Associated Press. After I deduct my time & efforts to improve their poorly constructed from the $0 in ad revenue that this blog generates, I should get a tidy sum from the AP!

Question; Does the AP go after The Today Show ad revenues after they feature a story that originated in the AP? Just curious...
But from networks selling downloads of TV shows, to music companies trying to curb file-sharing, to struggling newspapers and magazines, the make-or-break question is this: How do you get consumers to pay for something they have grown used to getting free?

Yes, that indeed is the million dollar question.

And in the case of newspapers, there are two more troubling questions:
  1. How do you get someone to pay for news in an online format when they are not willing to pay for it in print format, as evidenced by declining subscription rates across the board?
  2. When considering the younger demo (aka your future customers), how do you charge them for online news whey they don't even want your news in print format for free?
How about that conundrum?
Some industries have pulled it off. Coca-Cola took tap water, filtered it and called it Dasani, and makes millions of dollars a year. People who used to ask why anyone would pay for television now subscribe to cable and TiVo. Airlines charge for luggage, meals, even pillows. And some music fans who have downloaded pirated songs are also patrons of iTunes.

All of these success stories offered the consumer something extra, even if it was just convenience.
"just convenience"... perhaps this statement reveals one of the problems of the insulated view of the people in the news industry....
“With bottled water, it’s a kind of snobbery and the perception of healthiness that they have marketed,” said Priya Raghubir, professor of marketing at the Stern School of Business at New York University. “With downloads, the benefit is that the paying services allow you to sample many songs free, and you know it’s legal, and the TV shows have no commercials.

First, I see that the New York Times reporters did indeed travel far afield for this story. Assuming they didn't pick up the phone, they traveled 3.1 miles downtown to NYU!!!

Second, I should piont out that the analysis of the examples are incorrect:
  • Dasani vs. tap water is not pay vs. free (since people do indeed pay for tap water). At least, I have a water bill show up in my mail each month. And besides the perceived health benefits (vs. other beverage options), the other value-adds are the convenience of bottled water and the consistency of quality & taste.
  • With iTunes, the value isn't the sampling - it's the fact that pirating them from other sites is a pain in the patootey compared to getting the same content for a small fee, along with the assurance that the download is not malware and, again, has a consistency of quality. If you've ever downloaded a song for free, you know that the quality is always questionable.
What do the two examples the NYU professor highlighted have in common? The "pay" version have an increased level of convenience & quality. In the end, people judge that the cost to ensure this level of quality & convenience is appropriate - a quick and very typical cost / benefit analysis that consumers in capitalist systems make instantaneously on a daily basis.

Back to the Times...
“With newspapers and magazines, there have to be features you can’t get anywhere else, and maybe part of what you would pay for is the privilege of helping the business survive, but that is more of a difficult sell.”
ROTFL!!!! LMAO!!!!

Only a professor could make such a ridiculous statement. The surest way to go out of business is to use a marketing strategy & message that essentially boils down to "please buy my product so I can stay in business." No customer will buy a product for the "privilege" of helping the business survive - except for customers of your local PBS station, and that doesn't even count because that entire enterprise is heavily subsidized.
Major publishers say they have not yet decided how to proceed, but that some changes are coming soon.

“We’re looking, of course, at ways to extract payments from the consumers of our news — micro-payments, subscriptions, memberships, licensing, even voluntary donations,” Bill Keller, executive editor of The Times, said last week in a speech at Stanford University. “In the coming months, I fully expect that the N.Y.T. will begin laying down some bets based on our best forecasts of how the relationship between journalists and their audience will evolve.”
Yet again, our intrepid reporters have searched far & wide to cover this story - this time, they've asked their boss for his opinion.
Only a few publishers have tried such a transition, with mixed results. The Los Angeles Times and The New York Times each tried charging for access to some content online, then dropped the requirement because it cost them audience and advertising revenue.
Yes, that TimeSelect horse-hockey really didn't work out well. Turns out that people aren't willing to pay a monthly subscription to MoDo's stream of conciousness columns. So, if they've tried charging for their content and it failed, why are they writing this story?

They're trying too find a different mechanism to get the revenue without asking any serious questions about their product or what service they provide to their customer!
Most publications have moved in the other direction, trying to draw the biggest audience for advertisers by offering content free. The Associated Press’s new approach straddles the usual reliance on ads, and the new move to charge someone — though not the consumer — for the content.

By adding free features like e-mail alerts, blogs, discussion forums and video, news organizations are trying to persuade readers that they provide something more valuable than the aggregators and blogs that attract news readers online. In 2006, The Washington Post became the first newspaper to win an Emmy for its video.
And if I know anything, Emmy's and inside-the-industry recognition really drive consumers to your product.

Interesting that some sites are providing free features (value add services), but it's unfortunate that many of these services are provided for free on other sites. And what's the differentiator between using these services on my hometown paper's website ( vs. some other national newspaper (e.g. the New York Times)? Well, since the news is all the same crap on either site, it'll come down to how convenient either site is...
Eric J. Johnson, a professor at Columbia Business School, said he had been amazed by media companies repeatedly adding free online services, like on-demand video. “Before you add something to your site, you should say that if consumers really want it, that should be part of a package that you could charge for,” he said.

That is an alien concept to many media veterans, who grew up in a world where news and other content on television and radio were free, and newspapers made far more money from advertisers than from readers.
And the TV & Radio are still swimming in riches from that model - yes, yes? And, while newspapers do get most of their print revenues from advertisers, they do charge the reader something, right? How's that model working out? Aren't both print revenue streams seeing a decline?
Before the recession, media executives saw their future in online advertising, which was growing 25 to 35 percent annually. But last year, overall Internet ad spending rose 10.6 percent, and only 3.5 percent for television networks, according to a report by the Interactive Advertising Bureau and PricewaterhouseCoopers. The Newspaper Association of America says that for its industry, online ad revenue dropped 1.8 percent last year.
Hmmm.... so the online ad industry is still growing, but for some reason ads to online newspapers (what an oxymoron!) haven't seen their online ad revenues grow... it's almost like online advertisers are going elsewhere to place their ads.... places where the consumers are going. hmmmm.....
The free-versus-paid debate is a recurring one. At the birth of the Internet many sites charged for content, but by the late 1990s the prevailing view was that market forces favored free content. A consumer tollbooth raises money, but it also constricts the audience and ad sales. Media companies decided it was not worth the trade-off.

In 1995, Encyclopaedia Britannica began selling online subscriptions and attracted 70,000 paying customers. But in 1999 it opened its doors, hoping to take advantage of the Internet advertising boom. Two years later, it reversed course again, and now charges $70 a year for access to most of its site.

When it resumed charging in 2001, it got back to 70,000 subscribers within 10 months, and now has about 200,000.

If the site hadn’t begun charging, “we would have a product that would be used by many more people today,” said Jorge Cauz, president of Encyclopaedia Britannica, but it would probably generate less revenue.
I seem to recall some other version of an encyclopedia out on the interwebs recently.... hmmmm. I sure hope Encyclopaedia Britannica's budget doesn't exceed $14m per year.

Getting customers to pay is easier if the product is somehow better — or perceived as being better — than what they had received free.

In adding a new feature, “you don’t want the starting value you place on it to be zero,” Mr. Johnson said. “People are very loss-averse, and the worst penny to pay is the first.”
And, in the case of the quality of journalism in the US, that first penny is very expensive indeed.

I would say that the price point currently charged for online news (ie. $0.00) is about right. Or perhaps they should pay us to read their crap.
Mark Mulligan, vice president of Forrester Research in London, said that even sectors that had successfully charged fees online, like the music industry, have found that it was a game of chasing niches. But products like sitcoms or general-interest newspapers have always been built for the broadest possible appeal.

“The question now is whether that common denominator approach can work online,” Mr. Honack said. He says he thinks it will require treating the audience and the products as a series of niches, and tailoring the offering to the customer. “You have to find out what part of your product you can get them to come back for.”

Holy crap! Someone finally hit the nail on the head!!!

In order to charge a customer a sufficient amount of money to keep the business profitable enough to continue operations and invest in the future, the seller must tailor his product to the customers' needs!!!

Or, as Mr. Honack ultimately puts it, "you have to find out what part of your product you can get them to come back for."

People will not pay a dime to a news company so they can have an online blog at their site. They will not pay a dime to a news company so they can receive email alerts (are you kidding?!?) People will not pay a dime to a news company for content that they can get just as easily anywhere else on the internet (aka the world).

The entire model of print journalism is outdated for today's distribution network. Previously, the AP, Reuters, and the New York Times decided what was news and local affiliates reprinted the news.

This continues to this day as is evidenced by the similarity of reporting on each and every topic in each and every news source.

Focus on the consumer like a laser. Figure out what they need and provide it to them as efficiently and effectively as possible. Do anything else and you should be put out of business.

It's a wonder that these guys are even allowed to report on anything related to business. No wonder they think capitalism is evil - they're dying because they don't understand it.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Monday, March 23, 2009

Foreign Policy Experts

It's become quite clear that the Obamessiah really is just a guy standing in front of a teleprompter, with no clue about governing, foreign policy, etc. As ARC: Brian pointed out in 2008, Obama is Johnny Bravo and was elected simply because he "fit the suit."

After Obama's letter to Jacques Chirac was made public (apparently, Barry doesn't know that the current President of France is Nicolas Sarkozy), Gabriel over at Ace of Spades HQ is keeping a tally of Obama foreign policy missteps:

Making a List:

1. Canada: NAFTA fiasco.
2. Poland: missile shield "misunderstanding".
3. UK: Churchhill bust return.
4. Russia: "overcharge" button.
5. UK: insulting gifts to the Browns.
6. France: not realizing that Chirac has been out of power for two years.
7. Brazil: Misspelling the president's name.
8. Mexico: NAFTA
9. India: Thinking Kashmir is Pah-kee-stan.

Which reminds me... Wasn't Palin ridiculed for not knowing anything about foreign policy?

I would bet that she wouldn't have made nay of the ridiculous errors that Obama has made. (God knows she wouldn't have gotten Gordon Brown some DVDs as a gift - and if she did, they'd work in Region 2!)

This guy is turning our friends into enemies while trying to naively turn avowed enemies (you know, the people who murder US citizens) into friends.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Friday, March 20, 2009

Pwned!! Obama Called Out

First, the Obamessiah made this idiotic comment (which, if made by George W. Bush or any politician to the right of Marx would be used as evidence of the cruelty of free market capitalism):

After comparing his bowling to the Special Olympics on "The Tonight Show" Thursday, President Obama called Special Olympics Chairman Tim Shriver to apologize before the program even aired.
Obama used much of his appearance on the comedy show to discuss the economy but sought to get in some light-hearted quips toward the end of the taping.

He said he had been working on his bowling game just below his new residence and recently rolled a 129.

“That’s very good, Mr. President,” cracked host Jay Leno.

"It's like — it was like Special Olympics, or something," the president replied.

Obama’s bowling skills, or lack thereof, have been a running joke since he fared poorly during an impromptu game at a Pennsylvania bowling alley during the Democratic primary last year.

Next, the Special Olympics Champion calls out Obama, saying I own you!
ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) - The top bowler for the Special Olympics looks forward to meeting President Barack Obama in an alley.

"He bowled a 129. I bowl a 300. I could beat that score easily," Michigan's Kolan McConiughey told The Associated Press in an interview Friday.

The athletic-minded president made an offhand remark Thursday on "The Tonight Show" comparing his weak bowling to "the Special Olympics or something." He quickly apologized and told the Special Olympics chairman he wants to have some of its athletes visit the White House to bowl or play basketball.

McConiughey, who is mentally disabled, is just the bowler for the job. He's bowled five perfect games since 2005.

The 35-year-old McConiughey has been bowling since he was 8 or 9. His advice for Obama? Practice every day.
I frankly was surprised to hear that Barry had enough time to even play enough to get his score up to 129 - I mean, there is an economic crisis, a Global War on Terror, and filling all of those administration positions... Instead, he's practicing his bowling, joining Jay Leno for a little chit-chat, etc.

And James Carville ridiculously claimed that this week wasn't so bad... They have no clue how stupid they look.

Life is really imitating The Onion.

* For definition of PNWED, go here.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Timmy, You're Doing a Helluva Job!

Obama to Tim Geithner: "Timmy, you're doing a helluva job!"

Asked about the performance of Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, Obama said: "Tim Geithner didn't draft these contracts with AIG. There has never been a Secretary of the Treasury except maybe Alexander Hamilton right after the Revolutionary War who's had to deal with the multiplicity of issues that Secretary Geithner is having to deal with, all at the same time." He followed up by explaining, "He is making all the right moves in terms of playing a bad hand."

Actually, no... Geithner's a disaster. Anyone who either is too stupid to understand the tax system he's supposed to administer or is too ethically challenged to pay taxes he owes to the US government should not be compared to Alexander Hamilton.

Meanwhile, Timmy still has yet to unveil his plan for fixing the banking system and still hasn't put together his staff!

He's such a disaster that the right-wing writers over at Saturday Night Live just had to make fun of him.

Watch more Saturday Night Live videos on AOL Video

Helluva Job, Timmy!!!

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

New Era of BipartisanshipTM

From Bloomberg comes this story about how the Dems will use a parliamentary procedure to pass legislation that they know would face a filibuster by the minority:

Obama May Use Legislative Ploy to Jam Through Health, Tax Bills
By Brian Faler

March 18 (Bloomberg) -- President Barack Obama may try to push through Congress a health-care overhaul, energy proposals and tax increases by using a partisan tactic that would thwart Republican efforts to block the measures.

The administration and congressional Democrats are debating whether to use a parliamentary procedure called reconciliation to advance some of the biggest items on the president’s agenda. The move would allow Democrats to approve plans to raise taxes by $1 trillion, create a cap-and-trade system to rein in greenhouse-gas emissions, and overhaul health care without a single Republican vote.

“You’re talking about running over the minority, putting them in cement and throwing them into the Chicago River,” said Senator Judd Gregg, a New Hampshire Republican who stepped down last month as Obama’s pick for Commerce secretary. “It takes the minority completely out of the process.”

Reconciliation reduces the number of votes needed to pass legislation in the 100-seat Senate to a simple majority rather than the 60 required to overcome resistance to major bills. The tactic also limits debate to no more than 20 hours and imposes restrictions on amendments.

Senate Democrats have a majority with 58 votes, though Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts, who is struggling with brain cancer, is frequently absent. Several other Democrats often vote with Republicans.

House Democrats

House Democrats are pushing to use reconciliation because it would help ensure they don’t end up voting for tax increases and other legislation that can be blocked by Senate Republicans.

The new era of bipartisanship, indeed.

(and since when have Democrats been concerned about voting for tax increases?) I thought the point of using the reconciliation was to pass $1 trillion in new taxes???

A comment from ARC: Brian - Wasn't this procedure referred to as the Nuclear Option back when the GOP considered it for judicial appointments that the Dems were blocking?

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

New Era of Responsibility & AccountabilityTM

From Bloomberg, Chris Dodd takes responsibility for a provision he put into the stimulus bill which insured that AIG execs would get their bonuses (which are now being used as an argument to create a new confiscatory tax rate).

Oh, wait:

Dodd Blames Obama Administration for Bonus Amendment (Update1)
By Ryan J. Donmoyer

March 19 (Bloomberg) -- Senate Banking Committee Chairman Christopher Dodd said the Obama administration asked him to insert a provision in last month’s $787 billion economic- stimulus legislation that had the effect of authorizing American International Group Inc.’s bonuses.

Dodd, a Connecticut Democrat, said yesterday he agreed to modify restrictions on executive pay at companies receiving taxpayer assistance to exempt bonuses already agreed upon in contracts. He said he did so without realizing the change would benefit AIG, whose recent $165 million payment to employees has sparked a public furor.

Dodd said he had wanted to limit executive compensation at companies that got money from the government’s financial-rescue fund. AIG has received $173 billion in bailout money. His provision was changed as the stimulus legislation was negotiated between the House and Senate.

“I did not want to make any changes to my original Senate- passed amendment” to the stimulus bill, “but I did so at the request of administration officials, who gave us no indication that this was in any way related to AIG,” Dodd said in a statement released last night. “Let me be clear -- I was completely unaware of these AIG bonuses until I learned of them last week.” He didn’t name the administration officials who made the request.

No Insistence

An administration official said last night that representatives of President Barack Obama didn’t insist on the change, though they did contend that the language in Dodd’s amendment could be legally challenged because it would apply retroactively to bonus agreements. The official spoke on the condition of anonymity.

That provision in the stimulus bill may undercut complaints by congressional Democrats about the AIG bonuses because most of them voted for the legislation. No Republicans in the House and only three in the Senate supported the stimulus measure.
“The fact is that the bill the president signed, which protected the AIG bonuses and others, was written behind closed doors by Democratic leaders of the House and Senate,” Iowa Senator Charles Grassley said in a statement.

These guys are a bunch of clowns!!!

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Friday, March 13, 2009

Doubling of Green Energy

One of Barry's initiatives is to double the amount of energy produced by green technologies. This OpEd in the WSJ from Robert Bryce has been on my mind:

Let's Get Real About Renewable Energy
We can double the output of solar and wind, and double it again. We'll still depend on hydrocarbons.

During his address to Congress last week, President Barack Obama declared, "We will double this nation's supply of renewable energy in the next three years."

While that statement -- along with his pledge to impose a "cap on carbon pollution" -- drew applause, let's slow down for a moment and get realistic about this country's energy future. Consider two factors that are too-often overlooked: George W. Bush's record on renewables, and the problem of scale.

By promising to double our supply of renewables, Mr. Obama is only trying to keep pace with his predecessor. Yes, that's right: From 2005 to 2007, the former Texas oil man oversaw a near-doubling of the electrical output from solar and wind power. And between 2007 and 2008, output from those sources grew by another 30%.

Mr. Bush's record aside, the key problem facing Mr. Obama, and anyone else advocating a rapid transition away from the hydrocarbons that have dominated the world's energy mix since the dawn of the Industrial Age, is the same issue that dogs every alternative energy idea: scale.

Let's start by deciphering exactly what Mr. Obama includes in his definition of "renewable" energy. If he's including hydropower, which now provides about 2.4% of America's total primary energy needs, then the president clearly has no concept of what he is promising. Hydro now provides more than 16 times as much energy as wind and solar power combined. Yet more dams are being dismantled than built. Since 1999, more than 200 dams in the U.S. have been removed.

If Mr. Obama is only counting wind power and solar power as renewables, then his promise is clearly doable. But the unfortunate truth is that even if he matches Mr. Bush's effort by doubling wind and solar output by 2012, the contribution of those two sources to America's overall energy needs will still be almost inconsequential.

Here's why. The latest data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration show that total solar and wind output for 2008 will likely be about 45,493,000 megawatt-hours. That sounds significant until you consider this number: 4,118,198,000 megawatt-hours. That's the total amount of electricity generated during the rolling 12-month period that ended last November. Solar and wind, in other words, produce about 1.1% of America's total electricity consumption.
That issue aside, the scale problem persists. For the sake of convenience, let's convert the energy produced by U.S. wind and solar installations into oil equivalents.

The conversion of electricity into oil terms is straightforward: one barrel of oil contains the energy equivalent of 1.64 megawatt-hours of electricity. Thus, 45,493,000 megawatt-hours divided by 1.64 megawatt-hours per barrel of oil equals 27.7 million barrels of oil equivalent from solar and wind for all of 2008.

Now divide that 27.7 million barrels by 365 days and you find that solar and wind sources are providing the equivalent of 76,000 barrels of oil per day. America's total primary energy use is about 47.4 million barrels of oil equivalent per day.

Of that 47.4 million barrels of oil equivalent, oil itself has the biggest share -- we consume about 19 million barrels per day. Natural gas is the second-biggest contributor, supplying the equivalent of 11.9 million barrels of oil, while coal provides the equivalent of 11.5 million barrels of oil per day. The balance comes from nuclear power (about 3.8 million barrels per day), and hydropower (about 1.1 million barrels), with smaller contributions coming from wind, solar, geothermal, wood waste, and other sources.

Here's another way to consider the 76,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day that come from solar and wind: It's approximately equal to the raw energy output of one average-sized coal mine.

Read the whole thing... but, I decided that, while Mr. Bryce's article presents a compelling argument that hydrocarbons will always be with us, I think it's instructive to put his analysis in a picture - a simple chart showing the energy output by source, all represented in equivalent barrels of oil.

The following chart illustrates Obama's ambition regarding green energy over the next 3 years. Click image for full-size version):

As you can see, even a doubling of our current output will mean that green technology is still a trivial percentage (~0.3%) of our total energy requirements, meaning that the true impact to CO2 emissions, global climate change, etc. will be non-existent.

The question is whether Obama's plans are not only to "double" the output of green energy, but to further reduce the use of all other types of energy.

Or, put another way, to control your use of energy, from dawn to dusk dawn which, in effect, means controlling you.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Obama: Mission Accomplished

From the AP

Obama: Economic crisis 'not as bad as we think'
Mar 12 06:49 PM US/Eastern
Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) - Confronting misgivings, even in his own party, President Barack Obama mounted a stout defense of his blueprint to overhaul the economy Thursday, declaring the national crisis is "not as bad as we think" and his plans will speed recovery.

Challenged to provide encouragement as the nation's "confidence builder in chief," Obama said Americans shouldn't be whipsawed by bursts of either bad or good news and he was "highly optimistic" about the long term.

The president's proposals for major health care, energy and education changes in the midst of economic hard times faced skepticism from both Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill, as senators questioned his budget outlook and the deficits it envisions in the middle of the next decade.
Using the politics of fear to sell his socialist agenda fooled the people a few weeks ago, but they won't be fooled a second time - and Obama knows this. It's difficult to convince people that across the board tax increases (in the form of higher energy costs) are good when the economy is still in the tank, so Barry has (prematurely) declared "Mission Accomplished" regarding his infant stimulus bill.

Barry - You own it.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Amateur Hour

This story is very troubling:

Barack Obama 'too tired' to give proper welcome to Gordon Brown

Barack Obama's offhand approach to Gordon Brown's Washington visit last week came about because the president was facing exhaustion over America's economic crisis and is unable to focus on foreign affairs, the Sunday Telegraph has been told.

By Tim Shipman in Washington
Last Updated: 10:03PM GMT 07 Mar 2009

Sources close to the White House say Mr Obama and his staff have been "overwhelmed" by the economic meltdown and have voiced concerns that the new president is not getting enough rest.

British officials, meanwhile, admit that the White House and US State Department staff were utterly bemused by complaints that the Prime Minister should have been granted full-blown press conference and a formal dinner, as has been customary. They concede that Obama aides seemed unfamiliar with the expectations that surround a major visit by a British prime minister.

But Washington figures with access to Mr Obama's inner circle explained the slight by saying that those high up in the administration have had little time to deal with international matters, let alone the diplomatic niceties of the special relationship.
I don't know what's worse, that Obama is overwhelmed by the office or that all of his administration's time has been devoted to what is a disastrous economic policy. I had originally hoped that their economic policies had been designed by the Obama daughters and their intellectual counterpart, Nancy Pelosi - but to learn that it has in truth been the product of the administration's full attention is cause for concern.
Allies of Mr Obama say his weary appearance in the Oval Office with Mr Brown illustrates the strain he is now under, and the president's surprise at the sheer volume of business that crosses his desk.

A well-connected Washington figure, who is close to members of Mr Obama's inner circle, expressed concern that Mr Obama had failed so far to "even fake an interest in foreign policy".
Well, that's reassuring. I seem to recall a lot of ink & bits being dispensed to claim that President George W. Bush was a simpleton in over his head; yet we have a clear demonstration of incompetence and it barely gets coverage in the US.
A British official conceded that the furore surrounding the apparent snub to Mr Brown had come as a shock to the White House. "I think it's right to say that their focus is elsewhere, on domestic affairs. A number of our US interlocutors said they couldn't quite understand the British concerns and didn't get what that was all about."

The American source said: "Obama is overwhelmed. There is a zero sum tension between his ability to attend to the economic issues and his ability to be a proactive sculptor of the national security agenda.

"That was the gamble these guys made at the front end of this presidency and I think they're finding it a hard thing to do everything."
But they concede that the mood music of the event was at times strained. Mr Brown handed over carefully selected gifts, including a pen holder made from the wood of a warship that helped stamp out the slave trade - a sister ship of the vessel from which timbers were taken to build Mr Obama's Oval Office desk. Mr Obama's gift in return, a collection of Hollywood film DVDs that could have been bought from any high street store, looked like the kind of thing the White House might hand out to the visiting head of a minor African state.

Reminds me of a situation where you show up at a new acquaintance's Christmas party with an extravagant gift that you've carefully selected to make the best impression and realize that there was a spending cap of $10.

Perhaps that was indeed the case in this instance. Amazon has a sale on right now...

For more information on our gift snub to the Brits, check out Mark Steyn. It is a must read.

Back to the UK's Telegraph.
Mr Obama rang Mr Brown as he flew home, in what many suspected was an attempt to make amends.

The real views of many in Obama administration were laid bare by a State Department official involved in planning the Brown visit, who reacted with fury when questioned by The Sunday Telegraph about why the event was so low-key.

The official dismissed any notion of the special relationship, saying: "There's nothing special about Britain. You're just the same as the other 190 countries in the world. You shouldn't expect special treatment." The apparent lack of attention to detail by the Obama administration is indicative of what many believe to be Mr Obama's determination to do too much too quickly.
This is a shocking statement, given the history between the two countries, including their support for US national security policies.

If these are the people that are representing our country overseas, we are truly doomed.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Eyewitness in Iraq

My old friend Kip Allen (aka Desert Rat) of Right Face got the jump on me with this one by posting this report from my nephew, Sgt Shawn Wilson via his dad, my brother Mike.

The story is certainly not what you would expect if all you did is follow the MSM.

Here is the post at Rat's site:

Things went into a news blackout for about three weeks as the 10th Mountain
Division, Military Police Company moved to their new location in Kalsu, Iraq.
Current temperature about 85 degrees at high noon and cold enough at night to
enjoy the comfort of a sleeping bag. Shawn cannot send pictures at this point
due to some restrictions. He noted camels as big as dinosaurs coming in colors
ranging from black to white, so he took some shots of them next to a pickup
truck to put them into perspective.

Shawn enjoys solid ground and vegetation as compared to to the sands of
Kuwait; and, Kalsu provides that stability to walk normally up right. His
description of the town of Kalsu is hard to believe. Lots of energetic
reconstruction being done by Iraqis, or emerging Iraqi contractors, that favor
prestressed post tensioned concrete panels. That is good bunker building

The markets are open into the evening mixed with neon lights aglow. This is
Shawn's biggest surprise...people in the streets, running water continuous
electricity and kids are making - make shift American uniforms and are friendly.
They like the solders. No criminal activity on the part of American forces with
very few jihad boys running around Mr. Roger's neighborhood. American
contractors providing excellent food which incidentally can also be found on the
local streets such unbelievable places as as Burger King, Kentucky Fried
Chicken, and even Taco Bell owned by Iraqis'

The local movie theater is not a potential death trap. This indicates a
major victory for the United States and George Bush. This currently unquantified
success is why the American public receives none of this news worthy information
while the minions in press corp. search the Iraqi nation for good old suicide
bomber. They'll find one too under the premise one Robin doesn't make a

The nice day off in Bagdad and the visit to Hussein's wrecked palace as
seen by Shawn Michael Wilson. It is kind of of a museum where you can enter
fully armed and if your are not caring a weapon you will be searched. Gruesome
highlights and a smash and trash policy, are rules of the road when entering.
Within the palace there is one swimming pool that was not filled with water
intentionally. The blood stains are still there as part of the swimming pool
or... lets have a laugh... execution point. "I was surprised they never washed
it out. Maybe the pool is a message,"Shawn said. Shawn and crew made it up to
Sadam's main office sat in a few filthy chairs that remained. Slabs of beautiful
marble lay shattered all over the palace amongst destroyed crystal chandeliers
which made for souvenirs'. After writing their names and other things on the
walls the troopers headed down stairs to entrance center to a web tunnels and

Shawn described one bunker room with a massive whole it caused a Tomahawk
missile. At the time of the explosion fifty of Sadam's officers were watching
the movie Pretty Woman. Yes Bush lied in this case, he told Saddam that he had
forty eight hours to get out of Kuwait or the war would commence, and wouldn't
you know it Bush showed up twenty-four hours early.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: Monterey John

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

The Obama Economy

Excellent Op-Ed in the WSJ. Here are the key paragraphs:

The Obama Economy
As the Dow keeps dropping, the President is running out of people to blame.
The market has notably plunged since Mr. Obama introduced his budget last week, and that should be no surprise. The document was a declaration of hostility toward capitalists across the economy. Health-care stocks have dived on fears of new government mandates and price controls. Private lenders to students have been told they're no longer wanted. Anyone who uses carbon energy has been warned to expect a huge tax increase from cap and trade. And every risk-taker and investor now knows that another tax increase will slam the economy in 2011, unless Mr. Obama lets Speaker Nancy Pelosi impose one even earlier.

Meanwhile, Congress demands more bank lending even as it assails lenders and threatens to let judges rewrite mortgage contracts. The powers in Congress -- unrebuked by Mr. Obama -- are ridiculing and punishing the very capitalists who are essential to a sustainable recovery. The result has been a capital strike, and the return of the fear from last year that we could face a far deeper downturn. This is no way to nurture a wounded economy back to health.

I predicted to Brian a few weeks ago that Dow 6,000 was a reality, given the fact that every single action taken by the government (including those by Bush/Paulson in their last few months) have been exactly the opposite of what should be done. Obama has only increased the mismanagement of this economy.

Brian reassured me that people would riot before things got too bad... and then quickly realized that he needed to visit the gun store.

This isn't sustainable.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Monday, March 02, 2009

Global Warming - How Perfect Is This?

What could I possibly say that would add anything to this?

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: MontereyJohn

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Doing Our Part to Make the Stimulus Work

I was over at Gateway Pundit's website today (h/t to ARC:Brian) and noticed that our new Governor, Jay "3rd times' a charm" Nixon, has requested people to submit projects that can be funded by the stimulus money.

Yes, I have my own shovel-ready project that I just submitted. Be sure to scroll down to the Project Description - I hope I described it well.

Here's a screen-cap of the submission and the text of my proposal below:

Your Title: Community Organizer
Organization Name: Missourians For Investment In An Environmentally Friendly Infrastructure (or, the M.F.I.I.A.E.F.I.)

Project Information

Project Name: Neighborhood Beautification & Restoration through Environmentally Friendly Infrastructure

Primary Project County: Saint Charles
Primary Project City: O'Fallon

Select the Transform Missouri pillar under which your project falls: Emerging Technology

How does your project fit into the Federal Recovery Program: Energy/Environment

Select the description for your project sponsor from the list below: Not-for-Profit Organization

Please tell us how quickly your project could move forward and how it could impact Missouri's jobs.

Project Status: Shovel Ready
Timeframe to Start: 2 to 4 weeks
Estimated Number of Missouri Jobs created: 5
Estimated Number of Missour Jobs retained: 45

Briefly describe the project below. If you have supporting documents you would like to be included in your file, please check the box below. You will be contacted at the email address you provided if the Transform Missouri staff needs those documents at this time.

Project Description:

My proposed, shovel-ready project is to create a structure that is powered entirely on renewable energy. This would be an example - a beacon - to all future construction in Missouri.

The first aspect of the project involves the enhancement of an existing structure through the installation of highly efficient, state-of-the-art solar electric power modules using a thin-film semiconductor technology combined with several appropriately-sized wind turbines. These two green technologies will feed an underground energy storage facility and a solar-thermal water heater, with any excess energy generation being sent back to the utility grid. In order to maximize the renewable and 100% CO2-free energy, common methods to maximize energy efficiency within the structure will be implemented. Such techniques include improved, environmentally-friendly insulation, installation of low-power LCD displays throughout the structure, etc.

The second aspect of the project is focused on site beautification & natural resource management in order to make the structure appropriate for its intended use. This beautification & resource management aspect includes the planting of a carbon sink comprised of numerous new-growth trees, the establishment of an in-ground water retention system (approximately 50' x 25' x 8' and holding just under 100,000 gallons of natural water!) with a natural managed plant environment surrounding it. In addition to the flora, local terrestrial & aquatic wildlife will be prominently featured as part of a standard natural resource management program.

It is estimated that this project will produce or keep ~50 jobs directly associated with the project and an incalculable number of related jobs. This project could help achieve the President's goal of jump-starting the 21st-century economy through the use of green technology. In addition, the initial costs will be offset through resale of electricity to the grid and through payments from future members of Missourians for Investment in an Environmentally Friendly Infrastructure.

The estimated cost is only $1,000,000. Using the standard economic multiplier effect, this will increase Missouri's GDP by $1.578M in 2009.
I can't wait for the checks to arrive so I can get started on the in-ground pool and solar panel installation!

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler