Archive for August 2009

Cooking the Books on Cash for Clunkers

From CNN via NRO:

NEW YORK ( "” What are people trading their clunkers in for? It depends on who you ask.

The government's results showed small cars as the top choice for shoppers looking for Cash for Clunker deals. But an independent analysis by disputed those results, and showed that two full-size trucks and a small crossover SUV were actually among the top-ten buys.

The discrepancy is a result of the methods used. uses traditional sales measurements, tallying sales by make and model. The government uses a more arcane measurement method that subdivides models according to engine and transmission types, counting them as separate models.

For example, the Ford Escape is available in six different versions including two- and four-wheel drive and hybrid versions. The government counts each version as a different vehicle using guidelines from the Environmental Protection Agency. Only the front wheel drive, non-hybrid version made the government's top ten list.

The Ford Escape crossover SUV, instead of being the seventh-most popular vehicle under the program, as the government ranked it, was actually the best seller, according to The government pegged the Ford Focus as the top seller.

Trucks tend to be available in more variations than cars. That's because truck buyers have a wider variety of needs than car buyers, General Motors spokesman Brian Goebel said.

"There's just so many different uses for the truck, both retail and commercial, than with car purchasers," he said.

The Edmunds rankings, shown in the NRO link above, actually solve one problem for the Obama administration but create another.  The Edmunds list has far fewer foreign cars, overcoming the criticism the program has gotten (not from me!) for promoting sales of non-American nameplates.  But it creates another problem, in that most of the cars on the Edmunds list are relatively low MPG, obviating the whole point of the program.

Our Post Racial Society

I have never gotten as bent out of shape by reverse discrimination charges as have many Conservatives.  If private organizations, for whatever reasons, choose to relax standards to let certain groups into their businesses or universities in larger numbers, so be it.  I find it outrageous that this is considered "progressive" when done in favor of certain races, and "racist and evil" when done entirely symmetrically in favor other other races, but I am still all in favor of letting private organizations set their own admissions or hiring standards.  Public organizations, of course, are held to a different standard, and my reading of "equal protection" has always been that standards really should not vary across races.

That being said, I found this amazing.  For the reasons stated above, I am not ready to get up in arms about it, but I do think the extent of the asymmetry in standards is much greater than most people would guess.

How You Know You Are Winning An Argument

One thing I have learned from a number of years of being a vocal climate skeptic on the web:  When group A makes an argument, and group B responds only with ad hominem attacks on motivations and funding sources, then group A is winning.  It may not seem that way in the media, mainly because the media has gotten to the point where they accept ad hominem attacks as valid rebuttals to scientific or policy arguments.

Remember that charges of faulty motivations, being funded by evil scheming organizations, or even of racism are effectively admissions of weakness.  People who make such arguments are basically admitting that they cannot argue the issue on its merits, and so must resort to tarring the other side so that they can say the people raising the issue don't deserve a response.

My Definition of Sustainability

I was going to respond to this goofy post on sustainability, but it would just be wasted time for this audience.  I think most of you can spot the errors and non sequiturs.  The heart of the problem is that the folks discussing "sustainability" have far more faith in the goodwill of people who deal with them through force (ie the government) than the folks who deal with them only via mutual consent (e.g. private enterprises).

I have never understood this attitude -- sure, the private guy on the other side of my transaction may be ridiculously wealthy, but he got that way only by being able to provide a service people are willing to buy of their own free will at a price that actually covers his costs**.  No one ever volunteers to consume government services unless they are 1) forced to do so (as in public schools or a government supported monopoly) or 2) the service is heavily subsidized (meaning it doesn't not cover its costs).

Which led me to my definition of sustainability, which I think is particularly important in this time of absurdly skyrocketing government spending.  Sustainability in my world means being able to supply a product or service that people are willing to buy of their own free will for the price I specify or that we negotiate, without any sort of coercion.  And that this price charged covers not only my costs, but covers the capital costs of continuing to improve my offering in order to fend off potential competitors.  And that this price further yields me a profit which pays me for my effort and gives me the incentive to keep providing this product or service.

In a free society, the ultimate measure of sustainability is profits.   Profits are what make the division of labor possible, which in turn is the only approach we have ever found to living above a subsistence level.  Without profits, activity beyond subsistence only occurs through coercion at the point of a gun.  If an activity does not yield us surplus, does not reward us for our time spent, then we only pursue it if our rulers use force to make us do so.

iPods and Dell computers and Big Macs are sustainable.  Government health care and cash for clunkers and the Post Office and Amtrak and about everything run by the State of California are not -- except when the government uses its power of force to grab the money it needs to close their budget gap or restrict individual choices or both.   The Post Office is a great example -- the government uses force to take money via taxes from citizens to cover its operating losses, which the Post Office incurs even though the US has used force to prevent anyone from competing with its first class mail business (particularly the most profitable segment, intracity mail).  And still, I might add, the Post Office is going bankrupt.

Look at Exxon vs. Amtrak.  One runs for profit, and in fact gets excoriated for its profits, while the other is run by the government and is lauded for its beneficence.  Which has proven the most sustainable?

And private enterprise has checks on their behavior that don't exist for monopoly government offerings.  When private businesses screw up, or become senescent, or even corrupt, and fail to cover their costs, they are supposed to go bankrupt.  For all the public handwringing about Enron being a bad example for capitalism, it was in fact a victory for capitalism  --  an unsound, possibly corrupt, business died.  Unsustainable business models, whether they be banks making nothing down mortgages or car companies producing bad cars, fail -- in fact, they are supposed to fail -- and resources are diverted to sustainable companies and businesses.  Except when .... you guessed it .... the government intervenes to prevent this from happening by bailing out bankers and manufacturers alike because those companies are owned by or employ people who helped get the president elected.

This renewal never happens in government.  We still have Amtrak, despite nearly 40 years of losses.  We still struggle with the post office and the DMV.  Heck, we still have state alcohol boards fingerprinting bar owners and running FBI checks on them to make sure we are not Al Capone, a problem that went away with the end of prohibition 3 generations ago.

Postscript: A part of the linked post is also a plea by two progressives for more protectionism.   Clearly, these two folks don't agree with the majority economic opinion that protectionism is bad for all nations.  But let's accept their premise for a moment.  Let's assume, as they do, that trade is a mercantilist zero sum and that protectionism would net boost our economy.   They are essentially advocating that the US, the wealthiest country on Earth, protect its workers to the detriment of poorer workers around the world.  Is this really the progressive position?

Postscript #2: A good question I have been using for people lately who show great confidence in the government's ability to solve problems through coercion:  "Imagine what powers you want to give the government.  Now, imagine your political opponents in the _____ Party wielding those powers.  Are you still happy?  If not, what are you counting on?  Point to the period in history where the same party held the presidency for 30 or forty years straight."  This question works well because almost everyone who favors giving coercive power to the government imagines only themselves or their allies wielding this power.

** Footnote: OK, the guy in private enterprise may also have gotten rich from rent-seeking and government favoritism,  but is that a failure of free enterprise or government?    I would normally have said this was a rhetorical question -- clearly, to me at least, rent seeking is the result of a system that gives government employees power over individual decisions.  In a country of strong personal liberties and limited government,  rent-seeking is much much harder.  But my liberal mother-in-law is totally convinced that rent-seeking is not the fault either of the structure of the government or the individual occupants of government but totally the fault of private businesses, and that only more regulation will stop it.

Regulation Is Almost Always Anti-Competitive

Continuing with a long-running theme here at Coyote Blog, here is another example of government regulation being anti-competitive and having the net result of protecting the margins of powerful, established incumbents against new entrants:

During a recent meeting, the Antiplanner was extolling the virtues of Houston's land-use policies, and a home builder at the meeting said, "Of course, no one here wants our city to be like Houston," meaning no one wanted Houston's land-use regime.

Why not? I asked. "There is too much competition down there. My company can't make a profit," he said. "You have to have some barriers to entry to be able to make money."

Those who accuse free marketeers of being supporters of big business don't realize that big businesses (and often smaller businesses) don't want a free market. In this home builder's case, he wanted enough restrictions on the market to keep out some of his competitors (most likely smaller companies that can't afford to hire lawyers and planners for every project) but not enough regulation to keep his company out

Several years ago my company had to obtain a liquor license in Shasta Country, CA. At one point, the issuance of the license had to be voted on by some group (County commissioners, the planning board, something like that). I was told the reason was that if they issued too many licenses, I would not be able to make money -- really, they were looking after me.

Well, not really.  First, the government seldom has any idea even how a business works.  Perhaps the liquor was a loss leader for my business, and I didn't care to make money on it at all.  Perhaps I had a better marketing concept.

And herein we get to the real flaw -- the implication is that somehow the dangers is to the new entrant in a crowded marketplace, but in fact the reality is often the opposite.   The actual competitive danger is often to incumbents, fat and happy with the status quo and unable to react quickly (due to all kinds of reasons from sunk investment to long held biases) to shifts in customer preferences.  No matter what their stated reason, the true effect of such regulation is to protect current competitors from new entrants, new products, and new business concepts.

I can see the effects of this right here where I am sitting, out near the end of Cape Cod.  Zoning and business regulation here is enormously aggressive - its is virtually impossible to start a new retail establishment here, particularly on virgin land.  As a result, every store and restaurant here feels like it is right out of the 1950s.  You'd hardly know there has been a revolution in retail or service delivery over the past few decades, because businesses here are sheltered from new entrants.  They don't need to adopt better practices or provide better products or services, because they know they are not vulnerable (courtesy of the government) to competitive attacks from new entrants using more modern strategies.

Clunker Rent Seeking

I thought this was pretty illuminating, from Tim Carney via Hit and Run.  He is writing about lobbying efforts for and against an extension of cash for clunkers:

One lobbyist for this bill was Nucor Steel. In Cayuga County, N.Y., Nucor turns scrap steel into sheet metal and other steel products. The clunkers are now becoming a subsidized feedstock for Nucor, which helps explain why Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., has led the push for $2 billion extra in clunker cash.

Then there's Enterprise Rent-a-Car also backing the bill, supposedly out of solidarity with automakers. But Enterprise sells its rental cars after a few years. As a rental firm that buys its cars new, Enterprise benefits every time someone else scraps a used car.

On the other side of the lobbying debate were non-dealer auto-repair shops, whose businesses depend on used or older cars, which the owners don't take to the dealer for repair. Also, the Automotive Aftermarket Industry Association opposed the bill.

These are the guys who can sell you the headlight for your 1998 Ford Taurus, or who rebuild an engine out of a junked car.

Shredding old cars saps both their clientele and their supply of old transmissions to rebuild.

My Favorite Quote of the Day

From a Chicago Tribune editorial on the city aldermen blocking Wal-Mart construction in the city, via Carpe Diem:

Organized labor doesn't like Wal-Mart because Wal-Mart doesn't have union jobs. It just has jobs (with an average hourly wage of $12.05 in Chicago). The aldermen, of course, already have jobs. They get paid $110,556 a year and they figure that as long as they keep the labor unions off their backs, they'll keep making $110,556 a year.

Who says the City Council doesn't generate jobs? If you're one of the 50 aldermen, your unemployment rate is 0 percent. But the unemployment rate for the rest of Chicago is above 10 percent. One in 10 Chicagoans is out of work.

Can You Imagine If Oil Companies Did This?

I remember in the 1970s the sight of oil company executives getting dragged before Scoop Jackson's committee in Congress, forced to defend themselves against charges they were holding tankers offshore to drive prices up.  Hilariously, this was at the exact same time oil company executives were testifying in front of a Congress begging legislators to allow them to build the Alaska pipeline.  But demonizing oil companies simultaneously for both decreasing and increasing the supply of oil has been a tradition for decades.

Anyway, I have always found it intriguing how behavior in one industry made unsympathetic by the media can be treated so differently from identical behavior in a more media-cherished industry.  Check this out:

U.S. dairies will remove 86,710 cows from their herds to be sold to slaughterhouses as part of an industry-funded program intended to boost milk prices by curbing output.

The buyout is the third such cull in nine months, the Arlington, Virginia-based National Milk Producers Federation said today in a statement. The most recent buyout completed last month involved 101,000 cows, the most ever for the groups so- called Cooperatives Working Together program, which began in 2003.

Note further that this appears to be acceptable behavior in milk but not in oil, despite the fact that milk is heavily subsidized and the beneficiary of government price supports while oil companies simply pay a whole boatload of taxes.

It turns out there is one other such example in the news, where an industry is destroying hundreds of thousands of units of inventory, with the inevitable result of raising prices (particularly to the poor), all with the facilitation and in fact funding from the Obama Administration.  Can you guess what that is?

Liquor License Hell

A while back I challenged anyone who doubted the burden of regulation to go try to get  a California liquor license.  Today, John Stossel echos the same theme in this post.

"The authority's 26-page "on-premises" application requires owners' detailed financial information, prior employment experience, proof of citizenship and floor-plan details, and it also entails fingerprinting and background investigations. It asks whether music will be played (and if so, what kind) and whether dancing is planned"¦ Such was the complexity of the application process that "I visited the office so many times, it got to the point where the guards stopped asking me for identification," Steve Chahalis said.

I can concur with this experience. In every state I have gotten licenses, I have encountered a bureaucracy that has pretty much forgotten even why it exists or what it is trying to achieve. The Department of Labor can be a pain in the butt, but it at least it has a mission (protect workers from depredations by "the man"), even if that mission is sometimes misguided. But it is impossible to even figure out what problem state liquor boards are trying to protect us from with some of the detailed questionnaires and picayune attention to detailed responses**.

Yet the Times and the bureaucrats have the nerve to blame the businesses: "Restaurant and bar owners are to blame for some of the delays" says the reporter, quoting a state bureaucrat who says: "Ninety percent of the applications are incomplete when submitted."

LOL. Let me give you one example. I had to cancel my entire application, on which I had spent over a year, resubmit a new application, and pay an additional $200 in fees all because on one form (out of scores) there was a typo that showed the address on "Lake Pire Rd" rather than "Lake Piru Rd."   So was this my fault, having a typo in thousands of words of application responses, or the fault of the state liquor board's for not just hand annotating the typo and moving on? If you told me that the main guiding principle of ABC operations was to find a way to reject and send back every single application for even the most trivial of reasons, I could not muster any evidence to disagree with you.

I always complete the applications myself, but I may finally give in on the next California application. In California, the state is full of consultants who will fly your application through the process. Anyone want to guess who these consultants are? If you guessed "retired government alcoholic beverage commission employees," you win. This is the retirement plan they have created for themselves -- make the process so onerous for individuals trying to navigate it that they are forced to use a retired ABC employee as a consultant, after which the process magically goes smoothly.
By the way, this is also another good example of how large corporations are benefited by regulation vs. smaller competitors.  TGIFridays, for example, has a whole department of people who just do liquor licenses.

**Postscript:  Part of the problem is that states are trying to protect us from Al Capone -- thus all the fingerprinting and background checks.  But that problem was solved with legalization.

Report Dissidents to the White House

Several people have emailed me this: Apparently the White House web site is asking that you report anyone writing things on health care that don't match the Administration position so the White House can "keep track".

There is a lot of disinformation about health insurance reform out there, spanning from control of personal finances to end of life care. These rumors often travel just below the surface via chain emails or through casual conversation. Since we can't keep track of all of them here at the White House, we're asking for your help. If you get an email or see something on the web about health insurance reform that seems fishy, send it to

Wow, "disinformation."  You wonder why people ever listen to those counter-revolutionaries and aren't satisfied with just reading Pravda.

Well, we at the global headquarters of CoyoteBlog Enterprises are certainly happy to help.  I sent them this email today:

Thanks for the opportunity to report disinformation where people write things that don't match what the President is saying on health care.  Please check out this document I found on the web -- a number of parts bear very little relationship, and in fact outright contradict, what the President is promising about health care reform.

The link is to a copy of the House health care reform bill.  If you are so inclined, you might wish to offer similar help.

Postscript: My son, who is a big fan of dystopic novels like George Orwell's "1984" might ask if he would get extra credit for turning in a family member.

Update #1: The White House site in question is really ridiculous.  It responds to critiques of what is actually in the bill with statements like "the President has consistently said that if you like your insurance plan, your doctor, or both, you will be able to keep them."  Well duh, of course he has.  But this President, even more than the average President, will say just about anything.

At this point, since the President is purposely uninvolved in the crafting of the legislation and has admitted at times that he doesn't even know the details of what is in it, talking about his promises or preferences is irrelevant.   In fact, nobody is talking about the President's promises and intentions any more, with actual legislation on the table.   They are talking about what is actually in the written bills in the House and Senate.

So the question is, what is in the actual legislation, and does it match Obama's promises, and the current answer is clearly "no."  And will the President veto a health care bill that doesn't follow through on his promises?  Don't make me laugh.  He is going to sign any bill with "health care" in the title no matter what it says -- his advisers have already made that clear by saying that the entire Presidency is riding on having some kind of bill pass that does something with health care.

By the way, in this we can see the White House strategy for passing such controversial bills.  Their hope is to jump directly from the President's "everyone is a winner and there is no cost" rhetoric directly to signed legislation.  They want people focused on his promises, which are enticing, and not the reality of the actual language of the bills, which is ugly and in many ways bear no relationship to the President's rhetoric.  This worked for the stimulus and almost worked for Waxman-Markey and was tried again for health care.

Eeek! The Brits Have REALLY Lost Their Way

I am really left speechless by this.

The Children's Secretary set out £400million plans to put 20,000 problem families under 24-hour CCTV super-vision in their own homes.

They will be monitored to ensure that children attend school, go to bed on time and eat proper meals.

Private security guards will also be sent round to carry out home checks, while parents will be given help to combat drug and alcohol addiction.

Around 2,000 families have gone through these Family Intervention Projects so far.

It actually undershoots the mark to call this "Orwellian," since in "1984" the government monitoring was aimed mainly at combating subversive thought and behavior.  But the Brits are going one better, monitoring families to make sure their kids are eating their vegetables and getting to bed on time.

Incredibly, the oppositions response is that this is... not nearly enough intervention!!!

But Shadow Home Secretary Chris Grayling said: "This is all much too little, much too late.

"This Government has been in power for more than a decade during which time anti-social behaviour, family breakdown and problems like alcohol abuse and truancy have just got worse and worse."

Is there any voice left for individual liberties in England?  Am I missing something here?  This seems simply horrible.  Is there at least due process involved, such that such measures can only be imposed as a result of a criminal conviction (I don't think so, from my reading of the story and comments -- I think this is like Child Protective Services in the US, with a lot of not-subject-to-due-process intervention powers, but maybe my UK readers can fill in more detail).

I liked this from the comments:

These cameras should be in MPs homes so we can see what the scumbags are up too.

Ditto for Congress.  And how about a Lincoln Bedroom cam?

Hat Tip:  Engadget

State Science Institute

A number of folks, including myself but more prominently Megan McArdle, have argued that a big problem with nationalized health care schemes is that these plans threaten drug innovation in the US  (which is really the last remaining source of drug innovation in the whole world).

The argument is that nationalization schemes will likely hammer drug prices through price controls down to marginal cost, eliminating any profit motive for expensive drug development.  Further, new drugs will be hampered by having to convince government health care czars that the drug should be allowed under proposed proscriptive, top-down systems of allowed medical procedures.  Risk-adverse beauracrats faced with inevitable budget overruns are unlikely to take the chances with new procedures that the private world takes every day.  (And if you don't believe that budgets will be immediately overrun, look at cash-for clunkers, where 5 months of funds were used up in 5 days -- people may not like the government, but they will take free money and services in near infinite amounts).

Well, I had thought that the response to this argument from health care "reform" supporters would have been something like "private incentives to develop drugs will still exist because of X or Y."   But apparently, they have given up on that argument and jumped all the way to the argument that even without any private drug companies, Dr. Robert Stadler and the State Science Institute will do all the drug development we need.

Megan McArdle responds in depth here.  I think there is a simpler argument.  Look at something like computers or machine tools.  Innovation in these free markets occurs all over the world, and new inventions and products are as likely to come from Korea or Japan or Germany than from the US.  But in the world of pharmaceuticals and new medical devices, a wildly disproportionate share come in the US, the last semi-free health care market in the world.  And even those new products developped in other countries are funded and capitalized based on their profit potential in the US.

Demanding All The Improvement From Drivers

I have already written how Waxman-Markey, by the way in which it allocated free carbon permits, effectively demands almost all the reduced carbon dioxide over the first decade to come from drivers  (rather than electricity consumers or utilities).  Incredibly, even coal fired power plants get what amount to a free pass, while the increasingly efficient transportation sector must bear all the burdens.

Reuters has more on this phenomenon.   The article focuses mainly on "pain to refiners" but anyone with a modicum of economic sense will know that an industry with a single digit margin is not going to bear the cost of these changes - consumers of transportation fuels will through higher prices and more uncertain availability.

Ailing U.S. oil refiners could face a crippling period of contraction under a House-approved climate change bill, making the country more dependent on imported refined products.

The so-called cap-and-trade bill narrowly passed by the House of Representatives in June would limit greenhouse gas emissions by requiring polluters to acquire permits for the carbon dioxide they spew into the atmosphere.

To soften the blow, industry would initially be granted free permits covering 85 percent of emissions. But the refining industry managed to get only 2 percent of the allowances, leaving them vulnerable to encroaching foreign companies.

The bill is "going to put them out of business," said Phil Flynn, analyst at PFGBest Research in Chicago. "I think you're going to see refiners close down, especially in this environment we're in right now."

Already, a lot of our refined products are imported from foreign refineries, and my guess is that oil companies are going to be building Asian refineries like crazy.

More Reading of the Health Care

Previously, I thought I was on the hook to pay 8% of wages only if I did not offer a health care option.  But it turns out that even if our company offers a health care option, we STILL owe the 8% if the employee chooses not to avail him or herself of the company plan.  From the legislation, page 145:

Beginning with Y2, if an employee declines such  offer but otherwise obtains coverage in an Exchange participating health benefits plan (other than by reason of being covered by family coverage as a spouse or dependent of the primary insured), the employer shall make a timely contribution to the Health Insurance Exchange with respect to each such employee in accordance with section 313.

Beyond the costs, the record-keeping requirements are staggering.  I have to keep track of how every employee chooses to get their health care, and have to pay different private and public agencies based on these individual decisions.  Beyond this, for my part time employees (which is everyone), the maximum amount I have to pay varies by the hours worked, meaning the legal requirement for employer health care contribution will vary from employee to employee, and may be different, and change year to year, for all 500 of my employees.

Most of my employees are either on Medicare (which presumably has been paid for with their lifetime Medicare taxes) or on a private retirement health plan.  I have been reading the plan for hours and have not figured out if I will owe money for employees on either of these programs.  Anyone with an insight into this is welcome to email me.

Be A Better Legislator Than Your Congressman

You can actually read the health care bill.  Here.

It's Official -- MADD is About Tea-totalling, Not Drunken Driving

Hat tip to Radley Balko, from 1150 WDEL

And, the leader of an anti-drunk driving group hopes those images don't send the wrong message to the millions of young people who saw the president drinking on TV.

Nancy Raynor is president of the Delaware chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

She says her group isn't "prohibitionist," but it is is concerned about what teens and childrens take away from seeing the president drinking on TV.

Kids would have seen the President drinking a very modest amount of alcohol, and then not driving. And this has what to do with drunk driving? Answer: nothing. Because despite her protestations, MADD has become a prohibitionist organization.

Freedom of Expression Under Assault From Every Direction

Over the last few years, Republicans have tried to wrap themselves in the flag of the First Amendment, arguing that they were the true defenders of free speech against political correctness.  But while the left certainly has attacked speech on certain fronts, the right has been no less busy, particularly in areas related to sex, crime, and security.   One example, via Overlawyered:

Two Lee County, Florida men face possible prison sentences of five years because their MySpace pages show them making hand gestures that prosecutors say are associated with street gangs. "Their prosecutions are the first under a state law passed last year that criminalizes the use of electronic media to "˜promote' gangs." The bill's sponsor, state legislator Rep. William D. Snyder, R-Stuart, says in response to charges that the measure violates the First Amendment by criminalizing expression: "none of our freedoms are absolute, and the freedom of expression is not absolute"

Raising Car Prices for the Poor

I had read a couple of articles positing that by destroying low value cars in the "cash for clunkers program,"  the government was hurting the poor by removing the supply of sub-$5000 used cars from the market.  But what I did not realize is that this program further requires that the engines themselves be rendered useless, so that they cannot be used for parts or rebuilt replacement engines.

The automotive death sentences are meant to ensure that gas-guzzling old models make no return to the road. As sodium silicate disables an entire generation of junkyard-bound cars, the price of used engines will likely skyrocket, predicts Michael Wilson, executive vice president of the Automotive Recyclers Association. "It's the law of supply and demand."

Good plan.  The Journal has a good article about how this sodium silicate process was selected to destroy cars.  I am left wondering if engine parts can even be recycled economically for their metal after the treatment.

Contact Your Congress Person

Added a link on the right for phone numbers and emails of all Congress members.

Please Discuss

Today, here on Cape Cod, where every car has an Obama sticker, I was struck by two cars which had Obama stickers as well as this same slogan, a paraphrase of a Ben Franklin bon mot:

Those who give up their liberty for more security neither deserve liberty nor security.

I have absolutely no problem with this bumper sticker in its original context, which I presume was to protest things like the Patriot Act, indefinite detentions, and wiretapping during the Bush Administration (and all retained, so far, by this Administration).

But my question back to them would be -- do you still support this statement in the context of pending health care legislation, which is yet another example of trading individual liberty for security, albeit security of a slightly different type?

Government Money = Government Control

John Stossel has a post on Dan Rather's really bad idea to have the government restructure and, presumably, fund the media.

A press that is financially dependent on the government cannot be free. Even if it had formal protections against micromanaging by elected officials, socialized journalism would inevitably be compromised journalism. It would be no more independent than a subsidized farmer or a defense contractor.

Perhaps an even better example are state governments.  There are explicit protections - not just legal, but Constitutional - of state's authority vs. those of the Federal government.  Theoretically, it should be impossible for the Federal government to impose, say, seatbelt laws or restrictions on drinking age, as those are clearly in the purview of states.

But enter Federal highway and education money.  Time and again, states are threatened by the Federal government that it will withold money from a state -- money collected from taxpayers in that state -- unless the state passes legislation of its choosing.  If the Feds can use funding to push around California and Texas, what hope does the LA Times or the Houston Post have of avoiding such control, if their survival becomes dependent on federal funds.

The Government Responds

The author of one of the charts I criticized in the recent government climate report has responded directly to my post.    Generally unimpressed, I counter in this post at Climate Skeptic.

Lyrics to Songs that You Didn't Know Had Lyrics

Hawaii 5-0?  Star Trek?  I Dream of Jeannie?

Jeannie, fresh as a daisy/Just love how she obeys me/She does things that amaze me so...

The Star Trek lyrics are awful, but you have to do a search to find them all.  The Leave it to Beaver lyrics are just ... bizarre.   Some pre-1960s hallucinogens or something.

The Next Crisis-Emergency-Rush

I have been trying to find a word to describe the legislative style we have seen prominently over the last 9 months (though it was used long before this administration -- the Patriot Act comes to mind).   Unable to think of any other name, an in homage to "murder-death-kill" in "Demolition Man,"  I am going to call it Crisis-Emergency-Rush.

TARP was a Crisis-Emergency-Rush.  As was the Stimulus bill, Waxman-Markey, and now Health Care.  (The last two are particularly hilarious when one needs to evaluate the need to rush.   Waxman-Markey is implemented over decades, and the health care bills as currently written don't really begin to take effect until 2013).

So here is my prediction for the next Crisis-Emergency-Rush:  Raising taxes.  Obama already has his boys out sending trial balloons about new taxes, even beyond those required in Waxman-Markey and to fund the health care bill.  Having spent over a trillion dollars on useless spending to support favored political constituencies, Obama will now declare a fiscal crisis that can only be solved by increased taxes on his non-favored constituencies.

Where's Coyote?

At the beach for a while.