Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Interesting thought on whether it makes sense to "fight the

In an article Is A Police State Worth Fighting For the author makes the comparison to Rome and the people who saw the coming police state and left versus the ones who stayed to "fix" the system and ended up suffering a police state. It is hard for me to accept that we're in a similar situation, and even so I feel like the Tea Party gives some hope that some of the problems are going to get fixed. But an interesting idea.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

75% of public transit costs paid through subsidy

Was just listening a Cato forum "The Future of Public Transit: What Are the Roles of the Federal Government and the Private Sector?" and was struck by the following statement:

"Today only about 20-25% of all funding for transit comes from transit fares. The rest of it comes from various federal, state, and local subsidies."

The problem is partly then the public transit is trying to please government, the major source of funding, rather than riders.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Disincentive to Produce

One of the problems we have in this country (in my opinion) is we have a disincentive to produce. At some point it makes no sense for a rational person to try to earn more because there is not enough return on their work. I know of people who were on welfare and it was hard to make the choice to work because their standard of living went down once they weren't receiving all the freebies. They made the choice to do it because they believed at some point they'd be earning enough that they would be better off, but for now it would be a step back. Someone else running into this due to the AMT wrote about their Disincentive to Produce. They were going to be losing so much of any additional money they earned, it didn't make sense to work harder or be more productive. Just seems like there is a problem when we don't reward people working harder. They make the comparison of a hourly worker who when working overtime gets time and a half, but the tax system tends to reverse things, that you earn less for your 60th hour worked than you did for your first hour worked.

Interesting thought.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Self Sufficient Gardener

I often listen to podcasts while working and have enjoyed listening to this podcast. You can find it in iTunes or directly at .

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The War on Small Business

This was an article I wanted to bookmark.

"Kauffman crunched a data set from the Census Bureau covering the years 1977-2005. In all but seven years during that period, existing businesses cut an average 1 million jobs… while firms in existence for a year or less created 3 million."

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Solution to an auto update problem on WordPress

Not my normal topic for this blog, but a website I run for a friend uses WordPress and the auto-update wasn't working. This article at fixed the problem I had, just needed to make a .htaccess file with the line:

AddType x-mapp-php5 .php

Now the auto update works again.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Comparison between US debt post WW2 and now

Just read this article about how some people compare the current US debt to the debt after World War 2, saying we were able to grow out of the debt then, so we should be fine now. They make the observation that the difference is there was a lot of pent up demand, people who had saved because they couldn't buy much during the war period were suddenly able to buy. At the moment there isn't the pent up demand, rather we have an amazing amount of debt. Something interesting to think about.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

10 Benefits of Expatriation

As more people get more annoyed with the burden of US taxes, more people are looking to give up their citizenship (expatriation). The Daily Reckoning had a two part series giving 10 reasons to expatriate.

Friday, June 18, 2010

On the value of Fathers


"More to the point, a counselor at a juvenile-detention facility in California, which has the nation's highest juvenile-incarceration rate, protested, "[If] you find a gang member who comes from a complete nuclear family, I'd like to meet him. ... I don't think that kid exists.""

Friday, May 21, 2010

Green jobs a disaster in Spain

"Even the (Spanish) government numbers indicate that each green job created costs more than 2.2 traditional jobs." So if Obama follows the path of his model, Spain, for each green job he creates, our unemployment will go up. Something about the law of unintended consequences.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

There is no such thing as a free lunch

This is an idea I've had for a while, figure this is as good a place to organize some thoughts, see if I can't flesh it out.

People seem to be reluctant to try major changes in government spending, tax codes, whatever. "We can't change farm subsidy bill, think of the farmers!" "Don't change the child tax credit, I get money for that!" Too many people seem to think that they're getting a deal somehow from the government, and with 47% paying no income tax, there are a lot thinking they are making out like bandits.

What people don't see are the higher prices they pay for groceries, clothing, cars, and so on due to protective tariffs, one of the forms of corporate welfare. They don't see the higher prices they pay at restaurants or other businesses because those businesses have to comply with crazy regulations.

There are definitely people who come out winners, receiving more government services than they pay for. However, more people think they are "winners" than really are, because they don't see all the ways government hurts them.

Well, I'll have to work on this idea more some other time, bedtime for now.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Silly analogy for mortgage backed derivatives

Easily Understandable Explanation of Derivative Markets

Heidi is the proprietor of a bar in Detroit. She realizes that virtually all of her customers are unemployed alcoholics and, as such, can no longer afford to patronize her bar. To solve this problem, she comes up with a new marketing plan that allows her customers to drink now, but pay later.

Heidi keeps track of the drinks consumed on a ledger (thereby granting the customers' loans). Word gets around about Heidi's "drink now, pay later" marketing strategy and, as a result, increasing numbers of customers flood into Heidi's bar. Soon she has the largest sales volume for any bar in Detroit.

By providing her customers freedom from immediate payment demands, Heidi gets no resistance when, at regular intervals, she substantially increases her prices for wine and beer, the most consumed beverages. Consequently, Heidi's gross sales volume increases massively.

A young and dynamic vice-president at the local bank recognizes that these customer debts constitute valuable future assets and increases Heidi's borrowing limit. He sees no reason for any undue concern, since he has the debts of the unemployed alcoholics as collateral.

At the bank's corporate headquarters, expert traders figure a way to make huge commissions, and transform these customer loans into DRINKBONDS, ALKIBONDS and PUKEBONDS. These securities are then bundled and traded on international security markets.

Naive investors don't really understand that the securities being sold to them as AAA secured bonds are really the debts of unemployed alcoholics. Nevertheless, the bond prices continuously climb, and the securities soon become the hottest-selling items for some of the nation's leading brokerage houses.

One day, even though the bond prices are still climbing, a risk manager at the original local bank decides that the time has come to demand payment on the debts incurred by the drinkers at Heidi's bar. He so informs Heidi.

Heidi then demands payment from her alcoholic patrons, but being unemployed alcoholics they cannot pay back their drinking debts. Since Heidi cannot fulfill her loan obligations she is forced into bankruptcy. The bar closes and the eleven employees lose their jobs.

Overnight, DRINKBONDS, ALKIBONDS and PUKEBONDS drop in price by 90%. The collapsed bond asset value destroys the banks liquidity and prevents it from issuing new loans, thus freezing credit and economic activity in the community.The suppliers of Heidi's bar had granted her generous payment extensions and had invested their firms' pension funds in the various BOND securities. They find they are now faced with having to write off her bad debt and with losing over 90% of the presumed value of the bonds.

Her wine supplier also claims bankruptcy, closing the doors on a family business that had endured for three generations, her beer supplier is taken over by a competitor, who immediately closes the local plant and lays off 150 workers.

Fortunately though, the bank, the brokerage houses and their respective executives are saved and bailed out by a multi-billion dollar no-strings attached cash infusion from their cronies in Government. The funds required for this bailout are obtained by new taxes levied on employed, middle-class, non-drinkers who have never been in Heidi's bar.

Kind of silly.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Need for separation / secession?

Some people seem to think that secession is no longer acceptable, which seems odd to me since our country was founded on secession. The only instance that is taught in school is the civil war and because of the association with slavery, secession is painted as racist, and no mention is made of the North Eastern states threatening secession on more than one occasion. I wonder if it is going to take states threatening secession to get some needed changes in our federal government.

"The problem that our nation faces is very much like a marriage where one partner has broken, and has no intention of keeping, the marital vows. Of course, the marriage can remain intact and one party tries to impose his will on the other and engage in the deviousness of one-upsmanship. Rather than submission by one party or domestic violence, a more peaceable alternative is separation. I believe we are nearing a point where there are enough irreconcilable differences between those Americans who want to control other Americans and those Americans who want to be left alone that separation is the only peaceable alternative. Just as in a marriage, where vows are broken, our human rights protections guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution have been grossly violated by a government instituted to protect them. The Democrat-controlled Washington is simply an escalation of a process that has been in full stride for at least two decades. There is no evidence that Americans who are responsible for and support constitutional abrogation have any intention of mending their ways. ... Americans who wish to live free have several options. We can submit to those who have constitutional contempt and want to run our lives. We can resist, fight and risk bloodshed and death in an attempt to force America's tyrants to respect our liberties and human rights. We can seek a peaceful resolution of our irreconcilable differences by separating. ... The bottom-line question for all of us is: Should we part company or continue trying to forcibly impose our wills on one another? My preference is a restoration of the constitutional values of limited government that made us a great nation." --economist Walter E. Williams

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Results of Tort Reform in Mississippi

Found this article by the Heritage Foundation interesting.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Downsizing Government

Site put out by Cato on Downsizing Government. Interesting reading.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Government employees earning more than private sector equivalents


"Overall, federal workers earned an average salary of $67,691 in 2008 for occupations that exist both in government and the private sector, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data. The average pay for the same mix of jobs in the private sector was $60,046 in 2008, the most recent data available.

These salary figures do not include the value of health, pension and other benefits, which averaged $40,785 per federal employee in 2008 vs. $9,882 per private worker, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis."

So counting benefits, government employees earn $108476 versus $69928 for private sector employees, so 55% more. Infuriating.

Monday, February 22, 2010

School budget problems in a recession

So the value of the funds supporting the pensions have gone down, just like our 401k's, but then they need to increase the contributions to the pensions, in a recession. That's going to go over well. An article Even More on the Coming War Over Public-Sector Pensions shows the problem showing up in Fairfax, Virginia, as well as the dishonesty going on in selling the public on the $90M tax increase they want to pay for this.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

On the problem of leaving national debt to our children

So the average child born "inherits" almost $50,000 of debt, but what does that mean? Basically that they have higher taxes to look forward to, and as such less money to spend as they choose, a lower standard of living.

Sign of the times

Got a laugh out of this one found here.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Politicians like household pets?

"In many ways, most politicians are not unlike most household pets: they are entirely dependent on handouts and, if not properly vaccinated and spayed/neutered, they have a tendency to multiply like rabid mongrels. And, when all is said and done, it is we owners who are left to clean up the mess they leave all over the public’s property. Pet owners are advised, therefore, to exercise control. Don’t let your politicians get too long on the leash and never, under any circumstances, forget who is the master of whom."

- Joel Bowman, The Daily Reckoning

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Unicorn deniers!

From an article by Richard W Rahn

"Assume you are a scientist and have been given a major financial grant to prove that the mythical unicorn really did exist. You know that as long as you can demonstrate some progress in showing the unicorn might have existed, your financial grant will be renewed each year, provided some other scientist does not come out with substantial evidence that the unicorn could not have existed. Under such conditions, you would have a very strong incentive to disregard much of the evidence that the unicorn could not have existed and each year provide only the data that could demonstrate that the unicorn might have existed. You also would have a very strong incentive to attack any scientist who raised serious questions or provided evidence that the unicorn could not have existed. You even might go so far as to refer to them with the disparaging term 'unicorn deniers' and attempt to use your influence with other scientists who also are receiving grants dependent on the existence of the unicorn to try to prevent the unicorn deniers from publishing their findings in well-regarded scientific journals. The recently released e-mails (by whistleblowers or hackers, depending on your prejudice) between some of the best-known scientists behind global warming showed that they succumbed to the all-too-human tendency to protect their turfs and pocketbooks, despite the evidence."