9/29/2012

Obama administration promises firms taxpayer money to cover legal costs only if firms violate the law in way that helps Obama administration

The Obama administration is able to simultaneously break the law and misuse taxpayer money and do it all for purely political ends.
The Obama administration issued new guidance intended for defense contractors Friday afternoon, reiterating the administration’s position that the companies should not be issuing layoff notices over sequestration.  
The Labor Department issued guidance in July saying it would be “inappropriate” for contractors to issue notices of potential layoffs tied to sequestration cuts. But a few contractors, most notably Lockheed Martin, said they still were considering whether to issue the notices — which would be sent out just days before the November election.  
But the Friday guidance from the Office of Management and Budget raised the stakes in the dispute, telling contractors that they would be compensated for legal costs if layoffs occur due to contract cancellations under sequestration — but only if the contractors follow the Labor guidance.  
The guidance said that if plant closings or mass layoffs occur under sequestration, then “employee compensation costs for [Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification] WARN act liability as determined by a court” would be paid for covered by the contracting federal agency. . . .

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Top Five Worst Obamacare Taxes Coming in 2013

So much for Obama's promise not to raise any taxes on middle class.
The Obamacare Medical Device Tax – a $20 billion tax increase [the devices covered are available here] . . .
The Obamacare “Special Needs Kids Tax” – a $13 billion tax increase . . .
The Obamacare Surtax on Investment Income – a $123 billion tax increase . . .
The Obamacare “Haircut” for Medical Itemized Deductions – a $15.2 billion tax increase . . .
The Obamacare Medicare Payroll Tax Hike -- an $86.8 billion tax increase . . .
Other taxes during an Obama Second term.
A pillar of President Obama’s re-election campaign is a hike in the top two marginal income tax rates.  By and large, small employers pay their small business taxes using individual tax rates.  If individual tax rates are raised, so are small business tax rates.  The top income tax rate is scheduled to rise from 35 percent in 2012 to 39.6 percent in 2013.  According to IRS data, a clear majority of all small business profits face taxation at this top marginal income tax rate. . . .  
The death tax in 2012 has a top rate of 35 percent, and a “standard deduction” of $5 million ($10 million in the case of a married couple or surviving spouse). President Obama’s plan proposes raising the rate to 45 percent and slashing the exemption to $3.5 million. . . . 

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More Federal Government Loans going out to weak energy companies

From Fox News:
SoloPower closed on a guaranteed government loan of $197 million last August, about the time another solar panel manufacturer, Solyndra, filed for bankruptcy. The failure of Solyndra cost U.S. taxpayers more than a half-billion dollars. 
The second solar panel maker that received a loan from the Department of Energy, Abound, is also now in bankruptcy. Based in Longmont, Colo., Abound spent $70 million of its green energy loan and next week will auction off its equipment in hopes of paying some of that back. 
Industry analysts are not optimistic about SoloPower's prospects. 
"It's questionable at this point," says Andrew Soare of Lux Research, "It's uncertain if solar power will be able to produce efficiently and economically at scale. It's something that has not been done yet, and it's still risky." . . .

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9/28/2012

Pat Caddell, former pollster for Jimmy Carter, has a strong attack on media bias


I have met Pat and he is a real straight shooter.  He is someone who I admire.  A transcript of his talk is available here.

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Jay Leno on "wasting time"

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Just how politically biased are movie critics?: Comparing reviews for D'Souza and Moore



There are few movie makers as biased, as strident, and as factually challenged as Michael Moore, but movie critics offer glowing reviews of his movies.  The Columbine movie is filled with errors.  Even Christopher Hitchens found Moore's claims just too much.  Of course, I could also include Al Gore's movie in this discussion, but there too many possible extraneous factors with Gore being a former VP.

I also have problems with Dinesh D'Souza's new film on Obama, but even if one doesn't think that Dinesh has proven his case, he doesn't take the liberty in making up facts the way that Moore does.  The fact that there are relatively few reviewers who even see Dinesh's movie and that only 28% of all reviewers and just 14% of "top critics" give it a thumbs up shows how incredibly biased the reviewers are.

Audience reviews for 2016 seem very close to the average for the three Moore movies (77 to 79%), though I am sure that people could object the objectivity of the audiences that see either movie.  2016 has brought in more revenue that two of Moore's movies and quite a bit less than what he got for Fahrenheit 9/11.

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Three years in prison for stealing $800,000?: No wonder there is massive theft by TSA officials




Major airports with a history of significant theft problems.


There are only a few airports (San Francisco and Kansas City being the most prominent) with private screening, but those do not seem to have a problem with theft.  It would be nice to have a more careful comparison being made.

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9/27/2012

So have Obama's regulations hurt the NYC financial industry?

So has Dodd-Frank and other Obama regulations hurt the financial industry?  Over the last year New York City's average weekly wages have dropped 6.3%.  But the biggest drop was borne by the financial industry.

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Quinnipiac Pollster gives lame explanation for why they aren't weighting surveys by percent of Republicans and Democrats

These surveys are surveying 3 to 10 or more percentage points more Democrats than Republicans.  Especially for the higher values, does anyone believe that is really going to happen this year?  So how do pollsters justify this?  CBS News has this:
"We do not weight for party ID," said Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, which is conducting battleground state polls along with CBS News and the New York Times. "We do not predetermine how many Democrats, Republicans and independents will be in our sample." 
The reason, he says, is that "party ID is a changing statistic. People will over time change back and forth in terms of how they view themselves politically." 
Instead, Brown says the polls are weighted by "immutable characteristics - race, gender, age." Respondents are then asked their party identification during the interviews. 
"We do that because there is a set standard that we can compare ourselves with to make sure we're getting an accurate demographic representative. And that standard is the United States Census Bureau data," said Brown. "What we get is what we get," he added. . . .
We know that there are lots of biases in the rate that people respond to pollsters that might not be picked up by simple race, gender, and age.  For example, during the 2004 general election the exit polls were biased towards Democrats because Republicans tended to be less likely to answer questions from pollsters.  For example, here is a book by Best and Krueger entitled "Exit Polls: Surveying the American Electorate, 1972-2010," Chapter 1: 
VRS claimed the Democratic overstatement in the raw exit poll data was due to partisan differences in the willingness of voters to complete the exit poll, not to a poor selection of precincts or differential response rates by age, race, or gender. Republicans simply refused to participate at the same rates as Democrats, resulting in there being fewer Republicans in the raw exit poll results than there should have been. Mitofsky speculated that the disparity was due to different intensities of support for the candidates—Democratic voters were just more excited about voting for Clinton than Republican voters were about voting for Bush and, as a result, were more motivated to communicate this message by filling out the exit poll questionnaire; others thought it was due to Republicans in general having less confidence in the mass media.”
UPDATE: Michael Barone has a very useful column here.
it's getting much harder for pollsters to get people to respond to interviews. The Pew Research Center reports that it's getting only 9 percent of the people it contacts to respond to its questions. That's compared with 36 percent in 1997. . . .
Pollster Scott Rasmussen, who weights his robocall results by party identification, adjusted monthly, has shown a much closer race than most pollsters who leave party identification numbers unweighted. So has the Susquehanna poll in Pennsylvania.
It may be that we're seeing the phenomenon we've seen for years in exit polls, which have consistently skewed Democratic (and toward Barack Obama in the 2008 primaries). Part of that is interviewer error: Exit poll pioneer Warren Mitofsky found the biggest discrepancies between exit polls and actual results were in precincts where the interviewers were female graduate students. . . . 

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Update on Voter ID laws

From the Charlotte Observers:
• In Pennsylvania, the state Supreme Court has thrown a tough new voter ID law back to a lower court.
• In Wisconsin, two state courts have blocked a similar law.
• And Monday, a panel of federal judges will hear closing arguments on South Carolina’s new ID law that requires voters to have photo identification at the polls. . . .

Read more here: http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2012/09/24/3552591/voter-id-battles-churn-in-key.html#storylink=cpy..

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Mother Jones and Media Matters bungle study on Mass Public Shootings

I have studied the topic of multiple victim public shootings extensively (see here, Chp. 6 here, and Chp. 10 here), though you would never know about the data on this from the Mother Jones study.  Among the claims, Mother Jones asserts:
We identified and analyzed 60 of them, and one striking pattern in the data is this: In not a single case was the killing stopped by a civilian using a gun. Moreover, we found that the rate of mass shootings has increased in recent years—at a time when America has been flooded with millions of additional firearms and a barrage of new laws has made it easier than ever to carry them in public. And in recent rampages in which armed civilians attempted to intervene, they not only failed to stop the shooter but also were gravely wounded or killed. . . .
Unlike Mother Jones, Media Matters references my op-ed in the New York Daily News.  In the first paragraph of my piece I made this point:
Friday’s horrible shooting in Colorado occurred in yet another place where guns are banned. And that’s consistent with a trend: With a single exception, every multiple-victim public shooting in the U.S. in which more than three people have been killed since at least 1950 has taken place where citizens are not allowed to carry their own firearms. . . .
The key is that Mother Jones defined multiple victim public shootings as occurring where "The shooter took the lives of at least four people."  Now take the two points together.  Mother Jones' claim that "In not a single case was the killing stopped by a civilian using a gun" is actually quite consistent with my point.  If they had read the first paragraph of my article, the reason that they couldn't find civilian defensive gun uses stopping the attacks should have been obvious: they only looked at cases where more than three people have been killed (or as Mother Jones says "at least four people") and I pointed out that all but one of those cases took place where permitted concealed handguns were banned.

Not only do these mass public killers avoid these places where guns are allowed like the plague, even when attacks occur in places where permitted concealed handguns are allowed they don't meet the criteria that at least four are killed because people with guns stop the attacks.


Indeed, since Mother Jones focuses so much on the Aurora, Colorado case, I should mention again that out of the seven movie theaters within a twenty minute drive of the killer's home that were showing "The Dark Knight Rises" movie, only one posted a sign banning permitted concealed handguns (see pp. 14-17).  The attack didn't take place at the theater closest to the killer's apartment and it wasn't the largest theater, the attack took place at the one theater where victims were not allowed to defend themselves.  But Aurora was not unusual -- time after time these multiple victim public shooters keep picking the rare cases where guns are banned.  


The article also focuses on the Sikh Temple and make a big deal of the fact: "During that time, the state issued a whopping 122,506 permits, according to data from Wisconsin's Department of Justice."  But again it is useful to know that the Temple also banned guns.


The very fact that Mother Jones ignores the entire notion of gun bans speaks volumes.


Media Matters tries to question the claims of the defensive gun uses that I raised in my New York Daily News op-ed.

In an op-ed for The New York Daily News published that same day, John Lott commented on the Aurora shooting by writing, "If one of the hundreds of people at the theater had a concealed handgun, possibly the attack would have ended like the shooting at the mega New Life Church in Colorado Springs in December 2007."(The incident described by Lott at New Life Church involved a former police officer, who was serving as a volunteer security guard, wounding a man who fatally shot two people in the church parking lot. The man subsequently committed suicide.) . . .
What is ignored in the Media Matters account is that Jeanne Assam was able to carry the gun at the New Life Church because she had a permit and as I noted in the New York Daily News piece: "the church’s minister had given Jeanne Assam permission to carry her concealed handgun."  Assam's former husband was a threat so she had gotten herself a concealed handgun permit.  Because of this threat Assam had asked the church's minister for permission to carry the handgun with her at church and the minister said she could do it and he would just call her a volunteer security guard.  Yes, Assam was a former Chicago police officer, as I have written previously, but it was the concealed handgun permit that allowed her to carry the gun with her in Colorado.

Media Matters also mentions other cases:
Gun rights die-hards frequently credit the end of a rampage in 2002 at the Appalachian School of Law in Virginia to armed "students" who intervened—while failing to disclose that those students were also current and former law enforcement officers, and that the killer, according to police investigators, was out of ammo by the time they got to him. . . .
Well, I have mentioned that both Mikael Gross and Tracy Bridges were former deputy sheriffs from North Carolina (Media Matters is completely wrong to use the word "current").  I have interviewed both of them and traveled down to visit the school, and they were in law enforcement for just a couple or a few years.  Again, both had concealed handgun permits from Virginia, the state where the law school is located.  The Washington Post notes that prosecutors used Mikael Gross to testify at the preliminary hearing.  The article by Josh White notes: 
". . . Odighizuwa accepted responsibility for the shootings that began after school officials told him that he was failing out of the program. On Jan. 16, 2002, he took a .380-caliber pistol to the offices of Dean L. Anthony Sutin and Prof. Thomas Blackwell and killed them before opening fire on a crowd, killing student Angela Dales, 33, and wounding three others. Odighizuwa was subdued without incident by armed students. . . ."
I am not going to waste much time on their assertion that the rate of shootings has been increasing since I have already dealt with this type of issue before in my research, but one clear reason for the "increase" is that they clearly didn't report all the cases and the earlier cases are particularly missing (for another view for the pattern over time see here, though has with most other studies they don't differentiate gang shootings from the type of mass shootings that get news attention).  Yet, the main issue is that these attacks keep occurring where guns are banned.  Even in states where permitted concealed handguns are allowed, the attacks keep occurring in the few places within the states where concealed handguns are banned.  Given that right-to-carry states allow permitted concealed handguns in the vast majority of places, if Mother Jones and Media Matters were correct, simple randomness would imply that most of these attacks should be in places that allow permitted concealed handguns.  Yet, that is not even remotely close to being true.

UPDATE: James Allen Fox demolishes the Mother Jones discussion here:



Not only is Mother Jones’s decision to disqualify cases based on certain criteria hard to defend, the criteria themselves were not necessarily applied consistently. Mother Jones included the 1993 Chuck E. Cheese robbery/massacre of four people committed by a former employee, but excluded the Brown’s Chicken robbery/massacre of seven victims that occurred the very same year, presumably because two perpetrators were involved in the latter incident or perhaps because these gunmen had no prior connection to the restaurant. 
Mother Jones also eliminated massacres involving family members, even though they too can involve large body counts, such as the massacre of 14 relatives and two others by R. Gene Simmons of Russellville, Ark. in 1987. Other massive shootings, like the execution-style slaughter of 13 in a Seattle club in 1983, were ignored because of their relation to gang activity or some criminal enterprise. Particularly mystifying is the decision not to include cases involving multiple perpetrators yet to waive this condition for two school shootings. 
Notwithstanding the questionable motive-based selectivity built into the Mother Jones analysis, it seems odd to ignore shootings with large death tolls just because there was more than one shooter or because the shooter was related to his or her victims. These incidents are no less devastating to the families and communities impacted by the crimes.
So how does the Mother Jones report of a rise in mass shootings stand up when considering the full range of cases? Simply put, not very well. . . .
UPDATE: Here is someone who is apparently relying on the Mother Jones' claims: "Latest Ed Schultz Whopper: 'We've Never Had a Civilian Stop a Shooting'."  Presumably, Schultz is relying on 
Would it be a deterrent if, you know, say perpetrators know that there's guns in the schools? How do we know they wouldn't view that as a challenge? I mean, we got a goofy world out there. I'm just not convinced that packing a small firearm is the best defense or certainly not the best defense. You know, you want to make the best defense? Make the school a damn fortress. I mean, you could do that, I mean but, is that reasonable? Is that the right thing to do? Is it necessary? And so I'm just, is it nec-, haven't we had enough school shootings where this is necessary? We've never had a civilian stop a shooting. . . .
UPDATE: Sam Wang over at Princeton Election Consortium also uses the Mother Jones data without apparently being aware that they don't get all the earlier multiple victim shootings.  Geez, is it surprising that you show an increase in the later period when you get all of those but miss many earlier cases?

UPDATE: From Reason.com, a very similar point to that raised above:
The second problem is that the underreporting in the Mother Jones list grows more severe the further back in time we go. When looking at the data by decade, we see that the Mother Jones list captured 89 percent of the 18 cases from 2010-2013, 69 percent of the 29 cases from 2000-2009, 55 percent of the 42 cases from 1990-1999, and just 32 percent of the 25 cases from 1982-1989. . . .

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"Moms packing heat"

A video is available at the KHOU website here.
Some women do it for recreation and others do it for safety, but when it comes to learning, they do it together.
Nearly 47 percent more women are shooting today than a decade ago. Former special agent Tina Wilson has made it her mission to teach women about safety.
“At any time, at anyplace, violence can happen to us,” Wilson said.
She founded “She Can Shoot.” It is a four-hour firearms course that costs $55. Women walk away with a certificate of completion and knowledge of how to shoot safely.
“It takes away the intimidating factor of going into an all-male or male-dominated environment,” Wilson said. . . . .

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$1.4 billion spent on the Obama family last year

Presumably this comparison to the British Royal family is somewhat unfair given that the president needs to do a lot of entertaining and traveling.  But a lot of the individual costs shown in the Daily Caller piece are pretty outrageous:
Taxpayers spent $1.4 billion dollars on everything from staffing, housing, flying and entertaining President Obama and his family last year, according to the author of a new book on taxpayer-funded presidential perks.

In comparison, British taxpayers spent just $57.8 million on the royal family.

Author Robert Keith Gray writes in “Presidential Perks Gone Royal” that Obama isn’t the only president to have taken advantage of the expensive trappings of his office. But the amount of money spent on the first family, he argues, has risen tremendously under the Obama administration and needs to be reined in.

Gray told The Daily Caller that the $1.4 billion spent on the Obama family last year is the “total cost of the presidency,” factoring the cost of the “biggest staff in history at the highest wages ever,” a 50 percent increase in the numbers of appointed czars and an Air Force One “running with the frequency of a scheduled air line.” . . . .

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9/26/2012

Some news on the Economy: Small businesses angry with Obama and low wage jobs replacing higher paid ones

The National Federation of Independent Businesses and the National Association of Manufacturers has a new poll by Public Opinion Strategies that surveyed 800 small business owners and manufacturers.  Those surveyed were C-level decision makers at companies with between 2 and 499 employees.  Some of the key findings are:

  • Fifty-five percent of small business owners and manufacturers would not have started their businesses in today’s economy.
  • 69 percent say President Obama’s regulatory policies have hurt their businesses
  • 67 percent say there is too much uncertainty in the market today to expand, grow or hire new workers.
  • 69 percent of small business owners and manufacturers say President Obama’s Executive Branch and regulatory policies have hurt American small businesses and manufacturers.
  • 55 percent say they would not start a business today given what they know now and in the current environment.
  • 54 percent say other countries like China and India are more supportive of their small businesses and manufacturers than the United States.
  • Since only 46 percent of poll participants are identified as Republicans, there are a lot of Democratic or Independent small business owners who are not to thrilled with Obama.
  • The findings were summarized this way:
    “There is far too much uncertainty, too many burdensome regulations and too few policymakers willing to put aside their egos and fulfill their responsibilities to the American people,” said Jay Timmons, president of the National Association of Manufacturers, which commissioned the poll along with the National Federation of Independent Businesses. “To fix this problem, we need immediate action on pro-growth tax and regulatory policies that put manufacturers in the United States in a position to compete and succeed in an ever-more competitive global economy.” . . . 
    “Instead of smoothing the way, our government continues to erect more barriers to growth through burdensome regulations that increase costs for small businesses and all Americans,” NFIB president Dan Danner said. . . .
    More evidence that the new jobs are paying a lot less than the ones that were lost.  From the Chicago Sun Times:
    The report, authored by Marc Doussard, assistant professor in the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s Department of Urban and Regional Planning, defines low-wage workers as those making $12 an hour or less. 
    The report revealed the share of payroll employees ages 18 to 64 working in low-wage jobs rose from 23.8 percent in 2001 to 31.2 percent last year. That’s a more than a 30 percent rise in the proportion of such workers. 
    Meanwhile the share of households with a low-wage earner that got all income from low-wage earnings rose from 45.7 percent to 56.7 percent. That’s evidence more people are relying more on those dollars to meet basic needs rather than for disposable income. . . . .
    CEOs are lowering their predictions for the third quarter GDP.
    Citing uncertainty over the impending “fiscal cliff” and lower demand overseas, an association of CEOs from top companies on Wednesday dropped its growth expectations for the third quarter to the lowest level since the middle of the Great Recession. 
    The Business Roundtable lowered projections for sales, capital spending and hiring in its latest CEO Economic Outlook Survey to the lowest level since 2009. 
    The fiscal cliff — an end-of-the-year deadline for a long-term budget deal between Republican and Democratic lawmakers — has businesses putting off hiring and spending decisions, because they don’t know what to expect in the coming months and years, said Jim McNerney, the CEO of Boeing who also heads the Business Roundtable. . . . 
    Of course, the Q2 GDP number is now in at 1.254% annualized growth rate.  That is incredibly anemic for a "recovery" and shows that over the last few quarters the economy has been slowing down.  Durable goods orders has also fallen off a cliff (see the Dept of Commerce discussion here).
    August durable goods orders plunged -13 percent.  The consensus was  -5.0 percent.  It's the biggest drop since January 2009.  Everyting except eletrical equipment orders showed declines. . . . 
    More on the drop in household income:
    o The August 2012 median annual household income of $50,678 was 5.7percent lower than the median of $53,718 in June 2009, the end of therecent recession and beginning of the “economic recovery.”
    o The August 2012 median was 8.1 percent lower than the median of $55,131 in December 2007, the beginning month of the recession that occurred more than four years ago.
    o The August 2012 median was 9.0 percent lower than the median of $55,688 in January 2000, the beginning of this statistical series. . . . 

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    Will it be the third quarter of 2013 before GDP gets back to pre-recession level?



    From the WSJ.  Note that to even get to the third quarter of next year there is the assumption that GDP growth will accelerate.  The assumption for that isn't clear.

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    9/25/2012

    Yet more examples of vote fraud

    Any bets on which state is more likely to enforce the law?  My money is on Florida.  This is more evidence of the problem with absentee ballots.  From Fox News:
    A national voter fraud watchdog group announced Tuesday that it has uncovered at least 31 cases of absentee ballot fraud in New York and Florida -- a finding the group claims is "just the tip of the iceberg." 
    True the Vote, a group that focuses on voter fraud, said it turned over 31 cases to state and federal election authorities in which individuals cast their votes in two states in the same federal election -- which is a felony. 
    Logan Churchwell, a spokesman for the group, told FoxNews.com that the organization accessed Florida's complete voter registration roll and cross-referenced it against 10 percent of New York's list. It identified more than 1,700 people with voter registrations in both states. Of that number, 31 people allegedly voted in both states during the same federal election cycle. 
    Both Florida and New York require voters to cast ballots that correspond with their permanent home addresses. Under federal law, voters are prohibited from casting more than one ballot in the same election. . . .

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    Copy of Robert A. Heinlein's great short story: "By His Bootstraps,"

    A pdf of his story is available here.

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    Washington DC getting the country's money and making life worse

    Some graphs from the Washington Post:
    Of the 10 richest counties in Americaseven are in the D.C. area. To some pundits, that looks like strong evidence of crony capitalism. “Whence comes this wealth? Mostly from Washington’s one major industry: the federal government,” Ross Douthat writes in the New York Times. “Not from direct federal employment…but from the growing armies of lobbyists and lawyers, contractors and consultants, who make their living advising and influencing and facilitating the public sector’s work.” . . . 
    Also from the Washington Post: "Health insurance costs grew slowly for two years [before Obamacare kicked in]. Now, they’re speeding up."

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    New York Times confuses you getting money from government program with you benefiting from program

    For most people over their lifetimes they get a much lower rate of return from Social Security than they would get from an private investments that they would make.  The New York Times would claim that those people benefit from Social Security simply because they got money from the program.  But if the program were cut, wouldn't it be fair to assume that the taxes that you were paying into the program would also be cut?  If both programs and the taxes for those programs were to be cut, many people getting the "benefits" of the programs would be better off.

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    Nancy Pelosi's brother-in-law owns company given $737 million Federal Government Loan

    Are all these government programs a way of transferring money to favored individuals?  From the UK Daily Mail:
    Nancy Pelosi is facing accusations of cronyism after a solar energy project, which her brother-in-law has a stake in, landed a $737 million loan guarantee from the Department of Energy, despite the growing Solyndra scandal. 
    The massive loan agreement is raising new concerns about the use of taxpayers' money as vast sums are invested in technology similar to that of the doomed energy project. 
    The investment has intensified the debate over the effectiveness of solar energy as a major power source. 
    The SolarReserve project is backed by an energy investment fund where the Minority Leader's brother-in-law Ronald Pelosi is second in command. . . .

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    9/24/2012

    Howard Stern and staff interview Obama Supporters

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    New book by Donald Boudreaux : "Hypocrites & Half-Wits"

    For those who have enjoyed Don Boudreaux's letters to editors at various newspapers and other news organizations at this website CafeHayek.com, Free To Choose Press has collected those letters and other musings in one place: Hypocrites & Half-Wits: A Daily Dose of Sanity from Cafe Hayek.  This 248 page book is an extremely fast read, but even those who don't have the attention span to tackle econ books will find this a very painless way to learn economics in simple, very well explained small bites.  I was able to go through the book in just a leisurely few hours.  As someone who has taught economics for 20 years, I can only hope that some professors will have this book as a supplemental reading for their principals classes.

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    Summary of Arguments in University of Texas at Austin v. Fisher case, the case that could "finally put an end to racial preferences in university admissions"

    Mention of recent research that I co-authored on the so-called "critical mass" claim upon which the Supreme Court's decision in Grutter was determined.  In University of Texas at Austin v. Fisher, the Fifth circuit court directly referenced the term "critical mass" 69 times.  The Weekly Standard has a rough summary of the case available here.  The discussion on my work is here:
    Fourth, the University of Michigan hornswoggled the Supreme Court in 2003 by insisting that its law school never used numbers or percentages in preferring minorities, but was seeking nothing more than “a critical mass” of minority students. It was a clever and successful dodge. Chief Justice William Rehnquist, in his Grutter dissent, examined the numbers closely and demonstrated, with a clarity that ought to have embarrassed my university, that this position was an outright “sham.” Now in the amicus briefs in Fisher the “critical mass” theory gets a solid drubbing. Twenty-two distinguished scholars of economics and statistics from many universities join in one brief arguing that empirical evidence simply does not demonstrate “that minority students are benefited by a ‘critical mass’ of minorities in the classroom.” Indeed, they conclude, “No reliable empirical evidence known to [these] amici supports the critical mass theory.” 
    They go on to present, in a detailed appendix, sets of comparisons of the performance of blacks and whites in classrooms of different sizes with different numbers of each. The “critical mass” theory is statistically demolished. . . .

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    Obama on how the working poor can be organized to push for government programs



    Starting at 14:10 into the audio: ". . . The new immigrant population is much less skilled, is much more apt to be in this category of the working poor that we talked about, is having the same problems that people who have been here for a while are having, and what that means is that it gives us the opportunity to do organizing that we couldn't do before."

    Obama wants to organize welfare recipients and those receiving government assistance so that he can get them more government assistance.

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    Obama: "The vast majority of Americans would like to see serious gun control"


    At 3:45 into this 1998 clip Obama says: "The vast majority of Americans would like to see serious gun control.  It does not pass becaues there is this huge disconnect between what people think and what legislators thinks and are willing to act upon."  Remember this is at a period of time when we had the so-called federal Assault Weapons Ban as well as the Brady Act, which at that time had a national waiting period.

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    GM giving massive subsidies to try getting people to buy Volts

    Remember the previous articles that GM was losing $49,000 per Volt that it sold?  Well, apparently that was an underestimate by about $10,000.  Remember that this car also gets a $7,500 tax credit from the government.  Of course, despite all these huge loses to GM and taxpayers, the Volt is essentially the same car as the gasoline powered Chevy Cruz and the 2013 Cruz starts (25/36 mpg) at about $17,130 ($18,225 with automatic), still than the Volt.  With a $10,000 discount and the $7,500 tax credit, the Volt still costs about $22,500.  

    So, let's assume that the price of gas is $4.00 a gallon, that the difference in car prices between the Cruz and Volt is $4,000, that the Cruz gets 30 mpg (assuming half local and half highway driving), and that the Volt costs $.06 per mile (the middle point of the EPA estimates provided here).  The cost of the Cruz per gallon is thus about $.13 ($4/30) so the difference in cost per mile is $.073.  If the car is drive 12,000 miles each year, the savings would be $876 ($.073*12,000).  Even assuming no interest costs, it would take 4.6 years to pay off the $4,000 higher price for the Volt (the difference is actually more than that, especially if you add in the higher sales tax).  Without the $10,000 additional subsidy, it would take 16 years to pay off the higher price for the Volt.  Are you really planning on owning the car for 16 years?  This of course ignores the cost of replacing the batteries and the higher insurance costs for the Volt.

    From Fox News:
    General Motors rolled out the Chevrolet Volt two years ago with lofty sales goals and the promise of a new technology that someday would help end America's dependence on oil. 
    So it seemed like a good thing in August when sales of the $40,000 car set a monthly record of 2,800. But a closer look shows that things aren't what they seem for the cutting-edge car. 
    Sales rose mostly because of discounts of almost $10,000, or 25 percent of the Volt's sticker price, according to figures from TrueCar.com, an auto pricing website. Other pricing services gave similar numbers, and dealers confirmed that steeply discounted Volts are selling better than a few months ago. 
    GM's discounts on the Volt are more than four times the industry's per-vehicle average, according to TrueCar estimates. Edmunds.com and J.D. Power and Associates say they're about three times the average. Discounts include low-interest financing, cash discounts to buyers, sales bonuses to dealers, and subsidized leases. 
    Americans have been slow to embrace electric cars. But the Volt's August sales show they're willing to buy if prices are low enough. . . .
    Sales of 2,800 in a month when some of those sales are to the government and to GE, which is trying to curry favor with the government, does not signal people are "embracing" the Volt.

    These screen shots were taken today (9/24).  BTW, the Eco version gets 28/42 mpg and still only costs about $19,680.

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    Media Bias on Global Warming?: How could that possibly be?

    The Economist magazine points to imminent disaster from Global Warming:
    The summer sea ice is shrinking so much mostly because greenhouse warming is raising Arctic temperatures. This has direct effects: when the air is warmer, more ice melts. It also has indirect effects. Warm, salty water from the North Atlantic sliding below the cold, fresh upper layers of the Barents Sea may be one of them. Another could be that warmer air is often moister. Moist air traps more heat in summer. In winter it tends to create more clouds, which keeps the surface below warm. . . .
    Oh oh, the Christian Science Monitor mentions something that The Economist just happened to forget to mention.
    Distracting from the news that Arctic sea-ice extent reached a record low on Sept.16 is a widely circulating blog article claiming that at the opposite end of the Earth, Antarctic sea ice is more than making up for the losses. . . .

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    How do Multiple Victim Public Shooters Decide Where to Attack?

    I have a short piece in the latest issue of the newsletter for the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences: “How do Multiple Victim Public Shooters Decide Where to Attack?” ACJS (Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences) Today, September, 2012: pp. 14-17.

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    9/23/2012

    What percentile does your income place you at?

    The WSJ as a way of finding out here.

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    Accidental firearm deaths for those under age 15 rise back up in 2010


    CDC data show number of accidental firearm deaths for children under age 15 has gone back up to 62, a number that it was at in 2008.  The 48 accidental deaths in 2009 was unusually low.  A similar pattern also held for total accidental gun deaths for all ages: 2008, 592; 2009, 554; and 2010, 606.

    However, over the longer term, the pattern for accidental gun deaths is similar to other accidental deaths in that is as long as we have data you see a gradual decline, though in recent years the decline in accidental firearm deaths has slowed.

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    CNN: Libyan amb very concerned about security threats in Benghazi and a "rise in Islamic extremism."

    From CNN:
    Three days after he was killed, CNN found a journal belonging to late U.S. Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens. The journal was found on the floor of the largely unsecured consulate compound where he was fatally wounded. . . .   
    A source familiar with Stevens' thinking told CNN earlier this week that, in the months leading up to his death, the late ambassador worried about what he called the security threats in Benghazi and a rise in Islamic extremism. . . .

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    Donald Boudreaux discusses Obama's "you didn't build that" comment

    In his Tribune piece, Don Boudreaux makes the point too often overlooked in analyzing Obama's comment:
    . . . Yet Obama’s plea that successful business people now be forced to pay higher taxes as a kind of royalty payment for government-supplied infrastructure is no different than if he would plead to force successful business people to bail out inefficient oil companies. 
    History speaks with crystal clarity, saying that, if property rights are secure and culture is friendly to commerce, people are more prosperous as government’s role is more limited. History also teaches that roads, bridges and many other species of infrastructure can be — because they in fact often have been — supplied by private enterprise. 
    Among the kinds of infrastructure that have, in fact, been supplied successfully by private businesses are city streets, highways, sewage systems, formal education, policing, money and commercial law. Government provision of such infrastructure, therefore, cannot be read as evidence that government’s role on this front is necessary. 
    If government failed to build highways to connect, say, Atlanta to Pittsburgh, private firms almost certainly would. (It’s easy to collect tolls from drivers who use highways.) And likewise for nearly any other pair of cities in America. So in what way is any actual, government-built highway necessary for any private entrepreneur’s economic success? None — if (as is likely) private enterprise would have done what government instead did by crowding out private efforts. . . .
    His whole piece is useful.  The only point that I would add, and it is a small point, is that historically we in fact did see all these things built privately.  For other pieces by Don see here.

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    Aurora movie theater where shooting occurred announces its reopening

    Unfortunately, one thing that probably won't change with the theater when it reopens is its gun-free zone policy.  From Fox News:
    The lawsuits filed against the subsidiary of Cinemark Holdings Inc. by three people wounded in the shooting that killed 12 people at a Colorado theater, are believed to be the first. They were filed the same day the company revealed plans to refurbish and reconfigure the theater and have it ready to open by the beginning of 2013. 
    The three have filed lawsuits alleging the exit door the gunman used to enter the building should have had an alarm. 
    Two lawsuits were filed Friday in U.S. District Court on behalf of Denise Traynom, Brandon Axelrod and Joshua Nowlan. Their attorney, former Denver judge Christina Habas, declined to comment. A spokeswoman for Cinemark USA Inc. had no immediate comment. . . . 
    Prosecutors allege the former University of Colorado, Denver, graduate student left the theater through a back exit, propped open the exit door and re-entered the theater to begin the shooting. The lawsuits claim Holmes was able to move his car into position after he left the theater through the back exit. 
    In addition to failing to have alarmed exit doors, the lawsuits claim Cinemark was negligent in failing to hire extra security for the midnight showing or generally protect patrons who were sitting in a darkened theater. They also say Cinemark failed to help evacuate the theater even after the shooting ended. The lights were either off or very low even after the gunfire stopped, according to the lawsuit. . . .

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