Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Getting bigger and bigger...

A video by The Cato Institute on reasons why the federal government needs downsizing: can anyone think of a good reason why taxpayers subsidize the sugar industry?

Thomas E. Woods on Predatory Pricing

Prof. Woods on Walmart, Herbert Dow and the theory of "predatory pricing."

HT: Liberty Pen

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas 2008!!!

Here's wishing all of you a very Merry Christmas! No posts until December 30th as I and the little family head out for holiday vacation.

Monday, December 22, 2008

And the rumba line just gets a little longer

Now commercial real estate developers are asking the government for financial assistance. The line for a taxpayer handout just keeps getting longer, folks. As predicted, a bad precedent was set when the Feds decided to bailout Wall Street.

Michael Crichton - Unpopular Truth

The late Michael Crichton on environmentalism as a religion, the myth of second hand smoke, and the tenuous science of global warming: You may have disagreed with him but Crichton was never a shill. He was simply an open minded and rational critic.

HT: Liberty Pen

Sunday, December 21, 2008

"Al Gore ruined Christmas!"

HT: Life, Liberty, and Property

Words that a modern day Progressive may utter…

"We are enemies, deadly enemies, of today's capitalist economic system with its exploitation of the economically weak, its unfair wage system, its immoral way of judging the worth of human beings in terms of their wealth and their money, instead of their responsibility and their performance, and we are determined to destroy this system whatever happens!" ---Nazi ideologist Gregor Strasser

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Friday, December 19, 2008

Congress is getting a pay raise? Why?

Yes folks, just when you thought that our current economic situation couldn't get any stranger. The political class will be quietly giving themselves a sweet pay raise in 2009. Oh well, why not? After all, Congress has done a real bang-up job with just about everything under the sun and under their perceived great scope. With an approval rating lower than George W. Bush, you would think that they should get a pay cut at least until the economy and the rest of the sucker-taxpayers like you and me had something to be cheerful about. This is yet another example of how trusting our country to these people is always a bad idea.; the taxpayer seems to not be a priority.

HT: Copious Dissent

Thanks for nothing , Mr. President

Bush approves $17.4 billion in aid to automakers.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Best posts I've read today

This Bobo Files post neatly sums up my rancor on the rampant big government corporatism that has become the lever of choice for the political elite in Washington.

Shaving Leviathan sums up the craziness at the Federal Reserve.

First Lady of Star Trek dies at 76

I'm a big science fiction fan and notably the entire Star Trek brand so this is sad news. God speed, Majel.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

No bailout for automakers!!

Don J. Boudreaux on the possible bailout of the big three:

So, far from solving this problem, any "bridge loans" from Uncle Sam to the Big Three will only delay the inevitable need to restructure. Bailout money would force taxpayers to foot the bill for Detroit's irresponsible past promises while it protects these firms from having to do the hard work of correcting this real source of their unprofitability. (Of course, bailout money would also protect overpaid and over-pensioned UAW members from having their pay and pensions scaled back to reasonable levels.)

With the symptoms of this serious ailment socialized for however long the bailout funds last -- that is, with nothing done to cure the ailment -- GM, Ford and Chrysler will be no better able to operate profitably after they run through the bailout funds than they're able to do now.

So if they're bailed out now, they'll inevitably be back in Washington in the near future to beg for another bailout.

My Comment: No one would have imagined a world without Pan Am or Woolworth's. I remember those big companies from my youth. After they were gone, the airline and retail industry continued merrily without them. Why do some people believe that if the big three go under it would be the end of the world? Yes, it would hurt to absorb those unemployed auto workers into our ailing economy but a bailout may simply prolong the inevitable. There is no guarantee that if given a bailout loan, the big three would make a triumphant comeback.

"I've abandoned free-market principles to save the free-market system"

A no surprise statement from George W. Bush: Mr. Bush's "compassionate conservatism" was never much of a small government ideology to begin with (no matter what Progressives will tell you); the massive bailouts and the feckless stimulus packages have sealed the Bush administration as a big government administration.

Walter E. Williams - Capital & Wages

HT: Liberty Pen

Monday, December 15, 2008

Friday, December 12, 2008

Bailouts and Bankruptcy

Walter E. Williams on the auto bailouts:

Let's not allow Congress and members of the bailout parade panic us into allowing them to do things, as was done in the 1930s, that would convert a mild economic downturn into a true calamity. Right now the Big Three auto companies, and their unions, are asking Congress for a $25 billion bailout to avoid bankruptcy. Let's think about that a bit.

What happens when a company goes bankrupt? One thing that does not happen is their productive assets go poof and disappear into thin air. In other words, if GM goes bankrupt, the assembly lines, robots, buildings and other tools don't evaporate. What bankruptcy means is the title to those assets change. People who think they can manage those assets better purchase them.

Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code, where the control of its business operations are subject to the oversight and jurisdiction of the court, gives companies a chance to reorganize. The court can permit complete or partial relief from the company's debts and its labor union contracts.

A large part of the problem is the Big Three's cozy relationship with the United Auto Workers union (UAW). GM has a $73 hourly wage cost including benefits and overtime. Toyota has five major assembly plants in the U.S. Its hourly wage cost plus benefits is $48. It doesn't take rocket science to figure out which company will be at a competitive disadvantage. Then there's the "jobs bank" feature of the UAW contract where workers who are laid off workers get 95 percent of their base pay and all their benefits. Right now there's a two-year limit but in the past workers could stay in the "jobs bank" forever unless they turned down two job offers within 50 miles of their factory. At one time job bank membership exceeded 7,000 "workers." GM, Ford and Chrysler face other problems that range from poor corporate management and marketing, not to mention costly government regulations.

Two vital marketplace signals are the profits that come with success and the losses that come with failure. When these two signals are not allowed to freely function, markets operate less efficiently. To be successful a business must take in enough revenue not only to cover wages, rents and interest but profits as well. In order to accomplish that feat executives must not only satisfy customers but they must do it in a manner that efficiently utilizes all of their resources. If they fail to cover costs, it means that resources are not being used efficiently and/or consumers don't value the good being produced relative to some other alternative. When a firm routinely fails to turn a profit, there are bankruptcy pressures. The firm's resources, workers, building and capital become available to someone else who might put them to better use. When government steps in with a bailout, it enables executives to continue mismanaging resources.

How much congressional involvement do we want with the Big Three auto companies? I'd say none. Congressmen and federal bureaucrats, including those at the Federal Reserve Board, don't know anymore about the automobile business than they know about the banking and financial businesses that they've turned into a mess. Just look at the idiotic focus of congressmen when the three auto company chief executives appeared before them. They questioned whether the executives should have driven to Congress rather than flown in on corporate jets. They focused on executive pay, which is a tiny fraction of costs compared to $73 hourly compensation to 250,000 autoworkers. The belief that Congress poses the major threat to our liberty and well-being is why the founders gave them limited enumerated powers. To our detriment, today's Americans have given them unlimited powers.

HT: Jimmy Cardoza

Promises, promises you can't keep

It seems that some on the Left aren't too keen on Obama appointments and his backtracking on some campaign rhetoric.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

It's not easy being "Green."

For your consideration. From the U.S. Senate Committe on Enviroment and Public Works:

UN Blowback: More Than 650 International Scientists Dissent Over Man-Made Global Warming Claims.

POZNAN, Poland - The UN global warming conference currently underway in Poland is about to face a serious challenge from over 650 dissenting scientists from around the globe who are criticizing the climate claims made by the UN IPCC and former Vice President Al Gore. Set for release this week, a newly updated U.S. Senate Minority Report features the dissenting voices of over 650 international scientists, many current and former UN IPCC scientists, who have now turned against the UN.

We need a "Car Czar" like we need bullets to our heads

Despite polls showing that most Americans have an unfavorable view of bailing out GM, Ford, and Chrysler, Democratic congressional leaders and White House officials "agreed in principle Tuesday on a $15 billion bailout of U.S. automakers that would give the government extraordinary power to restructure the failing industry." Perfect. While our political class is busy spending our tax dollars on bad businesses, maybe we can also have ourselves an "energy czar" to boot

Easing mortgages for homeowners falling behind payments not working as planned.

Bank data tells the sad tale that modifying loans for homeowners unable to stay current with their mortgage payment is simply pushing the inevitable to a later date. The reworking of these loans never made sense to me since a weak economy and plummenting home values would offset any home loan modification.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Sunday, December 7, 2008

"Passing gas" tax for bovine

I saw this clip on MSNBC. Farmers may be taxed for the methane escaping out of their cows because it is detrimental to the environment. Take a guess on how this will affect dairy prices at the local supermarket? As if food prices weren't high enough already during a recession. I would feel a little bit sorrier for the dairy farmer in this clip if he and the rest of the farming industry didn't already receive a huge federal subsidy.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Obama Apparently Drops Windfall Profits Tax Proposal

Ronald Bailey over at Reason has reported that Obama has queitly dropped the windfall profits tax idea on his website. If this is true, then there are going to be some really pissed Progressives around the country. I went over to his website and I didn't see anything on windfall profits and I distinctly remember reading something about windfall profit taxes on oil companies on his website during the campaign. If he has dropped this proposal then this would be change we can believe in!

HT: Andrew Roth

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Unions are set for more power

The union bosses are ready to be paid back for their support during the recent election. The secret ballot is about to go "bye-bye."

'Twelve Days of Christmas' items would cost $86,609

Just having the five golden rings would be pricey enough these days. It would be nice to have eight maids a milking though. Always a nice sight. Ahem.

Best post I've read today...

Jeff Perren at Shaving Leviathan on rights and big government:

Ignorance is a great tool for such people. How many, after all, can afford the time (even if they had the inclination) to become an expert in law, science, and economics? Instead, just let the 'experts' tackle all the problems. Be sure to have those experts — since, it's argued, experts in the private sphere are 'tainted' by self-interest — be in government.

That hand off of power to a cadre of so-called experts has been tried in America before. Progressives from just after the turn of the 20th century through the end of the Roosevelt administration (with a respite during the Coolidge years 1923-1929) argued for government by the elite. Naturally, their view of 'elite' was a mixed bag of statist ideology and actual expertise.

We're seeing a similar phenomenon today as Paulson-Bernanke continue to wreck the economy and Obama selects his Cabinet and advisers. The results will be similar. All ignore the issue of rights. Observe that in all the bailout mania taking place everyone talks about whether it will work, not whether the Feds have the right to try in the first place. Like FDR to Bush's Hoover, Obama will try the same New Deal policies, this time on steroids. Those policies will fail and no one will ask whose rights were violated, only whether the experts got it right or wrong.