Friday, November 30, 2012

Theocracy in our Future?

As the failures of Leftism and the threat of Islamism grow, I fear that the solution won't be a renewed advocacy of a secular, individual-rights-respecting Republic, but some form of Christian Theocracy.  There are already signs of this, here's one example in Kentucky.
Tom Riner, a Baptist minister and the long-time Democratic state representative, sponsored the law.
 “The church-state divide is not a line I see,” Riner told The New York Times shortly after the law was first challenged in court. “What I do see is an attempt to separate America from its history of perceiving itself as a nation under God.”

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Sweet Irony

Given voter demographics (in this case the vote of college professors), the irony here is too sweet to not at least momentarily savor -- even if Obamacare is a nightmare for all of us.

Effective Dec. 31, Community College of Allegheny County will cut course loads and hours for some 200 adjunct faculty members and 200 additional employees to avoid paying $6 million in Affordable Care Act-related fees in January 2014.
College President Alex Johnson announced the plan in an e-mail to faculty and staff members last week. “As you probably know, the Affordable Care Act has redefined full-time employees as those working 30 hours or more per week,” Johnson wrote. “As a result, the college must adjust hours of some temporary part-time employees and adjuncts to comply with the new legislation’s conception of part-time employment.”
The college is capping adjuncts’ work load at 10 credits per semester, formerly 12. Temporary part-time employees will be limited to 25 hours per week (permanent part-time employees, already eligible for coverage under the college’s health care plan, remain unaffected).
For adjunct faculty, the blow is twofold. It quashes hopes of employer-assisted health insurance while cutting income for those who previously taught a larger course load.
Adjunct English professor Clint Benjamin, who has been teaching at the college for six years, pays out-of-pocket for catastrophic health care coverage only and had vague hopes of improved insurance under the Affordable Care Act. Not only is he now ineligible for such help, but the course load reduction will translate to up to $600 less in pay each month.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Science and Scientific Thinking as Crucial to the Economy

I'm glad to see some Forbes writers tackling the issue of religion vs science and how that affects our everyday life.  It seems to me that too many people are willing to give the GOP's most fervent religionists a pass if they simply advocate some (short term) positive economic policies.  From the article:
Here’s an even more disturbing thought – scientists currently believe that the Earth is about 4.54 billion years old because radioactive substances decay at generally stable rates.  Accordingly, by observing how much of a radioactive substance has decayed, scientists are able to determine how old that substance is. However, if the Earth is only 9,000 years old, then radioactive decay rates are unstable and subject to rapid acceleration under completely unknown circumstances. This poses an enormous danger to the country’s nuclear power plants, which could undergo an unanticipated meltdown at any time due to currently unpredictable circumstances. Likewise, accelerated decay could lead to the detonation of our nuclear weapons, and cause injuries and death to people undergoing radioactive treatments in hospitals. Any of these circumstances would obviously have a large economic impact.
The bottom line is that this economy, at its root, is built on  a web of scientific knowledge from physics to chemistry to biology. It’s impossible to just cherry pick out parts we don’t like. If the Earth is 9,000 years old, then virtually the entire construct of modern science is simply wrong. Not only that, most of the technology that we rely on most likely wouldn’t work – as they’re dependent on science that operates on the same physical laws that demonstrate the age of the universe.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Some Good News on the Healthcare Front

From FIRM's blog.

Monday, November 26, 2012

An Important Preface

Too much of what I read as advice to the GOP on immigration is that they have to cater to immigrants in order to get elected; the underlying message being that though it's wrong, it's necessary.  As a result, I'm all too happy that Jerry Bowyer prefaces his Forbes print article on the subject with the following:

Finally, I add this exhortation to my GOP brethren: If you see your problem with immigrants as merely one of marketing, then you will not succeed. The nativist wing of the party is not just politically inconvenient, it is morally and economically wrong. The point is not to capitulate to political necessity; the point is to have the right policy. The right policy is a growing economy, non-burdensome immigration laws, a welfare system which promotes work, not dependency, and a culture of assimilation, not isolation.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Nihilism in Action

This story of union workers happy to have shut down Hostess is a good example of nihilism in action.  They admit that as a result of their own actions, they no longer have jobs.  Now that's a result they could easily achieve without any union action, but that's not the goal, instead it's to make sure that no one can have those jobs and that the company can't exist.  I don't know any way to fight this attitude but by challenging its intellectual roots AND by morally condemning those who advocate and practice it.
“I think we’re the first ones who have stood up and said, ‘We’re not going to let you get away with it,’” said Sue Tapley, the strike captain on hand Friday morning at the Biddeford plant, which employed nearly 600 people. “You can fight them. You can shut them down.”

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Powell on Immigration

Another good piece on immigration, the first half of the article is definitely worth reading.  A snippet:
Consider that in the decade between 1900 and 1909, a near record 8.2 million immigrants arrived at our shores. About the only immigrants denied entry into the United States were those believed to have a disease or a criminal record. During this decade, the percentage foreign-born people in the population was at an all-time high. According to the Census Bureau’s Historical Statistics of the United States, unemployment got down to 1.7 percent (in 1906) – the lowest recorded peacetime level in U.S. history.
How could this be? Well, when taxes are low, when there are few regulatory obstacles to enterprise, and it’s easy and inexpensive to start a business – entrepreneurs can create productive jobs fast, maintaining low unemployment even when the labor force expands rapidly.
Immigrants themselves create a substantial share of new jobs. Immigrants include the most entrepreneurial part of our population, because they take the very difficult step of leaving their homeland. By coming to America, they demonstrate that they’re open to new things and willing to work hard. The labor force participation rate of recent immigrants is reported as high as 94 percent, about one third higher than the general population.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Even in Opposition the GOP is Pathetic

I agree with the gist of this analysis.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

DeBunking Immigration Myths

The WSJ has a good column out addressing some of the prevalent myths.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Political Repercussions

Following up on a previous post, I think this is a good approach to letting employees understand how political decisions affect business and thereby how those decision affect them personally:

Metz said he will hold meetings at all his restaurants starting in December to discuss the surcharge and to tell employees "that because of Obamacare, we are going to be cutting front-of-the-house employees to under 30 hours, effective immediately."
Metz said he hopes the post-election meetings will inspire employees rather than alienate them. "What we're going to ask them to do is to speak to their elected officials, to try to convey what this means in terms of their jobs and their livelihoods," Metz said.
Metz said he understands the problems that will create not just for his scheduling but for his employees. "I think it's a terrible thing. It's ridiculous that the maximum hours we can give people is 28 hours a week instead of 40," Metz said. "It's going to force my employees to go out and get a second job."

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

A Look into the Future

Canada's healthcare system is decades ahead of ours, but with Obamacare phasing in, we're making every effort to catch up.  Here's a nice story from the Montreal Gazette, expect to see similar stories here in the not too distant future.

MONTREAL — Surgery wait times for deadly ovarian, cervical and breast cancers in Quebec are three times longer than government benchmarks, leading some desperate patients to shop around for an operating room.
But that’s a waste of time, doctors say, since the problem is spread across Quebec hospitals. And doctors are refusing to accept new patients quickly because they can’t treat them, health advocates say.
A leading Montreal gynecologist said that these days, she cannot look her patients in the eye because the wait times are so shocking. Lack of resources, including nursing staff and budget compressions, are driving a backlog of surgeries while operating rooms stand empty. The latest figures from the provincial government show that over a span of nearly 11 months, 7,780 patients in the Montreal area waited six months or longer for day surgeries, while another 2,957 waited for six months or longer for operations that required hospitalization.

Monday, November 19, 2012

CA's Newest Tax

The editors at the WSJ look at California's new cap-and-trade tax. Here's how they summarize the likely outcome:

This assumes the money ever materializes. A study for the California Manufacturers & Technology Association this year estimates the new law will cost state and local governments between $21 billion and $39 billion in revenue due to job losses in the hundreds of thousands and 5.6% slower economic growth by 2020. California has lost about a third of its industrial base over the last decade.
This is the same policy that President Obama wanted to impose at the national level before West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin literally put a bullet in it. Cap and tax has been sold as a way to end global warming, which it has no chance of doing. As California shows, its real purpose is to subject even more of the private economy to political direction and grab more revenue to spend.

In another piece they also surmise that the timing of the lawsuit against the law, filed by the CA Chamber of Commerce was the result of failed political gamesmanship:

The lawsuit claims that by raising revenues, the air resources board is imposing a tax, which only the legislature can do—and only with a supermajority vote. Yet why did the Chamber of Commerce wait until after the election and one day before the first auction to sue? The air resources board announced the auctions nearly two years ago and adopted their final framework last November.
Businesses have been lobbying Sacramento fiercely to drop the auctions all year. Maybe they hoped the governor would intercede on their behalf after the election if they supported his tax campaign—or that the $6 billion annual tax hike would satisfy liberals' desire for more revenues. If so, they were mistaken.
If that's the case, I hope those on the Chamber of Commerce begin to realize that principled action -- e.g. defending the individual's absolute right to produce -- would not only be the moral course, in the long run it would also be the most effective.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Immigration in the Heartland

Here's a good take on immigration.  And the story he references in the WSJ suggests latino immigration is following the pattern that every previous ethnicity or nationality did before it.  (But imagine how much faster and easier this would happen were we live in a freer, less regulated and less entitled, society.)

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Creating a Vigorous Debate - Not

Future of Capitalism highlights an interesting factoid about academia.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Confronting the Myth that Deregulation Caused the Financial Crisis

In a recent Forbes column, Brooks and Watkins show that the partial repeal of Glass Steagall was not the cause of the 2008 financial crisis.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Consistency in the Practice of Religion

Many people argue that Islam is a religion different than any other in terms of its political and worldly aspirations.  In my opinion this is not true.  While there may be some secondary or tertiary level differences between religions in this regard, the primary danger and commonality of all monotheistic creeds are the reliance on faith and the attributing of the Good to whatever some ineffable being decrees.  Those set the method and goal, and eventually dictate that believers attempt to enact the God's will on Earth. Everything else is details.

That said, there is a marked difference between modern day Christians and Muslims.  The majority of the latter take their religion seriously and practice it consistently, while the majority of the former hold a contradictory sets of views: faith mixed with its antithesis, reason (a respect for which marked the glorious Enlightenment).

Unfortunately, as the Enlightenment fades further from the scene, Christians are beginning to practice the more unadulterated version of their religion, with predictable results.  See for instance the literal 6,000-years-since-Creation-believing evangelicals.  Or the prominent public comments on rape and abortion by various Republican candidates.  Or the recent blasphemy ruling in Poland.

Expect a continued devolution to a consistent faith-based practice of Christianity if no one rises to ably defend a secular, pro-reason worldview.  (Obviously I think Ayn Rand has given us one and admirably defended it, but it remains to be seen if enough voices will emerge to use her ideas to substantially influence the culture.)

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The Results of Catering to "Need" as Altruism Requires

Though not universal, the types of observations this physician makes are a real indictment of our whole altruistic system.  I'm guessing all of us can think of way too many personal examples which make these observations credible.

(As a philosophical aside, one of the main goals of egalitarianism is to ensure that those furnishing other's needs can't and don't judge them.  Were emergency rooms left to private charity, you can bet that the type of  scum described in the doctor's observations would receive no, or very limited, voluntary help.)

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Brother You Asked For It

The WSJ summarizes some of the potential  new problems that California may add to its existing ones now that it has elected a Democratic super majority.  They end the article with the only silver-lining that I can see:
The silver lining here is that Americans will be able to see the modern liberal-union state in all its raw ambition. The Sacramento political class thinks it can tax and regulate the private economy endlessly without consequence. As a political experiment it all should be instructive, and at least Californians can still escape to Nevada or Idaho.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Does Immigration Threaten Our Culture?

I have my second column up at Forbes.  In it I tackle the question: "Does immigration threaten our culture?"  I'm pretty happy with it, so please feel free to share and/or comment as convenient and appropriate.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

The Realities of Running a Business

Given that public schools go out of their way to avoid the subject, it becomes necessary for business owners to explain the realities of business to employees.  I think more could be done in this vein, and well before it comes to laying people off.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Hoenig on Immigration

I enjoyed this piece (from 2010 but still relevant).

Friday, November 09, 2012

Targeting the Productive in CA

With Prop 30 passing in California, the new top marginal state tax rate goes up to 13.3% (on incomes above $500,000).  The tax was sold as primarily affecting the top 1% and is projected to cost those taxpayers an additional $21,883 per year.  Overall the new sales and income taxes are supposed to generate $6 billion per year.  My guess is that the new taxes will prompt enough people to leave the state and/or prevent newcomers from coming that on balance the state will actually end up with lower tax revenues.  (Those who leave not only don't pay the new incremental sales and income taxes, but they also don't contribute what they had been up to now.   Moreover the types of people targeted by the income tax are those who start and run businesses, so their employees will also no longer be part of the tax base.)

I sincerely hope this is the case, because I'd like nothing more than that the blood-sucking public union workers and teachers quickly bankrupt the state and thereby provide an object lesson to everyone in the country.

I should also note that my prediction only holds for 2013 and onward; the bastards actually imposed a retroactive tax (which in my opinion should be illegal) for 2012 which no one could have planned for.

Salon has a totally different take on the outcome of the CA election (not specifically prop 30), I think it's worth reading to see the mentality we're up against.

Thursday, November 08, 2012

Profits in Medicine

Amesh Adalja has a good article out in which he defends profits in medicine.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Ayn Rand for Liberals

Onkar was published in the Huffington Post earlier this week.  Here's his opening:

It's no secret that the right is awash in Ayn Rand. Tea Partiers carry signs like "Who is John Galt?" and, astonishing for a novel published 55 years ago, sales of Atlas Shrugged topped 445,000 last year.
All of this has prompted researchers like Yale historian Beverly Gage to wonder, "Why is there no liberal Ayn Rand?" Good question. Liberals today, Gage observes, have no long-term goals or vision, no big ideas, no canon.

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Investment Analysis

I agree with the analysis in this article, both to the specifics of local daily deal sites and to the wider points made.

Monday, November 05, 2012

Doctor takes out Political Ad Panning Obamacare

Though I don't think too much of the actual letter/advertisement, it's nice to see victims of socialization attempt to stand up for themselves.  (In my opinion the letter concedes all the crucial issues and just focuses on what amounts to a poor implementation of an otherwise good idea.)

Sunday, November 04, 2012

A Silver Lining?

Over the past few decades we've seen a steady but precipitous decline in the standards and objectivity of the mainstream lapdog media -- and a concomitant waning of its influence on regular Americans.  If there's only one good thing that comes out of the scandalous tragedy of Benghazi, I hope it's the sounding of the death knell for this corrupt media.

Saturday, November 03, 2012

Obama vs Rand

A good column at Forbes discussing the contrast.

Friday, November 02, 2012

Germany's Wind Power Could Cause Blackouts

Interesting though of course critics have pointed out this problem for decades.  But who can argue with the religion of environmentalism and the power of government subsidies.  On this latter, an interesting tidbit from Texas:
Wind farms in West Texas earlier this year were paying utilities to use their electricity on particularly gusty days because they can still earn $22 a megawatt-hour in federal tax credits.

Thursday, November 01, 2012

The EPA Goes After Cities

In case cities and municipalities didn't have enough costs with all their overspending on public service pensions and benefits, the EPA is unilaterally adding to their burdens.  I wonder how many additional bankruptcies we'll see as a result?

(My fantasy is that by first seeing the burden it puts on government, people will eventually connect that to the enormous harm agencies like the EPA do to individuals.  And as a result a movement will emerge to abolish the EPA and its kin.  I can dream, can't I?)