20 December 2010

Samuelson - Cheating Our Children (Again)

It is cheating with the passive connivance of the cheatees. Actions like bailing out the states & cities, the sanctity of social insecurity, etc, poll as being very popular among the young (18-35).
that said, there's no excuse, baby boomers
What states and localities can do about this is limited. Pension promises to existing employees are probably legally inviolate. Retiree health benefits are apparently less so and should be reduced or eliminated to limit incentives for early retirement. Even if politicians manage this arduous feat, past decisions will burden the future. Along with an unwillingness to curb Social Security and Medicare costs, America's leaders have created another way to cheat their children.
RealClearPolitics - Cheating Our Children (Again)

16 December 2010

Welcome to My Hypersensitivity Training Workshop, Bryan Caplan | EconLog | Library of Economics and Liberty

Welcome to My Hypersensitivity Training Workshop, Bryan Caplan | EconLog | Library of Economics and Liberty

New Advice for Nuclear Strike - Don’t Flee, Get Inside - NYTimes.com

This isn't new. Once upon a time a government official got made the subject of a lot of PC & late-night humor for suggesting a variation of getting under cover.
Suppose the unthinkable happened, and terrorists struck New York or another big city with an atom bomb. What should people there do? The government has a surprising new message: Do not flee. Get inside any stable building and don’t come out till officials say it’s safe

Interesting fact from the article (emphasis mine):
Even staying in a car, the studies show, would reduce casualties by more than 50 percent; hunkering down in a basement would be better by far.

Mao's Great Leap to Famine - NYTimes.com

Borrowing a quote from the Instapundit:
As I reminded my conservative blogger friends who were applauding the latter – 'When the communists show up to protest the Nazis, you’re supposed to pray for an asteroid, not pick a favourite.'

Mao's Great Leap to Famine - NYTimes.com

09 December 2010

Marginal Tax Rates, Arnold Kling | EconLog | Library of Economics and Liberty

Marginal Tax Rates, Arnold Kling | EconLog | Library of Economics and Liberty
A very good point from Arnold Kling.
And a related point frrom Greg Mankiw:
Pay really close attention to the left-hand side of the chart, boysengurls, not that the trend goes DOWN between $19K and 39K.

02 November 2010

2200 miles across the pond: Prepare for a new American revolution - Telegraph

Hat tip: Chris Johnson
And this anger – again, contrary to the general understanding in Britain – is not new: it goes all the way back to the Bush presidency. It was widely known in Europe that the American Left hated George Bush (and even more, Dick Cheney) because of his military adventurism. What was less understood was that the Right disliked him almost as much for selling the pass over government spending, bailing out the banks, and failing to keep faith with the fundamental Republican principle of containing the power of central government.

A Warning to the Phants

Money shot:
Either act like adults charged with the responsible management of this country, instead of drunken teenagers with mom’s credit card, or we will un-elect you at the first opportunity.

I am Simon Jester » Blog Archive » A Warning

25 October 2010

On being out, proud and conservative | Tammy Bruce | Comment is free | guardian.co.uk

Money shot:
Having made my point, I trust, I'll now slip out of my snark suit and share a little secret with you. The real story of bigotry and intolerance is the fact that it lives and thrives on the left. As a gay woman who spent most of her adult life pushing the cart for liberal causes with liberal friends in a liberal city, I found that sexism, racism and homophobia are staples in the liberal world. The huge irony is liberals spend every ounce of energy promoting the notion that they are the banner carriers of individualism and personal freedom, yet the hammer comes down on anyone who dares not to conform to, or who dissents even in part from, the liberal agenda.

On being out, proud and conservative | Tammy Bruce | Comment is free | guardian.co.uk

12 October 2010

Marginal Revolution: Economic Misconceptions

The database Dr Goffe's assembling has a home page here
When asked by how much has income per person in the United States changed since 1950 (after adjusting for inflation) the median student said an increase of 25%. Actual rate an increase of about 248%, thus the median student was off by a factor of 10.

Read the rest Marginal Revolution: Economic Misconceptions">here

07 October 2010

Gallup Finds U.S. Unemployment at 10.1% in September

A note to the 44th Prez: there's a reason why the elections of 1972 and 1980 were disasters for the Donks!
Gallup Finds U.S. Unemployment at 10.1% in September

12 August 2010

Are There More Girl Geniuses? — The American, A Magazine of Ideas

Christina Hoff Summers of AEI. Money quote:
Pre-kindergarten boys with mental abilities three or four standard deviations above the mean have astonishing talents. But as Terry Neu, an expert on gifted boys, told me, sitting still for an extended period of time is not one of them.

Are There More Girl Geniuses? — The American, A Magazine of Ideas

03 August 2010

Instapundit » FEAR THE LAME DUCK! Or, better yet, encourage the lame ducks to fear you….

Well, yah, Mr Reynolds, but ya gotta consider the source. Politico has a vested interest in the big D agenda; to the extent that such articles make libertarians and conservatives and independents relax, it fits the agenda. So the best part of advice is "Make the lame ducks fear you."

Instapundit » Blog Archive » FEAR THE LAME DUCK! Or, better yet, encourage the lame ducks to fear you….

02 August 2010

27 July 2010

Mullen reiterates his concern over China’s military buildup - News - Stripes

2000 PRC war college pub comes up with a goal of being able to engage the US militarily by 2029
2001 RGMCF mentions this to MMR conference, notes that this goal requires a blue water ability and this goal will be recognizable if PRC's high-end blue water fleet starts growing.
2010: CJCS finds out about this too.

I'm being disingenuous. ADM Mullen has been paying close attention since he was a two-star (and probably earlier, but that's the first time I met him).
Mullen reiterates his concern over China’s military buildup - News - Stripes

23 July 2010

Unfunded Entitlements ‘r’ Us

Note that doubling the payroll tax covers the shortfall forever IF the increases in the cost of the medical programs stops.

I know! Everybody hold your breath until you turn blue, that'll do it!
Unfunded Entitlements ‘r’ UsUnfunded Entitlements ‘r’ Us

08 July 2010

What Growing Cancer Epidemic? - Update - Hit & Run : Reason Magazine

New cancer trend statistics being released today are heartening. Eurekalert headline announcing the new cancer stats reads: "Cancer Deaths Continue to Drop." Which is happily quite true, but actually misses the even more amazing fact that "Cancer Incidence Rates Continue to Drop."

What Growing Cancer Epidemic? - Update - Hit & Run : Reason Magazine

Let there be higher wages

Money quote:
"If Mr. Obama follows Dean Edley’s advice, low-skilled workers’ wages will indeed change – specifically, the wages for many of these workers will fall from their current levels (say, $7.25 per hour) to $0 per hour. Firms seeking government contracts will replace low-skilled workers with machines; hire fewer such workers and work them harder; or use a smaller number of higher-skilled workers to perform tasks previously performed by a larger number of low-skilled workers."

Cafe Hayek — where orders emerge

removal_of_mariner_exam_questions.pdf (application/pdf Object)

Money shot:
"Coast Guard will no longer post actual mariner examination questions on the NMC website. Effective July 12, 2010, the full set of deck and engineering questions and answers will be removed from the NMC Website"

Not for the record, the questions were released under a court order. This will be interesting.

removal_of_mariner_exam_questions.pdf (application/pdf Object)

Pournelle on Berwick

Money quote:
Berwick is certainly qualified to head a national health care system (for a pro-Berwick piece see the Washington Post). He's also a realist about what that implies. A few years ago he said that sick people tend to be poorer, and poor people tend to be sicker, and if you want an excellent, humane, and rational health care system it is going to be redistributive. It has to be. An excellent national health care system requires redistributing the wealth.

Of course that's true. It's also the last thing Obama wants debated this summer and fall.

Current View

We Must Stop the Avalanche of Low-Quality Research - Commentary - The Chronicle of Higher Education

Hat tip: Dr Peter Boettke!
Consider the post-investigation of the so-called "Climategate". A internationally recognized scientist asserted that many are reluctant to release their research because they worked so hard to obtain it.

However, high-quality research must be able to be duplicated. No one should accept, "This is the result we found and we're right."
- I'm minded of the cold-fusion issue of the last century.
- I'm minded of the hockey-stick of climate change; shown to be a tricky mathematical process that was all-but-guaranteed to produce hockey sticks.
- I'm minded of Dr Jerry Pournelle:
"I'll believe it's an emergency when people who say it's an emergency start acting like it's an emergency."

We Must Stop the Avalanche of Low-Quality Research - Commentary - The Chronicle of Higher Education

30 June 2010

Avertible catastrophe

To err is human. To really f...oul things up takes regulation
Why does neither the U.S. government nor U.S. energy companies have on hand the cleanup technology available in Europe? Ironically, the superior European technology runs afoul of U.S. environmental rules. The voracious Dutch vessels, for example, continuously suck up vast quantities of oily water, extract most of the oil and then spit overboard vast quantities of nearly oil-free water. Nearly oil-free isn't good enough for the U.S. regulators, who have a standard of 15 parts per million -- if water isn't at least 99.9985% pure, it may not be returned to the Gulf of Mexico.

Read the rest: Avertible catastrophe

24 June 2010

Gates Recommends Next Marine Commandant

DoD Secretary Robert Gates announced June 21 that he recommended that President Obama nominate Gen. James F. Amos, an Iraq war veteran with an aviation background, to become the next commandant of the Marine Corps. Amos would replace Gen. James Conway, who is scheduled to retire later this year, according to DoD.

If confirmed, Amos would be the first aviator to head the Marine Corps, DoD said. Gates also recommended that Obama nominate Lt. Gen. Joseph F. Dunford to succeed Amos as deputy commandant.

“I am convinced that Gen. Amos and Lt. Gen. Dunford are the right team to lead the U.S. Marine Corps at this time,” Gates said, “especially as it balances the capabilities needed to support current operations, its unique maritime heritage and its future role defending America.”

48% See Government Today As A Threat to Individual Rights

Nanny state
nanny state
O nanny nanny nanny
Nanny state
nanny state
O nanny nanny nanny

Great Scott! - WSJ.com

Worth reading just for this paragraph:
"There's actually nothing in the story to justify the Times headline writer's claim that Palmetto State Republicans had "biases" to "buck" in order to nominate Haley and Scott, but unbucked biases are not exactly uncommon on major newspaper staffs."

Insert 'bucking around' pun here.

Obama’s 2012 Power Play

I'm not sure this is true, but it's real entertaining:
Barack Obama, who has in recent days turned haplessness into an art form, played a masterstroke today, making perhaps the canniest, wiliest, even wisest decision of his generally rudderless presidency. I refer, of course, to his appointment of David Petraeus to the Afghan war command, in place of the Rolling-Stoned Stanley McChrystal. In doing so, Obama has, at a stroke, taken Petraeus out of the 2012 presidential race.

23 June 2010

Don’t Fear Inflation, if It Comes - Economix Blog - NYTimes.com

Clearly our government has promised a lot of public medical care, as well as much spending on pensions both for future Social Security recipients and for retired public employees. Few elected officials want to crusade for higher taxes. But our aging population and public medical spending that grows faster than the rest of the economy are nothing new to 2010.

What happened in Paris... -- By Peter Feaver | Shadow Government

Some stuff I hadn't known about the McChrystal Debacle (emphasis mine):
I think I have figured it out. If you read the Rolling Stone article carefully, you can see that the reporter, Michael Hastings, has woven three stories together. One story is the story of General McChrystal trying to keep up morale in a tough war with his troops thinking he is too worried about civilian casualties and he is forcing them to accept too many risks as consequence. This is also the story of McChrystal feeling under time pressure from Washington. I bet this is the story Hastings pitched to McChrystal's staff and the story McChrystal thought was being reported. It is, indeed, sprinkled throughout the Rolling Stone article, and in this thread McChyrstal is pretty careful about what he says and generally comes off pretty well.

The second story is Hastings's rather tendentious reporting on what McChrystal's enemies and critics say against him -- their complaints, and their doubts about the war. While assessing reporter's motivations is always a dodgy business, I suspect that this is the story Hastings pitched to his editor. The whole thing has the feel of a hungry guy hoping to hunt a big trophy kill: taking down a four-star hero and showing that his war plan (note how Hastings describes the strategy as McChrystal's, not the president's) is fatally flawed and doomed to failure.

If those were the only two stories in the article, people would only be talking about the Rolling Stone cover. The problem for McChrystal is that there is a third story woven through the article. This is the story of McChrystal and his staff on an unexpected layover in Paris when a plane is grounded because of the volcano. This part of the story has a "weekend in Vegas" feel to it. The staff get drunk. The French get dissed. Holbrooke gets dissed. McChrystal and his staff joke about how they would answer a tough question about Vice President Biden's theories about the war. Without having access to Hastings' notes, I can't be sure, but I am willing to wager that 95 percent of the really objectionable material comes from that layover.

This third story was an accident - serendipity for the reporter and a train-wreck for McChrystal. The underlying facts are not surprising or accidental at all. Anyone who has interacted with the military, especially the special ops community from which McChrystal hails, will recognize the swagger. More to the point, we have known for over a year that Obama's national security team is plagued with serious internal bickering and that many of the principals, and especially the staffs, do not like each other. In short, it is not surprising that they talked this way. The only surprising bit is that McChrystal and his staff talked this way in front of a reporter, though less surprising when you factor in the "sailors on unexpected shore leave" aspect.

Now, of course, none of this excuses McChrystal's behavior, nor the more egregious behavior and comments of his staff. There is no "what happens in Paris, stays in Paris exception" to civil-military relations. Clearly, he allowed an unhealthy command climate to percolate and then bubble to the surface in unguarded moments. And it was reckless in the extreme to talk this way in front of a reporter who clearly was on a scalp-hunt...

A reporter on a scalp-hunt. Whatta surprise.

22 June 2010

Information Dissemination: Navigating the Interagency Morass

1. The degree of success usually realized in IA coordination is directly proportionate to the distance from the Beltway.
2. Consensus building is overrated. Successful interagency coordination requires a lead, follow, or get the hell out of the way approach.
3. Personalities trump bureaucracies and formal chains of command. If your initiative isn't progressing due to a certain personality, go around, over, or through them.
4. When an agency rep asks "why is DoD doing that?" it really means -- stay off our turf because you are embarrassing my agency, even though we aren't competent or willing to do what we were chartered/authorized/funded to do.
5. Never forget that DoD is always the 800 pound gorilla in the room. Always.

Information Dissemination: Navigating the Interagency Morass
Ain't it da troot.
Information Dissemination: Navigating the Interagency Morass

17 June 2010

OpenSecrets | Cash Counter Widgets

OpenSecrets | Cash Counter Widgets

Center on Education and the Workforce -

"Georgetown University's Center on Education and the Workforce reported this week that the number of jobs requiring an associates' degree or more will grow faster than the pool of qualified people, to the tune of a three-million-worker shortfall by 2018" Center on Education and the Workforce -

15 June 2010

Conform or face the consequences, Archbishop says: The Church of England Newspaper, June 4, 2010 p 1 « Conger

Money quote:
The Archbishop’s Pentecost letter is the public half of a campaign to rein in the Episcopal Church, The Church of England Newspaper has learned, and follows a private letter delivered to Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori asking her to consider withdrawing from active participation on the Standing Committee of the Anglican Communion.

Conform or face the consequences, Archbishop says: The Church of England Newspaper, June 4, 2010 p 1 « Conger

Unfortunatly old news: China threatens US

So... back in the last year of the last millennium, JFQ (Joint Forces Quarterly), the professional publication of the National Defense University noted that an article published in a People's Republic of China journal had called for China to be able to win a war against the US by 2029. There was a lot of intra-military discussion about this. Specifically: was the PRC putting the US on notice -- this is what we're going to do -- or were they just rattling the US' cage?

Well, by their actions ye shall know. For China to be able to defeat the US, there are ... things... that have to happen; for one thing, the People's Liberation Army Navy (yes, that's the correct title) will need a LOT more blue-water capability.

Well it appears that some of these ... things... have started to happen. Here's Gordon Chang by way of the Instapundit.

07 June 2010

15 April 2010

Released to Near Silence, the U.S. Treasury 2009 Financial Report Shows Dire Course

If you listen to certain politicians and talking heads you might get the impression that the federal fiscal sky is falling. Unfortunately, unlike Chicken Little, they may be right.

The Treasury Department recently issued the 2009 financial report of the United States government. Whereas there is lots of talk in Congress and in the press about the federal budget, the annual report was released to near silence. That’s too bad, not only because the annual report is untainted by creative accounting but also because its message is too important to ignore.

That message is that the sky is indeed falling.

Released to Near Silence, the U.S. Treasury 2009 Financial Report Shows Dire Course

09 April 2010

Megan strikes again!

voters consistently say they'd rather cut spending than raise taxes to reduce the deficit. But when you ask them what they want to cut, the only program there is strong support for cutting is foreign aid . . . which is like trying to pay off your credit cards by slashing your chewing gum budget.

But wait a minute! We spend stomptillion bucks on foreign aid!
I bet we can make this balance if we cut earmarks!
Polling the Budget - Business - The Atlantic

06 April 2010

National debt seen heading for crisis level

Ya think?
Economists Carmen Reinhart of the University of Maryland and Kenneth Rogoff of Harvard University have recently shown that a 90 percent debt-to-GDP ratio usually touches off a crisis.

This year, the debt will reach 63 percent of GDP, a ratio that has ignited crises in smaller wealthy nations. Fiscal crises gripped Canada, Denmark, Sweden, Finland and Ireland when their debts were below where the United States is shortly headed.

National debt seen heading for crisis level

The article doesn't address the medicare/medicaid/Obamacare/social security/Bush-drug-for-elderly unfunded mandates (which are at least 50 TRILLION and realistically are closer to 100 Trillion.

05 April 2010

Marginal Revolution: Do daughters make you more conservative?

Tyler Cowan's comment at marginalrevolution.com finishes with a great quote (i.e., one designed to make some people froth at the mouth:
By the way, I applaud the authors for their "stones" in writing the last paragraph of the paper, such as:

The conservative emphasis on family, traditional values and gender roles, and prolife anti-abortion sentiments all stress investment in children – for both men and women. Conservative policies mirror the genetic interests of women, writ large. They attempt to promote paternal investment in offspring. Further, they stress investment in conceived offspring – “a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.” In short, Conservative policies support the genetic fitness of women by capitalizing on each pregnancy, reducing male promiscuity, and increasing paternal investment in children. Such policies may impinge on the freedom of parents’ immediate offspring, but they increase the expected number of grandchildren via daughters.

I'm not sure that's true as stated, but it does deserve further debate.

Marginal Revolution: Do daughters make you more conservative?

So, whaddaya think? I figure most replies will fall into accident, tu quoque, or wishful thinking, but I'm willing to be proved wrong!

23 March 2010

Fact Sheet: The Truth About the Health Care Bill | FDL Action

From Jane Hamscher of FireDogLake. Who is, mirable dictu, right!
Fact Sheet: The Truth About the Health Care Bill | FDL Action
A middle class family of four making $66,370 will be forced to pay $5,243 per year for insurance. After basic necessities, this leaves them with $8,307 in discretionary income — out of which they would have to cover clothing, credit card and other debt, child care and education costs, in addition to $5,882 in annual out-of-pocket medical expenses for which families will be responsible. Many families who are already struggling to get by would be better off saving the $5,243 in insurance costs and paying their medical expenses directly, rather than being forced to by coverage they can’t afford the co-pays on.

Yeah, there are a LOT of better ways this could be accomplished. So many even modern liberals are picking up the tune!

22 March 2010

Effort to Ax Tax-Delinquent Feds Draws Fire

Yeah, I'll bet it did.
Proposed legislation that would require the firing of federal employees with outstanding IRS tax liens drew a lot of criticism at a March 17 hearing on the bill before the House Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee on the Federal Workforce.

Under the bill, any fed with an outstanding personal tax debt that has triggered a wage or property lien would be subject to termination. Prospective employees with tax liens would similarly be banned from federal employment.

Among those who took shots at the bill, H.R. 4735, was National Treasury Employees Union President Colleen Kelley, who said the bill would deny federal employees the due process rights enjoyed by other taxpayers. Kelley also noted that the issuance of a lien, which under the proposed measure could get a fed fired, is not necessarily a final determination of tax liability.

She also pointed out another obvious shortcoming—if anything, the bill would hinder feds from repaying those back taxes. “We believe that terminating their employment or preventing them from obtaining gainful employment would only serve to worsen their financial situation and lessen their ability to repay,” Kelley said.

J. Ward Morrow, American Federation of Government Employees assistant general counsel for legislation, concurred. “If an individual is unemployed, they will be in default for a far longer period of time and have less incentive to pay any payments,” Morrow said. “To erect a permanent barrier to any federal employment would be counter to the desire to get the debt paid.”

There are also potential technical problems with the proposed bill introduced by Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah. Christopher Rizek, a tax expert and adjunct professor at the Georgetown University Law Center, said that credit and loss carryovers can erase existing tax liabilities. And, in certain instances, he said, litigation over the existence or amount of a tax liability may even be occurring at the time the IRS files an outstanding assessment or tax lien.

To see more, go to: http://tinyurl.com/ylnco4m.

14 March 2010

How Real are the Defects in Toyota's Cars? - Business - The Atlantic

In which we, O Best Beloved, discover that there are some REALLY INTERESTING skews causing echos of the Audi Adventures of Ye soi-distant (*pun*) past:
In the original Sudden Acceleration Incident craze that afflicted America in the late eighties, the National Highway Safety Transportation Administration eventually ruled that the problem was "pedal misapplication", aka stepping on the gas when you meant to step on the brake. These incidents were highly correlated with three things: being elderly, being short, and parking (or leaving a parking space). The elderly are more prone to the sort of neuronal misfiring described in yesterday's New York Times. Shorter people have to hunt more for the pedals. And starting up from a complete stop is the most likely time to press the wrong pedal.

McArdle points out that there are three risk-increasers:
1. Being elderly
2. Parking
3. Being short

Repeat after me: correlation does NOT prove causation, and in fact correlation is not here demonstrated. But there are some really interesting data points.
How Real are the Defects in Toyota's Cars? - Business - The Atlantic

09 March 2010

Robert J. Samuelson - Will Millennials become the chump generation? - washingtonpost.com

Money shot:
Millennials could become the chump generation. They could suffer for their elders' economic sins, particularly the failure to confront the predictable costs of baby boomers' retirement. This poses a question. In 2008, Millennials voted 2 to 1 for Barack Obama; in surveys, they say they're more disposed than older Americans to big and activist government. Their ardor for Obama is already cooling. Will higher taxes dim their enthusiasm for government?

Hah! One can only hope!
Robert J. Samuelson - Will Millennials become the chump generation? - washingtonpost.com

23 February 2010

The China Syndrome No More? - Political Punch

Michael Douglas, a founder of greenpeace, and the Prez: Coal-lee How!
Michael Douglas a supporter of nuclear power?

Yes, the star and producer of The
China Syndrome -- released less than two weeks before the incident at Three Mile Island -- told NPR that he "was against nuclear power for a long time, but have dealt with the realities of global warming, and what the alternatives are....I do support nuclear power now. I wish there were other alternatives, but I don't think there are."

The president is also pushing new nukes -- and a founder of Greenpeace, too.
The China Syndrome No More? - Political Punch

The Story the New York Times Won't Touch | The Big Money

Not that the Greatest Newspaper that Absolutely Ever Was would do something like this:

The Story the New York Times Won't Touch | The Big Money

Maritime Executive: Maritime Budgets Struggle as Obama Administration Tackles the Budget Deficit

Thursday, February 4th, 2010
Joan Bondareff, of Counsel Blank Rome LLP, offers MarEx readers an executive review of the requested 2011 MARAD budget.

On February 1, 2010, the Obama Administration submitted its FY2011 budget to Congress, thereby kicking off the year-long budget deliberations for the Federal government, including the key maritime agencies, the Maritime Administration (MARAD), and the Coast Guard.

The Administration’s budget highlights the difficult decisions that have to be made if the deficits are to be brought under control, and if the Administration is to succeed in getting its requested three-year freeze on discretionary spending. The President had fenced off the defense, national security, and VA budgets from this freeze, but this does not mean that the President did not intend to apply a scalpel to programs within these budget areas, including programs housed at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

The President’s budget does not include funding for two new maritime programs that Congress authorized in last year’s Department of Defense Authorization Act (P.L. 111-84), the maritime highway grants program (also called short sea shipping), and the port infrastructure grants program. In fact, these new programs were to be administered by MARAD but are not mentioned in the budget documents. If the maritime and ports community ever want to get these programs funded, they will have to redouble their efforts on the Hill. The American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA) has already lamented the lack of funding for maritime highway grants as well as the decline in funding for port security grants from the $400 million authorized level to the $300 million budget request. (AAPA press release, February 1, 2010, at www.aapa-ports.org.)

As for the rest of the MARAD budget, it reflects an overall decline of more than $10 million in discretionary spending from the FY2010 enacted levels. However, this does include a total of $100 million for the Merchant Marine Academy at King’s Point, New York, including $31 million for capital improvements at this aging academy. The state maritime academies take a relatively small hit in the President’s budget, reduced from $18 million to $15 million. The Administration continues to zero fund the title XI loan guarantee program to finance commercial shipbuilding at U.S. shipyards (aside from $3.7 million to administer existing loans).

Jobs legislation is moving on a parallel track to the budget, and is expected to be finished well before the FY2011 appropriations bills are enacted. In the Jobs for Main Street Act, 2010, passed by the House in 2009, $100 million is authorized for title XI loan guarantees. As of this writing, the Senate has not yet decided what to include in its Jobs bill, or bills as the case may be.

The MARAD budget also zeroes out any new funds for the Small Shipyard Grant Program that was funded at $100 million in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (popularly called the stimulus bill). The grant program received $15 million in the FY2010 enacted budget. This small, but very popular, grants program has not met with the favor of the Administration and will have to be encouraged from Capitol Hill if it is to remain on the books and actively helping small U.S. yards.

Finally, the Obama budget requests $174 million for the Maritime Security Program (MSP) which defrays the cost of keeping 90 ships under the U.S. flag for deployment in times of war and national emergency. This is a decline of $13 million from the FY2010 enacted budget for MSP.

The FY2011 budget request for the Coast Guard (now housed in DHS) reflects what sources at DHS have called “difficult tradeoffs” between men and women and machine. (Reported in CQ.com on February 1, 2010.) The President’s budget places a priority on recapitalization of the Coast Guard’s aging assets, such as cutters, aircraft, boats, and C4ISR. A total of $538 million is allocated to construct the 5th National Security Cutter and $240 million to construct four more Fast Response Cutters. But, the cost for procuring these assets is a reduction of 1,100 personnel billets.

The personnel cuts are taken by decommissioning five Maritime Safety and Security Teams (MSSTs) and deploying the remaining seven MSSTs regionally to protect the most critical U.S. ports. Other reductions are derived from discontinuing two seasonal Coast Guard Air Facilities at Muskegon, MI, and Waukegan, IL. Finally, a reduction in several hundred billets is associated with decommissioning four High Endurance Cutters being replaced by the new National Security Cutters.

We have already heard complaints from Republican Members of Congress who are displeased with the Coast Guard cuts. For example, Congressman Hal Rogers (R-KY), Ranking Member of the House Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee, has called these reductions in “the ranks of our brave Coast Guard personnel” both “dangerous [and] indefensible”. (See www.halrogers.house.gov.)

It remains to be seen whether Democratic Members of Congress will toe the Administration’s line or continue to support their favorite programs and agencies. If the programs can be justified on national security lines and on the basis of creating more jobs for American workers, Congress will probably side with national security and jobs.

22 February 2010

Director’s Blog » Blog Archive » The Obama Administration’s Health Care Proposal

Money shot:
"...materials that were released this morning do not provide sufficient detail on all of the provisions. Therefore, CBO cannot provide a cost estimate for the proposal..."

I 'spect a bunch of innumerate's sat 'round a-talkin'

Director’s Blog » Blog Archive » The Obama Administration’s Health Care Proposal

19 February 2010

Healthcare Protestors Wield Pitchforks, Torches in CT

I left the title alone because it's not clear that the pitchforks-and-torches protesters were protesting lack of GOVERNMENT health care.
Healthcare Protesters Wield Pitchforks, Torches in CT

Why are there no Arab democracies?

Good question, that.
Why are there no Arab Democracies?

How the government fudges job statistics | Analysis & Opinion | Reuters

Ye flippin' stars, this is from Felix Salmon!
In the Marketplace letters segment yesterday, Representative Peter DeFazio (D-Oregon) took issue with me saying that infrastructure investment is an extremely expensive way of creating jobs and “costs a good $200,000 per job”. Just as well I didn’t use the $1 million figure here, which I stand by, and which was fact-checked by the Atlantic!
How the government fudges job statistics | Analysis & Opinion | Reuters

Greg Mankiw: Thoughts about the Fiscal Commission

Here is a question I have been pondering. If you were a member of the fiscal commission, what would you try to achieve?

The answer for liberals is easy: They want to raise taxes to fund the existing, and even an expanded, social safety net, while politically insulating the Democrats as much as possible from the charge of being the "tax and spend" party. President Obama can then campaign in 2012 that he did not break his no-taxes-on-the-middle-class pledge, but rather a bipartisan group broke it. That is, the President wants to take credit for fixing the fiscal situation but duck responsibility for having imposed higher taxes.

But what if you are conservative? This is harder. You can try to stick to your no-tax-increase position. The problem is that doing so would require spending cuts larger than are politically realistic. If I were king, I bet I could find sufficient spending cuts. But I am not expecting to be anointed any time soon. If the fiscal commission is going to succeed, tax increases will have to be part of the deal.

the rest is here:
Greg Mankiw's Blog: Thoughts about the Fiscal Commission

18 February 2010

McDonnell puts down a marker

Let’s see what the Legislative Branch does. I think he’s giving the legislature – especially the Ds – some potential cover: “I got back x% or the governor’s cuts”. But there’s got to be some serious cuts somewhere.

Another potential: "Sell the ABC stores and we can restore X.
McDonnell's Deep Cuts Send Shock Waves in Virginia | NBC Washington

11 February 2010

Niall Ferguson - How to take Moral Hazard out of Banking

Finally, slowly, the issue is coming to the fore. Pity it didn't happen in 1974. Be a greater pity if it doesn't happen now.
Taxpayers are entitled to ask for a radical reform of banking regulation to ensure they will never again have to foot huge bills for financial folly. So far, there is only one credible proposal.

In a recent speech in Edinburgh, Mervyn King, the governor of the Bank of England, called for “utility banking”, which would limit banks to their legitimate purpose – financial intermediation and payment facilitation – as opposed to gambling with taxpayers’ money.

Niall Ferguson - How to take Moral hHzard out of Banking

06 February 2010

Honesty thru a lack of grammar

one of the candidates for Frank Wolf's seat in the 10th congressional district (of Virginia) drops a comma and creates a level of honesty that's probably not intended:
Julien Modica (D) - Brain Injury Survivor, Navy Veteran, Felon & '08 US Sen. Candidate
Now I'm willing to bet that Modica doesn't think that US Senatorial Candidates are all felons, but...

28 January 2010

State of The Union Address/GOP Response Word Cloud


GOP reply word cloud:

Why the U.S. is Ungovernable, Arnold Kling | EconLog | Library of Economics and Liberty

From Dr Arnold Kling: "The theory is that there is a discrepancy between trends in knowledge and power. Power in the United States is remarkably concentrated. We are creating increasingly specialized knowledge, which means that the information needed to make good decisions is located outside of Washington, D.C. And yet we have a central government attempting to do for 300 million people what governments in places like Singapore, Hong Kong, Denmark, and Switzerland do for many fewer people.

I do not wish to contend that government is better in those countries than in the U.S. But if there were scale efficiencies in government services beyond the level of 10 million people, then we would expect governments in small countries to be much, much worse than in the U.S. The fact that Singapore, Hong Kong, Denmark, and Switzerland function at all is proof that a 300-million scale polity is not necessary to run an effective social insurance system, an effective education system, etc."

Why the U.S. is Ungovernable, Arnold Kling | EconLog | Library of Economics and Liberty