Monday, May 30, 2011

Ever Wondered....?

What a shrimp looks like running on a treadmill?

Can the game "FarmVille" on Facebook help people develop relationships?

Why the same basketball teams end up leading March Madness?

Can we develop a robot to fold laundry...folding a towel once every 25 minutes?

Well you should...you helped pay for the answers!!!!

That's right, $3 Billion of your tax dollars went to the "National Science Foundation" (and yes, I used quotations on purpose) who thought, "You know?  We really do need the answer to those questions at taxpayer expense."

H/T to my sub buddy for pointing out this article.  Your government hard at work.

He does look tasty, though.


The Power of the Individual

Today we remember those who sacrificed all so that we may live in freedom.  Whatever your beliefs are about our current conflict, know that you can hold all those individual thoughts...and voice them...because of the sacrifice of so many others.

It may sound like hyperbole...but it's not.  I've had the fortune to serve alongside heroes, and I'm a better man for it.

Yet, you don't have to wear a uniform to make a difference.  That is also an unmistakable truth.  A regular reader of this blog asked "how are things going to change" in this country, whether it be economic, social, or political.

"With the actions of the individual," I responded.  People can't wait to "join a movement", they have to be willing to be the first in line.

Example:  A 17 year old decided that those buried at Arlington deserved better than our own bureaucrats gave our heroes.  Amazing.  The power of the individual.

You see, I'm not saying anything new.  It's already been said.

"We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."


Honor our fallen and honor an individual who stood up first...visit the website.  Nice job, Ricky.   




Sunday, May 29, 2011

Count Me In

If you've never seen Khan Academy, then you will want to take a look.  I'm an instant fan.

Free education...pick your topic...it's here.

Dr. Henderson has some great posts on this site over at EconLib.

Take a few minutes...you might find something very interesting.  I did!

Take A Minute....

...and remember the meaning of this weekend.  Those who gave all for something greater than themselves.

Eternal Father, strong to save,
Whose arm hath bound the restless wave,
Who bidd'st the mighty ocean deep,
Its own appointed limits keep.

Oh hear us when we cry to Thee,
For those in peril on the sea! Amen.

Eternal Father, lend Thy grace To
those with wings who fly thro' space,
Thro wind and storm, thro' sun and rain,
Oh bring them safely home again.

Oh Father, hear an humble prayer,
For those in peril in the air! Amen.

Oh Trinity of love and pow'r,
Our brethren shield in danger's hour,
From rock and tempest, fire and foe,
Protect them where so e'er they go.

Thus evermore shall rise to Thee
Glad hymns of praise from land and sea! Amen.




Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Saturday, May 21, 2011

The Volunteer (your money) State

Well, I guess the world is coming to an end...just not the Revelation seven seals way.

My proud southern neighbors have just turned closer to the nanny state.  In this case, part of Tennessee's law enforcement entity has taken a plunge into crazy town...crazy unconstitutional, that is.

Video below...watch it till the end.  Worth every second.  Short summation: the police can confiscate "large" quantities of money found in your vehicle.  No warrant needed, no probable cause, no arrest for anything unlawful.  Simply, if you have large quantities of money in your car, you're probably a drug dealer, so they'll take the money off your hands.  Won't charge you with anything.  And the kicker?  They will keep the money unless you take legal action against them.  And legal action against the government is so very expeditious.

Oh, and apparently there's competition between police entities for money grabs.  Gee, nothing could go wrong there.

You may be business friendly, Tennessee, but maybe you should reread the Constitution.

Very nice work work by Phil Williams of NewsChannel 5 in Nashville, TN.  I almost forgot there were still real reporters out there.  I will enjoy the follow-up story...if that "I won't ask you about the drugs if you just give me the money" doesn't scare the crap out of you, then maybe you know Vito Corleone too well.


Hat tip to Professor Henderson over at EconLog.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Fun With Numbers

A frequent reader asked that I provide something more "uplifting" than my normal...we're all going to die comments.

Sorry.  Some other time.

With  no basis in fact, economics, or anything else, I just decided to play with some numbers.  Made me want to hang myself, but thought I would share anyway.

Say each branch of the government makes the "right" decision 9 out of 10 times.  Let's say that each of these decisions are crucial...you know, mushroom cloud kinda stuff.

That's 90% or .9.  Pretty good...making the right decision 90% of the time is good in my book.  If you multiply each of the branches of government (probability of the right decision) together, that's
.9 (Executive) x .9(Legislative) x .9(Judicial) = .729.... 72.9%.

So, for those keeping score, there's approximately a 1 in 4 chance that our government, as a whole, will destroy humanity as we know it.  Cool.

Ok, so let's get personal.  How about the Senate?  Let's say that average Senator is right 90% of the time (I know, that's crazy, but I've been drinking).  But Senators alone can not pass a law in the Senate...requires 26 Senators for a majority.  Ok...

.9 x .9 x.....this is going to take too long, so in short form .9^26 (.9 to the 26th power) = .06, or 6 %.

So, as a whole, the Senate makes the wrong decision 94% of the time.  Ouch.

How about the House of Representatives?  Well, same rule...takes a majority, so 90% of 218...

.9^218 (.9 to the 218th power) = .0000000001058.  Ah, that's pretty small.  So, mathematically speaking, the House, as a whole, never, ever makes the right decision.  Hmm...

I could go on forever.  This is just way too fun...or too sad.  But, for that frequent viewer, I provide a little happiness.

The cop should totally give this kid a break...I mean, the kid has a sissy bar.  Must be for his ol' lady.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Our Collective Head Just Hit the Ceiling...Ouch!

Just in case you have not been following, the U.S. Government hit the debt ceiling today...$14.294 trillion George Washingtons.

Oh, and to help fund the government until an agreement is found, the Treasury is "dipping" into federal pension plans.  Technically, it "will stop issuing and reinvesting government securities in certain government pension plans."  I think "dipping" is an easier way to say that...and a lot more fun.

In any case, not a great place to be...but have we reached the Banana Republic stage yet?  Not so, according to some.  James Petholoukis says that there is no reason the U.S. would miss any payments just because Congress did not raise the ceiling (and not only is he a former business editor for the US News and World Report, he also is a Jeopardy champion...so there's that).  According to Secretary Geithner, "failure to raise the debt limit would force the US to default on these obligations (debt payments)....a default would be catastrophic..."  Economist Ed Yardeni says that revenues will be available for the Treasury to pay.  Famed investor Stanley Drukenmiller (Duquesne Capital fund worth $12 Billion) says missing an interest payment on a T-bill (income stream) is just one payment...out of many.  He's willing to continue buying T-bills.

I don't know about you, but anyone else confused?  We are either (a) getting ready to fall off a cliff into Banana Republic oblivion, or (b) keep steaming ahead.  Why are there so many varied positions on our economic state?  If this were a company, this analysis would be pretty straightforward and easy to decipher.

Yet, we find ourselves the shareholders of something so mammoth no one truly knows what will happen.  Lots of opinions, lots of advice...some good, some bad.  An organic entity indeed, Professor Hayek.

And what control do we have as shareholders?  If this were a company, I could "buy" my way into control of the company.  As a democratic shareholder, not so much (a good argument could be made saying that the powerful do that already, but that's another post).

Invest or sell?  Boy, that's a good question.


Saturday, May 14, 2011

$679 Billion In New Taxes Will Not Balance the Budget...

...but $1.5 Trillion in spending cuts will!!

Again, it seems the only answer for all of our economic ailments is tax increases.  "Oh, let's let the 'Bush' tax cuts expire, and only 'rich' people making $250,000 will see any increases in taxes."

(Side note:  I would like to make $250,000 a year one day, and I don't appreciate someone saying that my hard work should be 'rewarded' with having to pay more than my fair share)

Well, according to the Brookings Institution, that only raises about $679 Billion.  That should balance the budget, right?

No.  And my main point is not to, yet again, show that people who talk tax increases can not do math.  It is to show that this is a path to higher taxes for everyone.  The libs like to talk about only getting money from the rich, but mark my words...that $250,000 limit is just the opening act.  The real money is in the middle class.

You can huff and puff at your politically motivated reasoning about the Bush tax cuts, but 82% of the cuts benefited the poor, middle class, and upper-middle class.  Those are the facts, Jack.

And spending cuts.  If they don't happen, well, welcome to your new home in about 15 years.


Friday, May 13, 2011

Another Skippy Argument

If you are trying to envision what it looks like when I attempt to argue my positions with my Cost Analysis professor (aka Economics by Dr. Henderson), here is a good example.

Imagine that your humble host, the comet, is attempting to persuade an esteemed Doctor of Philosophy in Economics...in this case, the sun.


Note the change in the sun's position, and the change in the comet's.

Any questions?

Very cool video.  Just thought you might like.  Link here.

You may now return to your normal Friday night activities.

Monday, May 9, 2011

The South Rises Again

Pro-Business, that is...

Texas, North Carolina, Florida, Tennessee, and Georgia...what do they have in common?

According to a survey of 500 US CEO's, they are the best states to do business in.

The worst?  California, followed by New York, New Jersey, Illinois, and Michigan.

Hmmm...

Maybe it's the food?  I know I miss it.

But I have a feeling it's something else.  2011 Corporate income tax rates:

8.84% California
9.5% Illinois
9.0% New Jersey
7.1% New York

0 % Texas
6% Georgia
6.5% Tennessee
6.9% North Carolina

Or, like I said, it's the food.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

"Other Things May Change Us...."

"...but we start and end with family."

To the two greatest mothers I know: I love you both so very dearly.  May I be the best son and the best father so that you know I honor you.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Stop Digging

When you find yourself in a hole, the first thing to do is stop digging.

Fannie Mae is asking the taxpayers (that would be us) to fork-over another $8.7 Billion (that's with a "B").  They just reported another $8.7 Billion loss from just the first three months of 2011.  Home prices continue to fall, and those defaults are adding up for the mortgage backing Goliath.

There are lots of fingers to point on who and what caused this debacle.  In any case, it's a sunk cost at this point.  The true question is, "where do we go from here?"

I don't think throwing more money at a failing institution is the right answer.  Just doesn't seem very...what's the word?  Ah, yes, capitalistic...or "free market" for all my economic friends.

As the AP reported, the company is nearing a $100 Billion bail-out...the largest ever.

The Administration started the "process" to dissolve Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in February.  They want to get out of the government backed mortgage industry.  Gee, government getting out of the way of the free market?  Now there's a concept.

But I'm not holding my breath.  When's the last time government gave up control of something, especially something involving money?

I'm waiting for your answer....

Friday, May 6, 2011

Man's Best Friend

I know my little guy "Scotch" is one loyal little buddy.  No matter how long I've been gone...15 minutes or 15 days, he greets me at the door like it's the first time he's seen me in years.  He always has a way of making me smile.

I usually see dogs serving with their military masters in a bomb/drug sniffing role.  Apparently, they do much, much more.  The following are some great pics in a Foreign Policy photo essay.  Take a look at the essay to get the inside info.  Found this over at Lex's.

Man's best friend.  You better believe it.  Think I'll go scratch my little guy on the head and tell him "good boy".




A Little Tax Break

Great video from CFPF.  Let's chat after you watch.



Once people possess something, it's harder for them to give it up.  That goes for tax revenue and entitlements.

The key quote of this video is from Milton Friedman who said, "In the long run, government will spend whatever the tax system will raise, plus as much more as it can get away with."  The tax increase should be obvious, but what I think the "much more as it can get away with" part is potentially the deficit problem.  In other words, if the government can spend more than it steals generates in tax revenue...it will.  As long as there is someone to fund the debt (the Fed, bond buyers, etc.), then it will spend.

Taxes are not always bad.  The case for taxes is when dealing with true externalities.  These are a lot rarer than people think, as most of what people call externalities are not...they are generally internalized in some fashion.

Yet increased taxes to fund an ever increasing size of government is bad, as the video explains.  The other key to take away from this video is the tax on the middle class.  Politicians know that's where the money is.  When the "rich" or corporations get taxed, they have an incentive to find ways around it.  They also have incentives to rent seek for special privileges or exemptions.  The middle class...not so much.  They are generally left holding the bag, as my earlier post and the video pointed out.


Sunday, May 1, 2011

Good Riddance

When Al Qaeda struck on 9/11, I was on the USS ENTERPRISE leaving the Arabian Gulf.  Three weeks later I was flying combat over Afghanistan.

Hard to believe it took this long, but I'm glad this page has turned.

Thanks to the folks we'll never hear about who made this happen....from the intel guys to the the trigger pullers.  This moment does not belong to administrations or politicians...it belongs to Americans.

Let's shake hands and pat backs.  But the job is not over.  Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.