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Pharaoh -> Caesar -> Obama -> Pawlenty -> Rybak

Arnold Kling goes Old Testament:

Pharoah created jobs for us. Moses led us away from those jobs. Even though those jobs helped to complete public infrastructure. Even though they were green jobs, where we used our muscles and our backs instead of fossil fuels.

Moses could have been part of the ruling class in Egypt. He chose freedom instead. Those of us who followed Moses also chose freedom. Freedom brings risks. But we preferred the risks of freedom to the security of bondage.

Do not confuse government with G-d. Government cannot miraculously provide us with manna--or health care. When we look at government, we should not see G-d. We should see Pharoah. Government-worship is Pharoah-worship.


Where Interest Lies Honor Dies

I have engaged in several conversations with opponents who are not yet my enemies. They deserve the honor of being heard before commencing battle. And I am within my integrity to listen for my own arrogance.

These conversations, of course about Unicorn Care, begin with some statement of support for the ideal. “Getting sick should not lead to bankruptcy.” “Freedom is not having to worry about affording health care.”

I join not with my best argument, but with the economics. It is Unicorn Care because the numbers cannot work. Nothing is free. Hiding the cost of care does not remove the cost of care.

Here some opponents first show their selfishness. They do not care that someone else must pay. They want to be free from worry, but shirk the responsibility that is inseparable from such a liberty.


Dogs Returning to Their Own Vomit

The Senate has taken up debate of changes to Unicorn Care. The righties may have an ability to stop some of it through the filibuster. But, since the bill law is so defective, they’re in a tough spot. Nearly any change is a genuine improvement for the people.

If, for example, the Republicans block actually including full coverage for sick kids—lefties forgot to put it in the bill—the righties look real bad in the minds of the non-critical-thinking majority of voters. People are mad now, but in November, the vast middle will have accepted this puke sandwich as the new normal. And they’ll want their slice.


Empty Promises

I don’t think I am psychic, but sometimes I wonder. Last night, in thinking over the implications of Unicorn Care, the problem of Federal Debt arose. Despite the wailings of the leftoids and their rigged CBO scores, economics cannot be fooled.

The U.S. economy probably cannot support another massive program of waste. We ar still in the early stages of a depression, somewhat masked by financial shenanigans between Washington and Wall Street. Not only the costs of TARP and Spendulus; we suffer from the uncertainty as all the rules of business are in flux. There simply will not be enough production to keep up our lifestyles and make payments on the Federal debt. Even if lifestyles are made to suffer, Congress can’t tax what is not produced.


Do Not Be Under Him

In reaction to yesterday’s Congressional declaration of war, the righties appear to be rallying around the idea of repeal. They’re fools.

They also hold out hope for a Constitutional challenge. The legislation is so bad, there might be some success. But in the larger view, it is little more than wishful thinking.

Repeal requires not only a Republican Congress, but one sufficiently “conservative” to scrap the whole deal and start over. And these “conservatives” must be elected in sufficient number to override Barry’s veto. There are too many handouts, fiefdoms and legitimate local issues to expect Congress to go two-thirds conservative.

When certain provisions are tested by Supreme Court, the people are already fighting a rear-guard action. And remember, the majority of the Court is comfortable with the idea of a “Living Constitution”, which means whatever they want it to mean.


A Statute Declaring the Existence of Unicorns

It’s easy to reduce the deficit, drop tax rates, and provide better services to more people. I could do all three at once.

Just mandate that people buy that better service and tax any non-government providers of it.

Et, voila!

Economically, we’re worse off. But financially, the government looks like gold.

Imagine the only kind of car legal to be owned and sold was a Cadillac. And that every adult had to buy one.

General Motors would be immensely profitable. And all that profit could be spent paying down GM’s debt. Or the government could take it to pay for other services, leaving GM at break-even (although with enough for lavish executive lifestyles, luxurious labor contracts and robust lobbying endowments).

Meanwhile, taxes could be reduced, as there would be no need for communal transport. And sales tax collection would be up with all those people buying expensive cars.


The Eve of Civil War?

Tomorrow Congress is expected to use its own rules to pass a health care bill that has not yet been written. If this happens, we are no longer a nation of laws.

A nation where law is subordinate to government is tyranny. And windows will be broken:

When the Sons of Liberty wanted to express their opposition to the actions of the King's ministers, they would gather in front of the homes and offices of his tax-collectors and government officials in Boston or New York and break their windows.


We’re Number One!

As righties and lefties argue about the merits of “drill, baby, drill”, the domestic energy industry has quietly been drilling here, now. For natural gas:

production hit a new record level in 2009, breaking the previous record set in 2008. The 2.2% increase in 2009 follows increases of 4.4% in 2008, 4.8% in 2007, and 0.33% in 2006, bringing last year's production to a level 12.2% above the output in 2006.

This surge in domestic natural gas production over the last three years has enabled the United States to overtake Russia as the world's No. 1 producer of natural gas, and is all due to advanced drilling methods now being used to drill for gas through a type of rock known as shale.


Let Joe Camel Subsidize Health Insurance

I’ve been watching a replay of last Friday’s health care forum. Lefty Senator Jay Rockefeller has been blathering about evil insurers cancelling coverage for people with pre-existing conditions. Separate from debating the truth of the characterization, is this really a big problem?

I figure the Failed Obama Administration™’s own website,, should provide data well-suited to support a perspective that this practice, called “recission”, is a widespread horror:

A recent Congressional investigation into this practice found nearly 20,000 rescissions from three large insurers over five years, saving them $300 million in medical claims – $300 million that instead had to come out of the pockets of people who thought they were insured, or became bad debt for health care providers.


Not What You’re Thinking

Bring back Constitution bumper sticker

(please click image—nothing bad will should happen)


Cool Technology

A vintage ad from NRR’s left sidebar caught my eye:

1956 Philco Super Marketer refrigerator-freezer

From the ad copy, we learn that, in 1956, buying a week’s worth of food at one time and storing it at home was a new trend. It was clearly seen as a convenience to have all the food at hand. In the 50s, the big benefit was reducing the time spent making trips to the grocer. Today we might include saving the energy and pollution those trips generate, too.

This work-saving (and planet-saving) appliance, available in decorator colors, was priced at $229.95. In today’s dollars, that’s $1,852.89.


Banks Are Still Lending

The popular tone seems to be that banks are not lending to small businesses. There are counter-examples, and bankers insist they are making loans to those who can offer both some decent collateral and a reasonable prospect of making payments. I conclude that the problem—if it is a problem—is that banks have tightened their underwriting standards.

Banks have to do this because they can’t afford more bad loans. The Federal Reserve requires bankers to hold some small fraction of real assets against all the promises of payment (loans) they hold.


The Bleeding Has Stopped—Time for New Wallpaper

Maxed Out Mama, who always looks deep into the data, sees cause for optimism:

If one tried, one could make a case that the economy will continue decent growth in 2010, or one could make the case that the economy would subside once more in the later part of 2010. There are indications both ways. Usually, that is an encouraging sign.

I won't try to make any case. In my view this is somewhat fragile and the final trajectory for 2010 depends most on government policy and fuel prices (which will control a lot about spending power).

Income tax withholdings (WIET) are up compared to this period last year. But, last year was horrible. It appears Main Street is no longer collapsing. That’s the good news.

The bad news is that Main Street is still in a fragile condition:


The Hippies Became Conservatives

Assistant Village Idiot considers himself to have a skeptical nature:

Progressives, freethinkers, 60's liberals, granolas, and alternative medicine adherents think they agree with me on this skeptical approach, seeing themselves as the ones willing to challenge received wisdom. (There is overlap among those groups, but folks usually tend to specialise in one skepticism.)


1 in 6 Home Mortgages Now in Arrears

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, about 67% (pdf) of owner-occupied American homes have mortgages against them. According the the Mortgage Bankers Association, 15.02% of those mortgages are at least one payment late. That works out to be 10%, a record high.

Since 3.63% of mortgages are only one payment behind, that leaves about 11.4% of mortgage holders (7.6% of all homes) who can’t just be dismissed as having lost a payment slip.

In the third quarter of 2009, 1.2% of mortgages began foreclosure. That’s “only” .8% of all homes, and “just” in one quarter. Multiplying by four quarters puts 3.2% of all owner-occupieds in foreclosure. How many on your block?


Who’s Crazier?

With two recent murderous crazies in the news, expect each to be linked to Tea Partiers, conservatives and/or anything lefty culture finds disturbing. It will become part of the informal codespeak of lefties around the country. Never mind the facts, as anyone who opposes the lefty narrative and leftoid agenda is, by definition, exactly the kind of nutjob who would fly an airplane into a building.

Since reason and verifiable fact do not matter much in the Age of Obama, I enter this as counter evidence about who the real criminals in the U.S. voted for:

Arrestees in Obama Gear


The Empire Hauls Freight

The opening sequence of the Star Wars movie (the original 1977 one, now known as Episode IV) is most famous for its crawling text that sets the scene for the film. I was always more moved by the Imperial Star Destroyer as it hunts a hapless freighter.

The freighter must be huge. It has ten eleven engines!

But the Destroyer dwarfs it. When you think you’re seeing the tail of it, there’s more. And then there’s more again.


Some Black History You May Have Missed

February is Black History Month. Following our mission of pointing out the unseen, NRR takes this opportunity to note that freed men of color were vastly more likely to own black slaves than white men:

According to federal census reports, on June 1, 1860 there were nearly 4.5 million Negroes in the United States, with fewer than four million of them living in the southern slaveholding states. Of the blacks residing in the South, 261,988 were not slaves. Of this number, 10,689 lived in New Orleans. The country's leading African American historian, Duke University professor John Hope Franklin, records that in New Orleans over 3,000 free Negroes owned slaves, or 28 percent of the free Negroes in that city.


Today is All About the New Orleans Saints

When the New Orleans Saints won their first Super Bowl appearance, I declared it the end of Hurricane Katrina. In evidence to support my assertion about the importance of that team to that city, last night New Orleans elected a new Mayor. Mitch Landrieu will replace Ray “Chocolate City” Nagin:

When he takes office May 6, Landrieu will become the city's first white chief executive since his father, Moon Landrieu, left the job in 1978. Early analysis shows that Mitch Landrieu's victory owed to widespread crossover voting by African-Americans, who make up two-thirds of the city's residents.


Minimum-Wage Workers Collect $31.50 per Hour

The State of New York is considering relaxing requirements and increasing benefits available to welfare recipients. But maybe the poor in New York are already overpaid:

When tax credits and medical and housing benefits are included, an average single mother of two with an $8.25-an-hour job in New York City receives a $63,000 annual income. On welfare alone, that same mother would pull in $43,000 a year—a whopping amount for non-work, to be sure, but still less than work provides.

Assume a 2000-hour work year. Then, a little math reveals (43,000 ÷ 2000) that NYC welfare pays $21.50 per hour. That’s just the handout, not compensation for adding any value to anything in the form of meaningful work.



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