Saturday, March 29, 2008

Hillary Would Bring the US to a Major Slowdown and Impoverish Us All

* Free trade deals would end
* 100 billion dollars new spending on children 0-5 years of age from nutrition to prenatal to child care to food stamps.
* Raising the dividend tax, capital gains tax and increasing the highest income tax rates.

She would be a big spender on the order of LBJ or FDR and with the increases in income tax rates she will make us all poorer and unable to compete on the world stage.

We must have a leader who will free us from burdensome taxes and not impoverish our great nation. Hillary ain't that leader. She is a socialist down to her core.

What America needs is a flat tax which 22 countries now have and a lower corporate tax of which we have the second highest in the world. With Hillary's plan to spend a gazillion dollars on her 20 year old pet project "It Takes a Village" to have the government take care of our children, it will only add to our non-competitiveness in the world market place.

Colombia Seeks to Replicate the Irish Miracle – We Should Encourage That

Mary Anastasia O’Grady always has interesting reports from Latin America. She was interviewed by Kelsey Hubbard at the Wall Street Journal (Listen). Colombia has been run by a very pro growth ambitious government and they looked around the world and decided that the Irish Miracle was something they wanted to replicate. To do this they need three things to happen:

1. The Colombian politicians need to lower the corporate taxes down to 12.5%. This would attract foreign investments. This would result in less tax evasion and encourage foreign investment.

2. Colombians recognize that in order to grow they need to wipe out the guerrillas that are really nothing more than narcotraffickers/kidnappers but at the same time they realize they need to alleviate the dire poverty that a large percentage of their population live with.

3. They need to convince the US democrats who are threatening to kill the Free Trade Agreement with Colombia to instead approve the FTA. This would allow Colombia access to US markets and reduce tariffs which are always a barrier to trade.

The least the US democrats could do is to allow a good friend and neighbor of ours to grow by approving the Free Trade Agreement.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Why does the West Pay Special Attention to the Terrorists in Gaza?

The Historian, Victor Davis Hanson has a pointed article about the never-ending spectacle of the Gazan Freak Show of death and destruction. Why do we focus so much attention on these people?

The Tired Gaza Two-Step
by Victor Davis Hanson

...On the world front, we've reached a new threshold in which evoking the destruction of Israel and the killing of Jews has become commonplace and almost acceptable. Hezbollah's leader, Hassan Nasrallah, publicly brags about hoarding the body parts of captured Israelis. Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad openly talks of Israelis in Hitlerian terms as "filthy bacteria" that should be wiped off the map.

Palestinians in Gaza can enshrine mass murderers and praise terrorist killers without much worry that the world will be appalled at their grotesque spectacles — much less cease its sympathy and subsidies.

And what a world it is that enables Gaza! The Russians have fought a dirty war against Muslim separatists in Chechnya. The Chinese have been hunting down Muslim separatist Uighurs who claim Xinjiang Province as their own. India wages bloody periodic wars against Muslim terrorists who claim Kashmir.

Imagine tomorrow that all of the above nations told the Gazans that their dispute is no more or less important to the world than similar land quarrels in Cyprus or Azerbaijan; that they are no more or less deserving of international money and sympathy than are the Chechnyans or Uighurs or the Muslims of Kashmir; or that the Israelis have as much right as the Chinese, Indians or Russians to retaliate and put down neighboring Islamist attacks. Then the crisis would shortly recede from the world's attention.

And Hamas in Gaza would either begin negotiating and building Palestinians' own civil society — or face the sort of typical Chinese, Russian or Indian retaliation that Israel is quite able to unleash. READ HERE

Can We Really Claim Victory in Iraq?

Not according to Elan Journo at the Ayn Rand Institute. With the 5th anniversary of Bush's war having come and gone we must ask ourselves what have we accomplished in the Middle East. Iran, the fountainhead of terrorism, is still there, intact and America has lost 4000 soldiers in a war that doesn't seem to have an end in sight. Isn't there another way to fight this and get it over with once and for all?

You Call this "Victory"?

March 24, 2008 by Elan Journo
Irvine, CA--In Congress, on the campaign trail, and across America, many have accepted a strangely favorable view of what President Bush's war policies have accomplished.
Conservatives regard his "surge" as a master stroke and celebrate what Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell calls the "extraordinary progress that has been made in Iraq." The popular sense that the war is going well is at least part of the story behind the comeback of McCain, whose support for Bush's policies initially dragged him down.

Democratic candidates Clinton and Obama both concede that the "surge" has worked and grudgingly quibble about the slow pace of political reconciliation among Iraqis.

"But the idea that we're nearing 'victory' in Iraq is a fantasy," said Elan Journo, resident fellow at the Ayn Rand Institute. "Iraqis may now be butchering each other a bit less often, but Bush's war policy has done nothing to protect Americans."

"Cheerleaders of the President's policy focus myopically on whether insurgents have been kicked out, for the time being, from one street in one neighborhood of Baghdad. But the only rational benchmark for the war's success is whether it has made the lives of Americans safer from the threat of Islamists. Our security depends on how we're doing in the face of the global enemy, the ideological movement of the jihadists, which is widely popular and sponsored by states such as Iran.

"Far from working to defeat the enemy, Bush's war policy has been, not to defeat the jihadist forces, but to show 'compassion' to Iraqis and Afghans, to raise them out of poverty and give them elections. Bush's policy has left the enemy undefeated and empowered."

It is not Washington, but the hostile Iranian regime that can definitely claim to have scored "successes" thanks to Bush's policies, argues Mr. Journo. "As the leading sponsor of Islamist hostility and terrorism, Iran has grown stronger in the face of Washington's inaction. Iran arms insurgents in Iraq and jihadists across the region in attacking Americans. And Iran has won enormous power over Iraq. (CONTINUE READING HERE).

Copyright © 2008 Ayn Rand® Institute. All rights reserved.

Monday, March 24, 2008

The Fairytale of Ethanol

Over at Capitalism Magazine I came across one of Walter Williams' incisive articles from March 12 "Archer Daniels Midland, Big Corn and The Ethanol Hoax". Folks I think we've been hoodwinked by big business in cahoots with government. But then I knew that environmentalists (read Al Gore) and government forcing this ethanol fairytale on Americans instead of allowing the marketplace to work things out would slap us in the face one day. And sure enough now you can stop wondering why prices are so high at the grocery store.

When you take good crop land that once was growing tomatoes, potatoes, cotton, vegetables and fruit and grow corn on it because of government induced incentives to do so, it doesn't take a degree in economices to figure out that the cost of our food would be rising. So now it's not just gasoline prices that are high because the government and environmentalists won't let us drill for new oil, but the very basic necessities of life are gobbling up more and more of our money.

"Ethanol is 20 to 30 percent less efficient than gasoline, making it more expensive per highway mile. It takes 450 pounds of corn to produce the ethanol to fill one SUV tank. That's enough corn to feed one person for a year. Plus, it takes more than one gallon of fossil fuel -- oil and natural gas -- to produce one gallon of ethanol. After all, corn must be grown, fertilized, harvested and trucked to ethanol producers -- all of which are fuel-using activities. And, it takes 1,700 gallons of water to produce one gallon of ethanol. On top of all this, if our total annual corn output were put to ethanol production, it would reduce gasoline consumption by 10 or 12 percent."

"Ethanol is so costly that it wouldn't make it in a free market. That's why Congress has enacted major ethanol subsidies, about $1.05 to $1.38 a gallon, which is no less than a tax on consumers. In fact, there's a double tax -- one in the form of ethanol subsidies and another in the form of handouts to corn farmers to the tune of $9.5 billion in 2005 alone...

"Ethanol production has driven up the prices of corn-fed livestock, such as beef, chicken and dairy products, and products made from corn, such as cereals. As a result of higher demand for corn, other grain prices, such as soybean and wheat, have risen dramatically. The fact that the U.S. is the world's largest grain producer and exporter means that the ethanol-induced higher grain prices will have a worldwide impact on food prices.

"It's easy to understand how the public, looking for cheaper gasoline, can be taken in by the call for increased ethanol usage. But politicians, corn farmers and ethanol producers know they are running a cruel hoax on the American consumer. They are in it for the money. The top leader in the ethanol hoax is Archer Daniels Midland (ADM), the country's largest producer of ethanol. Ethanol producers and the farm lobby have pressured farm state congressmen into believing that it would be political suicide if they didn't support subsidized ethanol production. That's the stick. Campaign contributions play the role of the carrot...(Read the complete article here)

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Using Your Grandma for Political Gain

As soon as I heard Obama's line that his white grandmother was afraid when she crossed a black man on the streets, I instinctively thought - this just did not ring true. At the time this alleged incident occurred he was living with his white grandmother and his white mother in Hawaii. Hawaii? The state with the most ethnically diverse people? Something's not right in the state of Obama's thoughts.

Thomas Sowell has called Obama's Philadelphia speech "a theatrical masterpiece" and it is surely that. The man is a word smith and a crafter of sentences. But should he be the Presidential nominee for the Democratic party? That's a very important question for the Democrats.

"...Someone once said that a con man's job is not to convince skeptics but to enable people to continue to believe what they already want to believe. Accordingly, Obama's Philadelphia speech -- a theatrical masterpiece -- will probably reassure most Democrats and some other Obama supporters. They will undoubtedly say that we should now "move on," even though many Democrats have still not yet moved on from George W. Bush's 2000 election victory. Like the Soviet show trials during their 1930s purges, Obama's speech was not supposed to convince critics but to reassure supporters and fellow-travelers, in order to keep the "useful idiots" useful."

"Best-selling author Shelby Steele's recent book on Barack Obama ("A Bound Man") has valuable insights into both the man and the circumstances facing many other blacks -- especially those who were never part of the black ghetto culture but who feel a need to identify with it for either personal, political or financial reasons. Like religious converts who become more Catholic than the Pope, such people often become blacker-than-thou. For whatever reason, Barack Obama chose a black extremist church decades ago -- even though there was no shortage of very different churches, both black and white -- in Chicago. Some say that he was trying to earn credibility on the ghetto streets, to facilitate his work as a community activist or for his political career. We may never know why. But now that Barack Obama is running for a presidential nomination, he is doing so on a radically different basis, as a post-racial candidate uniquely prepared to bring us all together..." (READ)

Getting High on Government Bailouts - An Addiction

Alex Epstein, an analyst at the Ayn Rand Institute has a clear, tough hitting article on the WHY of what is happening today to our financial institutions. The question I want an answer to is why our government has not learned it's lesson regarding meddling in the market place?

The main idea? Government meddling in our markets is always bad .

The diseases? 1. An addiction-to taxpayer money worse than crack cocaine
2. government manipulation of interest rates and money supply

The result? Inflation-the devourer of wealth.

Lesson? "Taxpayer bailouts breed market disasters".

Cure? Allow the market the freedom to correct itself by learning the hard lessons of bad decisions - in this case low interest loans to bad-credit borrowers.

"For decades our government has had a semi-official policy that large financial institutions are too big to fail — and therefore must be bailed out when they risk insolvency — a policy that creates perverse incentives for them to take on far more risk than they otherwise would. “Too big to fail” is implemented through a network of government bodies that protect financial institutions from the long-term consequences of their decisions at taxpayer expense — a phenomenon we can observe right now. Consider Bear Stearns! ...

"Consider Countrywide, a major subprime money loser just acquired by Bank of America. Private lenders have not been willing to grant Countrywide the tens of billions of dollars it sought to keep afloat, given the company’s huge and difficult-to-measure subprime exposure. In a free market, bankruptcy would loom — but in our system, Countrywide and others can turn to the government-backed Federal Home Loan Banks for cash; these banks have lent Countrywide over $70 billion so far. According to The Wall Street Journal, these banks specialize in “providing funding where other creditors won’t go” — which they can do because of “a widespread belief the government would bail them out [with taxpayer money] in a crisis.” ...

"Still another item on the bailout menu is provided by the Federal Reserve. Today and throughout history, when major financial institutions are losing money, the Fed uses its power to manipulate interest rates and the money supply so that banks can borrow cheaply — giving them easy money with which to paper over their old mistakes. Again, it is other taxpayers who pay — in this case, through inflation. Inflation depletes Americans’ hard-earned savings; the trend of skyrocketing housing and commodity prices we have witnessed during the last five years is just the latest and most obvious harm done by our government’s inflationary actions. ...

"The combined effect of these and other bailout policies is to make risk-taking less risky for large financial institutions — because true failure is not an option. ... (Read)

Alex Epstein is an analyst at the Ayn Rand Institute, focusing on business issues.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

North-West Passage was Open in the 1940's - Oops The Global Warming Crowd Forgot to Tell us That

Roy Spencer has an interesting article regarding the fact that ...

"Contrary to what you have been led to believe, there is no solid published evidence that has ruled out a natural cause for most of our recent warmth – not one peer-reviewed paper. The reason: our measurements of global weather on decadal time scales are insufficient to reject such a possibility. For instance, the last 30 years of the strongest warming could have been caused by a very slight change in cloudiness. What might have caused such a change? Well, one possibility is the sudden shift to more frequent El Niño events (and fewer La Niña events) since the 1970s."

"That shift also coincided with a change in another climate index, the Pacific Decadal Oscillation.
The associated warming in Alaska was sudden, and at the same time we just happened to start satellite monitoring of Arctic sea ice. Coincidences do happen, you know…that’s why we have a word for them.

"We make a big deal out of the “unprecedented” 2007 opening of the Northwest Passage as summertime sea ice in the Arctic Ocean gradually receded, yet the very warm 1930s in the Arctic also led to the Passage opening in the 1940s. Of course, we had no satellites to measure the sea ice back then." Read here and here.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Obama Can't Hide What He Truly is Regardless of a well written Speech

Wright showed the world what he is - a racist and worse a person unwilling to give up America's racist past. He never acknowledged that in earlier times half the world was enslaved to the other half and this included blacks enslaving whites and other blacks! If black America wants to focus on slavery it should not be American slavery, we're past that. They should focus on black on black slavery in Africa and Asian slavery.

The fact that Mr. Obama stayed in Wright's church and considers him his mentor and spiritual leader says a lot about Obama - and it ain't positive. It says that he harbors grudges and thoughts that a President of the United States should not have.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

McCain's Gotta Get a Philosophy

Peggy Noonan while always an interesting writer can be a bit verbose. But she poses a very important question...Just what does McCain stand for? And she appropriately asks what is his underlying philosophy that guides his actions. Does he have a philosophy?

...You know what he has in his favor. He's gentleman Johnny McCain, hero, maverick. He has more knowledge on national defense in his pinky than the others will have, after four years in the White House, in their entire bodies. He's the one who should be answering the phone at 3 a.m. ...

...He has positions, but a series of separate, discrete and seemingly unconnected stands do not coherence make. Mr. McCain, in public, does not dig down to the meaning of things, to why he stands where he stands, to what understanding of life drives his political decisions. But voters hunger for coherence, for a philosophical thread that holds all the positions together. (Read)

A MAVERICK is defined as an independent individual who does not go along with the group or party. The etymology of this word is super interesting: Samuel A. Maverick (died 1870) was an American pioneer who did not brand his calves. Well, does McCain have a brand unifying all his actions, just as a rancher has a brand unifying and identifying his property. We'll have to see if he can make a coherent umbrella of thought under which we can predict his actions. I am still hoping to see the leader on the conservative side who stands up for Capitalism, freedom and individual rights on a moral and consistent basis: freedom of speech, freedom from onerous taxation, freedom from government mandates and regulations.

Americans hunger for a man of principle - consistent principles- not the fly by the seat of your pants kind of "principles". Ayn Rand explained the crucial role that principles play in the life of a man or of a nation when she wrote:

"A principle is 'a fundamental, primary, or general truth, on which other truths depend.' Thus a principle is an abstraction which subsumes a great number of concretes. It is only by means of principles that one can set one's long-range goals and evaluate the concrete alternatives of any given moment. It is only principles that enable a man to plan his future and to achieve it.

"The present state of our culture may be gauged by the extent to which principles have vanished from public discussion, reducing our cultural atmosphere to the sordid, petty senselessness of a bickering family that haggles over trivial concretes, while betraying all its major values, selling out its future for some spurious advantage of the moment.

"To make it more grotesque, that haggling is accompanied by an aura of hysterical self-righteousness, in the form of belligerent assertions that one must compromise with anybody on anything (except on the tenet that one must compromise) and by panicky appeals to "practicality". "

Ms Rand wrote this in 1966 in her essay The Anatomy of Compromise in "Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal". Not much has changed has it...