Surprising no one, California loses another business to Texas

July 20, 2014

Moving

This time, Perry’s Poachers have snagged Omnitracs LLC of San Diego, a fleet management firm that will be moving to Dallas and taking 450 jobs with it:

Fleet management software company Omnitracs LLC will relocate it headquarters to Dallas from San Diego, creating 450 jobs and $10 million in capital investment, Gov. Rick Perry’s office announced Friday.

The company will move into KPMG Centre downtown.

Omnitracs is the latest in a wave of California relocations to North Texas announced this spring and summer.
The Texas Enterprise Fund is providing a $3.9 million incentive to attract Omnitracs. The new headquarters will house jobs in a variety of high-paying fields, including engineering, research and development and finance.

Omnitracs provides fleet management solutions for the trucking industry. Its services include software applications, GPS fleet tracking, platforms and information services.

Omnitracs is just the latest in a long line of businesses that have fled or are about to flee the once-Golden State. The article lists others, including Toyota, and mentions Vista Equity Partners, a California firm that specializes in buying firms and moving them to Texas.

Yes, the one business that California can keep is one that helps others get the heck out.

Well, we bloody well deserve it, with a business climate that’s designed to drive people away, not bring them here. I’m old enough to remember when California was a place to people rushed to, in order to build a future.

Now, thanks to 40 years of progressive misrule, they rush to get out, in order to save what future they have left.

via Stephen Frank

RELATED: Victor Davis Hanson, a fellow Californian, on our frivolous legislature. Must reading.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Rewarding failure: GSA awards big contract to designer of #Obamacare web site

July 8, 2014
Obama foreign policy advisers

GSA contracts oversight team

Because they did such a great job with the federal Obamacare web site, why shouldn’t they be given the chance to compete for billions more of our tax dollars?

FAIRFAX, VIRGINIA, Jul 08, 2014 (Marketwired via COMTEX) — CGI Federal Inc. (CGI) GIB -1.59% CA:GIB.A -1.49% announced today that the General Services Administration (GSA) has chosen the company as a prime contractor under a new contract vehicle known as One Acquisition Solution for Integrated Services (OASIS). The multi-award contract has an unlimited ceiling, allowing CGI to compete for billions of dollars in complex professional services task orders across all agencies in the U.S. federal government.

GSA oversees the business of the federal government, among other things supplying federal purchasers with cost-effective, high-quality products and services from commercial vendors. CGI is one of 74 awardees under OASIS, an “indefinite delivery indefinite quantity” (IDIQ) contract that will allow awardees to compete on a range of program management, management consulting, logistics, engineering, scientific and financial management services. Awardees will also be able to offer technology solutions as an ancillary service. For the first time, agencies will be able to purchase high-value professional services along with supporting IT solutions through a single contract, saving customers time and money.

The Obamacare site rollout was such a fiasco that the Federal government refused to renew its contract with CGI when it expired last February. And this isn’t the only time they’ve been told to go away: the government of the Canadian province of Ontario fired CGI for missed deadlines and a failure to deliver a functional product, an online medical registry.

So, naturally the GSA decides that CGI warrants even more chances to deliver “quality IT solutions.” This being the same GSA that’s managed our dollars so well in the past.

What could go wrong?

via Iowahawk

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Canada pulls the plug on the U.S. Keystone Pipeline – will send oil to Asia

June 29, 2014

Phineas Fahrquar:

This makes me so mad, I could chew nails. Tens of thousands of good jobs lost, a needed economic boost from cheap oil thrown away. Heckuva job, Greens.

Originally posted on Watts Up With That?:

Approves Asia Supply Route, Ignores US Route

H/T Eric Worrall and Breitbart – Obama’s inability to make a decision on Keystone has finally yielded a result – Canada has made the decision for him.

Breitbart reports Canada has just approved the Enbridge Northern Gateway Project – a major pipeline to ship Canadian oil to Asia.

The Canadian oil will still be burnt – in Asia, instead of America.

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Romney on Iraq: “Our foreign policy is run by bumbling incompetents”

June 16, 2014

Okay, okay. Mitt didn’t really say that; I was just interpreting what I take to be the subtext of this interview with NBC’s David Gregory:

Via National Review, here’s the key passage:

“This administration, from Secretary Clinton to President Obama, has repeatedly underestimated the threats faced by America, has repeatedly underestimated our adversaries,” he said on Meet the Press. “Whether that’s Russia, or Assad, or ISIS, or al-Qaeda itself, it has not taken the action necessary to prevent bad things from happening; it has not used our influence to do what is necessary to protect our interests.”

Emphasis added. I think “repeatedly underestimated” is the typically nice, Romney-esque way of saying “bumbling incompetence,” don’t you?

The foreign crises we’re facing are no laughing matter, but a small part of me can’t help but hope Mitt is feeling some vindication; time and again, after being ridiculed in the campaign for being out of touch with our Brave New World of Smart Power, he’s been shown to be right, and the Obama team (including their MSM cheerleaders) spectacularly wrong.

I probably would have found myself at odds with “President Romney” fairly often over domestic issues, had he and Paul Ryan won, but I’ve always been impressed with Mitt’s solid grasp of America’s foreign interests and the challenges facing them, ever since I read his speech in Herzliya, Israel, in 2007. In a way and to a depth that President Obama and his “team of unicorns” never will, Mitt gets it. And I feel safe in saying he would not have made the boneheaded mistakes that are the hallmark of the current mis-administration.

It’s a shame he didn’t win.

PS: I haven’t written about the crisis in Iraq, yet, because I’m still processing what’s happening there. I’ll leave the instant commentary to people desperate to show this proves what they always believed and wanted to be true, whatever that happens to be. But I will say this: in 2009, George W. Bush, in spite of whatever mistakes his administration made from 2003-2009 in Iraq, left President Obama and Iraq Prime Minister Maliki a winnable situation; all they had to do was show prudence and wisdom. All they had to do was not screw it up.

Yet they both did just that. And I have no idea how this situation can be salvaged.

PPS: Remember the “purple finger woman” of 2005? I hope she’s alright.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


#Bergdahl deal: Meet Mohammad Fazl

June 5, 2014
"Butcher"

“Butcher”

Among the potential consequences of President Obama’s mind-boggling deal with the Taliban that lead to the release of five high-ranking Taliban, one shouldn’t forget the Afghan people themselves, who suffered mightily under these savages. They now have a very good reason to be afraid, again.

Meet Mohammed Fazl:

Taliban forces led by Mohammed Fazl swept through this village on the Shomali plain north of Kabul in 1999 in a scorched-earth offensive that prompted some 300,000 people to flee for their lives.

Fifteen years later, local residents here are responding with fear and dismay to the U.S. release of the notorious commander, along with four other Taliban leaders in exchange for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, the only American prisoner of war who was held by the Taliban. The group released a video on Wednesday showing the hurried handover a few days earlier of the American captive, looking gaunt and dazed.

The villages of Shomali were once the orchard of central Afghanistan, and the plain’s carefully tended vineyards were famous for their grapes.

When the Taliban seized control of this area from their Northern Alliance rivals in 1999, they systematically demolished entire villages, blowing up houses, burning fields and seeding the land with mines, according to two comprehensive studies of war crimes and atrocities during wars in Afghanistan and human rights reports. Mr. Fazl played a major role in the destruction.

“There was not a single undamaged house or garden,” said Masjidi Fatehzada, a shopkeeper in Mir Bacha Kot, the district center. “My entire shop was burned to the ground. There was nothing left.”

(…)

Standing by the grave of his son, Mr. Ahmad’s eyes welled with tears when he learned about Mr. Fazl’s release from a reporter. “If he is released, he will burn our houses again because he doesn’t shake hands with the government,” Mr. Ahmad said.

And Barack Obama let this modern-day Genghis Khan walk free (1) in return for what? A man who abandoned his post, is probably a deserter, and possibly collaborated with the enemy? Okay, that makes the coming mountains of skulls worthwhile, doesn’t it?

This monster was given his parole, just so Barack Obama could keep his promise to close Guantanamo Bay before he leaves office. A mass murderer is let go, because, somehow (maybe with the application of some pixie dust), this exchange might encourage “moderate Taliban” to make a deal. By releasing Fazl and his “colleagues,” Obama replenishes the Taliban while they’re still conducting offensive operations against us and our allies, because this is “how wars end.”

He’s right. That’s how wars end.

It’s called “surrender.”

Meanwhile, my advice to the people of the Shomali plain is this: You have 12 months. Start running.

PS: Lest anyone forget, negotiating with the Taliban is also negotiating with Al Qaeda, for they are very, very close. To replenish the Taliban is to replenish Al Qaeda, the barbarians we’re (supposedly) at war with.

Footnote:
(1) Oh, wait. He’s “in custody” in Qatar, where he’s allowed to cool his heels and live the good life for a year before he can to return to Afghanistan and resume the slaughter. Well, that’s different.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


The VA Health Scandal Is about Government Incompetence, not Inadequate Funding

June 1, 2014

Phineas Fahrquar:

Frightened of what the VA scandal foreshadows for life under Obamacare, the Left has fallen back on their standard policy prescription: More money! (Cries of “racism!” are next on the list, I think…)

Originally posted on International Liberty:

I’ve never been susceptible to the claim that you solve problems with taxpayer money.

Indeed, this amusing poster is a pretty good summary of my views on the effectiveness of government spending.

But what about the horrific stories about veterans dying because of secret waiting lists and bureaucratic skullduggery at the Veterans Administration?

I want to take care of former soldiers who need treatment because of their service, and national defense is one of the few legitimate functions of the federal government. So is this one of the rare cases where a budget needs to increase? That’s certainly the mentality in some quarters on Capitol Hill.

Here are some excerpts from Byron York’s column in the Washington Examiner.

Sanders and his fellow Democrats want to give the VA billions more. …What is striking about Sanders’ bill is not just its price tag but how irrelevant it is to the…

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Gun Control and Mass Shootings

May 29, 2014

Phineas Fahrquar:

Because gun-control laws have been such a failure in the past, the natural response is to…. demand more gun-control laws. :/

Originally posted on International Liberty:

Well, another loser killed a bunch of people, this time in Santa Barbara, California.

Which gives gun control zealots an opportunity to seize upon the tragedy to recycle their calls to restrict private firearms ownership and otherwise erode the Second Amendment.

But I’m not too worried that they’ll succeed. The evidence is simply too strong that gun ownership reduces crime. The research shows that criminals are less aggressive when they fear potential victims may be armed.

Moreover, they don’t even have practical proposals. Here’s some of what Jacob Sullum wrote for Reason.

None of the items on the anti-gun lobby’s wish list makes sense as a response to the crimes of Elliot Rodger, the 22-year-old college student who murdered Martinez’s son and five other people on Friday night. …the Isla Vista massacre, which took place in a state with firearm laws that are among the strictest in the nation…

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Governor ‘Moonbeam’ beclowns himself over sea level rise at LAX airport

May 13, 2014

Phineas Fahrquar:

Sigh. And yet he’s sure to win reelection. I weep.

Originally posted on Watts Up With That?:

Proof positive politicians can’t do simple math.

From the LA Times today:Brown_LAX_SLR

Brown’s remarks came a day after the release of two studies finding that a slow-motion and irreversible collapse of a massive cluster of glaciers in Antarctica has begun and could cause sea levels to rise worldwide by four feet within 200 years.

“If that happens, the Los Angeles airport’s going to be underwater,” Brown told reporters at a presentation of his revised state budget proposal in Los Angeles. “So is the San Francisco airport.”

Source: http://www.latimes.com/local/political/la-me-pc-brown-sea-level-airports-20140513-story.html

Ok let’s do the math, first a look at the sea level rate from the Los Angeles tide gauge operated by NOAA:

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The Slow-Motion Train Wreck of Entitlement Programs

May 8, 2014

Phineas Fahrquar:

Another of the definitions of insanity: refusal to change policies and programs that are clearly headed for disaster. Also, progressives.

Originally posted on International Liberty:

The Census Bureau just released a report on America’s aging population.

The big takeaway is that our population will be getting much older between now and 2050.

And since I’m a baby boomer, I very much like the fact that we’re expected to live longer.

But as a public finance economist, I’m not nearly as happy.

As I explain in this interview with the Wall Street Journal’s Digital Network (and as confirmed by BIS, OECD, and IMF data), the United States is going to get deluged by a tsunami of entitlement spending.

I mentioned that it’s important to focus on the ratio of workers to retirees. This “dependency ratio” matters because economic output largely is a function of an economy’s working-age population.

To cite my famous cartoons, you need a sufficient number of people pulling the wagon to support those riding in the wagon.

Here’s a chart…

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Obama minimum wage edict leads to job losses at military bases

April 29, 2014
"But at least we won the election! Obama!!"

“But at least we won the election! Obama!!”

Democrats and their Leftist allies are desperate to find any issue to run on in the coming elections, other than Obamacare. One of their tactics has been to try to gin up class warfare based on raising the minimum wage. They argue that it will help the poor, raise living standards, and, of course, be more “fair.” Republicans, conservatives, and libertarians, on the other hand, contend that increasing the cost of labor will only mean higher prices to the consumer, fewer jobs for the marginally skilled, and be particularly harmful to minorities. This video is a good example of how minimum wage laws kill jobs.

Needless to say, I come down on the side of those opposed to the Democrats’ demands for a minimum wage increase. But honest, intelligent people (1) can reasonably disagree.  To help solve this disagreement, a real-world, real-time example would be nice. Fortunately (or unfortunately, as the case may be), we have one. As Byron York reports in The Washington Examiner, President Obama’s edict raising the minimum wage for federal contract employees on military bases is leading to the closure of fast-food restaurants on those bases, thus costing jobs:

Obama’s order does not take effect until January 1, 2015. But there are signs it is already having an effect — and it is not what the president and his party said it would be.

In late March, the publication Military Times reported that three McDonald’s fast-food restaurants, plus one other lesser-known food outlet, will soon close at Navy bases, while other national-name chains have “asked to be released from their Army and Air Force Exchange Service contracts to operate fast-food restaurants at two other installations.”

Military Times quoted sources saying the closures are related to the coming mandatory wage increases, with one source saying they are “the tip of the iceberg.”

And increasing the minimum wage isn’t the only way Washington is increasing the cost of labor:

The administration is making it very expensive to do business on military bases, and not just because of the minimum wage. Under federal contracting law, some businesses operating on military installations must also pay their workers something called a health and welfare payment, which last year was $2.56 an hour but which the administration has now raised to $3.81 an hour.

In the past, fast-food employers did not have to pay the health and welfare payment, but last fall the Obama Labor Department ruled that they must. So add $3.81 per hour, per employee to the employers’ cost. And then add Obama’s $2.85 an hour increase in the minimum wage. Together, employers are looking at paying $6.66 (2) more per hour, per employee. That’s a back-breaking burden. (Just for good measure, the administration also demanded such employers provide paid holidays and vacation time.)

As I wrote above, the natural business response to this is to either raise prices for the consumer, or cut back on employee hours — or cut jobs altogether. Well, guess what? York reports that military contracts do not allow the businesses to raise their prices above what’s common in the outside community. So, even though Obama is raising wages well above the prevailing standard, employers are forbidden to recoup their costs. What does that leave?

Closing the business altogether.

If there’s no chance for profit, why stay open? When you add up the numbers for all four major services, we’re looking at potentially 10,000 jobs going up in smoke. Not to mention the ripple effect in the outside communities.

Here we have a current, ongoing example of how raising the minimum wage harms people by killing jobs. (3) How then, is the Democratic proposal a good idea?

I’m waiting. smiley well I'm waiting

 

Footnote:
(1) Thus excluding Democratic pols and activists.
(2) How fitting.
(3) Yes, military contract law made the situation worse by forbidding compensatory price increases. So, increasing costs for the consumer –including minimum wage earners!– is a good thing? And what’s to say the Obama administration, if they got their way on the minimum wage, wouldn’t try to extend price controls when the inevitable complaints arose? We are talking dyed-in-the-wool statists, after all. One bad policy, raising the minimum wage, inevitably leads to more bad policy. Just look at the history to-date of Obamacare.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Fleeing California: Toyota takes its business (and its jobs) to Texas

April 28, 2014

Moving

Oh, man, this is just a gut punch to the Southern California economy:

Toyota Motor Corp. plans to move large numbers of jobs from its sales and marketing headquarters in Torrance to suburban Dallas, according to a person familiar with the automaker’s plans.

The move, creating a new North American headquarters, would put management of Toyota’s U.S. business close to where it builds most cars for this market.

North American Chief Executive Jim Lentz is expected to brief employees Monday, said the person, who was not authorized to speak publicly. Toyota declined to detail its plans. About 5,300 people work at Toyota’s Torrance complex. It is unclear how many workers will be asked to move to Texas. The move is expected to take several years.

I don’t know how many will move to Texas, but I bet several thousand won’t. And that doesn’t even address the ripple effects in the region’s economy, all sorts of support businesses that would lose the revenue spent by those employees — restaurants, dry cleaners, janitorial companies, you name it. Those people won’t be heading for Texas; they’ll be stuck here. And it’s going to hurt.

Toyota originally came to LA in the late 1950s, and staying here made sense for them for a long time, in spite of increasingly burdensome taxes and regulations. After all, most of their cars entered the US through the huge Port Of Los Angeles, so it made sense to have the North American HQ nearby.

But, with the passage of time, Toyota, like so many foreign car manufacturers, built more and more of their cars here in the US, mostly choosing to construct their facilities in business-friendly Southern states… such as Texas. The last auto manufacturing plant in California, coincidentally Toyota’s, closed in 2010. Eventually, economic logic (1) lead the company to decide that the cost of living and business in California wasn’t worth staying in California, not when their manufacturing operations had all shifted to Texas and nearby states.

As Dale Buss writes at Forbes. After talking about the structural shift in Toyota’s business, he looks at the once-Golden State:

Besides, California’s business climate is becoming an even bigger downer. California has become infamous with business executives and owners there not only for high tax rates and complex taxing schemes but also for overzealous regulations and regulators that have managed to stifle the entrepreneurial energy of thousands of companies.

Even Hollywood movie studios have been souring about producing flicks in California, increasingly reckoning that the sweet tax breaks and assistance packages now offered by so many other states offset the legacy advantages and ideal production climate in California.

About the only vast remaining pocket of dynamism in the California economy is Silicon Valley, where the mastery of the global digital economy by companies ranging from Google to Hewlett-Packard has become so complete that they have been able to succeed despite the home-state business landscape.

In the annual Chief Executive magazine “Best States / Worst States” ranking that surveys CEOs for their opinions, Texas has been holding on to the No. 1 spot for a while; California seems permanently relegated to No. 50.

As Automotive News put it, “Despite the deep, creative talent pool in greater Los Angeles, doing business in California has become more expensive for companies and their workers.” Bestplaces.net said that the cost of living for employees is 39 percent higher in Torrance than in Plano, and housing costs are 63 percent lower in Plano.

Thus, over the last 10 years, the Lone Star State has stolen so many jobs from the paragon of the Pacific Coast that Toyota’s reported move should come as no big surprise.

No, it’s no surprise, but it is maddening because it is a largely self-inflicted wound. Business flight has been going on for a few years, now, and, no, “Green jobs” just aren’t going to fill the gap. Heck, a businessman even set up a consulting firm to help companies “abandon ship.”

Losing Toyota should be a loud, blaring alarm for Governor Brown and the progressive oligarchs who dominate our legislature, for it’s their policies, piling on regulations and taxes year after year, decade after decade, that have made it nearly impossible to build a business here. (Just read this “Dear California” letter from a small businesswoman who’d had enough.) And for those companies that had been successful, the incentive to move finally grows too great to resist. But they won’t learn, not until it gets much worse. Like all good oligarchs, they’re isolated in their ivory tower of safe seats and unaccountability (2).

Keep watch at the I-10 crossing into Arizona: pretty soon, a lot of those taillights you see  heading East are going to be on the back of Toyotas.

And they ain’t coming back.

Footnote:
(1) Something progressives should acquaint themselves with, sometime.
(2) And, before anyone else can say it, yes, that’s our fault as voters.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Detecting life in the CA economy, state senate moves to kill it

April 26, 2014

BearFlag

Well, at least California’s legislative Democrats are consistent: if it works, regulate it, and if it makes money, tax it. In the latest example, Senator Noreen Evans (D-Santa Rosa) has authored a bill to slap a nearly ten-percent tax on oil extraction:

The Senate Education Committee voted 5-2 — the minimum number of votes needed — to advance a bill that would levy a 9.5% tax on oil pumped from the ground in California. The aim is to raise $2 billion annually to be divided among state universities and colleges, state parks, and human service programs, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The controversial SB 1017, which was authored by Sen. Noreen Evans (D-Santa Rosa), has been dubbed a “job killer” by the California Chamber of Commerce, as it would most likely decrease oil production and drive oil companies out of California, costing thousands of jobs. One such company, Occidental Petroleum, is leaving California for Houston, Texas — dubbed “the energy capital of the world” — after being in Los Angeles for nearly a century.

Apparently it never occurred to Senator Evans or the Education Committee that a regime of low taxes and moderate regulation would generate more revenue through the jobs created both directly and through supporting businesses. Maybe she should visit Texas and take notes. Oh, and the heartland of that oil production would be in areas with the worst unemployment, our Central Valley. Why does she hate the jobless? (Or, perhaps more accurately, why does she hate the prospect of them not needing state aid?)

Instead, she and her fellow Democrats must think that being in California is so wonderful that no one would ever go elsewhere, regardless of how many burdens and barriers Sacramento creates. If so, this former California businesswoman has a message for her.

California has had an amazing economy and has an incredible potential future, but even it can be killed with enough mismanagement.  Senator Evans and her colleagues really need to review the fable of the goose that laid the golden eggs: its owner, not satisfied with the eggs the goose was laying at a steady rate, killed it to get all the eggs he thought were inside. Instead, he wound up with no more eggs and a dead goose.

Golden eggs, golden state.

PS: With the Democrats’ two-thirds super-majority broken in the Senate for now, thanks to three corrupt Democrat senators getting caught, there’s no chance this bill will make it to the governor’s desk. For now. But expect them to have it ready, if and when they regain that majority.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Why on Earth are we selling spare aircraft parts to Iran?

April 8, 2014
No way!!

You did what??

This is an unbelievably stupid decision. I’ll let my friend Michael Ledeen explain why:

Somebody on Twitter posted an upbeat message saying the US delegation to the latest round of talks with Iranian officials was quite optimistic. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a born optimist and I love optimism, but I’d rather revel in victory than hope for good news, and the Iranians have every reason to revel. The Obama crowd has just ok’d something the Tehran tyrants have desperately wanted since the eighties: spare parts for their long-grounded American passenger aircraft. Boeing and General Electric were given export licenses by the Treasury Department and everyone involved has been chanting “we take aircraft security very seriously,” in order to cloak this latest gift to the Khamenei-Rouhani regime in humanitarian hues.

Frankly I’d rather they took national security very seriously. Iran uses its commercial aircraft for military purposes (one of the reasons that eery flight between Tehran and Caracas is so worrisome), and the mullahs have been limited by the degradation of the national fleet. The Boeing planes and GE engines date to the 1970s, and very few of them are in service. Back in the mid-eighties, when I spent quite a bit of time with Iranian officials, they repeatedly asked for spare parts, both for the passenger planes and for the aging military craft, the F4s and F5s. Secretary of Defense Weinberger of course vetoed any such discussions, and the embargo has held until just now.

Now we’re arming Iran.

Emphases added.

The idea that a state-sponsor of global terrorism like Iran would adhere to understandings to keep the civilian and military functions of their aircraft separate is self-delusional nonsense. They’ll no more do that than they have to keep their civilian and military nuclear programs apart. (Really, I have a bridge for anyone who believes they’re honoring the recent nuclear agreement.)

What these fatuous dunderheads at State and in the White House refuse to see is that Iran has regarded itself as being at war with the United States since 1979. A deal like this, when Iran could easily ferry troops or equipment on “civilian” flights is tantamount to selling them the rope they’ll use to hang us.

This is part of a larger, global war of tyrannies against democracies. George W. Bush was mocked for his “Axis of Evil” comment, but he was right. The players have changed a bit since then, but still include Pyongyang, Moscow, Beijing, Havana, Caracas — and Tehran. And they’re taking advantage of the openings we’re giving them. More Michael:

And so it is, indeed the war has been on for some time, and it’s a bit hotter than Cold War 1.0 was for most of the twentieth century.  Kiev burned, and may burn again soon.  Caracas is burning, as are many of Venezuela’s cities and towns.  Crimea has been annexed, and Syria is still aflame, as is Iraq, and also Yemen.  Estonia and Finland are seriously frightened, as well they should be.  If we pull back from the crisis du jour, we can see it’s a global conflict.  Iran and Russia are fighting in Syria, sometimes with and sometimes against the jihadi marauders.  Cuba is fighting in Venezuela, a country the Castros largely command, and Hezbollah is in there, too.  And for those of you who follow Africa, know that the Iranians are up to their necks in Nigeria, buying influence and supporting the mass murderers in Boko Haram.

The West needs to wake up and smell the smoke from the fires starting to burn all around it, before it turns into a real conflagration. Our foes are vulnerable, and the West can win, but only if with American leadership. The US government is the only one that can convince the other nations to take the steps necessary to push back against Putin, Khamenei, and the others. As John Schindler recently wrote:

We will have many allies in resisting Russian aggression if we focus on issues of freedom and sovereignty, standing up for the rights of smaller countries to choose their own destiny.

It would help if we had leaders who saw themselves as the heirs to Churchill, rather than Chamberlain.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


From Wyoming to New York: America’s Best and Worst States for Tax

April 5, 2014

Phineas Fahrquar:

I’m very disappointed in my beloved California; we’re only #4 on this list. Surely we can do better and drive more people and jobs away!

Originally posted on International Liberty:

Last August, I shared a fascinating map from the Tax Foundation.

It showed which states have chased away taxable income and which ones have attracted more taxpayers (along with their taxable income).

In other words, what are the “Golden Geese” doing with their money?

Well, the obvious and unsurprising answer is that they are escaping high-tax states and moving to states that aren’t quite so greedy.

Now we have another map from the Tax Foundation. They’ve just released the latest data on state and local tax burdens as a share of state income. Because of lags in data, we’re looking at 2011 numbers, but that’s not important. The main thing is to notice that the states with the highest tax burdens are very much correlated with the states that suffered the great loss of taxable income.

State-Local Tax

You can tell a few additional things just by looking at the…

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Demon-fearing Los Angeles city council blames fracking for earthquake

March 20, 2014
Drill, baby, drill!

Drill, baby, drill!

Remember, kiddies, liberals are the party of science!

Los Angeles City Council members have discovered how to cause earthquakes. Three councilmen think fracking may be the cause of Monday’s earthquake in the Santa Monica Mountains, and they want the city, state, and feds to do an in-depth review.

Councilmen Paul Koretz, Mike Bonin, and Bernard Parks Tuesday introduced a motion calling for the city, the U.S. Geological Survey, the South Coast Air Quality Management District, and the California Division of Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Resources to report on whether hydraulic fracturing caused the moderate 4.4-magnitude earthquake, the Los Angeles Times reports.

“It is crucial to the health and safety of the City’s residents to understand the seismic impacts of oil and gas extraction activities in the City,” the motion says. “All high-pressure fracking and injection creates ‘seismic events.’ . . .  Active oil extraction activities are reportedly taking place on the Veteran’s Administration grounds in West Los Angeles, nearby the epicenter of the March 17, 2014, 4.4 earthquake.”

Parks, who seconded the motion, tells National Review Online that while fracking is “reportedly” happening near the epicenter, those who signed the motion weren’t completely sure. However, he adds that “earthquakes are happening in areas that are not historically earthquake prone, but they are in places where fracking is going on.”

I’m sorry to say Mike Bonin is my city councilman.

Let’s be honest, here. If Koretz, Parks, and Bonin genuinely think fracking caused an earthquake, they know nothing about earthquakes and are just fearing demons in the night. Earthquakes happen when adjoining tectonic plates, which are constantly in motion against each other, suddenly break and move with a jolt. Sometimes a little bit, as in Monday’s quake, sometimes a lot, as in the 2011 Tohoku quake in Japan. In seismically active areas, such as the western coast of North America, small quakes occur every day and have since long before anyone thought of the words “hydraulic fracturing.”

Here’s the technical information for Monday’s shaker. Note the depth: six miles. This is what a USGS geologist had to say when asked about fracking causing that quake:

However, opponents of the moratorium argue that fracking has not been proven to cause any health risks and that claims that it caused this earthquake are not realistic.

“My first impression is that sounds implausible,” seismologist Lucy Jones said. “The earthquake was so deep. Induced earthquakes are almost always shallower than this.”

In other words, yes you might get hit by a bolt from the blue, but that’s no reason to ban walking outdoors.

This call for a study (borrowing from the neverending studies tactic of NY Governor Cuomo) is just another delaying tactic in furtherance of their earlier motion to ban fracking within city limits.  Hydraulic fracturing opponents are using what’s called the “preventative principle” (1) to stop a promising technology that could do wonders for the economy, because the idea of oil and gas exploration goes against their hardcore environmentalist agenda. And then they find lackwit politicians who know nothing about the subject matter, but who are ever so happy to take activists’ donations and campaign help, and get them to pass laws serving that agenda — to the public’s detriment. Their hope is that through delay after delay and more and more burdensome regulations, they can kill what they oppose altogether.

No matter how discredited their propaganda, no matter how safe fracking is shown to be, no matter that even the Energy Secretary of the most left-leaning administration in US history declares it safe, no matter how much this city, this state, and this nation need the economic boost intelligent exploitation of our vast oil and gas resources would provide, fracking opponents continue to throw anything against the wall in the hopes of finding something that will convince people to support a ban.

And sometimes they find the fools they need.

RELATED: Ten myths about natural gas drilling. The UK government thinks fracking is safe. Nancy Pelosi’s daughter even thinks the evil magic of fracking can cause earthquakes far out at sea.

Footnote:
(1) Watch for words like “may,” “might,” “possible,” “could” and other weak words that don’t require any evidence to back them up, just the doubt and fear they create in the (they hope) credulous listener.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


The War on Poverty Has Made a Difference…but the Wrong Kind

March 2, 2014

Phineas Fahrquar:

The Left likes to talk about ending the “war on drugs,” and may well have a valid point. I just wish they’d also be open to ending the “war on poverty,” which has done nothing but trap people in poverty. Have a look at the original post for a chart that shows what might have happened with poverty in America, if government hadn’t become involved.

Originally posted on International Liberty:

On several occasions, I’ve observed that the poverty rate in America was steadily falling, but that progress came to a halt in the mid-1960swhen the government declared a War on Poverty.

And I almost always included a chart showing the annual poverty rate over several decades.

Moreover, I posted graphs showing how government programs trap people in dependency because of very high implicit marginal tax rates. And that’s true in other nations as well.

But it didn’t matter how many times I revisited this issue, I was never clever enough to look at the poverty-rate data to estimate what would have happened if the federal government hadn’t become involved.

Fortunately, John Goodman of the National Center for Policy Analysis was insightful enough to fill the breach. He shows that the War on Poverty has made a big difference. But in the wrong way.

Poverty Goodman

Here’s some of what John…

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Glorious #Obamacare Victory: lost hours and decreased wages!

February 4, 2014
"But at least we won the election! Obama!!"

“But at least we won the election! Obama!!”

Heckuva job, Democrats:

A historically high number of people will be locked out of the workforce by 2021, according to a report by the Congressional Budget Office released Tuesday.

President Barack Obama’s signature health-care law will contribute to this phenomenon, the CBO said, citing new estimates that the Affordable Care Act will cause a larger-than-expected reduction in working hours—eliminating the equivalent of about 2.3 million workers in 2021.
In 2011, the CBO estimated the law would cause a reduction of about 800,000 full-time equivalent workers.

“CBO estimates that the ACA will reduce the total number of hours worked, on net, by about 1.5 to 2 percent during the period from 2017 to 2024, almost entirely because workers will choose to supply less labor—given the new taxes and other incentives they will face and the financial benefits some will receive,” said the report.

As Bryan Preston points out, this is the equivalent of losing almost the entire workforce of Nevada.

But, hey, it’s worth it if it brings wonderful new benefits to people, such as creating jobs… Oops!, I mean saving people money, right??

Well, about that promise

A new study finds that Obamacare’s redistribution will be stunningly lopsided. Scholars at the liberal Brookings Institution have discovered that Obamacare will increase the income of Americans in the lowest 20 percent of the income scale, and especially in the lowest ten percent. But all other income groups — even people who make very modest incomes in the $25,000 to $30,000 range, as well as all income brackets above that — will experience a decline in income because of Obamacare.

In other words, Obamacare is going to cost some of the very people it was designed to help.

So, not only will Obamacare inflict people with higher premiums, bigger co-pays, and smaller provider networks, but it will on top of all that reduce most people’s income.

Genius. I hope the voters remember to reward the Democrats in November for all their hard work.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Go ahead, increase the minimum wage. Then, kiss those jobs goodbye.

January 14, 2014
"But at least we won the election! Obama!!"

“But at least we won our minimum wage increase!”

I’ve said time and again that because wages are a cost for businesses, they have to find a way to control them so they can earn a profit that makes it worthwhile to stay in business. Mandate wages that are too high, and companies will find creative ways to trim those costs back down.

Such as replacing the workers with machines:

Fast food doesn’t have to have a negative connotation anymore. With our technology, a restaurant can offer gourmet quality burgers at fast food prices.

Our alpha machine frees up all of the hamburger line cooks in a restaurant.

It does everything employees can do except better:

It slices toppings like tomatoes and pickles immediately before it places the slice onto your burger, giving you the freshest burger possible.

Our next revision will offer custom meat grinds for every single customer. Want a patty with 1/3 pork and 2/3 bison ground to order? No problem.

Also, our next revision will use gourmet cooking techniques never before used in a fast food restaurant, giving the patty the perfect char but keeping in all the juices.

It’s more consistent, more sanitary, and can produce ~360 hamburgers per hour.

The labor savings allow a restaurant to spend approximately twice as much on high quality ingredients and the gourmet cooking techniques make the ingredients taste that much better.

That’s from the web site of Momentum Machines in San Francisco. You can bet all those progressive Bay Area burger-flippers and baristas demanding a $15 per hour minimum wage will be screaming “unfair!” when they find themselves replaced.

Not that I’m some sort of anti-technological Luddite; far from it. But these idio… er, “people” demanding a huge increase in the minimum wage need to recognize that their bosses have choices to make, and one of those choices may well be a very rational decision to cut back hours or eliminate jobs altogether. Is it worth winning a $15 per hour rate, when you wind up collecting nothing?

Keep it up, burger flippers, and you may well pave the way for the return of the automat.

Forward into the past?

Forward into the past?

via Melissa Clouthier

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


#Obamacare: the ongoing crash and burn of the HHS Hindenburg

December 16, 2013
"Obamacare has arrived"

“Obamacare has arrived”

I was under the weather over the weekend, so some articles accumulated about the rolling wreckage known as the Affordable Care Act (1), both those problems already known and those forthcoming. Let’s start with the one that’s perhaps the scariest for being the most personal; as Mark Steyn so aptly put it, “If you like your checking account, you can keep your checking account:”

For the second week in a row, the Washington Healthplanfinder website is down, and it’s causing problems for people who are dealing with billing issues. Some of them say the website is mistakenly debiting their accounts.

Shannon Bruner of Indianola logged on to her checking account Monday morning, and found she was almost 800 dollars in the negative.

“The first thing I thought was, ‘I got screwed,’” she said.

The Bruners enrolled for insurance on the Washington Healthplanfinder website, last October. They say they selected the bill pay date to be December 24th. Instead the Washington Healthplanfinder drafted the 835 dollar premium Monday.

Josh Bruner started his own business this year as an engineering recruiter. They said it’s forced them to pay a lot of attention to their bills and their bank accounts.

“Big knot in my gut because we’re trying to keep it together,” said Shannon Bruner. “It’s important to me that this kind of stuff doesn’t happen.”

They’re not alone.

This is why I never, ever give direct access to my checking account: bureaucracies screw up, and good luck fighting them. While you’re trying to get your money back, you’re suddenly lacking funds to cover the checks you wrote and other immediate needs, as the people in the article are discovering. And, if this is happening in the Washington state exchange, what do you want to bet erroneous debits are taking place on other state exchanges and the federal exchange, with its millions of potential customers? But you can’t just refuse to participate in such an incompetent operation — you’re bound under penalty of law and just have to hope these yahoos don’t foul up your life too badly.

Merry Christmas!

Meanwhile, it turns out Obamacare may kill volunteer fire departments across the country; no one knows whether they’re required to give their firefighters coverage under the ACA, or how the mandate is activated, because the IRS hasn’t yet written the rules, even though the deadline is just days away:

At issue is the Affordable Care Act’s mandate requiring employers with more than 50 full-time workers to provide adequate health insurance coverage for employees working more than 30 hours a week and whether it should be applied to unpaid volunteers.

Fire officials say the Internal Revenue Service treats volunteer firefighters as full-time employees for tax purposes, so they worry that the agency will also require municipal fire departments and fire companies to provide those volunteers with health coverage or pay substantial fines for failing to do so.

Officials say the mandate could create a severe financial hardship for their departments and companies.

“It would be just devastating to our budget,” Burlington Township Fire Director John Stewart said Friday. “Right now, we have three full-time employees and 90 qualified volunteers. I don’t know what we would do.”

Pemberton Township Fire Chief Craig Augustoni said informal estimates were that the mandate might cost the municipality an additional $2 million to insure its volunteers.

“That, or pay a fine of $2,000 per worker,” Augustoni said.

Obamacare: it’s not just a metaphorical “crash and burn” scenario any more.

Sometimes a bit of schadenfreude can help us feel better; who doesn’t like laughing and pointing at the travails of the very people who helped bring this mess about? Via Instapundit, Tom Macguire reports on a New York Times article detailing the suffering of Manhattan’s cultural elites under the ACA:

Many in New York’s professional and cultural elite have long supported President Obama’s health care plan. But now, to their surprise, thousands of writers, opera singers, music teachers, photographers, doctors, lawyers and others are learning that their health insurance plans are being canceled and they may have to pay more to get comparable coverage, if they can find it.

They are part of an unusual, informal health insurance system that has developed in New York, in which independent practitioners were able to get lower insurance rates through group plans, typically set up by their professional associations or chambers of commerce. That allowed them to avoid the sky-high rates in New York’s individual insurance market, historically among the most expensive in the country.

But under the Affordable Care Act, they will be treated as individuals, responsible for their own insurance policies. For many of them, that is likely to mean they will no longer have access to a wide network of doctors and a range of plans tailored to their needs. And many of them are finding that if they want to keep their premiums from rising, they will have to accept higher deductible and co-pay costs or inferior coverage.

“I couldn’t sleep because of it,” said Barbara Meinwald, a solo practitioner lawyer in Manhattan.

This quote later in the article is a beaut:

It is not lost on many of the professionals that they are exactly the sort of people — liberal, concerned with social justice — who supported the Obama health plan in the first place. Ms. Meinwald, the lawyer, said she was a lifelong Democrat who still supported better health care for all, but had she known what was in store for her, she would have voted for Mitt Romney.

It is an uncomfortable position for many members of the creative classes to be in.

Yeah, well, forgive me, Barbara, if my well of sympathy has once again run dry. This is what you and your fellow fighters for “social justice” voted for in defiance of all reason and the laws of economics, and now you’ve got it. Congratulations. And from those of us who could see all along what a disaster this would be, thanks a lot.

Finally, the government says they’re getting a handle on the problem of wrong information being sent to insurers, which could lead to people thinking they have coverage, when they don’t. Well, hold on to your hats; the government is lying. The problems are not fixed. Thousands of applications have not been sent to insurers. Healthcare.gov is still rife with errors. But, don’t worry, the Peron Obama administration is “encouraging” insurers grant all sorts of exceptions and break the law to make sure they take the blame for the problems the government created.

Well, they didn’t say it that bluntly, but that’s because they don’t want us to know how panicked they are.

I get this feeling it’s going to hit the fan come January 1st, don’t you?

Footnote:
(1) George Orwell, call your office.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Another Misguided Plan to Burden America with a Value-Added Tax

December 5, 2013

Phineas Fahrquar:

File this under: “Bad Idea” The only way we should have a VAT or national sales tax is if the amendment authorizing an income tax is repealed. Otherwise, Washington will greedily raise both. For the public good, of course.

Originally posted on International Liberty:

It’s no secret that I dislike the value-added tax.

But this isn’t because of its design. The VAT, after all, would be (presumably) a single-rate, consumption-based system, just like the flat tax and national sales tax. And that’s a much less destructive way of raising revenue compared to America’s corrupt and punitive internal revenue code.

But not all roads lead to Rome. Proponents of the flat tax and sales tax want to replace the income tax. That would be a very positive step.

Advocates of the VAT, by contrast, want to keep the income tax and give politicians another big source of revenue. That’s a catastrophically bad idea.

To understand what I mean, let’s look at a Bloomberg column by Al Hunt. He starts with a look at the political appetite for reform.

There is broad consensus that the U.S. tax system is inefficient, inequitable and hopelessly complex…

View original 1,012 more words


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