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Monthly Archives: December 2009

In a stunning display of economic brilliance, the Obama Administration announced today:

WASHINGTON (AP) – The U.S. government is imposing new duties on imports of steel pipes from China…

The U.S. International Trade Commission voted Wednesday to impose duties between 10.36 percent and 15.78 percent on the pipes

Once again, our administration is trying to stifle and regulate trade when no such need is required.  If a product or service is introduced into the market at a price the seller is willing to sell, a buyer should be able to enter into contract with that seller if he wants.  Right now, the administration is needlessly preventing such an arrangement at the price being offered.  This will have the effect of punishing the purchasing party and raising the costs of that parties goods.  Further, the demand for that product will be artificially lowered causing an imbalance in the allocation of scare resources which have alternative uses.

On the other hand, we must never forget that the business of politics is inherently, ahh, political.  And if we read a little deeper we see:

The move is in response to a complaint filed in April by U.S. Steel and six other steel manufacturers, as well as the United Steelworkers’ union.

Ahh, I see.  One of the largest group of Obama supporters would like the United States government to intervene on its behalf in order to make their product more cost competitive in the market place.  Interesting.  But surely, there must be a group whose interests are HURT by the rising cost of Chinese steel?

The U.S. International Trade Commission voted Wednesday to impose duties between 10.36 percent and 15.78 percent on the pipes, which are mostly used in the oil and gas industries.

Masterful stroke.  With one stone, Obama gets two birds; assistance for his Union thugs and a penalty to the dirty nasty oil and gas industries.

I don’t know what this means.  I’m not sure it means anything at all.  Then again, it may mean everything:

The high price of pavement and the sour economy have driven municipalities in states such as Michigan, Pennsylvania, Indiana and Vermont to roll up the asphalt — a mile here, a few miles there, mostly on back roads — rather than repave.

Now look, I grew up in a county FULL of gravel roads.  I used to drive gravel roads to visit my friends and to get to work.  Heck, when I was teaching the directions I gave to family was “turn left at the gravel road”.  I am FINE with gravel.

Question is: I this a sign of fiscal responsibility or a harbinger of bad times ahead?

My only hope is that these Leftist States lead us out of darkness by their example fo what NOT to do:

Flint, Mich.

Michelle Berry runs a private day-care service from her home on the outskirts of this city, the birthplace of General Motors.

Ms. Berry owns her own business—yet the Michigan Department of Human Services claims she is a government employee and union member. The agency thus withholds union dues from the child-care subsidies it sends to her on behalf of her low-income clients. Those dues are funneled to a public-employee union that claims to represent her.

A year ago in December, Ms. Berry and more than 40,000 other home-based day care providers statewide were suddenly informed they were members of Child Care Providers Together Michigan—a union created in 2006 by the United Auto Workers and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. The union had won a certification election conducted by mail under the auspices of the Michigan Employment Relations Commission. In that election only 6,000 day-care providers voted. The pro-labor vote turned out.

Awesome.

This woman, and thousands like her, are putting it on the line every day.  They are working.  They are sacrificing.  They are, in short, DO’ERS.  And yet, somehow, the moochers and the looters have arranged a deal in Michigan where these business owners are getting screwed.

I mean, for a sec, just for a bloody second, think about what is going on here.  Ms. Berry is the OWNER.  And she is supposed to pay into a Union?  If there were a union/employer relationship present here, it would be HER that the Union would organize against.

California or Michigan.  Michigan or California.

Which one is going to give us the clearest example of what NOT to be?

Governor Bev Purdue is right to object to the new trend in Carolina’s largest school districts; Neighborhood schools and the end of busing.

Raleigh, N.C. — As Wake County and other school districts across North Carolina shift away from busing students to achieve socio-economic diversity, Gov. Beverly Perdue and other officials fear the districts will become racially segregated.

“It’s the most troublesome thing I think that’s happened,” Perdue said of the push toward neighborhood schools from Goldsboro to Charlotte.

I think that she’s right, but for the wrong reasons.  See, I don’t think that white kids learn better than non-white kids.  Or that black kids learn less well than non-black kids.  I think that kids that come from poor families learn less well than kids that come from wealthy families.  In fact, excepting the Hallmark worthy story of the little school that could, the over whelming evidence suggests that academic success trends with income.

What it does not trend with is race.

No doubt the Governor is correct when she senses something wrong with the folks who are clamoring for neighborhood schools.  These are the folks who have been able to manipulate the system, in a very subtle way, such that the schools they attend are the best of the best.  But she has to be careful on how she debates those folks; race won’t get it done.

The State of North Carolina claims that it is serving the people.  It claims that by relieving my money from, well, from me, they are helping other people in need.  Never mind for a second that I already help people in need through my various charity giving and other activities.  Or that the people I help are people that I think need help.  Or that, in any case, this decision on what to do with my money should be mine to make.  The State is helping an entire class of citizens, or so they claim:

Raleigh, N.C. — A program launched a year ago has helped more than 2,500 North Carolina homeowners avoid foreclosure, officials said Monday.

Birdsong will now receive mortgage assistance, including payments for property taxes and homeowner’s insurance for at least the next nine months and could benefit for as long as two years.

That’s one way of looking at it.  The other way, of course, is to look at it this way:

Raleigh, N.C. — A program launched a year ago has prevented more than 2,500 potential North Carolina homeowners from attaining affordable housing, officials said Monday.

Their goal of home ownership has been prevented because select citizens will now receive mortgage assistance, including payments for property taxes and homeowner’s insurance for at least the next nine months and could benefit for as long as two years.

But serious.  I’m sure that all the people who are in danger of losing their homes are good, hard-working people who almost certainly bought a home that was within their means and needs.  Right?  No?

She said she’s most relieved that her three children will be able to spend the holidays at home.

“Each one of them has their own room. They’re like, ‘It’s mine,'” said Birdsong, a widow. “I wouldn’t want to take that from them. They’ve had enough problems already.”

So, a single mother with one revenue stream over reaches, buys a FOUR BEDROOM HOME surprisingly finds herself in a financial pinch.  And because of that, the government takes my money, thereby preventing me from giving to who I think is deserving, props up this family and keeps what would otherwise become a more affordable home from falling into the hands of more responsible home owners?  Unbelievable.

For the record, I grew up in a house that had TWO bedrooms.  Sure, after a bit we added a bedroom, but that was when my family grew from 3 to 6.  That’s 2 rooms for 4 kids.  If only I could have had my own room.

Merry Christmas.

I’m not sure how this is gonna end, but it doesn’t look good:

Raleigh, N.C. — Wake County’s school board has a new challenge: reducing classroom sizes during tough budget times.

The Board of Education on Tuesday learned the state did not grant waivers for 329 oversized kindergarten to third-grade classes.

North Carolina law allows for 18 students for every one adult in those grades.

Principal Lisa Cruz says first-grade classes at Jeffrey’s Grove Elementary School in Raleigh have closer to an average of 29 students this school year.

The State is getting further and further into debt and there is seemingly no way out.  We simply don’t have the money to hire new teachers or assistants and yet we have hay to make.

I’m not sure how we are gonna get to the 18 students to adults ratio in some of these schools, but I know that we have to.  When the classes are as big as they are at the school mentioned above, Jeffery’s Grove, the teacher’s ability to teach is severely limited.  Discipline becomes the order of the day and any real hope of knowledge transfer vanishes.  More than the diversity issue that our board faces, I think that they are going to have to solve this problem first.

It would appear that ruling is much much different than campaigning.  Mr. Obama has failed to deliver on many of the promises that he made while he was on the trail.  However, ones concerning International Diplomacy make me giggle the most.

See, things like the economy and health care, these are things that can be “seen”.  That is, they are not secret, kept under tabs or otherwise covered up.  But this diplomacy thing?  Please.  It’s ALL secret.  And he should have know that.  Which either make him naive or those who voted for him naive.  I mean, just look at Cuba:

Rebuffed this month by skeptical lawmakers when it sought finances to buy a prison in rural Illinois, the Obama administration is struggling to come up with the money to replace the Guantanamo Bay prison.

Officials now believe that they are unlikely to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and transfer its population of terrorism suspects until 2011 at the earliest.

I mean, come on.  This man RAN on promises and hope.  What else Ought we expect.  He didn’t run on a body of work that he could call upon and say “I have done this and that, so therefore it is reasonable that you can count on me.”  No.  He ran on HOPE.  And it is becoming more and more clear that we can only hope.  Hope for change.  This guy is a disaster.

Actually, you could say it’s that time of Decade [ you would be wrong, of course, the decade doesn’t end until December 31, 2010 ] but the point is this.  At around this time of year we begin looking for the “Best of” stuff.  Best movie, book TV or whatever.

I think that I have the “Best Quote”.  This idea is really Coyote’s, but I just HAD to post it here:

From the outset, the White House’s core claim was that reform would reduce health costs for individuals and businesses, and they’re sticking to that story. “Anyone who says otherwise simply hasn’t read the bills,” Mr. Obama said over the weekend. This is so utterly disingenuous that we doubt the President really believes it.

This is hilarious.  Not only had few people been able to slog through the old 2000+ page bill, but Harry Reid threw the whole thing out and substituted a double secret replacement bill on Saturday the NO ONE has read, Obama included.  So this statement is technically true, but reverse statement is also equally true – “anyone who agrees with the President simply hasn’t read the bill, either.”

Truly amazing.

Hope and Change people, Hope and Change.

For the last several days I have been considering global warming.  Trying to see it from both sides.  I really am trying to understand what is driving the debate and how it is constructed.  My conclusion kinda surprised me.  I don’t think that the whole Global Warming “movement” is about “climate change”.

I do think that there are people that feel:

  1. The world is warming
  2. That man is contributing to this warming
  3. That we can do something to reduce this man-made impact
  4. And that we should do that thing

However, I don’t think that those people make up the majority of this movement.  And to the extent that they are in this movement, they are being hijacked into something much much larger than they realize.

On the other “side”, I see very few people whom I would describe as “Deniers”.  That is, a group of people who either:

  1. Deny the world is warming
  2. Deny that man contributes to warming, if it exists

Instead, what I find are “skeptics”.  And I think the term “skeptic” applies more to the “extent and mitigation” rather than to the whole, “are we warming at all” side of the debate.  I happen to fall into this “skeptic” camp.  That is, I am willing to accept that the planet is warming, that man contributes [in a couple of ways-more on that] and that I remain unconvinced the mitigating solutions are required.

Be that as it may, during my contemplation I found it unimaginable that something like global warming should fall along party lines.  Taxes?  Sure.  War?  Sure.  Education?  Sure.  But this?  No way.  There are simply too many gun loving, huntin-hikin-campin conservatives out there that LOVE the world we live in to make it so.  Clearly, then, there is SOMETHING else in this debate that is driving the divide.  And maybe it took Copenhagen to make it clear to me.

This isn’t about warming and cooling.  Finding solutions to either or proving the data.  This is about:

Socialism, the other spectre Karl Marx spoke about, which walks here too, rather it is like a counter-spectre. Socialism, this is the direction, this is the path to save the planet, I don’t have the least doubt. Capitalism is the road to hell, to the destruction of the world. We say this from Venezuela, which because of socialism faces threats from the U.S. Empire.

From the countries that comprise ALBA, the Bolivarian Alliance, we call, and I want to, with respect, but from my soul, call in the name of many on this planet, we say to governments and peoples of the Earth, to paraphrase Simón Bolívar, the Liberator: If the destructive nature of capitalism opposes us, let’s fight against it and make it obey us, let’s not wait idly by for the death of humanity.

History calls on us to unite and to fight.

If capitalism resists, we are obliged to take up a battle against capitalism and open the way for the salvation of the human species. It’s up to us, raising the banners of Christ, Mohammed, equality, love, justice, humanity, the true and most profound humanism. If we don’t do it, the most wonderful creation of the universe, the human being, will disappear, it will disappear.

This isn’t about the climate.  This is about something much much more insidious than that.