TeeJaw Blog

To Believe Or Not To Believe, That is The Question

Posted in Government and Politics by TeeJaw on Saturday, April 30, 2011, 8: 22 AM

I have noticed that people tend to believe what Barack Obama says when they want to believe him, and those same people conveniently ignore the things he says that they don’t want to believe. Well, that’s not unusual. Most of us believe what we want to believe and ignore the rest.

For example, when people talk about Obama’s failure to implement policies that would enable and encourage the private sector to do the necessary things that will revive the weak economy (investment in new business, capital expansion, job creation, etc.), they speak in forlorn tones. It’s as if poor old Obama tried his best to get the economy going but he just got bad advice that led him into mistakes and made him do the wrong things (stimulus that failed, etc.) The underlying assumption in most of the thinking is that Obama has tried and failed. The assumption is that Obama actually wants the economy to revive and he wants high gasoline prices to come down. He just can’t seem to “get the car out of the ditch”, to use one of Obama’s own metaphors.

This sense of forlornness for our poor beleaguered president can be heard in these words from Walter Russell Mead in his recent internet posting, Fallen Between Two Stools:

…the President has been wounded both by his successes and his failures. [the successes Mead refers to are the failed economic stimulus package and Obamacare. When speaking of these things he implies they were “catastrophic successes” adopting a phrase coined by Colin Powell.]

These successes would not be so damaging if it were not for the core failure to date of the Obama presidency: the failure to deliver what looks to most Americans like the promise of an improving economy. Part of the problem is international; the turmoil in the Middle East, the global surge in commodity prices and the waning credibility of the dollar combine to push gas prices to $4.00. For tens of millions of American families the price of gas is both an economic indicator and a key variable in their disposable income. Add to that the persisting weakness in the housing market, where millions of families have watched the value of their prime asset shrink or disappear, continuing weak growth in employment and stagnation in wages, and there is a pervasive national sense that life is not getting better on President Obama’s watch.

Isn’t there another possibility? One might say that it is the country that has been wounded by Obama’s successes and whether or not Obama has been wounded by his failures, the country has dodged a bullet every time Obama has failed.

Isn’t it possible, indeed plausible, that Obama doesn’t want a thriving economy, and doesn’t want lower gasoline prices? It is probably a lot to ask of the American people that they believe we have a president who sees his success, in terms of what he wants to accomplish, in just the opposite of what the people want. What if he sees high gas prices and a weak economy as being to his benefit? To believe this is to believe that we have a president intent on implementing changes to this country using an Obama variation on the Cloward-Piven strategy, i.e, bring the country and economy to its knees in order to impose fundamental social changes that would not be possible under ordinary circumstances.

While this is certainly difficult for most people to believe, there are ample reasons to consider it. First, Obama’s own actions. It is not rocket science to know that lower taxes and reduced government spending would stimulate growth in the economy. Obama is dead set against both. Obama could lift his drilling restrictions and crude oil prices would fall immediately, quickly leading to lower prices at the pump for gasoline. History proves it. No one is holding their breath waiting for him to do that. Second, his own words. All one need do to understand Obama and his true intentions is to take him at his word. He wants high energy prices. We should believe him. He said it in January, 2008 in this video:

Finally, we have the words of Obama’s close advisor and confidant, Rahm Emanuel on February 9, 2009:

Resistance to Obama will come from the middle class, not the rich or the poor. The rich are insulated by their wealth, the poor are already dependent on the state and aren’t going to rise up against it. It is the middle class that have a stake in a healthy economy, making them Obama’s main problem. Once this is realized his policies make sense as an effort to make the middle class poor so they won’t offer resistance his social engineering. A recent essay by John Hayward titled The Middle Class Problem sees this clearly:

Have you found the economic policies of President Barack Obama to be confusing and incomprehensible? They’re not. He used to openly state that he would ruin certain industries, and raise the price of gasoline. He spends a lot of time declaring his eternal hatred for the people who produce what the middle class wants, and can give them the jobs they need. Everything he has done is part of an effort to solve the middle class problem.

Read the whole thing.

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Who’s Making A Killing In Gasoline Sales?

Posted in Government and Politics by TeeJaw on Friday, April 29, 2011, 7: 45 PM

Well, let’s see. ExxonMobile maybe? Here’s what they say on the ExxonMobile Perspectives Blog….wait, what is this blog? It’s a blog by ExxonMobile that, as they themselves say it, “offers our company’s views on the issues, policies, technologies and trends that are shaping the energy industry.” This is refreshing. ExxonMobile is not going to hide under their board room table in abject fright of brutish politicians. They’re going to say what they think. It’s about time. Companies like ExxonMobile, which are not part of Obama’s crony capitalism clique [such as GE, BP, and At&T to name just a few] are standing up for themselves instead of making fools of themselves trying to appease gangster government.

For every gallon of gasoline, diesel or finished products [ExxonMobile] manufactured and sold in the United States in the last three months of 2010, [it] earned a little more than 2 cents per gallon. That’s not a typo. Two cents.

Two cents a gallon. That’s about what the gasoline retailers earn on each gallon of gasoline sold. Retailers complain of how little they make on gas sales, but Exxon makes no more than they do. That makes the retailers look like they’re doing well. After all, building and maintaining refineries costs about a million times more than buildng and running a convenience store.

So who is making a killing on gasoline sales? Here’s a clue:


Voila! It’s state governments that are making a killing with an average profit of 48 cent per gallon. That’s right, state governments are raking in a higher profit per gallon than any other economic player in the entire chain of exploration, development, extraction, refining, transporting and retailing, an endeavor by dozens of economic entities and individuals that through their combined cooperation transform crude oil a mile or more beneath the surface of the earth into gasoline in your tank. Who’s in second place? The Federal government with about 23 cents a gallon in taxes.

So Obama can’t reduce these prices by cutting so-called subsidies to the oil and gas industry [most of what Obama calls “subsidies” for oil and gas are just ordinary and necessary business expense the companies pay themselves and deduct from their gross income to determine their taxable income. The real subsidies go to such wasteful things as ethanol, wind farms, solar energy and other “green energy” boondoggles.] But he and other governments could reduce prices by giving up some of their own lavish profits.

Gas Pump Sticky Note Campaign

Posted in Government and Politics by TeeJaw on Friday, April 29, 2011, 4: 35 PM

From Doug Ross, some notes you can print out and tape them to the gas pump next time you fill up:

The War Against Walmart — “We Don’t Want No Stinking Low Prices For Stuff We Buy Everyday!”

Posted in Government and Politics by TeeJaw on Friday, April 29, 2011, 8: 00 AM

New York City Councilwoman Christine Quinn argues that for every two jobs Walmart creates three jobs are lost in the same neighborhood. Steve Malanga of The Manhattan Institute points out that this is the problem 19th Century French economist Frederic Bastiat explored: It is the seen versus the unseen. The seen is the businesses that find themselves unable to compete with Walmart for various reasons and jobs are lost when those businesses fail. But unseen are all the new businesses that then come in to replace the ones that leave. These new businesses find new ways to satisfy customers. This process is actually helped by Walmart because the money that consumers save by shopping at Walmart is available to go back into the local economy in other ways, where it creates new jobs. Given enough time, which is not a long time, there is no net loss of jobs when a new Walmart store arrives in a community because of the new business dynamics that are created. Adding in the new jobs created by Walmart there is a net gain in employment in the community.

Some of jobs created by Walmart go to people who initially have very low appeal to other employers. These people get a low wage job when their only alternative is no job at all. Many of them end up doing well at Walmart, improving their job skills and either moving up within Walmart or landing jobs elsewhere which they never would have had without their Walmart experience. Instead of castigating Walmart the local officials should really be welcoming Walmart with open arms.

City Council members raise hell about Walmart largely because it allows them to appear relevant when they are otherwise irrelevant to the economic vitality of a community, except when they are making trouble for it. Even though they anger some members of a community when they keep Walmart out, they bank on the fact voters won’t be angry enough to vote them out of office over not letting Walmart open a store.

The opposition to Walmart, almost exclusively in cities run by left-wing elements, range from fatuous and half-baked to crackpot batty. Washington D.C. commissioner Brenda Speaks says “Walmart will make criminals of our children because kids are kids so they’ll shoplift and then security will grab them.”

This raging against Walmart is taking place not only in the liberal bastions of Washington DC and New York City. Walmart has a huge presence in Wyoming with stores in practically every city of 10,000 or more. But it will be a very cold day in hell before there is a Walmart in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. The local politicians and probably much of the citizenry will never allow it. They are very concerned about affordable housing, and numerous schemes to create affordable housing have been embraced, with mixed results to be charitable. Of course, this is done at great expense to everyone else who needs housing. One would think that if they really wanted to help people having a tough time coping with the high cost of living in the area they would welcome a Walmart. Apparently affordable housing is important but affordable groceries aren’t. Walmart would be the agent of that change, and not the City Council and County Commissioners. That may be the problem.

Even though much of the citizenry who would benefit from a Walmart are opposed to letting Walmart into their community, that doesn’t stop them from driving 90 miles to Idaho Falls, Idaho to shop at the Walmart there. Soon to be coming $5-a-gallon gasoline might cause some to rethink that.

Keynes vs. Hayek Duke It Out

Posted in Economic Theory by TeeJaw on Thursday, April 28, 2011, 1: 42 PM

Keynes: Government should just spend, spend, spend and we’ll all be rich and prosperous.

Hayek: Government has no money to spend without taking it away from someone else. It’s like dipping water out of one end of a swimming pool and pouring it into the other end. Prosperity only comes from economic growth that produces new wealth rather than just redistributing existing wealth. In fact, such redistribution schemes are inefficient in moving wealth from one group to another group because by undermining incentives to produce new wealth, there is less and less available for redistribution. Finally, redistribution of wealth according to government schemes is legalized theft and is immoral.

Of course, those are my words, they are not quotes from Keynes of Hayek, nor from the video:

If Hayek’s approach of lassiz faire economics and free markets is superior to Keynesian government spending, why is it that politicians seem to always prefer Keynes? Because Keynesian spending allows politicians to look like they are doing something and Hayek’s approach has them mostly doing nothing except making sure free markets remain free. Telling a politician that the best thing he or she can do for the economy is to leave it be is not something they want to hear. That’s the temptation of socialism, it gives politicians a reason for constant tinkering even though most of what they are doing is destructive. Capitalism and free markets largely operate on their own. Politicians do not favor anything they can’t claim credit for.

Obama Releases Birth Certificate

Posted in Government and Politics by TeeJaw on Wednesday, April 27, 2011, 12: 27 PM

Trump 1, Obama 0

Obama may think he’s quelled the controversy but a lot of people wonder why it took so long and are still going to think he’s a shady character. They remember what he said during his campaign, that his administration was going to be “the most open and transparent in history.”

Also, there might be a little matter of authentication needed before anyone can say for sure.

And Trump isn’t giving up either, he’s just shifted to gas prices and food prices and Obama’s academic records. Heh.

The birther movement started on the left, among Hillary Clinton supporters.

It was probably his ego that made Obama drag this out so long. As with a lot of politicians, it’s their ego that raises them up in politics, and it’s their ego that brings them down.

Who or What Is Responsible For High Gasoline Prices?

Posted in Government and Politics by TeeJaw on Tuesday, April 26, 2011, 10: 23 AM

The average price of regular around the country was $1.80 when Obama took office. It’s around $3.80 today. What’s the cause? Obama says it’s greedy oil companies making record profits, or speculators, or us because we drive too much and we don’t own the right cars. Reality is different.

Consider this:

On July 11, 2008 crude oil hit a record high of $145 a barrel. On July 14, 2008 George W. Bush signed an executive order lifting a Federal restriction on offshore drilling off the coastline of the United States. Four days later, on July 18, 2008 crude oil had dropped to $129 a barrel. By October 3rd it fell below $100 a barrel and by the end of 2008 oil was $45 a barrel. The chart at right [compiled by metalprices.com] shows how dramatic the drop in price was. It is important to note the Bush’s executive order did not put on drop of additional crude oil in the market because the Congressional ban remained in effect. Nevertheless, the price of crude fell off a cliff.

On February 8, 2011 Barack Obama reversed Bush’s executive order and reinstated the Federal ban on offshore drilling. Crude oil was $86 a barrel on that day. By March 4th it was back over $100 a barrel and stood at $112 four days ago. Obama has also contemptuously defied a Federal court order to lift his ban on drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, and Obama’s energy Secretary Ken Salazar has instituted a highly restrictive policy on offshore leasing. The EPA shut down drilling by Shell Oil off the coast of Alaska.

The blame for soon-to-be $5 a gallon gasoline is clear. It’s not the oil companies who would expand supply if Obama would let them, it’s not speculators who are merely reacting to what Obama and his minions are doing, and it’s certainly not us for not driving little match box cars with rubber band motors. It’s Obama and his disastrous economic policies. As long as those policies continue, higher and higher gasoline prices will continue. He could take action today that would almost immediately begin to lower those prices. History proves it.

Coming next: The $5 loaf of bread. Who’s fault do you suppose that is? Wheat futures are selling at $8 a bushel. They were $3 just a few months ago. If Obama thinks oil companies making profits are to blame for gas prices, then aren’t farmers to blame for the high price of a loaf of bread?

UPDATE: Could a three-inch lizard shut down the West Texas oil and gas industry? Should we start thinking about $10 a gallon gasoline?

Texas Governor Rick Perry Is The Real Deal

Posted in Government and Politics by TeeJaw on Monday, April 25, 2011, 10: 24 AM

Kevin Williiamson has a must read piece on Rick Perry at National Review Online. Here are a few nuggets:

“Rick Perry has a complicated relationship with the Bushes, which is to say that he’s hesitant to criticize them and they hate his guts.”

All the more reason to like Rick Perry, in my view.

When he was in Iowa Perry did criticize Bush for his big spending habits and his weakness on immigration. Williamson writes:

“The truth hurts, but there’s more to the Bush-Perry friction than that. One longtime observer of Lone Star politics described the Bushes’ disdain of Perry as “visceral,” and it is not too terribly hard to see why. The guy that NPR executives and the New York Times and your average Subaru-driving Whole Foods shopper were afraid George W. Bush was? Rick Perry is that guy.”

And,

“…Perry, a tea-party favorite, personifies the hawkish new fiscal conservatism that has allowed the GOP to find its way out from under George W. Bush’s shadow, …

“He’s a free-market guy, to be sure,…”

On Why governors make better presidents than senators:

“Senators can get away with playing philosopher-king, but governors have to govern, for better and for worse.”

Democrats talk about economic growth and environmental quality, but Perry delivers on both:

“Texas has weathered the housing meltdown better than most states, and its job-growth rate is the envy of the nation. People who haven’t followed Perry’s career will be surprised to learn that he’s particularly proud of Texas’s environmental record — 27 percent reduction in ozone levels, 53 percent in mono-nitrogen oxides — and that he’s suing the Environmental Protection Agency in order to defend the state’s flexible permitting rules, which he credits with improving air quality without placing unbearable burdens on business.”

Read the whole thing, it’s well worth it.

I like the idea of a president who grew up in town named Paint Creek.

Happy Easter!

Posted in Uncategorized by TeeJaw on Sunday, April 24, 2011, 12: 25 PM

In varying ways they realized the new wonder; but even they hardly realized that the world had died in the night.  What they were looking at was the first day of a new creation, with a new heaven and a new earth; and in a semblance of the gardener God walked again in the garden, in the cool not of the evening but of the dawn.

–G. K. Chesterton, The Everlasting Man

We could use a new creation, in the cool of a new dawn.  Maybe this will be the beginning.

To all my Jewish friends:  May your name be written in the Book of Life.

More DUI Convictions Thrown Out Because of Defective Breathalyzers

Posted in Government and Politics by TeeJaw on Friday, April 22, 2011, 12: 07 AM

I’m a broken record on this but I will say it again: DUI laws are a horrible injustice because convictions are based on blood alcohol levels and not actual impairment. That’s important because when it comes to human physiological reaction to alcohol all are not the same and impairment among individuals occurs at different levels of alcohol concentration. Thus actual impairment should be the standard and not the level of alcohol in the blood [unless the legal level is set high enough that virtually everyone is impaired at that level.]

This unjust system is made worse by the fact that the method of measurement is faulty. Taking measurement of breath alcohol and converting that to blood alcohol is problematic as well because the formula used to do it is an average among a human population and will not be accurate for any given individual. No one is average.

Finally, and this is huge, the machines used to measure breath alcohol, called breathalyzers, DON’T WORK. Every once in a while someone proves that the machines don’t work, the bureaucrats call it a snafu when it’s really business as usual, and hundreds of DUI convictions have to be tossed out. Here is the latest:

Defective breathalyzer could lead to tossing out hundreds of DUI convictions

PLEASE NOTE: I have never been charged or convicted of DUI. I have never been stopped on the road under suspicion of DUI. I may have an axe to grind, but it’s not that axe.

Here’s Why It Is So Hard To Get Politicians to Cut Government Spending

Posted in Government and Politics by TeeJaw on Thursday, April 21, 2011, 11: 25 PM

James Buchanan, now in his 90’s, won the Nobel Prize in Economics several years ago for his work in “public choice theory” which is sometimes called the economics of politics. It holds that when people get elected to public office they continue to act in what they perceive to be their own interest and not in the fictional “public interest.” This video explains why politicians won’t cut government spending (it’s not in their interest):

If you find this interesting and want more go here and read Amity Schlaes account of how public choice theory explains the following events and circumstances:

— The federal government exploited AIG’s crisis in order to regulate an area in which state law has traditionally held sway.

— The federal government exploited the auto industry crisis to get its nose into what has formerly been private-company territory: corporate management.

— The federal government exploited the mortgage and banking crisis, using it to capture the remaining private part of a sector in which it already has outposts: health care.

— The federal government exploited the Chrysler deal to reduce the credibility of commercially traded bonds–thus elevating the quality of its own bonds—by screwing bondholders.

I’m Not a Birther — Am I?

Posted in Government and Politics by TeeJaw on Thursday, April 21, 2011, 8: 57 AM

Because I know that “birthers” are kooks I swear I’m not one of them. I should not even bring up the fact that Obama refuses to release his original birth certificate because that alone could make me a kook or at least “sorta nutty” in the eyes of some people.

But then there is this. You all remember when the media and others were lamenting that Henry Kissinger could never be President because, even though he is a naturalized citizen, he was born outside the United States. You see, in that time and place and with respect to a man as much admired as anyone in National politics, the plain language of the United States Constitution seemed to matter. Article II, Section 1 says, “No person except a natural born citizen [exception for one a citizen, but not natural born, at the time of the adoption of the Constitution] shall be eligible to the Office of President…” The exception was not for George Washington. He was born in Virginia so didn’t need it. But it wasn’t known when the Constitution was written who the first president would be and there were likely other qualified candidates among the founding fathers who may have been born in England. At any rate, that was the sole exception in the Constitution. All other presidents are required to be natural born.

But with Obama, and without amending the Constitution, its plain words don’t seem to matter (except to a few people derisively called “birthers”). I guess that’s part of the “change” Obama promised when he came to office. Not only does it not matter what the Constitution says, some will conclude you’re “sorta nutty” if you think it does.

But does the appearance of this book, and it’s #1 rank on Amazon before it’s even been released, indicate that this issue might actually be a little bigger and little more important than some people think it is?

I don’t know anything about the author of this book. It’s possible that it’s a put-up job to stimulate conservatives into talking about the “birther” issue more because Democrats think it makes conservatives appear to be nut cases. There are certainly a lot of conservatives that are very uncomfortable with this issue and wish other conservatives would shut up about it. It’s still interesting and somewhat inexplicable that it was a serious issue in the case of Henry Kissinger, but not for Obama. I don’t claim to understand it, and I don’t much care about it because I tend to think the Democrats are correct in assuming that the more conservatives talk about Obama’s birth certificate the more it benefits Democrats. But that in itself, if true, is somewhat puzzling and astounding. If Obama were not Black would this issue be treated differently?

The bottom line is this: A President takes an oath to uphold and defend the United States Constitution. The natural born citizen requirement for eligibility to the office of President is written in plain English. If a President’s eligibility is reasonably called into question the President has the duty to clear that up for the American people. He should put it to rest, once and for all. The odds are that Obama was born in Hawaii and that his eligibility is not really open to question of that basis. But it’s not known with certainty. There’s a lingering question. What sort of a man leaves that lingering doubt to fester when he could so easily clear it up once and for all? Why is he refusing? That’s a worthwhile question to ask, and may be more important than the birth certificate itself.

Governor Neil Abercrombie of Hawaii said when he took office he was going to find that birth certificate and make it public to finally end this matter. Now he says he’s looked high and low for the birth certificate and he can’t find it. Obama still won’t help. It almost no longer matters whether Obama was born in Hawaii or on another planet. He’s violated his oath of office either way.

Today’s Navy

Posted in Government and Politics by TeeJaw on Wednesday, April 20, 2011, 8: 59 AM

Today the crew of most Navy ships includes women. That would have been unthinkable in my day. Apparently more than the way we think has changed. Not only are women accepted as crew members, the destroyer USS Decatur has a female captain. Meet Commander Shanti Sethi, commanding officer of the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Decatur (DDG 73).
During wartime sailors live a more pleasant existence that soldiers who may be constantly under threat of enemy fire, wearing the same clothes for a month or more, sleeping in a foot of water in some stinking jungle hole, with all the normal creature comforts a distant memory. By contrast, sailors on board ship have a warm bunk to sleep in, daily showers, clean clothes and three hot meals a day. It’s a life of luxury by comparison. So I guess if women are equal to men in every way, and are to be considered fully capable of enduring all the hardships of front line combat, serving on board a Navy ship will be a piece of cake. After all, a modern destroyer is not even designed for close combat with the enemy. These high-tech war machines are capable of detecting the enemy many miles distant and delivering kill shots at that distance as well. A fierce battle can be conducted without either side ever catching sight of the other. Who needs men? Women can push buttons on keyboards as well as men, maybe a lot better than men. All of the other functions on board ship are also about as gender neutral as one can imagine. They involve dealing with electronic equipment for the most part, having knowledge of navigation, missile launch control, and maintenance of all that equipment.

The problems will come when a ship like the Decatur is on the receiving end of that same sort of firepower. All the creature comfort advantages that sailors have enjoyed over soldiers in combat disappear in the blink of an eye then. In a battle at sea a ship’s deck and superstructure can become a slaughterhouse with blood running down the deck and human body parts lying everywhere. Survival requires all hands to ignore the carnage before them and to concentrate all of their efforts on maintaining their battle stations to keep the ship afloat and returning fire as heavily and accurately as possible. Past experience, in the Israeli IDF and on battlegrounds around the world, has shown that men have a difficult time bearing witness to the tearing apart of female bodies. It distracts them and demoralizes them. It might be thought that it would strengthen their resolve, and it probably does. But most men cannot help themselves. They want to protect the women they see bleeding and dying before them. They lose sight of their other duties, to the immediate detriment of winning and surviving the battle.

The sort of Naval battle whose story is told in this book, Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors: The Extraordinary World War II Story of the U.S. Navy’s Finest Hour may be only of historical relevance. But that battle was also fought at a distance. The fletcher class destroyers and Admiral Spruance’s Jeep Carriers never had sight of the Japanese ships they were fighting, nor did the Japanese ever have sight of them. It was one of the bloodiest battles on the high seas in history.

I don’t claim to know how different that battle might have been if half the crew of those destroyers had been female. But I’m glad I was in the Navy 45 years ago, on a fletcher class destroyer just like the ones that fought off Samar Island in 1944. I would not want to be a young sailor today on the USS Decatur. I just wouldn’t fit in.

Maybe the solution is not to get rid of women on board Navy ships. Perhaps we should get rid of men on Navy ships. After all, we see in the current makeup of the Republican leadership in Congress and elsewhere that it is the women with the most resolve to fight for anything.

Fifty Million People Are Missing!

Posted in Global Warming Hoax, Government and Politics by TeeJaw on Tuesday, April 19, 2011, 10: 51 AM

In 2005 The UN Environment Program (UNEP) warned there would be 50 million “climate refugees” by 2010,
UNEP said that sea-level rises, increased hurricanes, and desertification caused by man-made climate change would lead to massive population disruptions. In a map, the organization highlighted areas that were supposed to be particularly vulnerable, such as the Caribbean. The purple areas in the map show areas that would supposedly be full of 50 million refugees by 2010:

But it turns out that, not only did those areas fail to produce any “climate refugees,” their populations are actually booming.

Is there anyone who still believes in the man-made global warming hoax?

Sure there is. That’s because man-made global warming is a religion and it’s about faith not facts.

Democrat Senator Wants To Tax The Internet

Posted in Government and Politics by TeeJaw on Monday, April 18, 2011, 1: 24 AM

Senator Dick Durbin (DEMOCRAT, Illinois) will soon introduce a bill requiring internet vendors to collect sales tax even if they have no physical presence in the state in which a buyer resides. A line of Supreme Court cases going back 40 years has consistently held sellers without a substantial nexus in a state have no obligation to collect sales taxes for that state simply because a resident of that state has purchased something from them. A substantial nexus would be having a store and employees in the state. Thus, orders placed over the internet to Amazon, for example, do not require Amazon to collect taxes except in those few states in which it has a physical presence.

Merchants complain this gives internet sellers a competitive advantage they cannot meet. Jeff Jacoby begs to differ and points out certain advantages that stores with facilities in a state have over internet sellers, such as not charging for shipping and offering consumers the opportunity to see and touch the merchandise before buying.

There is another very good reason not to allow states to tax internet sales from vendors with no physical presence in their state. Sales tax rates have been creeping higher and higher in most states over the last twenty years or so. States like New York and California already have combined state and local sales tax rates exceeding 10%. Even Arizona’s sales taxes are almost 10%. The highest sales taxes across the country used to not exceed 5%, now no state has sales taxes that low (except New Hampshire which has no sales tax). Even with shipping costs the ability to purchase over the internet and avoid sales taxes acts as a brake on how high states can raise those taxes without seeing their revenue decline rather than increase. This is so because the higher the taxes the more incentive consumers have to avoid them by buying on the internet from vendors with no physical presence in the state.

It’s always a good thing when some barrier exists to temper the excesses of politicians trying to squeeze taxpayers. If Senator Durbin’s internet tax bill ever becomes law we will see combined state and local sales taxes rise sharply above their already excessive level. We will also see internet sellers charging more to compensate for the mountain of paper work that will be required to comply with 50 different state sales tax laws, and thousands of different sales tax schemes of cities and counties.

Raising any sort of tax during an economic recession is a boneheaded move anyway.

UPDATE: Inflation is ramping up and it is in reality a tax, the cruelest sort of tax because silently and unseen, it eats away at the value of your money. Like a sales tax, you first notice it at the point of purchase. Everything costs more. Adding to that burden with new sales taxes increases the damage. Citizens have to tighten their belts during economic hard times, so why can’t government tighten its belt? Senator Durbin should be told to go pound sand.

Fracking Is Not New And It’s Not Bad

Posted in Government and Politics by TeeJaw on Sunday, April 17, 2011, 9: 32 AM

You may have heard that a new natural gas field called the Marcellus Shale was discovered in the Northeast, primarily under Pennsylvania and New York. Reserves of natural gas in this discovery have been estimated to be at least 500 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. That makes it the second-largest natural gas field ever discovered. Natural gas is a clean-burning fuel so any sensible person might conclude that we have been handed an incredible gift with the Marcellus Shale. But there’s a problem. The rocks containing this wondrous find underlie the politically insane Northeast. Which means that the standard method of extracting the gas from the rocks, a process called “fracking” which has been used without the slightest environmental damage since the 1930’s, is now being demonized by the radical environmentalist kook-fringe Left.

Gas and oil migrate through rock formations that are permeable, meaning liquids or gases can pass through. There are three kinds of rock: igneous, metamorphic and sedimentary. Igneous rock, meaning rocks formed in fire and solidified from lava or magma, are not permeable and do not contain oil or gas. Metamorphic rocks are formed by extreme pressure which pretty much rules out having much permeability. It is in sedimentary rocks which are formed by the collection of sediment over long periods of time in which the dinosaurs and pterodactyls left their bones to form oil and natural gas. Fortunately for us, we can get the oil and gas out of those rocks because they tend to be porous and permeable, allowing the gas and oil to flow through.

But whether we can get it easily or with such difficulty as to make it uneconomic depends upon the degree of permeability of the rock. Usually permeability varies in degree from place to place in a rock formation. Thus, the gas may flow freely in one or more parts of the formation but there may be a barrier between those parts restricting the flow from one area to another. How to get the gas from all the areas that contain it is the problem to be solved. One solution would be to drill a lot of wells in order to punch into each permeable area. But that would be a costly way to do it, and experience has also shown that method to lack true effectiveness because it tends to destroy the pressure in the formation that makes the gas flow. In the 1920’s in Texas one might have seen an oil and gas field with literally hundreds of oil derricks sticking out of the ground. Many otherwise good oil fields were destroyed by that practice.  Since then each oil and gas producing state has enacted laws against it and established oil and gas commissions to enforce those laws and promulgate regulations for sound drilling and production practices.

A better way both economically and effectively it to use induced hydraulic pressure to fracture the rock to open up a seam that will connect the permeable areas and allow the gas to flow among them and then to be extracted from one or only a few well bores.

Shale is a clastic (containing particles) kind of sedimentary rock and is not as permeable as other types of sedimentary rock. Fracking is a long-used method of extracting gas from shale. It may be the only practical way of getting the gas. Until now, no one has raised any concerns over any sort of environmental damage from this process. The technology of oil and gas drilling is so well established and the rules and regulations of the oil and gas commissions of the various states so well define the practices to be followed, making oil and gas drilling the most environmentally safe of all mineral development methods.

Joe Nocera, writing in, of all places, the opinion pages of The New York Times, understands the choice this presents to America:

Which means that those of you who live near this tremendous resource have two choices. You can play the Not-In-My-Backyard card, employing environmental scare tactics to fight attempts to drill for that gas.

Or you can embrace the idea that America needs the Marcellus Shale, accept the inconvenience that the drilling will bring, but insist that it be done properly. If you choose this latter path, you will be helping to move the country to a fuel that is — yes — cleaner than oil, while diminishing the strategic importance of the Middle East, where American soldiers continue to die.

It’s your call.

If you haven’t already, you will soon be hearing that we don’t dare drill for the gas in the Marcellus Shale or life as we know it will surely end.  When you do, just remember it is all utter nonsense.

Obama Hardly Knew Who Bill Ayers Was, Right?

Posted in Government and Politics by TeeJaw on Saturday, April 16, 2011, 12: 02 AM

That’s what Obama said, repeatedly. Ayers, he was just some guy in the neighborhood, hardly knew him. But it’s becoming pretty well documented that Bill Ayers wrote Obama’s book, Dreams of My Father.

Donald Trump is one of those guys who says things we might like to say but don’t because we aren’t quite sure about it and we don’t want to make fools of ourselves. Trump is going after Obama on his refusal to release his actual birth certificate and put the whole “birther” thing to rest. And tonight he told Sean Hannity that Bill Ayers wrote Obama’s book.

Pretty soon that one will be established as fact, then we won’t be afraid to say it. I’ll say it. Bill Ayers wrote Obama’s book. Of course, to believe that you’d have to believe that Obama told a bald-faced lie when he said Ayers was just a guy down the block and he hardly knew him. Well shucks, that’s easy to believe.

UPDATE 10/17/2011: Interesting video showing Obama’s ability to use time distortion to deflect attention from his association with Bill Ayers at The NLP Technology. You may remember him saying “40 years ago when I was 8 years old Mr. Ayers did despicable acts while associated with a radical domestic group…” Of course, 40 years ago when Obama was 8 years old is not the issue, the issue is Obama’s relationship with Ayers now and in the recent past. John McCain was too dense to point that out, of course. Maybe he was afraid of appearing racist.

The video at the link also shows how Ayers misdirects attention from the real issue in response to a question about his relationship with Obama and makes it appear to be no more than knowing who Obama was, as did thousand of other people. This is similar to him referring to himself in his latest book as “an anti-war activist” when he was making bombs and blowing things up, getting people killed, destroying buildings, and becoming a fugitive from the law. Most of us were “anti-war activists” during the sixties, defined by writing letters to the editor of our student newspaper and arguing with our friends over pizza and beer. Ayers’ activities made him a domestic terrorist and a dangerous criminal.

Most Under Appreciated Band Ever?

Posted in Culture by TeeJaw on Thursday, April 14, 2011, 9: 12 AM

Professor Jacobson thinks so, and I tend to agree. I put this song at the end of each one of my “exercise mixes” on my iPod so it’s what I hear during the cool down of my daily sweat fest. It is under appreciated but this youtube video has had almost 6 million views. The video is from 1967 and the audio track is a 2006 remix.

I like this comment left on youtube:

when I listen to this track it reminds me of a happier time of a better world a world where people still talked to each when a neighbour was a neighbour and a friend was a friend but most of all it reminds me of my youth something we all take for granteted, nothing lives for ever but as long as there is music in your soul your soul will live on.

munkfunk123

The 60’s were years of excess no doubt, but hasn’t every decade since also been? Albeit each in a different way. This may just be a fact of aging but the nostalgia for the 60’s is mainly a remembrance of how much fun it was just to be with other people and talk and eat and argue and listen to music and …well, you know. [NOTE: Don’t read anything into that about drugs, I never touched them not even once, and I never associated with anyone who did. It was possible to live a full 1960’s lifestyle of peace and love and stupid political ideas and the Port Huron Statement without getting stoned, believe it or not.]

Former Jihadist Has Second Thoughts — Calls For Islamic Reformation

Posted in Government and Politics by TeeJaw on Wednesday, April 13, 2011, 7: 46 AM

The 8-minute video below deserves to be watched carefully.

We hear a lot about “moderate Muslims” and always have to ask “where are they?” If by “moderate” is only meant that there are Muslims who don’t commit terrorist acts, it makes a mockery of the notion of moderation. In that sense there were moderate Nazis. We cannot conclude that Muslims who do not commit acts of violence and terrorism do not support those acts when they refuse to speak out against the violence and condemn it. After all, Jews and Christians do speak out vociferously against any violence committed in the name of christianity or Judaism, when it rarely happens.

The video is an interview in Israel of Dr. Tawfik Hamid, an Egyptian muslim and a former terrorist. He became radicalized by his fellow Muslims while in medical school. After participating in Jihadist terrorism he had an attack of conscious when he was asked to help kill a policeman by burying him alive beside a mosque. Suddenly he thought that a just and loving god would not countenance such depravity and that he could no longer be a part of it. He now calls for Islam to make peace with Israel and the West.

When asked who the Islamic radicals consider their enemy Dr. Hamid says:

“Women’s rights were the first enemy for us. Strange, but this was the first enemy, truly. …That’s why when you see radical groups, the first thing they do is they suppress women. The first thing, before anything else, they tell women not to go out, to wear the hijab….[T]he first enemy was not a political enemy; it was women’s rights. This is what we typically hated, and the West represented for us the guardian of women’s rights.”

On the demand that the West make concessions to Islamic terrorists:

“Never do concessions to radicals. The moment you do concessions, the more they attack you. For example, when radicals attacked US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998, the response was weak. This…encouraged the radicals of al-Qaeda to attack the US again on September 11, in three years. So too the cartoon issue with the Prophet Mohammed. The radicals didn’t demonstrate for a four-month period — until the magazine apologized. Then they started demonstrating. So concessions mean nothing for them but a green light , an invitation to attack you more. So my advice to you: never do concessions.”

There Is No Male — Female Wage Gap, Or If There Is It Favors Women

Posted in Government and Politics by TeeJaw on Tuesday, April 12, 2011, 3: 52 PM

Feminists have long tried to convince us that there is such a thing as a “gender wage gap.” The facts show that the so-called male/female wage gap is nothing other than another liberal myth that needlessly divides people.

Today is “Equal Pay Day.” This is the day that, according to feminist fuzzy logic, women have to get to before they earn what men already earned the year before.  [Adding women’s pay for last year to this year’s up to today to equal men’s pay for last year alone] A closer look reveals many factors which explain why women as a group might earn less that men as a group, such as women working fewer hours to make time for their children. Any comparison between male and female earnings that doesn’t correct for this and other structural factors conveys no useful information and is worthless. Such a comparison makes as much sense as thinking the tortoise can run faster than the rabbit because it won the race.

Carrie Lukas has a piece in today’s Wall Street Journal citing a study of single, childless urban workers between the ages of 22 and 30 which found that women earned 8% more than men. This is a study that is likely to be more accurate because it compensated for relevant factors to make comparisons between men and women in similar circumstances.

Here are some of Ms. Lukas’ conclusions:

  • The unemployment rate is consistently higher among men than among women.
  • The recent economic downturn has exposed as ridiculous feminist claims that our economy is ruled by a sexist patriarchy.
  • Over the past year, labor force participation (the percentage of working age people employed) dropped for everyone but the participation rate fell more among men than women.
  • Men have been hit harder by this recession. [The recession has been called a “mancession” by some people]

Most Americans do not see the economy as a battle of the sexes. It’s not good that some do.

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