Saturday, July 16, 2011

of lemonade stands and baggy pants

Whether it is Bethesda, MD or Midway, AL we find the proverbial lemonade stand going the way of the dodo, thanks to ordinances and regulation. Obviously I grew up in a different era. Growing up the local magistrates would have been run out of town for suggesting that a lemonade stand didn’t have proper license and registration; that is because the thought of licensing or regulating a lemonade stand was considered ridiculous. Why should it not be the same today?

For that matter who would have seen a baggy pants ordinance coming to Collinsville either; even if it is claimed to be supported by 75% of the residents? When I decided to rent my house rather than sell it in the depressed market we face today, who would have thought I would need a license to do so?

But it is not just the locals that are getting carried overboard, oh heck no, local municipalities are nothing compared to the Federal Government. How about this little excerpt from the HHS rules on the new Health Exchanges: "The intent of this proposed rule is to afford States substantial discretion in the design and operation of an Exchange. Greater standardization is proposed where required by the statute or where there are compelling practical, efficiency or consumer protection reasons." Can anyone explain that to me?

John Stossel recently called these regulations cancer, a disease that hurts those who politicians have intended to be helped. Perhaps George Orwell had it right when he said, “Political language is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind”

Now, please don’t misunderstand me, I am not so na├»ve to believe that this is all the doing of our elected officials; no I think you could add the plaintiffs bar and out of control courts into the mix as well and probably the teacher’s union to boot. We no longer foster a sense of personal accountability and achievement is no longer a goal worth attaining.

I am glad that I grew up in a different era, and by God’s grace I intend to teach my grandchildren what they are missing; even if we can’t do it over a cup of lemonade from the kids at the corner.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Bullseye shot from Michael

I have attached hyperlinks to verify quote references...

First I did a double take. He said what? I read it again and the shock waves followed.

A beleaguered Presi dent Obama has told aides it would be so much easier to be the president of China, The New York Times reports.

There are two ways to read the remark, which is attributed to anonymous aides. One is that Obama resents the burden of global leadership that comes with the American presidency. The other is that he longs for an authoritarian system, where he need tolerate no dissent.

Under either or both interpretations, his confession carries a dose of self-pity that means Obama has hit a wall.

He is in over his head, and he knows it.

Even before the horror in Japan, the president faced a litany of nightmares. From Libya to Iran to Afghanistan to gas prices, unemployment and rising debt, Obama is surrounded by serious trouble.

His responses range from halfhearted to wrongheaded. Nothing is working. Unhappy voters already repudiated his first two years and might fire him when they get the chance. It is a moment that brings home the truth of the sign on Harry Truman's desk: "The buck stops here."

Yet my suspicion is that it's not the problems per se that have Obama envying a lower rung on the global ladder. It's that he regards them as endless distractions that keep getting in the way of his transformative agenda.

He is a man of the faculty lounge who wants a blank slate so he can remake the nation into a more perfect place, as he sees it. Remember, he greeted his election with the messiah-like claim that future generations would say, "This was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal."

But damn it, the country and the world won't cooperate. Because he has no significant experience that would give him a framework for any other response, he is reduced to vaporous platitudes that dispirit allies and embolden adversaries.

He wants America to be less exceptional and more like every other nation. He's uncomfortable with our status as the No. 1 superpower, as he made clear with his apology tours and by submitting to the lowest common denominator in the United Nations.

He talks about wanting Moammar Khadafy to go but takes no action to make it happen and even signed on to an arms embargo that the State Department says bars our supplying the rebels.

As The Wall Street Journal wrote, the rising slaughter reveals "what the world without US leadership looks like."

Meanwhile, he punts on the budget mess, as if details are beneath him. On soaring gas prices, the purpose of his dreary Friday press conference Sullivan, his policy seems to be peevishness that he must be bothered.

As shocking as the China lament is, it's not surprising. The desire to sidestep messy reality is the thread that runs through his presidency, starting with the campaign.

As the economy melted down in the fall of 2008 and in the days after he took office, he never changed goals. He promised a health-care takeover, "investments" in education, and a commitment to weaning America off oil and coal.

Come recession and war, he has done his utmost to deliver all three. He has broken the bank and damaged the jobs machine to get them.
Under different circumstances, that dogged persistence might be a virtue. But the problems are getting worse, not better, and yet he won't adapt. His stubborn refusal to face squarely the nation's concerns has created a vacuum at home similar to the one abroad.

And now he confides the Oval Office's crown of responsibility does not fit him. Much of the world shares the sentiment

Thursday, February 17, 2011

we've really screwed things up

To those fretting about the very real budget problems of U.S. cities and states, their difficulty in fulfilling financial promises they made and the implications of all that for the market in tax-free bonds, here's a number that might offer a measure of reassurance. 72. Or, if you like, 77.

These numbers represent the percentages, respectively, of the number of polled New Yorkers who support the tough budget proposal of the state's new Democratic governor, Andrew Cuomo, and the percentage who have a favorable view of him. (The source is the Siena Research Institute.)

That's New York, the fabled liberal state. Across the river in New Jersey, the controversial Republican governor, Chris Christie, is lighting into government worker benefit and retirement plans that threaten the state's fiscal future.
In Illinois, one of the states whose finances are considered among the most wobbly, the speaker of the state's House proposed cutting pensions for current workers. The speaker, Michael Madigan, was described by The Wall Street Journal as historically "a stalwart backer of unions, regularly supporting public-pension benefits with long-term obligations."

These are merely anecdotes and mostly anecdotes just about proposals, not even results. But the states where they are taking place are important to note: New York, New Jersey, Illinois. They are generally liberal-voting states with strong public employee unions.

If governors and other elected officials are in severe budget-cutting mode and into reassessing retirement promises, it is a significant step. Much more important, if the voters applaud those elected officials for such moves, as seems to be the case in New York, they will likely follow through. Generally speaking, politicians like to do what is popular.

If this holds, a reversal of politics as usual will have taken place. It will eventually be easier to be re-elected for confronting the long-term financial problems than for settling for the status quo.

Gary Herbert, the governor of Utah, visited here last week and talked with editors of The Wall Street Journal and Dow Jones Newswires. Utah is a state without the fiscal issues of New York, New Jersey, California or Illinois. Herbert pointed out it is a "right to work" state and one where workers now have 401(k)-type retirement benefits, rather than fixed pensions that increase state obligations. It is one of 11 states whose bonds are rated triple-A by Standard & Poor's .

When Herbert was asked about the idea being floated that perhaps states should be allowed to file for bankruptcy, he seemed aghast. "By golly, it really is a last resort," he said. It would be a sign that "we've really screwed things up."

Instead, why not take the tough decisions on state spending outside the bankruptcy process. Maybe there are early signs that's the way it will be.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Excellent analysis by Charles Payne

By Charles Payne, CEO & Principal Analyst

2/7/2011 2:10:58 PM Eastern Time

Friday's jobs report was akin to a much-anticipated FOMC announcement, the way the market acts the next session is a better gauge on investor sentiment. With that in mind, it's clear the Street is leaning toward a positive interpretation of the news. It would take the mother of all revisions to get the total job creation number at consensus of 140,000, or even the whisper numbers that ran as high as 200,000, net jobs created in January. The sad truth of the matter is at this point the country needs to create a net of 250,000 jobs each month, and it would still take four years to unwind the damage of the Great Recession.

For now, there is a general feeling job growth is gaining momentum, albeit at a pace that still pales to previous recoveries.

Today's session is also getting a boost from a wave of acquisition announcements. It is truly Merger Monday.

* Beckman Coulter (BEC) is being acquired by Danaher (DHR) for $5.87 billion or a 45% premium. Yet, the latter's share price is higher. This means the Street really likes this deal.
* Pride International (PDE) is being taken over by Ensco (ESV) in a $7.3 billion deal. This will create the second largest offshore driller in the world.

These are the kinds of deals that speak volumes. These deals say American businesses expect a jump in demand and understand the need to be positioned. It also speaks to the kind of bulk that companies need nowadays to compete on a global scale. After spending the last few years cutting fat, bone, and muscle companies find themselves in an odd predicament of having to jumpstart their idling engines. In some cases, this must happen overnight. This brings me to President Obama's speech before the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

The speech was telegraphed well from the State of the Union address and this past Saturday's radio address from the White House. It's all about the same stuff it has always been about with the President. Shared profits means part of what companies earn has to be diverted from the bottom line and executive bonuses. This comes from that European Enlightenment philosophy that sees businesses as part of the public domain. The notion of public-private partnerships scares the heck out of me. The American public is shareholders in the nation and the President owes them an environment that leads to better education and infrastructure.

Invoking the threat of Nazi Germany and how businesses leaped to the task of aiding the war effort isn't going to play in an atmosphere where today's business enemy is the government. Businesses overpaying for talent and effort isn't patriotic, it's a giant mistake that led to the downfall of our auto industry and pressured airlines, steel, and other industries to the brink of extinction. The pitch was made, and it fell flat. You can't force business to investment billions of dollars when they are afraid of the financial regulatory reform, healthcare reform, and the avalanche of new rules from the EPA and other government agencies.

The quid pro quo of abandoning basic business principles and jettisoning innate survival skills in favor of a re-jiggered tax code that may not yield a real reduction in tax obligations isn't going to work. Even if served with a fruitcake such a bargain would be bitter.

If President Obama would simply cut businesses a break on corporate taxes and offer a deep cut on repatriated income taxes jobs would flourish. The sad truth is current tax policy, coupled with excessive regulations, is forcing American businesses to hire and build outside the country. I think American businesses want to hire Americans. After two years of being villains there has to be serious misgivings that businesses are now being called upon to play the role of saviors. Fact is when businesses are allowed to thrive they are saviors. But, the Administration has romanticized the European model, especially the Scandinavian business model.

According to the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise, corporate social responsibility (CSR) means the goal of business must be:

> Economic Growth
> Social Development
> Environmental Consideration

Of course, business has been painted as heartless and there are so many people, particularly young people, which believe businesses are inherently mean-spirited.

Many think the mantra business leaders live by is encapsulated in a quote from Monty Burns:

"Family, religion, friends...these are the three demons you must slay if you wish to succeed in business."

The market stalled during the speech, and has pulled back a little since as a protest against the same old agenda dressed up as an olive branch. Maybe the White House will get it at some point, but not yet. Be that as it may, one thing today's visit underscores is how difficult it has become for the White House to crush businesses anymore.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The old Obama in new clothing

By Charles Krauthammer
The Washington Post

The November election sent a clear message to Washington: less government, less debt, less spending. President Obama certainly heard it, but judging from his State of the Union address, he doesn't believe a word of it. The people say they want cuts? Sure they do - in the abstract. But any party that actually dares carry them out will be punished severely. On that, Obama stakes his reelection.

No other conclusion can be drawn from a speech that didn't even address the debt issue until 35 minutes in. And then what did he offer? A freeze on domestic discretionary spending that he himself admitted would affect a mere one-eighth of the budget.

Obama seemed impressed, however, that it would produce $400 billion in savings over 10 years. That's an average of $40 billion a year. The deficit for last year alone was more than 30 times as much. And total federal spending was more than 85 times that amount. A $40 billion annual savings for a government that just racked up $3 trillion in new debt over the past two years is deeply unserious. It's spillage, a rounding error.

As for entitlements, which are where the real money is, Obama said practically nothing. He is happy to discuss, but if Republicans dare take anything from granny, he shall be Horatius at the bridge.

This entire pantomime about debt reduction came after the first half of a speech devoted to, yes, new spending. One almost has to admire Obama's defiance. His 2009 stimulus and budget-busting health-care reform are precisely what stirred the popular revolt that delivered his November shellacking. And yet he's back for more.

It's as if Obama is daring the voters - and the Republicans - to prove they really want smaller government. He's manning the barricades for Obamacare, and he's here with yet another spending - excuse me, investment - spree. To face down those overachieving Asians, Obama wants to sink yet more monies into yet more road and bridge repair, more federally subsidized teachers - with a bit of high-speed rail tossed in for style. That will show the Chinese.

And of course, once again, there is the magic lure of a green economy created by the brilliance of Washington experts and politicians. This is to be our "Sputnik moment," when the fear of the foreigner spurs us to innovation and greatness of the kind that yielded NASA and the moon landing.

Apart from the irony of this appeal being made by the very president who has just killed NASA's manned space program, there is the fact that for three decades, since Jimmy Carter's synfuel fantasy, Washington has poured billions of taxpayer dollars down a rat hole in vain pursuit of economically competitive renewable energy. \

This is nothing but a retread of what used to be called industrial policy - government picking winners and losers. Except that in a field that is not nearly technologically ready to match fossil fuels, we pick one loser after another - from ethanol, a $6 billion boondoggle that even Al Gore admits was a mistake, to the $41,000 Chevy Volt that only the rich can afford (with their extended Bush tax cuts, of course).

Perhaps this is all to be expected from Democrats - the party of government - and from a president who from his very first address to Congress has boldly displayed his zeal to fundamentally transform the American social contract and place it on a "New Foundation" (an Obama slogan that never took). He's been chastened enough by the election of 2010 to make gestures toward the center. But the State of the Union address revealed a man ideologically unbowed and undeterred. He served up an insignificant spending cut, yet another (if more modest) stimulus, and a promise to fight any Republican attempt to significantly shrink the size of government.

Indeed, he went beyond this. He tried to cast this more-of-the-same into a call to national greatness, citing two Michigan brothers who produce solar shingles as a stirring example of rising to the Sputnik moment.

"We do big things," Obama declared at the end of an address that was, on the contrary, the finest example of small-ball Clintonian minimalism since the days of school uniforms and midnight basketball.

From the moon landing to solar shingles. Is there a better example of American decline?

Monday, November 22, 2010

'Lawsuit loan shark' legislation

One of the primary proponents of this legislation is State Representative Jay Hoffman (D-Collinsville), who is of counsel with one of the biggest personal injury lawyer firms in Illinois. Rep. Hoffman was defeated on November 2nd and appears to be trying to give his personal injury lawyer friends a huge gift on his way out the door.

Lawmakers should put the brakes on this legislation and perhaps revisit the issue during the new legislative session set to begin in January. Rushing to pass something in the pressure-packed veto session is ill-advised and unnecessary and could cripple new efforts to stimulate job growth in Illinois.

Illinois is already known as the "Land of Lawsuits." Do we now want to be known as the land of "lawsuit loan sharks?"

This is an excerpt, the entire article is found here...

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Power of the Left

The Left doesn't notice electoral rejections because the power of the Left doesn't reside in popular elections.

The power of the Left is in tenured academics. The power of the Left is in the news media. The power of the Left is in the bureaucracy. The power of the Left is in union leadership. The power of the Left is inside the judgeships. The power of the Left is in fact in the Hollywood literati.

And so the Left just keeps going further to the Left. Newt Gingrich