My Free Speech Political Quotations and Commentaries Directory and Log
If everyone is thinking alike, then somebody isn't
George S. Patton
It's better to walk alone than in a crowd going in
the wrong direction.
Jorge Luis Borges Chats with William F. Buckley on Firing Line (1977) ---
In my opinion, a society that aims for equality
before liberty, will end up with neither equality nor liberty. And a society
that aims first for liberty, will not end up with equality, but it will end up
with a closer approach to equality, than any other kind of system than has ever
been developed. Now that conclusion, is based both on evidence across history,
and also I believe, on reasoning, which if you try to follow through the
implications of aiming first at equality, will become clear to you.
Milton Friendman ---
Barack Obama beat Mitt Romney in the 2012 elections 65,909,451 Obama
to 60,932,176 Romney votes.
Among the 48 million people of food stamps, how many voted for Mitt Romney?
The GOP will never win without gaining half the food stamp votes. Any reduction
in food stamp recipients will be more than offset by the tens of millions of
people commencing in 2014 who will be receiving free or highly subsidized health
care and medications. The Republican Party has zero chance of winning future
presidential elections in the USA. Good thing I'm not a Republican. I'm the
continued Federal Reserve policy of printing trillions and trillions more
without taxing or borrowing. Eat, Drink, and be Merry --- at least in the few
years I have left in this crazy world.
Why do we whip the "1%" in the media for becoming so much richer when it's
mostly the 0.01%?
"The Rise (and Rise and Rise) of the 0.01 Percent in America The average 1
percenter is quite rich. But she lives in a state of relative poverty compared
to the astronomical wealth of "the 1 percent of the 1 percent."
by Derek Thompson
February 13, 2014
. . .
Who even are these people—the 1 percent of the 1
As Tim Noah explained, they're mostly executives
and bankers. A 2010 study of the top 0.1 percent found that 61 percent of
this group is either a banker or an executive/manager another big
corporation. The rest are mostly lawyers (7 percent), doctors (6 percent),
and real estate people (4 percent).
How'd they all get so rich? It wasn't
the way the rest of us get rich. It wasn't their wages. It was something
The richer you are, the more likely your
riches come from stocks, not salary. For the three groups graphed above—1
percent, 0.1 percent, and 0.01 percent—capital gains account for 22, 33 and
42 percent (respectively) of their average income. At the very tippy-top of
the economy, the
400 richest tax returns analyzed by the IRS take
home about 50 percent of their income from capital gains.
Practically all the growth in average
income at the top comes from stocks. Between 1992 and 2007, the average
salary of a top-400 tax return doubled, but average capital gains haul
increased 13X. Wages are for normal people. The richest get richer
from their investments.
As Matt O'Brien
explained, the incomes of top-earners ride a
roller coaster, and that roller coaster is the stock and bond market. Just
look at top incomes compared with gyrations in the S&P 500.
Continued in article
"The Doctrine of Academic Freedom Let’s give up on academic freedom in
favor of justice," by Sandra Y.L. Korn, Harvard Crimson, February 18, 2014
In July 1971, Harvard psychology professor Richard
J. Herrnstein penned an article for Atlantic Monthly titled “I.Q.”
in which he endorsed the theories of UC Berkeley psychologist Arthur Jensen,
who had claimed that intelligence is almost entirely hereditary and varies
by race. Herrnstein further argued that because intelligence was hereditary,
social programs intended to establish a more egalitarian society were
futile—he wrote that “social standing [is] based to some extent on inherited
differences among people.”
When he returned to campus for fall semester 1971,
Herrnstein was met by angry student activists. Harvard-Radcliffe Students
for a Democratic Society
protested his introductory psychology class with a
leaflets. They tied up Herrnstein’s
lectures with pointed questions about scientific
racism. SDS even
called for Harvard to fire Herrnstein, along with
another of his colleagues, sociologist Christopher Jencks.
told The Crimson,
“The attacks on me have not bothered me personally… What bothers me is this:
Something has happened at Harvard this year that makes it hazardous for a
professor to teach certain kinds of views.” This, Herrnstein seems not to
have understood, was precisely the goal of the SDS activists—they wanted to
make the “certain kinds of views” they deemed racist and classist unwelcome
on Harvard’s campus.
Harvard’s deans were also unhappy. They expressed
concerns about student activists’ “interference with the academic freedom
and right to speak of a member of the Harvard faculty.” Did SDS activists at
Harvard infringe on Herrnstein’s academic freedom? The answer might be that
yes, they did—but that’s not the most important question to ask. Student and
faculty obsession with the doctrine of “academic freedom” often seems to
bump against something I think much more important: academic justice.
In its oft-cited Statement of Principles on
Academic Freedom and Tenure, the American Association of University
declares that “Teachers are entitled to full
freedom in research and in the publication of the results.” In principle,
this policy seems sound: It would not do for academics to have their
research restricted by the political whims of the moment.
Yet the liberal obsession with “academic freedom”
seems a bit misplaced to me. After all, no one ever has “full freedom” in
research and publication. Which research proposals receive funding and what
papers are accepted for publication are always contingent on political
priorities. The words used to articulate a research question can have
implications for its outcome. No academic question is ever “free”
realities. If our university community opposes
racism, sexism, and heterosexism, why should we put up with research that
counters our goals simply in the name of “academic freedom”?
Instead, I would like to propose a more rigorous
standard: one of “academic justice.” When an academic community observes
research promoting or justifying oppression, it should ensure that this
research does not continue.
The power to enforce academic justice comes from
students, faculty, and workers organizing together to make our universities
look as we want them to do. Two years ago, when former summer school
instructor Subramanian Swamy published hateful commentary about Muslims in
India, the Harvard community
organized to ensure that he
would not return to teach on campus. I consider
that sort of organizing both appropriate and commendable. Perhaps it should
even be applied more broadly. Does Government Professor Harvey Mansfield
have the legal right to publish a book in which he
claims that “to resist rape a woman needs … a
certain ladylike modesty?” Probably. Do I think he should do that? No, and I
would happily organize with other feminists on campus to stop him from
publishing further sexist commentary under the authority of a Harvard
faculty position. “Academic freedom” might permit such an offensive view of
rape to be published; academic justice would not.
Over winter break, Harvard published a
statement responding to the American Studies
resolution to boycott Israeli academic
institutions until Israel ends its occupation of Palestine. Much of the
conversation around this academic boycott has focused on academic freedom.
Opponents of the boycott claim that it restricts the freedom of Israeli
academics or interrupts the “free flow of ideas.” Proponents of the boycott
often argue that the boycott is intended to, in the end, increase, not
restrict, academic freedom—the ASA points out that “there is no effective or
substantive academic freedom for Palestinian students and scholars under
conditions of Israeli occupation.”
In this case, discourse about “academic freedom”
obscures what should fundamentally be a political argument. Those defending
the academic boycott should use a more rigorous standard. The ASA, like
three other academic associations, decided to boycott out of a sense of
social justice, responding to a call by Palestinian civil society
organizations for boycotts, divestment, and sanctions until Israel ends its
occupation of Palestine. People
right opposed to boycotts can play the “freedom”
game, calling for economic freedom to buy any product or academic freedom to
associate with any institution. Only
those who care about justice can take the moral
It is tempting to decry frustrating restrictions on
academic research as violations of academic freedom. Yet I would encourage
student and worker organizers to instead use a framework of justice. After
all, if we give up our obsessive reliance on the doctrine of academic
freedom, we can consider more thoughtfully what is just.
Sandra Y.L. Korn ’14, a Crimson editorial writer, is a joint history
of science and studies of women, gender and sexuality concentrator in Eliot
House. Her column usually appears on alternate Mondays.
The Trillion Dollar Farm Bill's Lifeline to the 1% (many of whom don't even
live on the farm or even in the USA)
"New Data Shows Fewer Farms, Richer Farmers," by Andrew Martin,
Bloomberg Businessweek, February 20, 2014 ---
What's Not to Love About Agribusiness Pork
"A Farm Bill Only a Lobbyist Could Love," by Alan Bjerga and Julie
Bykowicz, Bloomberg Businessweek, January 30m 2014 ---
"Strassel: So God Made a Farm Bill: A famous speech about those who toil
in the fields gets an update," by Kimberly A. Strassel, The Wall Street
Journal, January 3, 2014 ---
"25 Charged in Largest Medicaid Fraud Bust in D.C. History," CBS
News, February 20, 2014 ---
Federal authorities say 25 people have been charged
in a wide-ranging scheme to obtain millions of dollars in fraudulent
Medicaid payments from the District of Columbia government.
U.S. Attorney Ronald Machen calls it the largest
health-care fraud case in the city’s history. It involved bogus claims for
home care services, a category of Medicaid claim that has grown dramatically
in the city over the past eight years. Machen says fraud is largely
responsible for the increase in those claims. The uptick in billings for
home care — from $40 million in 2006 to $280 million last year — was part of
what tipped off authorities to illegal activity, U.S. Attorney Ronald Machen
“We concluded that much of the growth was due to
aggressive networks of fraudsters paying kickbacks to beneficiaries to
manufacture false claims for nonexistent services,” Machen said, later
adding: “Medicaid fraud in the District of Columbia is at epidemic levels.”
Among those charged Thursday was Florence Bikundi,
51, of Bowie, Md., the owner of a home care agency in suburban Maryland who
had lost her nursing license and was ineligible to receive Medicaid
payments. Authorities say that by using different names, she was able to
bill the city for $75 million in Medicaid payments.
Prosecutors say many of the defendants persuaded
patients to fake illness or injury so they could bill Medicaid for home care
they didn’t receive. Some of those patients received kickbacks, authorities
said, although no patients have been charged.
Machen said it wasn’t clear whether any of those
payments went to legitimate home care services, but Bikundi was able to
amass significant personal wealth, authorities said. Among the property
seized from her were millions of dollars from 46 bank accounts, a
7,300-square-foot home valued at $927,000 and five luxury vehicles.
No attorney was listed in court records for Bikundi,
who is in custody, and no one answered a call to her home Thursday
Machen said there wasn’t any particular weakness in
the district’s Medicaid program that made it vulnerable to bogus claims, and
he noted that similar schemes have been perpetrated in other cities,
including Detroit and Miami. The investigation is ongoing, and authorities
said it was impossible to put a dollar amount on the fraudulent billings,
although the indictments not involving Bikundi outlined schemes valued at
less than $500,000.
“These numbers could likely grow. This is what we
know so far,” Machen said.
A dozen people were charged in five federal
indictments that were unsealed Thursday. Thirteen others were charged with
fraud in D.C. Superior Court. All but three were in custody Thursday
afternoon, authorities said.
Many of those charged are immigrants from Cameroon
in west Africa, but authorities did not go into detail about their
Bob Jensen's Fraud Updates ---
Old Fashioned Union Extortion ---Arson for Hiring Non-Union Workers
"This FBI Indictment Against 10 Union Workers Who Allegedly Torched a Church
Reads Like Something Straight Out of a Movie," by Becket Adams, Fox News,
February 19, 2014 ---
The Federal Bureau of Investigation indicted 10
union members this week for allegedly perpetrating acts of violence on their
community, including burning down a church in 2012.
“While unions have the right to legally advocate on
behalf of their members, my office will not tolerate the conduct of those
who use violence to further union goals,” said United States Attorney Zane
David Memeger. “Union officials and members who commit arson, destroy
property, use threats of physical harm, and engage in other acts of violence
to extort victims on behalf of their union need to be criminally
Continued in article
The States Most Dishonestly Hiding Their Debt
"Chart of the Day: Who is Chopping Down the Kids' Cherry Tree?,"
State Data Lab, December 15, 2014 ---
California and Illinois have the most devious accountants.
There's a bit of possible deception here and the chart should probably be
revised to hidden debt on a per capita basis. There's a huge difference in state
populations with Vermont and Wyoming having less than a million people versus
millions of people in the states hiding the most debt. Still I suspect the
outcomes would still look bad for California, Illinois, New York, etc. Most of
the problem lies with tens of billions in unfunded pensions for current and
former state workers, including teachers.
Bob Jensen's threads on pension accounting controversies ---
Bob Jensen's threads on the sad state of governmental accounting ---
"Jobs Bowl: Illinois vs. Texas and Indiana," by Mike Shedlock,
Townhall, February 12, 2014 ---
Via email from the Illinois Policy Institute
The common refrain made against Texas by those who
defend the status quo in Illinois is that the jobs being created in the
Lone Star State are lower-paying and less-rewarding opportunities.
But not anymore. Texas is now unquestionably besting Illinois in
providing for the middle class.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2012 the
inflation-adjusted median household income for Texas surpassed that of
Illinois for the first time since 1984, when the statistic first started
That means the household making the median income in Texas is taking
home a bigger paycheck than the household making the median income in
Not only is the pay higher, but Texans also get to
keep more of it. After taking the standard deduction for three household
members, the median Illinois household pays $2,287 in state income
taxes. The median Texas family pays no income tax, as work is not taxed
And not only is work not taxed in Texas, but there is also a lot more
work to be had. Since 1984, Texas has created nearly 5 million new
employment opportunities. Illinois created less than 1 million.
This story isn’t a simple comparison; it’s also a
transfer. From 1995-2010, Illinois had a net loss of nearly 33,000
households representing just less than 80,000 people to net
out-migration to Texas alone. In terms of dollars, Illinois lost $1.98
billion in taxable income to Texas, or $60,500 per household lost.
Ironically, Illinois’ anti-business, anti-success policies can take
partial credit for Texas’ success.
Director of Jobs and Growth
The story would get even worse if the Governor of Illinois was not granting
enormous tax concessions to big companies like Caterpillar and Sears to keep
their headquarters operations in Illinois.
I predict that the minimum wage will be raised quickly so it does not become
an election issue later on in 2014.
"Raising Minimum Wage Reduces Jobs, Poverty, Study Says Losses in
Employment Partly Offset by Increased Purchasing Power," by Eric Morath,
Damian Paletta and Carol E. Lee, The Wall Street Journal, February 18,
President Barack Obama's quest to raise the federal
minimum wage to $10.10 an hour would eliminate about 500,000 jobs by 2016
but increase pay for millions of Americans and lift nearly a million out of
poverty, a Congressional Budget Office report found.
The estimates released Tuesday by the nonpartisan
budget office add fuel to the debate among economists and politicians about
the impact of raising the minimum wage from the current $7.25 an hour.
The report nodded to economic arguments made by
liberals and conservatives, predicting 16.5 million workers would benefit
from an increase in the minimum wage, but also estimating that the job
losses could hit a minority of workers.
Republicans pointed to the report's predicted job
losses as proof that raising the minimum wage would damage the economy. The
White House, which has pitched a higher minimum wage as a top priority this
year, disputed that conclusion and said an increase would help workers and
spur economic growth.
The CBO said that a gradual increase to $10.10 an
hour by July 2016 would eliminate 500,000 jobs, but lift 900,000 Americans
out of poverty from the total of 45 million projected to be living in
poverty in 2016.
The poverty estimate took into account both
families whose incomes would rise enough to lift them out of poverty, and
families whose income would fall enough to move them into poverty.
The benefits of an increase would be spread across
a broad swath of workers, the CBO said, with 19% of the increased wages
going to Americans living below the poverty line. Close to 30% of the higher
wages would go to people in families that earned more than three times the
poverty level, as many minimum-wage workers are second earners and teenagers
living in middle- or upper-income households.
The boost would raise earnings of low-wage workers
by $31 billion, the CBO said, but it would also reduce or eliminate the
wages of Americans who lost their job because of the increase. On net, the
wage increase would raise "overall real income" by $2 billion, the CBO said.
Roughly 3.6 million Americans were paid $7.25 an
hour or less in 2012, according to the Labor Department, representing 4.7%
of hourly workers. Women are twice as likely as men to earn the minimum
wage, according to government data. Roughly half of workers earning at or
less than the minimum wage were between the ages of 16 and 24.
Jason Furman, chairman of the White House Council
of Economic Advisers, told reporters that the study "very much does make the
case for a policy that benefits more than 16.5 million workers."
Some big trade groups criticized Mr. Obama's push.
The National Restaurant Association said the CBO report provided "further
evidence that an increase in the minimum wage…would significantly limit the
entry-level opportunities businesses can provide, hurting employees with
limited skills or experience and looking to enter the workforce."
Some business owners say they favor a wage
increase. David Bolotsky, chief executive at Uncommon Goods, a Brooklyn,
N.Y., online retailer, said boosting the minimum wage would give consumers
more money to spend. He backs a proposal advanced by Democrats in Congress
that ties future increases to inflation. "That gives me certainty, and
that's most important when running a business," he said.
The U.S. government has had a minimum wage since
1938, and it has been raised close to 30 times, but when adjusted for
inflation, it peaked in 1968. It was last raised in 2009 as part of a
three-phase increase. Close to 20 states require that employers pay a higher
minimum wage than the federal level. The majority of people who earn the
minimum wage work in jobs like food preparation and other service-related
Mr. Obama, who called on Congress to pass an
increase in the minimum wage in his State of the Union address last month,
recently signed an executive order raising the wage for workers on new
federal contracts. The move was part of an effort to pressure congressional
Republicans to pass a broader increase.
A signature part of the president's argument in
favor of an increase, which Republicans oppose, has been that it would not
adversely affect job growth. White House press secretary Jay Carney argued
Tuesday that there was no evidence that raising the minimum wage "has a
significant impact on jobs."
The report could blunt the political momentum
Democrats had hoped the issue would give them in November's midterm
elections—and in the presidential election in 2016, the year the CBO focused
on. Democrats have highlighted the issue as a way to draw a contrast with
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.)
said the GOP was eager to have the debate, arguing that the report shows a
minimum-wage rise "could destroy as many as one million jobs, a devastating
blow to the very people that need help most in this economy."
Other Republicans echoed that sentiment. "This
report confirms what we've long known: While helping some, mandating higher
wages has real costs, including fewer people working. With unemployment
Americans' top concern, our focus should be creating—not destroying—jobs for
those who need them most," said Brendan Buck, a spokesman for House Speaker
John Boehner (R., Ohio), in a statement.
Richard Trumka, president of union federation
AFL-CIO, which is holding its winter meeting of labor leaders in Houston
this week to strategize for the year, immediately challenged the study's
findings and said it echoed false claims by conservatives. "Every time
momentum builds for lifting wages, conservative ideologues say it will cost
jobs. Every time, they've been dead wrong," Mr. Trumka said in an emailed
statement issued during his closed-door meeting with labor leaders.
Senate Democrats have signaled they will hold a
vote to raise the minimum wage soon, but Mr. Boehner has said he opposes an
increase. Democrats in a number of states, including Maryland and
Massachusetts, are planning to push for their own increases this year, and
the CBO report could fuel supporters and opponents during local debates.
The CBO report said that the increased cost of
labor would encourage employers to upgrade technology or hire fewer,
higher-skilled workers. That effect would be partially offset by higher
earnings among low-wage workers who retained their jobs.
That prediction could well play out at Bacci
Chocolate Design, a small candy maker in Swampscott, Mass., which typically
hires high-school students to lend a hand during the firm's busy season. The
minimum wage in Massachusetts is $8 an hour.
Continued in article
Much depends on how we define "job losses." If a job is eliminated it counts as
a job loss. If workers accustomed to 40 hours per week are cut back to 25 hours
per week it's not a job loss but an earnings loss. Raising the minimum wage from
to $10.10 in 2014 is poorly timed with the Affordable Healthcare Act's
definition of a part-time job (not requiring employer-provided health insurance)
as less than 30 hours per week. Both forces will eliminate a lot more hours of
work than hours lost due to complete elimination of jobs.
With the elimination of jobs following the 2007 recession and robotics, many
minimum-wage jobs that were for transitional employment increasingly
became filled by longer-term workers. For example, for example students often
worked summers and even while going to school at minimum wage as food servers.
They had no intent if making a career for the remainder of their lives as food
servers. Now mom and grandma are competing with their children for the same jobs
because mom and grandma cannot find higher paying employment.
Raising the minimum wage is fair for those like mom and grandma intending to
make this wage for the remainder of their careers. It is not fair if students,
especially teens, can no longer find work due business firms and government no
longer being able to provide as many jobs at higher minimum wages. The rise in
the minimum wage should be tied to provisions to provide teens and college
students opportunities to work and/or intern for less than minimum wage.
Also worrisome is the loss of competition. For example, Starbucks fully
supports raising the minimum wage. In part this is because many competing mom
and pop coffee shops operating on the margin will be driven out of business by
higher minimum wages. Starbucks will then be the only coffee shop around unless
there happens to be a nearby Dunkin' Donuts. That is often not the case,
especially in troubled malls where 90% of the food court providers have
I don't think there is any hard evidence that a 40% increase in the minimum
wage will not reduce the number of that employers are willing to pay for
given the steep increase in the cost of hourly workers at minimum wage.
Of course the theory gets much more complicated such that there is wide
disagreement among our most respected economists.
George Stigler argued that much depends upon the proportion increase in the
A widely circulated argument that the minimum wage was
ineffective at reducing poverty was provided by
George Stigler years ago:
- Employment may fall more than in proportion to the wage increase,
thereby reducing overall earnings;
- As uncovered sectors of the economy absorb workers released from the
covered sectors, the decrease in wages in the uncovered sectors may exceed
the increase in wages in the covered ones;
- The impact of the minimum wage on family income distribution may be
negative unless the fewer but better jobs are allocated to members of needy
families rather than to, for example, teenagers from families not in
- Forbidding employers to pay less than a legal minimum is equivalent to
forbidding workers to sell their labour for less than the minimum wage. The
legal restriction that employers cannot pay less than a legislated wage is
equivalent to the legal restriction that workers cannot work at all in the
protected sector unless they can find employers willing to hire them at that
However, I think George Stigler today will support an increase in the minimum
wage, but maybe not a 40% increase.
From the CFO Journal's Morning Ledger on February 21, 2014
USPS CFO on the future of the Post Office
USPS Chief Financial Officer Joe Corbett
about how the Postal Service is
adapting to a changing environment. “We’re in the process of putting all new
handheld scanners in the field,” Mr. Corbett says. “At the end of the day
there’ll be 250,000 or so of those and they’ll enable various new
applications for us in terms of package redirect, package pickup,
notification, communication with our mail carriers so they can do real time
type of work as well as just real-time delivery scans.” Mr. Corbett notes
some of the partnerships with private industry, including FedEx and UPS. “We
deliver a ton of their packages last mile,” he says. “And at the same time
FedEx and UPS fly a lot of our mail, primarily Priority Mail, and that’s a
very large contract also with each of those.”
Unions Exempt Themselves from Union-Backed Minimum Wage Law ---
"The Nuclear Treaty Russia Won't Stop Violating: Why has Washington
looked the other way as Moscow revived Cold War weaponry?" by Keith B. Payne
And Mark B. Schneider, The Wall Street Journal, February 11, 2014 ---
The Reagan administration's 1987 Intermediate-range
Nuclear Forces Treaty is celebrated as the "cornerstone" of nuclear arms
control. But Moscow has openly flouted the spirit and apparently the letter
of the INF Treaty at least since 2008, signaling that it is determined to
regain some of its Cold War nuclear-strike capacity.
The INF agreement went where no other nuclear-arms
treaty had gone before. Instead of simply limiting weapons numbers, it
eliminated the entire class of U.S. and Soviet intermediate range—500 to
5,500 kilometers (or 310 to 3,400 miles)—ground-launched ballistic and
The agreement also prohibited their testing,
production, possession or deployment. The treaty bans missiles with even the
potential for use as intermediate-range weapons, such as the ones with which
Russia might target countries in Europe and Asia. In 1992, the Russian
Federation formally recommitted to the treaty after the demise of the Soviet
Although Russia has been ignoring the INF Treaty
for years—if Russian news reports are any guide—the Obama administration
only recently felt compelled to openly take note of what's going on. The New
York Times NYT -0.21% reported on Jan. 29 that, "The United States informed
its NATO allies this month that Russia had tested a new ground-launched
cruise missile, raising concerns about Moscow's compliance with" the INF
Treaty. The report said the administration began raising questions with
Russian officials last May but was rebuffed.
Why is this news? The U.S. has sophisticated
technical means by which to monitor and verify arms agreements. But in this
case the administration could have pursued Moscow's compliance issue years
ago by simply reading the multiple Russian press accounts of a
ground-launched cruise missile called the R-500. This stream of commentary,
including reporting by the official Russian news agency RIA Novosti,
indicates a clear INF Treaty violation: Russia has tested and produced a
ground-launched cruise missile with a prohibited range potential of between
310 and 3,400 miles.
Russia announced the first test launch of the R-500
in mid-2007 without referring to its precise range. But in November 2008 RIA
Novosti revealed that the potential range of the R-500 "can exceed 2,000
kilometers," or 1,243 miles—a range squarely within the 310 to 3,400 mile
range the treaty forbids. From 2008 through December 2013, major Russian
publications reported that the R-500's range is between 620 and 1,864 miles,
and that the missile is in serial production.
Another compliance problem is a missile called the
RS-26. In 2011, Russian officials declared the RS-26 to be an
intercontinental ballistic missile, which by definition has a range beyond
3,418 miles and so wouldn't be subject to the INF Treaty. According to
reports posted on the Russian defense ministry's own website, however, the
RS-26 has been tested twice to a range of approximately 1,245 miles. That
would make it, at best, a circumvention of the treaty. There is also
Russia's nuclear-capable Iskander M ground-launched semi-ballistic missile.
According to a Sept. 26, 2011, Izvestia report, it has a range of up to 372
Violating or skirting arms treaties is not new for
Moscow. In the years before the Obama administration, official U.S.
treaty-compliance reports documented frequent Russian misbehavior, including
violations of the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, the Biological Weapons
Convention, the Chemical Weapons Convention, the Limited Test Ban Treaty,
SALT I, SALT II and START I.
Since 2009, the current administration's
unclassified arms-control compliance reports to Congress have been mum on
Russian INF Treaty noncompliance. The most recent report in July 2013 stated
that the U.S. had raised no INF compliance issues with Russia in the past
year. The unclassified compliance reports in 2011 and 2012 said the same.
These Russian actions demonstrate the importance
the Kremlin attaches to its new nuclear-strike capabilities. They also show
how little importance the Putin regime attaches to complying with agreements
that interfere with those capabilities. Russia not only seems intent on
creating new nuclear- and conventional-strike capabilities against U.S.
allies and friends. It has made explicit threats against some of them in
recent years. For example, Russia's Interfax news agency reported in 2008
that while discussing the targeting of Russian nuclear weapons, Russian
Defense Ministry spokesman Gen. Anatoly Nogovitsyn, stated, "Poland is
making itself a target. This is 100 percent [certain]. It becomes a target
for attack. Such targets are destroyed as a first priority."
Continued in article
Professors Correcting Grammar May Be Racist
"Poorly educated and lied to, Blacks at UCLA call correcting their grammar
and punctuation racist," by Kevin Collins, Coach is Right, February 10, 2014
It’s hard to
figure out what to make of the people in this story. Should these people be
laughed at or pitied?
Recently a group
of 25 self-described “Students of Color” held a sit-in to support poor
English writing skills. They whined about the “racism” of being offered
constructive criticism of their lack of grammar, spelling and punctuation
As products of
dysfunctional government schools, many if not all of them have little or no
writing skill. Many of them don’t know they have no writing skills. They
have been lied to and had their heads patted so often by paternalistic
liberals they can no longer recognize the truth about their shortcomings.
We can expect
little else from students who have never been dealt with honestly.
What makes this
situation still more ridiculous is that the target of their protest was a
professor of Education and Information. Apparently the poorly educated
students who registered for this course expected more lies and head pats
rather than actual instruction. Claiming to be, “aggrieved minority
students,” these spoiled brats proved they haven’t enough brains to realize
the value of authentic education.
psycho-babble phrase “micro-aggression” to characterize the professor’s
“insulting” act, the Black spoiled brats issued a statement which was likely
written by someone who was not offended by being taught how to construct a
few sentences in standard American English. Reading their childishly
injected “big” words certainly makes the point that most of them don’t get
They said, “A
hostile campus climate has been the norm for Students of Color in this class
throughout the quarter as our epistemological and methodological commitments
have been repeatedly questioned by our classmates and our instructor. The
barrage of questions by white colleagues and the grammar ‘lessons’ by the
professor have contributed to a hostile class climate.”
Continued in article
This Map Renames Each US State With A Country Generating The Same GDP
I knew nothing about Belarus until I studied this chart. The GDP may be the same
as that of New Hampshire, but Belarus has over 7 times as many people.
Latvia has about the same GDP as Vermont with nearly three times as many
Luxembourg with only s 500,000 population has about a third of the population
of Maine with roughly the same GDP.
New York has about the same GDP as Mexico, although Mexico probably does not
count one major GDP industry --- narcotics. Also Mexico has nearly six
times as many people, many more of whom are now welcome with open arms to NYC
under the new mayor. I find this a little inconsistent since it is hard to be
pro labor union and pro illegal immigration at the same time.
"The 2008 FOMC Laugh Track: Gallows Humor at the Federal Reserve,"
The Wall Street Journal, February 21, 2014 ---
Federal Reserve policy meetings
typically feature 19 central bank officials sitting around a table for a day
or two, discussing the state of the economy at great length. They’re
important gatherings, but they also can be long and dull affairs. So it’s
only natural for officials to crack a joke or two.
The Fed’s transcripts include a convenient
[Laughter] tag to mark when central bank officials acted amused by
a colleague’s comment — whether it was intended as a joke or not. We’ve been
compiling them for years in our coverage of Federal Open Market Committee
last year’s edition off the 2007 transcripts).
Here are some of the best – and worst – jokes from the
2008 Fed meetings as
officials moved out of and then back into a crisis mentality.
(Note: FOMC meetings can run on for days, and
except for these jokes they’re almost entirely serious. Read our
comprehensive coverage of the serious discussions here on Real Time
- Compiled by Eric Morath, Sarah Portlock,
Sudeep Reddy and Jeffrey Sparshott
* * *
St. Louis Fed President William Poole,
at his final committee meeting (his 81st, according to Chairman
Ben Bernanke), referenced the fact that his term
spanned from the solid economic growth of the late 1990s to early 2008 when
the economy was sluggish:
Mr. Poole: I came here 10 years
ago with a boom. I’m going out with a pause. [Laughter]
During a discussion about the economy,
Philadelphia Fed President Charles Plosser said it was
“hard to put a good face” on recent readings.
Mr. Plosser: You know, listening
to the staff discussion I have certainly come to understand why everyone
continues to believe that economics is a dismal science. [Laughter] It is
quite a dismal picture.
Fed Governor Frederic Mishkin
pointed to housing as one of the most significant downside risks that
worried him – and that he was “stupidly” in the midst of buying a house.
Mr. Mishkin: As somebody who
stupidly is just going to contract on a new house because I have to please
my wife, I actually thought exactly along these lines and was thinking about
pulling out but then decided that my marriage was more important.
Minneapolis Fed President Gary Stern: It was close.
Mr. Mishkin: By the way, if you know my wife, no it wasn’t
* * *
Dallas Fed President Richard Fisher,
in a soliloquy about the philosophy of central banking, offered this
metaphor: “I liken the fed funds rate to a good single malt whiskey—it
takes time to have its ameliorative or stimulative effect.” [Laughter]
Officials were discussing the merits of various
programs they’d initiated, including the Term Auction Facility, Term
Securities Lending Facility and Primary Dealer Credit Facility.
Philadelphia Fed President Charles Plosser:
I am very concerned about the developments in the financial markets. I’ve
been supportive of the steps we’ve taken to enhance liquidity in the markets
through the TAF, the TSLF, the PDCF, or whatever.
Mr. Bernanke: AEIOU.
New York Fed President Tim Geithner: Don’t say IOU.
The day marked Richard Fisher’s 59th birthday,
which gave officials a chance to reference a classic Fed metaphor: the punch
Mr. Fisher: I can’t think of a
better group of people to spend it with—or a less happy time to do it.
Fed Governor Randall Kroszner: We sure know how to take the
punch bowl away from this party. [Laughter]
Mr. Fisher: Well, listen, I know we are suffering because
our Deputy Secretary here sitting to your right, Mr. Chairman, just gave me
a candle and had me blow it out with no cake attached. [Laughter]
San Francisco Fed President Janet
Yellen offers a rather dire rundown of her economic outlook:
As a final anecdote, a banker in my District who
lends to wineries noted that high-end boutique producers face a distinctly
softening market for their products, although sales of cheap wine are
* * *
Mr. Mishkin: Also, if you ask
people what TV shows they are watching, they will tell you that they are
watching PBS and something classy, but you know they are watching “Desperate
Chairman Bernanke: What is wrong
with “Desperate Housewives”? [Laughter]
Fed officials discussed a request from members
of Congress, including former Sen.
Christopher Dodd (D., Conn.), to expand the
collateral in the emergency Term Securities Lending Facility to include
student loans, auto loans and other consumer credit.
Chairman Bernanke: On the one
hand, we would get, I would call it for short, a Wall Street Journal
editorial that the Federal Reserve is once again the craven cur and the
spineless—boy, I am getting good at this—[laughter] lackey of the Congress
by accommodating this request… On the other side, I suppose that there
would be what I could call the USA Today editorial, which is, “Why won’t the
Fed, which is bailing out Wall Street left and right, include asset-backed
paper in their facilities, even though it is consistent with all of their
other practices and they take it in all of their other facilities?” and so
on. So I think there are PR and political risks on both sides of this.
Continued in article
Global recession? What global recession?
Hilarious Transcripts of Fed Minutes Reveal Completely Clueless Fed ---
"Which macroeconomists missed the Global Financial Collapse and when did
they miss it," by Karl Smith, Financial Times Alphaville, February
18, 2014 ---
Also read the comments. Macroeconomists are still groping about in the dark.
Bob Jensen's threads on the global recession, the bailout, and the largest
fraud, according the The Nation magazine, in human history ---
"Culture of Corruption Postscript: The Hilda Solis Files," by
Michelle Malkin, Townhall, February 12, 2014 ---
Put on your super-shocked faces, everyone: Former
Obama administration official Hilda Solis, who is now running for yet
another government position in Los Angeles, is embroiled in yet another
union corruptocracy scandal. The Hope and Change hits just keep on coming.
Solis served as President No More Business As
Usual's first secretary of labor. Remember waaaay back then, when "most
transparent administration in history" had not yet become an automatic
punchline? Well before Solis' confirmation, it was already clear she was a
poster child for left-wing sleazeball politics:
--Solis' husband's businesses failed to pay
thousands of dollars in tax liens, which were 16 years old, until she was
--While she was in Congress, Solis served as
director and treasurer of a union-promoting lobbying group, American Rights
at Work, which was pushing her Big Labor "card check" legislation to
eliminate the secret ballot, undermine worker choice and obliterate privacy
--Solis failed to disclose those
interest-conflicted positions to the House on her financial disclosure
forms. In effect, she was lobbying herself -- while the group she worked for
raked in at least $1 million in contributions from labor unions and spent
thousands of dollars on television spots described by the group in its
report to the FEC as "electioneering communications." The scheme
circumvented vaunted McCain-Feingold campaign finance reforms barring
so-called soft money donations from unions and corporations alike. Despite
apparent violations of both basic disclosure and campaign finance rules,
--Upon winning confirmation, Solis quickly went to
work doling out plum political appointments at the Labor Department and fat
pay raises to a half-dozen of her former Capital Hill staffers. Americans
for Limited Government found that "the appointees had significant pay
increases averaging 50 percent upon changing jobs; one employee's salary
nearly doubled." Cha-cha-cha-ching!
After stepping down from her Obama cabinet position
last year, Solis is back in the political spotlight. With massive union
backing of some $500,000, she's running for the powerful Los Angeles County
Board of Supervisors.
Question: Why did she step down from her cushy
White House post? Inquiring local reporters in Los Angeles wanted to know.
Last week, the Los Angeles Times reported that her
resignation coincided with an FBI inquiry into her role at an Obama
reelection campaign fundraiser in 2012. When the paper asked the Solis
campaign whether she had informed Obama of the FBI probe, a spokesman
responded tersely: "It is inappropriate for a cabinet official to (discuss)
private communications with the president."
Oh, now we care about what's appropriate? LOL.
It also turns out that for the entire last year she
served as President Obama's labor secretary, Solis had retained a
high-priced Washington, D.C., law firm "to address legal issues" involving
the fundraiser and possible violations of the federal Hatch Act -- which
prevents cabinet members from directly grubbing for campaign cash. Solis had
incurred a debt of between $50,000 and $100,000 for the legal bills. Her
campaign says it's almost "all" paid off, but won't specify by how much.
On Monday, the latest eruption of corruptocracy
shook the Solis machine. Hews Media Group-Community News obtained a lawsuit
filed in California's Central U.S. District Court claiming that Solis "was
provided thousands of dollars worth of free private jet travel without
declaring the trips on the federal government required forms, paid for by
the powerful International Union of Operating Engineers based in Pasadena
during the same period she was undergoing confirmation hearings to become
part of Obama's cabinet." IUOE Local 12 owns a Cessna Citation XL jet, which
ferried Solis back and forth between the coasts. IUOE First Vice President
William Waggoner, a defendant in the suit, reportedly bragged to fellow
union officials that he was providing her transportation.
Put on your super-duper shocked faces: Solis, the
serial disclosure dodger, failed to report the in-kind donation to the
Federal Election Commission as required by law.
Birds of a dirty feather flock together. Solis' pal
Waggoner and his fellow IUOE brass have been accused by rank-and-file union
members of systemic embezzlement, kickbacks, shakedowns, nepotism and
intimidation. According to federal class-action litigation, the IUOE's
former national leader made death threats against dissenting members;
officials allegedly took kickbacks from employers who shortchanged pension
and training funds. The L.A. Times detailed more charges, including that
"one former local official siphoned off union money for entertainment and
his girlfriend's breast enhancement; and another flew to auto races and
family get-togethers on an $8.6-million jet ostensibly purchased for union
Courthouse News reported on another lawsuit against
IUOE officials exposing how Waggoner's alleged "nepotism and a bad
investment vehicle led to the evaporation of $50 million in IUOE pension
funds." Union members are accusing Waggoner of pressuring local branches "to
invest their pension funds in Amalgamated Bank's product line, which were
sold by Waggoner's wife, Patricia, one of the bank's vice presidents."
Jet-setting union crony Solis has the gall to brag
about her record fighting income inequality and defending Big Labor rights.
Maybe she should focus less on closing the wage gap and more on closing her
truth and ethics gap.
Bob Jensen's Fraud Updates ---
"8th Circuit Oral Argument in Unsuccessful Faculty Candidate's Suit
Claiming Discrimination by Iowa Law School Due to Her Conservative Views,"
by Paul Caron, TaxProf Blog, February 14, 2014 ---
Update on the Iowa University Law School Biased Hiring Lawsuit (after three
years of delay): 46 Democrats and One Republican
"Case of Faculty Discrimination Based on Politics Teresa Wagner was qualified
but anti-abortion. The law school at the University of Iowa denied her a job, so
she took them to court," by Peter Berkowitz, The Wall Street Journal,
February 7, 2014 ---
On Feb. 13 in St. Paul, Minn., the Eighth Circuit
Court of Appeals will hear arguments in Wagner v. Jones. The appeal is
procedurally complex. But the legal question at the heart of the original
case has potentially far-reaching implications for public and private legal
education. To wit, whether a state law-school may deny employment to faculty
candidates because of their political beliefs.
In a trial concluded 15 months ago, Teresa Wagner
accused the University of Iowa College of Law of violating her First
Amendment right of free expression and 14th Amendment right of equal
protection under the law when the school's dean, Carolyn Jones, refused to
hire her for its legal analysis, writing and research program.
Ms. Wagner was hired initially in August 2006 and
was serving on a part-time basis as the associate director of the law
school's writing center when two full-time positions for legal-writing
instructors opened up that fall. She became one of the two finalists for the
. . .
She had impressive qualifications. Ms. Wagner had
taught legal writing at George Mason University Law School in Virginia,
edited three books, practiced as a trial attorney in Iowa, and written
several legal briefs, including one in a U.S. Supreme Court case,
Stenberg v. Carhart (2000), which struck down a Nebraska law
criminalizing partial-birth abortions. The faculty-appointments committee at
the University of Iowa College of Law enthusiastically recommended her
appointment as a full-time instructor.
There was a catch, however. Teresa Wagner is a
pro-life conservative. Her résumé showed prior employment with the National
Right to Life Committee and the Family Research Council, both socially
conservative organizations in Washington, D.C.
The University of Iowa's law-school faculty, like
most law-school faculties, is overwhelmingly liberal. When Ms. Wagner was
considered for the job, the law school had only one Republican on its
50-member faculty, according to party registration records obtained from the
Iowa Secretary of State, and he had joined the faculty 25 years earlier.
. . .
She sued in federal court in January 2009. At the
trial three years later, the law school's principal defense was that Ms.
Wagner had "flunked" her interview when she refused to teach the "analysis"
component of the class, which involves methods of legal reasoning. Ms.
Wagner disputed the allegation. But the law school destroyed the videotape
of her job interview, as court testimony confirmed, within a month of its
decision not to hire her.
Faculty emails also contradicted the law school's
allegations about her poor interview. For example, shortly after Ms.
Wagner's job talk, Prof. Sheldon Kurtz, respected for his work on trusts and
estates, emailed Mark Janis, chairman of the faculty-appointments committee:
"Great. Lets [sic] hire her." Nevertheless, more than a dozen law
professors who took the stand supported the law school's story.
Ms. Wagner convinced the jury that her rights had
been violated. After the trial, on Nov. 20, 2012, the jury foreman told the
Des Moines Register, "Everyone in that jury room believed she had been
discriminated against." But after three days of deliberation, the jury could
not agree on whether to hold Dean Jones exclusively responsible.
Presiding Judge William Pratt and his magistrate,
Thomas Shields, phoned counsel to say the jury was hung and the case would
be retried. However, according to court records, after thanking and
discharging the jury, Mr. Shields, in an extraordinary move, called jurors
back from the coatroom. Despite the trial having ended, he instructed the
foreman to sign a verdict form that next to Count 1 had an "X," indicating
that Dean Jones was not liable for a First Amendment violation. Later, Judge
Pratt dismissed Count II, the 14th Amendment violation.
Now, with her appeal next week, Ms. Wagner is
asking the Eighth Circuit to grant her a new trial.
Since the lawsuit, the law school has hired at
least four faculty members who are Republicans, including former Congressman
James Leach and the Republican governor's chief legal counsel, Brenna
Findley, who was appointed as an adjunct professor. The hirings perhaps gave
the school cover from charges of ideological bias during the Wagner affair,
but taking such steps just perpetuates the idea that it's proper to subject
job candidates to a political litmus test.
Instead, state boards of regents and state
legislatures have a responsibility to ensure that their law-school faculties
do not discriminate on the basis of political persuasion. Procedural
transparency in hiring practices would be a help, beginning with the
retention for a reasonable period of all relevant documents, including video
recordings of interviews. Private university trustees should implement the
same safeguards at their institutions.
Hiring decisions should be based on candidates'
merits, including their ability to vigorously present in the classroom and
criticize conservative as well as progressive views. If the Eighth Circuit
protects Teresa Wagner's constitutional rights, the court will also bolster
legal education in America by promoting its depoliticization.
Continued in article
"U. of Iowa Staff Member Sues Law School for Discrimination," by Katherine Mangan, Chronicle of Higher Education, January 22, 2009 ---
A staff member in the law-school
writing center at the University of Iowa has sued the school and its
dean, saying she was turned down for teaching positions because of
her conservative political views,
Iowa City Press-Citizen
Teresa Wagner filed the lawsuit
against the school and its dean, Carolyn Jones, on Tuesday in U.S.
In the lawsuit, she states that in
2006, she applied for an advertised job as a full-time writing
instructor, and that later, she applied for a part-time adjunct
position teaching writing. She was rejected for both positions, even
though she had collegiate teaching experience and strong academic
credentials, the lawsuit says. She argues that affiliations listed
on her résumé, including stints with groups like the National Right
to Life Committee, did her in with a liberal-leaning faculty.
To bolster her case, the lawsuit
dissects the political affiliations of the approximately 50 faculty
members who vote on law-school faculty hires; 46 of them are
registered as Democrats and only one, hired 20 years ago, is a
Republican, the lawsuit states. Ms. Wagner also says that a
law-school associate dean suggested that she conceal her affiliation
with a conservative law school and later told her not to apply for
any more faculty positions.
Steve Parrott, a spokesman for the
University of Iowa, says the discrimination claim is “without
Liberal Bias in Academic Hiring ---
"Moving Further to the Left," by Scott Jaschik, Inside Higher Ed,
October 24, 2012 ---
Academics, on average, lean
to the left. A survey being released today suggests that they are moving
even more in that direction.
Among full-time faculty members at four-year
colleges and universities, the percentage identifying as "far left" or
liberal has increased notably in the last three years, while the percentage
identifying in three other political categories has declined. The data come
from the University of California at Los Angeles Higher Education Research
Institute, which surveys faculty members nationwide every three years on a
range of attitudes.
Here are the data for the new survey and
the prior survey:
|Middle of the road
Gauging how gradual or abrupt this shift is
complicated because of changes in the UCLA survey's methodology; before
2007-8, the survey included community college faculty members, who have been
excluded since. But for those years, examining only four-year college and
university faculty members, the numbers are similar to those of 2007-8.
Going back further, one can see an evolution away from the center.
In the 1998-9 survey, more than 35 percent of
faculty members identified themselves as middle of the road, and less than
half (47.5 percent) identified as liberal or far left. In the new data, 62.7
percent identify as liberal or far left. (Most surveys that have included
community college faculty members have found them to inhabit political space
to the right of faculty members at four-year institutions.)
The new data differ from some recent studies by
groups other than the UCLA center that have found that professors (while
more likely to lean left than right) in fact were
doing so from more of a centrist position.
A major study in 2007, for example, found that
professors were more likely to be centrist than liberal, and that many on
the left identified themselves as "slightly liberal." (That study and the
new one use different scales, making exact comparisons impossible.)
In looking at the new data, there is notable
variation by sector. Private research universities are the most left-leaning,
with 16.2 percent of faculty members identifying as far left, and 0.1
percent as far right. (If one combines far left and liberal, however,
private, four-year, non-religious colleges top private universities, 58.6
percent to 57.7 percent.) The largest conservative contingent can be found
at religious, non-Roman Catholic four-year colleges, where 23.0 percent
identify as conservative and another 0.6 percent say that they are far
Professors' Political Identification,
2010-11, by Sector
Middle of the Road
|Private, 4-year, other
The study found some differences by gender, with
women further to the left than men. Among women, 12.6 percent identified as
far left and 54.9 percent as liberal. Among men, the figures were 12.2
percent and 47.2 percent, respectively.
When it comes to the three tenure-track ranks,
assistant professors were the most likely to be far left, but full
professors were more likely than others to be liberal.
Professors' Political Identification,
2010-11, by Tenure Rank
||Middle of the Road
So what do these data mean?
Sylvia Hurtado, professor of education at UCLA and
director of the Higher Education Research Institute, said that she didn't
know what to make of the surge to the left by faculty members. She said that
she suspects age may be a factor, as the full-time professoriate is aging,
but said that this is just a theory. Hurtado said that these figures always
attract a lot of attention, but she thinks that the emphasis may be
misplaced because of a series of studies showing no evidence that left-leaning
faculty members are somehow shifting the views of their students or
enforcing any kind of political requirement.
Continued in article
"Noam Chomsky Spells Out the Purpose of Education," by Josh Jones,
Open Culture, November 2012 ---
The article below is an illustration for students about how difficult it is to
devise environmental accounting rules that impact booked numbers in the
"California's Auto-Emissions Policy Hits a Tesla Pothole Credits for
electric vehicles have the ultimate effect of reducing overall fuel economy,"
by Christopher Knittel, The Wall Street Journal, February 14, 2014 ---
. . .
The zero-emission mandate thus creates large
transfers of wealth across automobile manufacturers. The beneficiaries of
these transfers are companies selling more than their "fair share" of
electric cars. For example, each Model S that Tesla sells generates seven
zero-emission-vehicle credits that Tesla can sell to auto makers that are
not selling their fair share. Recently, these credits sold for $5,000 each,
bringing Tesla $35,000 in extra revenue for each Model S sold. Nissan
7201.TO +1.12% (the Leaf) and Toyota 7203.TO -1.32% (plug-in Prius) have
also generated credits. On the other side of the ledger, companies selling
few electric vehicles must raise the prices of their vehicles to pay for the
The California policy is then superimposed on the
federal standards, which require that the average fuel economy across a
manufacturer's entire fleet of U.S. vehicles exceeds federally mandated
standards for greenhouse-gas emissions and fuel economy. For example, the
2016 target requires that the average fuel-economy rating per vehicle across
all manufacturers be 35.5 miles per gallon.
There are, however, a number of features that
complicate this rule. For example, federal standards give special double
credits for each electric vehicle a manufacturer produces. Given this
feature, the end result of adding California's zero-emission-vehicle program
to the federal standards is to reduce overall fuel economy—precisely the
opposite of what was intended.
Here's how this works: Ignoring all other special
credits under the federal program, if no electric vehicles were sold,
average fuel economy in 2016 would be exactly equal to 35.5 mpg. However,
each time an electric car is sold, the average fuel economy of all regular
vehicles sold is allowed to decrease by more than the reduction that could
be credited to an extra electric vehicle on the road. Why? Because electric
cars garner double credits. Admittedly, the reduction in fuel economy is
likely to be small, but what is important is that fuel economy moves in the
To be sure, supporters of the zero-emission-vehicle
mandate may contend that there is another, more advantageous unintended
consequence. They argue that these rules are promoting innovation in new
technologies and new types of cars. Yet even if that were true, I would
argue that there are better ways to promote innovation in the auto industry.
The current process is flawed because it forces investment in a technology
that may not end up being the ultimate winner.
Focusing on zero tailpipe-emitting vehicles
overlooks an excellent alternative because policy makers are suffering from
something that many in the industry believe consumers suffer from: Miles Per
Gallon Illusion. MPG Illusion is when consumers do not realize that
increasing fuel economy from 15 mpg to 20 mpg saves much more gasoline than
going from 45 mpg to 50 mpg, because the former increase represents much a
larger percentage. In other words, for someone driving 15,000 miles a year,
the 45-to-50 mpg jump saves only 33 gallons a year, while the 15-to-20 rise
saves 250 gallons. While the zero-emissions mandate may shift some Prius
buyers to an electric car, the best option for reducing petroleum
consumption and greenhouse-gas emission is shifting a large SUV buyer into a
The government needs to be in the business of
setting overall environmental goals and standards on both the state and
federal levels that make sense both separately and together, not a
confusing, conflicting set of rules. And it needs to get out of the business
of picking market winners and losers.
Mr. Knittel is the William Barton Rogers Professor of Energy and
professor of applied economics at the MIT Sloan School of Management.
Bob Jensen's threads on triple-bottom accounting ---
How to Mislead With Statistics
From the 24/7 Wall Street Newsletter on February 17, 2014
Although a little late this year, due largely to
the federal government’s 17-day shutdown in 2013, tax season is here. And,
according to a new report, what you owe in taxes could be largely determined
by where you live. The report, released by the Office of Revenue Analysis of
the government of the District of Columbia, reviewed the estimated property,
sales, auto and income taxes for a hypothetical family at various income
levels in 2012 in the largest city within each state. City tax burdens vary
widely. A family of three earning $75,000 in Cheyenne, Wyoming, paid just
$3,475, or 4.6% of its income, in state and local taxes. In Bridgeport,
Connecticut, a family of three earning $75,000 paid $16,333, or 21.8% of its
income -- a total that does not even include federal taxes.
These are the cities with the highest (and lowest) taxes ---
We have tracked the composition of, and major
changes to, the Berkshire Hathaway portfolio.
Meet the 2014 Warren Buffett stocks.
Be careful of how tax burdens are computed in this analysis. For example the
parameters are based heavily on $25,000 versus $150,000 family income
parameters. Trying to live on $150,000 in Manhattan is like trying to live on a
poverty wage. Those families well above the $150,000 parameter such as those in
Manhattan earning well above the median get clobbered with much higher city
taxes than those above the median in Bridgeport, Connecticut because high
incomes in Manhattan are so much higher for multimillionaires living in
Manhattan as opposed to Bridgeport.
Medians and means can be very misleading when the data are extremely bimodal
such as having a lot of lower income people combined with a lot of extremely
high income people paying city income taxes and property taxes. In
Manhattan the two modes are so extreme that the median family income number is
virtual nonsense. High income people that choose to live in Manhattan in very
expensive housing pay a very dear price in terms of taxes imposed by the city on
top of the income taxes of the state and federal governments. This is one of
the main reasons high income people working in Manhattan elect to live outside
Manhattan --- often in villages towns that do not impose income taxes on
top of state and federal income taxes.
In other words, Manhattan looks like a good tax deal only because the
parameter of $150,000 is so low for Manhattan.
Living on $150,000 in Manhattan would be relatively lousy living in small,
dingy, and possibly rat-infested brownstone apartment where children are warned
not to venture out at night. If this study was revised by replacing the $150,000
parameter with a $500,000 parameter that is reasonable for Manhattan, San
Francisco, and Honolulu the rankings towns and city tax burdens would be totally
different. Goodbye Bridgetown and hello Manhattan, San Francisco, and Honolulu.
This is just one of those many ways that "figures
don't lie but liars figure."
From the CFO Journal's Morning Ledger on February 13, 2014
Health-plan enrollment tops one million in January
More than 1.1 million people signed up for health insurance through
federal and state marketplaces in January, according to the government, and
the number of young people enrolling increased faster than that of any other
the NYT reports. The
figure is part of a detailed report issued by the Obama administration that
suggests that January was the first month in which enrollment was not hurt
by serious computer defects,
the Washington Post notes.
Still, the lingering imprint of those early problems
remains visible in the new report. Overall, the 3.3 million people who have
signed up for coverage are about one million fewer than federal officials
had anticipated by the end of January.
The Report is at
From a WSJ Newsletter on February 13, 2014
OBAMACARE STILL NOT WORKING
Liberals and their media allies are celebrating the fact that
more than one million people signed up for the
Affordable Care Act's new insurance plans
in January, bringing
the total so far to 3.3 million. But the new customers aren't young enough
to make the economics of ObamaCare work, and of course signing up doesn't
mean that someone is a paying customer. Or as former CBO Director Douglas
Holtz-Eakin puts it in a recent posting on Twitter: "Enrollment at 3.3
million. Those actually paying a premium probably closer to 3.3."
Writing in our pages today, Karl Rove
argues that the President's latest lawless rewrite of his signature
legislation was intended to prevent the next wave of insurance policy
cancellations before November's elections.
Ironically, what may save medical insurance exchanges is that their policies are
so lousy that people, especially those with subsidized premiums, will resist
taking advantage of their coverage unless they become severely ill. Forget
preventative medicine. Forget mental health treatment. The problem is that
20%-40% deductibles and high co-pays are just too expensive. Many people just
will not make a choice to go to a medical center relative to other obligations
on their limited budgets --- like housing and heroin and beer and trips to
Also there's a problem of convenience.
People in New Hampshire that were served by 26 hospitals are reduced to only 16
hospitals participating in the health exchange (there's only one exchange
in New Hampshire). This means more time and trouble and costs for same-day
surgeries, therapy, consultations with onsite surgeons, etc. For example, a
patient possibly needing a bone density scan may have to pay 40% of the
hospital's charge, travel 70 miles to a participating hospital, drive in the
wintry dark, and possibly stay in a hotel the night before or the night
afterwards. These costs and inconveniences add up to a point where people will
put off health care unless very serious problems are encountered.
And the millions of people insured under employer plans may see their
deductibles and co-payments increase next year.
In New Hampshire and elsewhere there's serious doubt about having a
sufficient number of specialists like psychiatrists and dermatologists
participating in the ACA. The dream of having better mental health coverage may
be just that --- only a dream. Only half of the psychiatrists in the USA
previously participated in any insurance coverage in the USA. The ACA fees are
so limited it almost certain that the supply of psychiatrists will fall way
short of the ACA and other demands.
Perhaps this is why the Governor of Vermont devoted his entire 2014 State of
Vermont address to the problems of heroin addiction and expense of treatment.
Vermont's generous welfare system attracts a lot of addicts to Vermont.
Another problem for Vermont is that it's high taxes are driving many more
physicians and other medical service providers out of the state than attracting
them to the state. Yesterday nurse that drew my blood for my annual physical
said she had just moved from Vermont. My primary care physician and my eyelid
surgery physician recently moved to New Hampshire from Vermont.
If you are uninsured earning just above the Medicaid cutoff and eligible for
totally subsidized medical insurance from an ACA health exchange, what is
unethical about being strong armed to sign up for the "free" ACA plan?
- Emergency rooms cannot turn true emergencies away, although in many
instances patients in ambulances are rerouted to county hospital emergency
rooms. But those same emergency rooms treat a lot of uninsured people for
non-emergencies, many of whom just want medication prescriptions. That will
continue for people who did not sign up with an ACA health exchange. But
those who signed up for ACA health insurance will get turned away with
instructions to phone an ACA Network physician's office.
Hence, the uninsured may be better off when seeking non-emergency treatment
at emergency rooms.
- Emergency rooms are more likely to turn away insured patients than
uninsured patients. They will later dun these patients for collections, but
hospitals will just give up trying to collect hopeless payments. In
contrast, most insured patients on ACA exchanges have enormous 20%-40%
deductibles that must be paid up front to see the ACA Network physicians.
Hence, I'm not certain that it is ethical to arm twist poor people to sign
up for ACA medical insurance even if the premiums are totally subsidized.
One strategy might be to sign up for the free ACA health plan but claim to
be uninsured when seeking services of a hospital's emergency room. If I can
think of this street-smart people will also think of this strategy.
"Obama’s Vote-Getting Tactics Struggle to Find the Uninsured," by
Michae D. Shear, The New York Times, February 18, 2014 ---
The hunt for the uninsured in Broward County got
underway one recent afternoon when 41 canvassers, armed with electronic maps
on Samsung tablets, set off through working-class neighborhoods to peddle
the Affordable Care Act door to door. Four hours later, they had made
contact with 2,623 residents and signed up exactly 25 people.
Many of their targets, people identified on
sophisticated computer lists generated in Washington as unlikely to have
health insurance, had moved away. Some were not home. Many said they already
had insurance through Medicare, their parents or a job. A few were hostile
at the mere mention of President Obama’s health care law.
“We’re going to repeal that,” one man said gruffly
as he shut the door in the face of a canvasser, Nancy Morwin, 58, a retired
Such are the limits of microtargeting the uninsured
as groups supporting the Obama administration take to the streets on behalf
of the president’s most important domestic initiative. The nationwide effort
is modeled on Mr. Obama’s successful voter turnout machines in 2008 and
2012, but in this case the task of finding Americans without health
insurance and signing them up is a painfully slow grind.
Although the administration expects many enrollees
to make their own way to the government’s health care website or the state
exchanges, the door-to-door effort is aimed at people without computers,
email addresses or the wherewithal to show up at health fairs and other
enrollment events at Kmarts or grocery stores. Officials say the
labor-intensive targeting program, while frustrating, could eventually add
thousands of people to the rolls of the insured.
The campaign is staffed by organizations deploying
thousands of paid and volunteer canvassers across the country. Planned
Parenthood, one of the most aggressive groups, has raised millions of
dollars for the effort. It is paying about 400 workers like Ms. Morwin $12
an hour. They are knocking on an average of 18,000 doors a day in eight
states: Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, New Mexico, Ohio, Pennsylvania
Enroll America, a nonprofit group that is trying to
expand the health care rolls, has hired 266 people and recruited 14,000
volunteers to not only canvass neighborhoods but also make calls at phone
banks and host events at community colleges in 11 states. The group has also
spent $7 million to advertise on the Internet.
The efforts are important for Mr. Obama, who has
been damaged politically by the initial failures of his health care website.
Now, with HealthCare.gov finally working, his administration and outside
supporters are racing to meet their goal of signing up seven million people
by March 31. By the end of January, nearly 3.3 million people had enrolled.
To the canvassers, at least, the original goal seems a long way off.
“Can’t sweat the small stuff, not in this biz,” Ms.
Morwin said, after retreating from a run-down rental property on a modest
street lined with palm trees in Hollywood, where she was once again informed
that the person on her list no longer lived there. “You see the challenges I
The canvassers’ lists are derived from data created
at Enroll America’s offices in Washington by some of the same computer
programmers who churned out the statistical models for Mr. Obama’s
presidential campaigns. Using commercially available information, the data
experts generate lists of people with rankings that indicate their
likelihood of needing health insurance. The typical uninsured is younger,
male and either low-income or unemployed.
People are scored from zero to 100, with those at
the top most likely to be uninsured. By using an uninsured score of just 20
or higher, Planned Parenthood is casting a wider net to improve the chance
that its door-knockers find people without insurance. In Broward County,
home to 1.39 million people, the Enroll America data lists 284,000 such
targets between the ages of 18 and 45. What you get for ... $1,500,000
The call of the worn On Location | Vashon Island,
In Florida, Planned Parenthood has turned the data
into “heat maps” of the uninsured, with neighborhoods colored in varying
intensities of red to indicate where most of the targets live.
“I like to think about it as a compass,” said Matt
Saniie, Enroll America’s data specialist and a former member of Mr. Obama’s
re-election team. “It gives you a direction.”
But on the ground, Mr. Saniie’s lists are far from
perfect and offer the canvassers little more than a rough road map. There
are no signs in front yards that proclaim, “I don’t have health insurance.”
Some people were embarrassed and unwilling to admit they were not covered.
Others approached by the canvassers were
“Why do you have my name?” asked one woman in a
house on Polk Street in Hollywood.
But the canvassers said that some of the uninsured
were eager to sign up.
After more than an hour canvassing Hollywood for
Planned Parenthood, Alberonick Valsaint, 42, had yet to sign up anyone for
health insurance. But then he approached a small three-room house where
Yersson Llabreras, 35, was putting on his McDonald’s uniform and getting
ready for work.
Mr. Llabreras said that his 9-year-old son was
asthmatic and that he had tried in vain late last year to sign up for
coverage on the government’s health care website. “For real, we need it,” he
So for more than half an hour, Mr. Valsaint walked
Mr. Llabreras through the process of creating an account on HealthCare.gov
so he could select an insurance plan. When Mr. Llabreras had to leave for
his job, Mr. Valsaint continued with Mr. Llabreras’s wife, Diana Camacho,
who took a break from “Caso Cerrado,” a popular Spanish-language show
similar to “The People’s Court.” The family of four is now on its way to
getting health insurance. Recent Comments JMal 24 minutes ago
I'm 25, healthy, and a male. I'm what insurers
want, but I'm not going to pay overpriced rates to subsidize someone else's
care. I switched... Smart Funny 25 minutes ago
Is this from The Onion?"I'm from the government and
I am here to help...."Not.Don't get the door. It's not Domino's and it's not
worth your... Terry 26 minutes ago
It seems sad somehow that people speaking one on
one has to be referred to as microtargeting.,
See All Comments Write a comment
The day before, Ms. Morwin, the canvasser for
Planned Parenthood, met Francisco Padilla, 42, in a mobile home park. Mr.
Padilla’s job as a forklift mechanic pays $375 a week but does not offer
health insurance. Married with three children, Mr. Padilla had tried to sign
up on HealthCare.gov, with no success.
“They told me I qualify for Medicaid, but I’ve been
trying, trying, trying, nothing,” he told Ms. Morwin, who took his name and
telephone number and promised that someone from Planned Parenthood would
By the end of her shift, Ms. Morwin had knocked on
115 doors and talked to 16 people about enrolling. Not one of them signed
In some cases, problems with the health care
website are still frustrating the canvassers’ best efforts.
Ryanbo Morales, 27, a Planned Parenthood worker and
a former campaign volunteer for Mr. Obama, searched for the uninsured one
recent day with the same zeal he brought to looking for voters during the
president’s 2012 re-election campaign. But when he finally found Chrystal
Rhodes, 24, who said she did not work enough hours at JetBlue to qualify for
its health insurance, his efforts to help her sign up on his Samsung tablet
were stymied when she kept getting an enrollment error.
“This is really unfortunate,” Mr. Morales said.
Canvassers attend brief orientation sessions before
they head out. In Florida, a team of Enroll America workers recently held
one in Judy Cloutier’s home in Boynton Beach. “Speak in plain terms, don’t
get too complicated,” Florence French, 49, an organizer, told the group.
Near the end of the day, Jack Laplanche, 63, one of
the canvassers, found Lafortune Louis, 56, a Haitian immigrant who hurt his
back in 2007 and lost his job laying underground pipes. He and his family
have not had insurance since.
Continued in article
Jensen's universal health care messaging ---
ACA advocates promised that more people would be insured but nothing was
said about only being half insured.
The lousy 20%-40% high deductible medical insurance plans such as the Gold,
Silver, and Bronze Plans my get lousier with a proposed Copper Plan. This should
possibly be called the Yugo Plan that will pay half of qualified medical
"Health-Law Backers Push Skimpier 'Copper' Insurance Policies: The
White House Said it Was Weighing the Proposal," by Louise Radnofsky, The
Wall Street Journal, February 13, 2014 ---
Some backers of the 2010 health-care law are
pushing to create a new kind of insurance coverage that the measure
essentially had ruled out: policies offering lower premiums but
significantly higher out-of-pocket costs than those now available.
The plans, dubbed "copper" because they would offer
a lower level of coverage than the "gold," "silver" and "bronze" options on
the government-run health-care exchanges, would be a departure from the
minimum level of coverage that is one of the Affordable Care Act's core
Many plans that offered less coverage were canceled
when the health-care law was rolled out because they didn't meet its new
requirements. Republicans accused President Barack Obama of backtracking on
his promise that the law would allow people to keep their preferred health
plans. In the face of an uproar, the Obama administration asked insurers to
reinstate some of the millions of canceled policies for one year.
Now, some insurers and a pair of Senate Democrats
are trying to change the law permanently so that individuals and small
businesses can buy so-called copper plans. The plans likely would have lower
premiums, but purchasers would pay more of their ordinary health costs
upfront. Greater coverage would kick in for serious, unforeseen health
episodes that would require, for example, a hospital stay.
Sens. Mark Begich of Alaska and Mark Warner of
Virginia, both Democrats facing close re-election races this year, are
sponsoring legislation that would allow people to buy copper plans on the
exchanges. Moreover, insurance-industry officials have been talking up the
idea with federal officials, though it is unclear whether the administration
could make the change through regulations.
The White House said it was weighing the proposal.
"The president remains open to all ideas that would genuinely improve the
Affordable Care Act and appreciates the careful thought Mr. Begich has given
to his legislation," an administration official said.
Copper plans would cover, on average, 50% of
medical costs, and while consumers' out-of-pocket expenses would still be
capped, that limit likely would be higher than the $6,350 maximum for
individuals and $12,700 for families currently set by the law.
People who selected the plan would be allowed tax
credits toward the cost of premiums, as they already get for bronze plans,
which cover 60% of costs; silver plans, which cover 70%; and gold plans,
which cover 80%.
Continued in article
We were promised that more people would be insured but nothing was said about
only being half insured.
Jensen's universal health care messaging ---
"(More) Clarity on Adjunct Hours (including healthcare insurance
guidance)," by Doug Lederman, Inside Higher Ed, February 11, 2014 ---
The Obama administration on Monday
released its long-awaited final guidance on how
colleges should calculate the hours of adjunct instructors and student
workers for purposes of the new federal mandate that employers provide
health insurance to those who work more than 30 hours a week.
The upshot of the complicated regulation from the
Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service:
On adjuncts, colleges will be considered on
solid ground if they credit instructors for 1 ¼ hours of preparation
time for each hour they spend in the classroom, and instructors should
be credited for any time they spend in office hours or other required
On student workers, the IRS opted to exclude
work-study employment from any count of work hours, but the
administration declined to provide an exemption for student workers over
all. As a result, colleges and universities will be required to provide
health insurance to teaching and research assistants who work more than
30 hours a week.
The issues of how to count the hours of part-time
instructors and student workers have consumed college officials and faculty
groups for much of the last 18 months, ever since it became clear that the
Affordable Care Act definition of a full-time employee as working 30 hours
or more a week was leading some colleges to
limit the hours of adjunct faculty members, so
they fell short of the 30-hour mark.
All that the government said in its
initial January 2013 guidance
about the employer mandate under the health care law was that colleges
needed to use "reasonable" methods to count adjuncts' hours.
federal testimony and at
conferences, college administrators and
faculty advocates have debated the appropriate
definition of "reasonable," with a focus on calculating the time that
instructors spend on their jobs beyond their actual hours in the classroom.
The American Council on Education, higher education's umbrella association
and main lobbying group, proposed a ratio of one hour of outside time for
each classroom hour, while many faculty advocates have pushed for a ratio of
2:1 or more.
In its new regulation, published as part of a
complex 227-page final rule in today's Federal Register, the
government said that it would be too complex to count actual hours, and it
rejected proposals to treat instructors as full time only if they were
assigned course loads equivalent or close to those of full-time instructors
at their institutions.
The administration continued to say that given the
"wide variation of work patterns, duties, and circumstances" at different
colleges, institutions should continue to have a good deal of flexibility in
defining what counts as "reasonable."
But in the "interest of predictability and ease of
administration in crediting hours of service for purposes" of the health
care law, the agencies said, the regulation establishes as "one (but not the
only)" reasonable definition a count of 2.25 hours of work for each
classroom hour taught. "[I]n addition to crediting an hour of service for
each hour teaching in the classroom, this method would credit an additional
1 ¼ hours service" for "related tasks such as class preparation and grading
of examinations or papers."
Separately, instructors should also be credited
with an hour of service for each additional hour they spend outside of the
classroom on duties they are "required to perform (such as required office
hours or required attendance at faculty meetings," the regulation states.
The guidance states that the ratio -- which would
essentially serve as a "safe harbor" under which institutions can qualify
under the law -- "may be relied upon at least through the end of 2015."
By choosing a ratio of 1 ¼ hours of additional
service for each classroom hour, the government comes slightly higher than
the 1:1 ratio that the higher education associations sought, and quite a bit
lower than the ratio of 2:1 or higher promoted by many faculty advocates.
David S. Baime, vice president for government
relations and research at the American Association of Community Colleges,
praised administration officials for paying "very close attention to the
institutional and financial realities that our colleges are facing." He said
community colleges appreciated both the continued flexibility and the
setting of a safe harbor under which, in the association's initial analysis,
"the vast majority of our adjunct faculty, under currernt teaching loads,
would not be qualifying" for health insurance, Baime said.
Maria Maisto, president and executive director of
New Faculty Majority, said she, too, appreciated that the administration had
left lots of room for flexibility, which she hoped would "force a lot of
really interesting conversations" on campuses. "I think most people would
agree that it is reasonable for employers to actually talk to and involve
employees in thinking about how those workers can, and do, perform their
work most effectively, and not to simply mandate from above how that work is
understood and performed," she added.
Maisto said she was also pleased that the
administration appeared to have set the floor for a "reasonable" ratio above
the lower 1:1 ratio that the college associations were suggesting.
She envisioned a good deal of confusion on the
provision granting an hour of time for all required non-teaching activities,
however, noting that her own contract at Cuyahoga Community College requires
her to participate in professional development and to respond to students'
questions and requests on an "as-needed basis." "How does this regulation
account for requirements like that?" she wondered.
The adjunct issue has received most of the higher
education-related attention about the employer mandate, but the final
regulations have significant implications for campuses that employ
significant numbers of undergraduate and graduate students, too.
Higher education groups had urged the
administration to exempt student workers altogether from the employer
mandate, given that many of them would be covered under the health care
law's policies governing student health plans and coverage for those up to
age 26 on their parents' policies. The groups also requested an exemption
for students involved in work study programs.
The updated guidance grants the latter exemption
for hours of work study, given, it states, that "the federal work study
program, as a federally subsidized financial aid program, is distinct from
traditional employment in that its primary purpose is to advance education."
But all other student work for an educational
organization must be counted as hours of service for purposes of the health
care mandate, Treasury and IRS said.
Steven Bloom, director of federal relations at the
American Council on Education, said higher ed groups thought it made sense
to exempt graduate student workers, given that their work as teaching
assistants and lab workers is generally treated as part of their education
under the Fair Labor Standards Act. He said the new guidance is likely to
force institutions that employ graduate students as TAs or research
assistants -- and don't currently offer them health insurance as part of
their graduate student packages -- to start counting their hours.
The guidance also includes a potentially
confounding approach to students who work as interns. The new regulation
exempts work conducted by interns as hours of service under the health care
employer mandate -- but only "to the extent that the student does not
receive, and is not entitled to, payment in connection with those hours."
Continued in article
In some accounting doctoral programs teaching at least one semester is a
graduation requirement. Is there a difference when teaching is required versus
in the more common situation where doctoral students merely teach as voluntary
Bob Jensen's personal finance helpers are at
Bob Jensen's threads on controversies in higher education (including use
of adjuncts) ---