The US National Institutes of Health is spending $2.6M to train Chinese prostitutes to drink responsibly on the job. You can't make this stuff up!
Warning: This blog is political in nature.
If you are sensitive to political commentary,
please go back to my main Random Thoughts blog.
If you are sensitive to political commentary,
please go back to my main Random Thoughts blog.
If you like political discussion, you may also like my Political Positions blog.
Monday, May 11, 2009
The Service Employees International Union, SEIU, self-noted as the second-largest union of government employees, gave $33M to President Obama's campaign.
California is out of money. They are losing residents who are fleeing increasing state taxes. They are being forced to close offices, lay off people, and reduce hours of those who stay. The White House has just informed the State of California that if they proceed in their plan to trim $74M in worker pay they will lose $6.8B in stimulus.
The SEIU may have a legitimate mission; I'm not arguing that. They are free to support political candidates that best reflect their members. My problem is with the politicians. Rather than doing what is best for all the people, they would rather pay back their supporters. This is not even in the best long-term interests of the members of the union; if California is not allowed to trim costs now, the problems will just get bigger. This rewards the union leaders at the expense of the union members. We can't afford the paybacks anymore.
Saturday, May 9, 2009
GM's restructuring plan includes more jobs manufacturing cars. But those jobs will be in Mexico and China, because they are moving some of the manufacturing there.
But...I thought this bailout was to save the "American auto industry"? So we are now bailing out the Mexican and Chinese auto industry, while those who really make cars here, like Honda and Toyota, are on their own?
It turns out more of those budget cuts that the President just found include cancelling the extension of the fence on the Mexico border, and cutting funding to detect nuclear bombs at our seaports, an area reports have repeatedly warned is our weakest point.
Friday, May 8, 2009
Wow! We've got some REALLY positive news for a change!
Several states are putting together similar laws. The law is that guns made, sold, and remaining within that state are not subject to any federal gun laws, but will only be subject to state laws. The federal gun laws are under the authority of the interstate commerce clause of the Constitution, and since these items do not have anything to do with interstate commerce, those laws do not apply.
And a major factor is that 20 states are working on these laws; the Court strongly considers societal trends in its decisions. They could easily decide that a strong federal government was the way people wanted it fifty years ago, but now people want decisions to be more local. It's the same idea as with gay marriage; the courts decide, not based on law, but on what most people want. If you are in state government and reading this, push for state laws matching the Montana Firearms Freedom Act. The more states that have this law, the more ground the court will have to expand on it.
They are gearing this to go quickly to the courts, and then to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court has been leaning this way, as shown in recent decisions, but those cases were too small to bother with.
This involves guns, so everybody will be watching. The government knows that gun and ammo sales are a direct indicator of trust in the government. When people trust the government, sales are flat; but when people don't trust the government, sales go through the roof.
If this goes well, it can lead to overturning all regulatory laws that affect anything other than interstate commerce. After all, the laws were based on interstate commerce; they've just gotten WAY out of control. Minimum wage laws are based on interstate commerce. Maximum hours per week are based on interstate commerce. The entire EPA is based on interstate commerce!
Mind you, these regulations may continue for businesses that deal across state lines, but small businesses, those that are only in one state, those that are currently getting regulated TO DEATH since they can't afford to hire hundreds of people just to deal with the regulations, may find some relief in the next few years. The ultimate solution may take two or three years to come, but it's heading that way.
Thursday, May 7, 2009
The government is insistent on taking over the banks. They started by loaning the TARP/bailout money to the banks. They they changed that to preferred stocks - some more risk than bonded loans, but still higher in the food chain. Now the government wants to change it to common stock. You know, the stuff that becomes worthless in bankruptcy? Why? Because common stock is VOTING stock! The government wants to tell the banks exactly what to do! (They also get four of nine directors of Chrysler. with the UAW getting one and Canada getting one, totalling six of the nine directors.)
Since when has the government been any good at running a business? Just look at the Postal Service. They keep raising rates all the time. They are slow, and they lose a lot of mail. They don't guarantee their service unless you get the highest (most expensive) options. The major competitors at least guarantee they won't lose your stuff - and they offer tracking included at no extra charge. But they AREN'T ALLOWED to handle non-priority letters! The government knows it's doing such a bad job that it won't let others compete!
Keep the government's hands off of businesses!
FYI on a label I used.
Fascism: One of the major components is the government telling businesses what to do even while those businesses maintain the fascade of being private. Communism includes when those businesses are directly government-owned. Look it up.
We've just gotten results from a "stress test" done on banks by the FDIC. The FDIC does these regularly anyway! It's just more politics.
And the bad news took the Dow Jones down another 102.43 points. Thanks - my 401K (what's left of it) needed that.
The President has announced he has found ways to cut 1/2 of 1% of the budget. how has he done it?
A big chunk came from cutting the death benefit for police officers killed in the line of duty to less than half what it was.
You might have already heard that the White House is taking control of the census, which used to be an independent organization to keep it out of politics. You might have also heard that in some areas, they will be allowed to "estimate" the populations rather than actually counting people. You know, like the word "census" means, "to count"?
Well, much of actually taking the census is being handed to ACORN. You know, the group President Obama used to work with and got his experience as a "community organizer"? And they are being investigated in 14 states for voter fraud, under charges brought by Democrats. They registered thousands of voters under duplicate names, fake names (like - and I'm not making this up - "Mickey Mouse"), forged applications, and busing people from other states to register and vote the same day.
And there are eight ex-executives of ACORN who have quit and are pursuing corruption charges against them. But these are "racists" and "black-haters"? Sorry - ALL EIGHT of these are African-Americans.
Wednesday, May 6, 2009
You may wonder, where's all the "transparency" we were promised? We just found out with Chrysler that we lost $4.3 billion from TARP. Wasn't "every last dime" supposed to be accounted for?
It turns out that they aren't going to give us any information on this until next year.
The company Cerberus owned 81% of the company, was owed $500M, and owned the Chrysler Building. They lose everything in the bankruptcy. They get repaid zero. They even lose the building.
The company Daimler that used to own Chrysler is owed another $1.5B. They get repaid zero.
Banks are owed $6.9B. They get $2B, 29 cents on the dollar.
The US government has put in $4.3B from the TARP bailout. They are also owed $300M in fees. This was supposed to be a great investment Chrysler would repay with interest. What do we get on our investment? Zero. No, worse than zero. We will give them another $3.2B in the restructuring and another $4.7B later.
The United Auto Workers has $10.6B in Chrysler debt. Remember from my last note that this is unsecured debt; they are only supposed to get what's left over after the secured debt is FULLY repaid. So, what do they get? A note for $4.6B (at 9% interest!), or 43 cents on the dollar, more than anybody else. Plus - and a big plus - they get 55% of the equity of the company. They went from not actually owning anything, and being last in line for repayment, to owning 55% of the company. Oh, and they also get $600M in "legacy costs", for stuff like pension and healthcare benefits, from Daimler.
Guess what? The "Car Czar", Steve Rattner, was Finance Chair for the Democratic National Committee. And guess what else? The UAW gives 99% of their political contributions to the DNC. Makes things clearer, doesn't it?
Tuesday, May 5, 2009
For some reason, the Obama administration seems to really like the unions. Two situations that seem to show this:
The "Employee Free Choice Act", also known as "Card Check".
This act, which Obama sponsored last year in the Senate, will eliminate the secret ballot for unionizing a business. Whether a business will be unionized used to be determined by secret ballot. The "Employee Free Choice Act" will remove this, instead requiring employees to sign a card while being observed by a union official.
In the past, the pressure step, signing while being watched, was only a petition of intent; it only allowed the organization to proceed with the secret ballot. With the "Employee Free Choice Act", unions can return to early 1900's tactics of pressuring a person to vote for the union or else suffer some kind of punishment.
The Chrysler bankruptcy.
Bankruptcy law requires that secured lenders, those who have some kind of collateral with the company, like a home loan that has the house for collateral, or a car loan which has the house for collateral, get their money before those who have unsecured debt, those who lent the money just on the credit of the company, like a credit card.
In this case, the main secured debt is corporate bonds. The biggest investors in bonds are the fund companies; these in turn wind up with our retirement accounts and such. The main unsecured debt is common stock. The major unsecured investor is the union. According to the law, the bond holders should get all their money before the stock holders get anything.
Well, Obama doesn't like that idea. He, and those who work for him, call the investment funds things like "greedy", "speculators", and "refusing to sacrifice like everyone else". Instead, he wants the unions to get all their money, and the bond holders to settle for 35% of theirs. Excuse me, but it's not just "greed" or "speculation". It's called "the law".
That Air Force One photo op that probably cost $200,000? Turns out it cost $328,000. And they don't even want to give us the pictures we paid for! But we will get them - Fox News has filed a Freedom of Information Act request to get them.
Another proof that it's BOTH parties that are causing problems. The National Institutes of Health, under a plan created under Bush, is spending $400,000 to study the link between drinking and risky sexual behavior... but only among homosexuals... and only in Argentina. That seems to be wise use of taxpayer dollars. As a reminder, this is dollars of US taxpayers, not Argentinian taxpayers.
Monday, May 4, 2009
The current administration wants to expand our economy using Spain's example of producing "green jobs".
One problem. No, make that two problems.
First, these jobs in Spain cost them the equivalent of over $750,000 per job. And these are low-paying, mostly manual-labor jobs.
Second, Spain has unemployment of 17.8%!
Do we want to follow their example on job creation?!? Our unemployment has gone from 6% last September to 9% in March. Do we really want to double that again to match their 18%?
Understand this: You are not "creating" jobs when you actually reduce jobs.
Don't get me wrong. I love the idea of cheap/free energy. But this is not free energy if it doubles unemployment.
Besides, whatever happened to fusion? Huge amounts of energy created from readily-available materials like hydrogen? It's not practical? We've had SIXTY YEARS using fission to get it working! And we can't even use widespread solar or wind energy because environmental types say they harm the local environment!