Friday, December 30, 2005
Moron Potpourri, Real Estate Deflation, and Whatnot
The headline says it all:
MAN DATES GAL ON INTERNET FOR SIX MONTHS—AND IT TURNS OUT SHE’S HIS MOTHER.
And how Moronic were these Frenchies to actually tell someone what happened?
My coworkers on the PHLX used to dirty talk with anonymous girls in chatrooms. Well they assumed they were girls. That may have been the one risky gamble that I stayed away from during the bull market.
Isn’t environmentalism just another evangelical religion?
Author Michael Crichton makes the persuasive case.
Today, one of the most powerful religions in the Western World is environmentalism. Environmentalism seems to be the religion of choice for urban atheists. Why do I say it's a religion? Well, just look at the beliefs. If you look carefully, you see that environmentalism is in fact a perfect 21st century remapping of traditional Judeo-Christian beliefs and myths.
There's an initial Eden, a paradise, a state of grace and unity with nature, there's a fall from grace into a state of pollution as a result of eating from the tree of knowledge, and as a result of our actions there is a judgment day coming for us all. We are all energy sinners, doomed to die, unless we seek salvation, which is now called sustainability. Sustainability is salvation in the church of the environment. Just as organic food is its communion, that pesticide-free wafer that the right people with the right beliefs, imbibe.
Eden, the fall of man, the loss of grace, the coming doomsday---these are deeply held mythic structures. They are profoundly conservative beliefs. They may even be hard-wired in the brain, for all I know. I certainly don't want to talk anybody out of them, as I don't want to talk anybody out of a belief that Jesus Christ is the son of God who rose from the dead. But the reason I don't want to talk anybody out of these beliefs is that I know that I can't talk anybody out of them. These are not facts that can be argued. These are issues of faith.
And so it is, sadly, with environmentalism. Increasingly it seems facts aren't necessary, because the tenets of environmentalism are all about belief. It's about whether you are going to be a sinner, or saved. Whether you are going to be one of the people on the side of salvation, or on the side of doom. Whether you are going to be one of us, or one of them.
Read the whole speech.
He argues that environmentalism should be reclaimed by scientists. In other words, get the politics out. I would submit that science has been hijacked by atheistic nerds. Or perhaps it has always been their bastion?
On side note, I hate the term "politics". All too often "politics" is a euphemism for TOTAL BLEEPIN' BULLSH*T.
I can’t find the poll now but I read where something like 88% of scientists voted against President Bush, far and away the most monolithic political demographic (outside of the 89% of black Americans who voted against him in 2004.)
Everybody's ken is defined and limited by their own personal experience. Teachers tend to think public education is the most important political football, Christians may think abortion is, doctors look to medical issues, scientists may elevate their field above others, and CaptiousNut thinks capitalism trumps them all.
The major distinction is that CaptiousNut is willing and able to argue his case.
Before last year’s election I weathered a 30 minute tirade from my 90 year-old grandfather on how the Iraqi War would achieve nothing because the Arabs are basically all the same – a 7th century people. Anyway, I ended his monologue and asked him, “But what about Social Security? What about economic issues?” He sighed and didn’t even try to downplay them.
(Yeah dope, "oil is bad for consumers". Consumers really hate the ability to drive cars.)
It is every American’s right to be a one-issue voter, but implicit in that is an arrogant and usually ignorant disparagement of other issues AND other people.
If someone feels that the so-called “women’s right to choose”, “global warming”, “gay marriage” or the War in Iraq is THE supremely important issue....that is completely fine with me. But all too often a little probing exposes these one-issue types as abysmally ignorant on almost every other issue.
My grandfather may be dead right about the efficacy of promoting democracy in Iraq, but how can he justifiably ignore the issue of Social Security reform? People like him should remember to weigh all issues. After all, he does have 12 grandchildren and 7 great-grandchildren who are inheriting the ticking entitlement bomb.
What’s really bad is the single issue people who don’t even fully comprehend their alleged specialty – like these global warming “scientists”. I have said it more than once already. These "scientists" don't comprehend the fact that the EARTH'S TEMPERATURE FLUCTUATES.
We get all of our heat from the sun which is 109 times as big and 414,375 times as massive as the Earth. So the dopes can wager on the Ford Explorers, but I will bet that any "climate change" is due to the sun.
So not only are Americans ENTITLED to cheap gasoline, rising home prices, worry-free investment returns, etc...., now apparently we are ENTITLED to a constant level of solar radiation!!!!!!!!!!!
Okay, I have to Marginalize this one person I overheard at a Roche Bros. supermarket in Chestnut Hill. She was talking about her sister who,
“...exposes her kids to everything….Christmas, Hanukhah, Kwanza…..so they can choose whatever they want to believe...”
There is a name for people like this – JACKASS.
Multi-cultural propaganda is bad enough in schools, the media, and at the office but this woman’s poor kids have to endure it at home. There is something wrong when people think they can concoct an a la carte cultural heritage. Who knows...perhaps stupidity is their family tradition?
CaptiousNut has been predicting a real estate slide all year. Of course I wasn’t the only one forecasting this but the real estate naysayers only constitute a very small minority these days. Two very bearish housing reports this week.
1. The number of homes for sale is now the highest since 1986.
2. New home sales in November fell 11% from October, the largest drop in 11 years.
I have been meaning to blog a bit on housing data the last few weeks but haven't gotten around to it. A lot of times the publicized data is completely propagandized or misinterpreted.
For instance, much of the reported housing data is cited on a month-over-month basis. In other words they will compare November 2005 data to November 2004 data. This is a ridiculous way to report it because when you buy a house, you want to judge it against the prices in the preceding (and following) months. Nobody says,
“Yeah, that seemed like a good deal considering it was an October purchase....”
Also, many dopey pundits keep touting new home starts/permits as an unequivocal sign of housing strength. Sure it represents a degree of strength, but it also means there is tons of new housing supply coming onboard. So in that vein, strong housing starts data actually forebode weakness. Just be wary of the propaganda and economic illiteracy.
One last warning sign of real estate frothiness. Someone just bid $500 million for a 43 acre trailer park in Briny Breezes, Florida.
Pictured above are New Yorkers walking to work over the Brooklyn Bridge during the recent Transit Workers Union strike.
It really hasn't been a good year for unions with the TWU strike failing, Delta Airlines' bankruptcy, and General Motors' woes (see the 20 year low on the chart).
Except for Mayor Bloomberg and Governor Pataki, the silence from New York politicians during the strike was deafening. I guess Chuck Schumer, et al can't really condemn a union that lines their pockets with money.
Thursday, December 22, 2005
Deranged Dog People
Alright, I have held it in long enough. This stupid commercial I just saw for doggie stairs has put me over the edge.
What is wrong with YOU PEOPLE AND YOUR DOGS?
A good friend of mine just got booted out of his housing development because his dog mauled a neighbor. Okay, he didn't get evicted, the dog was. Instead of sending the dog to the mythical "farm upstate", he has decided to move to a new home.
My sister spends about $300 a week to kennel her dogs when she goes away. That exorbitant sum includes "extra play time" and "doggie phone calls". Yes, she calls the dogs on the phone.
Another friend sends her canine to "doggie day care" five days a week because it is better "socially" for the dog than staying home alone all day.
One in-law seemingly can't send us a family picture that doesn't include their dogs. It is great to see the development of my nieces but I'm not really interested in the growth of two extremely fat pugs. And they are definitely out of place on a Christmas card.
I have friends in Charlestown, MA that are routinely called "yuppies" by the residual townies there and wonder why. Could it be from seeing them walk that 13 pound hairless, emaciated poodle everyday?
Then there are the couples that get dogs INSTEAD of getting married or having kids.
The deranged that get gourmet dog pastries and take the mutts to aromatherapy and pet "healing" centers.
Have you seen these ridiculous ergonomically raised dog dishes?
Cat people can be nuts too. One friend spend $2,000 getting a half-digested piece of string removed from her feline. I think my brother just spend $4,000 saving his cat. My wife has emphatically stated that our cat has a strict $400 "deductible" and a DNR order as well.
Another friend spent $250 to "save a cat" from a website. The site marketed the cats as on "death-row" and about to be killed if no one paid the $250. What a great business plan! Get kittens costing practically zero. Put some pics of them on a website accompanied by a death countdown and take $250 per cat from assorted Morons.
I knew a guy in Center City Philadelphia who started a pet walking business about ten years ago. He sat at the bar all day drinking martinis and bragged about how much money he was making. He had one client who paid him $600 a month to walk his dogs twice a day. Of course the bragger outsourced the walking to struggling artists and the like. But this was definitely a great business to start there at the time.
My grandmother used to regularly bake meatloaf FOR HER DOG!!!
Anyway, feel free to one-up my anecdotes as I am sure they don't do justice to the complete inanity of Deranged Dog People.
The day after I posted this I went to Spring Lounge on Mulberry Street in Manhattan. Some whack-job had her pug in the bar. It wasn't long before the dog was on the table sampling everyone's pints. The bar was instantly aglow with camera flashes. Alas, my camera got stuck in my pocket and I missed the shot.
Monday, December 19, 2005
Politically Correct 'Throwback' Jerseys
I was just at Modell's Sporting Goods in Newton, Massachusetts. I was trying to quickly buy a youth football jersey for my nephew and was SHOCKED to find a $35 Tom Brady shirt padlocked to the rack.
I waited almost ten minutes trying to get an employee to unlock it for me. Finally one came and I asked him about the locks:
"Well, Modell's doesn't want to have locks on shirts in some locales but not in others......"
This store was on the border of Needham and Newton - two extremely white (Jewish) and affluent towns outside of Boston - hardly hubs of retail theft.
Political correctness run amok.
Sunday, December 18, 2005
Morons Supporting Farms
An animal species going extinct is NO BIG DEAL. It’s been happening for millions of years. Remember the dodo, the passenger pigeon, and dinosaurs? Did the world end with them?
Would PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) have domesticated the carnivorous Tyrannosaurus Rex? Would they have made it a tofu-eating vegan too?
Someone asked me to describe PETA the other day. Here is a great summary which clarifies why it is high on every Moron list.
I was recently advised to buy my Christmas tree at the Allandale farm this year to “support it”. I asked for some elaboration and got,
"...if they make money they won’t sell the farm and build homes there..."
I told her that I bought my tree at Home Depot to which she snapped back,
“Home Depot doesn’t need the money.”
I said I support Home Depot because they employ people, are owned by pension funds, donate millions to charity, AND pay lots of taxes that can be redistributed to those who don’t contribute to society.
She has no idea how much money the farm has or needs. Normally I am all for consumer activism but this young lady is hopelessly misguided.
It’s kind of funny because this is the second time in a few months up here in the land of enviro-Commi-groupthink that I have heard “save the farm” sentiment. They recently built beautiful homes and a great golf course on the Highfields Farm in Grafton, Massachusetts. (Okay, that pic is from Naples, not Grafton)
Screw the farm. I have gotten much more utility from the golf course than I ever did from the farm. Furthermore, the poor little farm family was actually loaded to begin with. No $30 Christmas trees or cartons of milk were going to sway the Magills from developing their multi-million dollar piece of property.
Devil’s Advocate: Wait up CaptiousNut...aren’t you doing your little boycott of Big Media, e.g. Businessweek and whatnot?
Yes I am, but I don’t arrogantly think that my personal boycott is going to drive anyone out of business nor do I think any of my retail patronage will sustain any wobbly ventures. I would still buy Businessweek, in spite of its agitprop, if it was entertaining or helped me make money with my trading. Consider that I still watch CNBC for that latter reason. If the Christmas trees are cheaper at the farm…..by all means buy one there. But lose the tree-humping moral superiority.
You see how psychotic these Bostonians are? You can’t just simply buy a Christmas tree. It is a great opportunity to save the environment, bash dreaded Big Business, exaggerate your self-importance, and display your economic illiteracy.
During my Home Depot lecture I received the proverbial "kick-under-the-table" from my wife, i.e. an unequivocal shut-up request. Haha....not my style. Plus I need the blogging material.
I just don't take kindly to someone coming into my house and asserting THEIR unfounded moral superiority.
Remember, ignorance is not bliss.....it is BLIGHT. I should "support the farm"? Bullcrap. She should support the country by not fighting our engines of progress: capitalism and the laws of economics.
Economic illiteracy is so prevalent because the afflicted simply don't know how paramount economic issues are (and have been) to our prosperity.
I would bet my bottom dollar that the house she lives in was built on an old farm.
I say tear down the Allendale farm and build so-called "affordable" housing for Hurricane Katrina victims. (sarcastic jest)
Friday, December 16, 2005
Morons at Tookie's Vigil
You have to click on this link to read about and see the panoply of Morons that showed up.
Big Media has never fairly reported on demonstrations like these because
1) They agree with the causes of these Morons.
2) Obviously an accurate reporting WOULD NOT BEHOOVE their image.
In other words, this is just another example of the Big Media's systematic whitewashing of reality.
Devil's Advocate: Wait up CaptiousNut, aren't these just fringe kooks that don't accurately represent their purported causes?
Big Media is a monolithic propaganda organization. Sure these demonstraters are whack-jobs and perhaps real outliers.
But Big Media has a very fickle policy towards extreme examples.
Consider the outlier Enron. It was one of 20,000 public companies to be an accounting fraud YET Big Media wields it as a most favored talking point to bash corporate Amererica, Wall Street, and capitalism. Congress even went as far as passing that superfluous and onerous Sarbanes-Oxley law.
If Big Media directed the same spotlight on Tookie's mourners...
....Congress would call for a full investigation of the schools these nutjobs went to, where their parents are, and would probably be passing laws to institutionalize them.
In an ideal world, journalistic ethics would compel the media to report everything accurately - allowing the public to make up their own minds on issues.
Thursday, December 15, 2005
Musings on Morons and the Prior Generation
Oh, you want to pass me...... then I must be driving too slowly.
The same applies when someone comes flying up to your tailgate, you change lanes, and they follow you. It’s absolutely infuriating.
I am not a pizza crust eater. And if I had a nickel for every time someone stared aghast at my pile of crusts and said,
“You don’t eat the crusts?!?!?!?!?”
I always preempt the predictable "best part" declaration by screaming back,
“WHY..........IS IT THE 'BEST PART' ?!?!?!!?!?!?”
I seriously do this and more than a few people have run away thinking that I am a psycho.
I don’t like seafood either. Sure I will eat fried calamari but bird sh*t would probably be edible if deep-fried. Anyway, when offered fish and whatnot I always decline and tell people that I am allergic to it.
When I was younger and less Captious I used to say that I simply didn’t like seafood. But Morons everywhere would persistently follow up:
“Why don’t you like seafood???????”
Could there be a stupider question than that? What do they think that somehow they can persuade me to like it? Or maybe that I actually like seafood and deny myself the pleasure? MORONS!!!
Now since I started feigning the seafood allergy, it has really started to annoy my wife BUT this dollop of subterfuge consistently entertains me.
At a supermarket we walked by the deli/seafood counter and an employee was offering free samples of sushi. She eagerly approached me with the offer, I sneered at her and told her that I was allergic. Immediately she apologized and literally backpedaled. I put my angry face on and yelled:
“…MY THROAT WOULD SWELL UP AND I COULD DIE!!!!!!!!!!!!!”
The girl felt awful and it was absolutely hilarious.
Every time I trot out my allergy lie people get very apologetic and THAT is much more palatable than the insufferable “why don’t you like it?” question.
On the subject of allergies...
My mother-in-law happens to be very allergic to my cat and pretty much can’t spend any time at my house. Now I know 95% of my blog readers are thinking:
“CaptiousNut....you are one lucky bastard”,
...but that is not completely the case. I happen to love my mother-in-law (i.e. she reads my blog).
The downside to her cat allergy is that she can’t come up and babysit and that we have to go visit her more often. It pretty much puts a lot more of a travel burden on us. Except for our one year sojourn to Charlotte, it feels like we live on Intersate-95.
Forget the issue of in-laws (for the record I consider my own parents in-laws as well – they are ALL in-laws), the early 30s are probably the age when it gets most difficult to “live” with other people. By this time most people are married, have honed their own idiosyncrasies, and really start to have trouble dealing with the, let’s just say, Prior Generation.
I don’t think my wife and I can have an extended conversation with our peers, be they friends or family, without some mention of a Prior Generational inanity. A good friend probably summed it up best when she once exclaimed:
“WHAT----IS----WRONG----WITH----THOSE----PEOPLE? ? ? ?”
Sure, when you are sixteen and take driver’s ed you discover that your parents – don’t know how to drive. But it is not for another 15 years that you finally realize the full extent of their craziness. And this goes for your aunts, uncles, family friends, and pretty much the entire Prior Generation demographic.
Almost none of my older relatives read my blog anymore (perhaps because of my clutter post) but I am going to tread lightly here nonetheless.
Here is a non-exhaustive litany of "visiting" tribulations...
1) Cheap toilet paper. My butt is used to Charmin and that Scott sandpaper really chafes me. The Prior Generation all claim to “prefer” Scott...whatever cheapskates. It is like my father and uncle who won’t rent carts on a golf course because they “like to walk”. Bullsh*t. If carts were free they would ride. Why don’t people just admit they are cheap? Why the spin?
2) Ten-year old 19-inch televisions with only basic cable. Upgrade the cable already. Maybe get HBO with some of that money you saved on toilet paper. Watching TV at these people’s homes feels like being in a Third World country compared to the DVRs and premium channels I have at home. Walmart sells 23-inch televisions for $88 – go buy a new one!!!
3) 5 year-old or $600 computers with dial-up internet connections, often times buried in a basement or a far off room. No elaboration needed here.
4) Heat or air conditioning cheapness. This summer we experienced more insufferable humidity in the northeast than we did in Charlotte. Invariably people up here only run their air conditioning at night, if they have any at all. And usually they have old inefficient window units. GO TO WALMART, SEE HOW CHEAP AND BETTER THE NEW UNITS ARE, AND BUY ONE!!!!
See the theme? Most of my complaints that I am courageous enough to list involve cheapness and old technology.
But CaptiousNut is no Moron and could probably write a dissertation on Prior Generation management techniques.
Before any extended visit, I program both of my DVRs to tape just about everything I don’t want to watch on tiny rabbit-eared televisions.
I lugged my father’s two air conditioners out of his basement and installed them in AUGUST!!!!!!! Who the heck INSTALLS air conditioners that late in the summer? Why weren’t they already in the windows?
Answer: Because my parents went away for 10 days in July and figured they wouldn’t need them for the other 80 days of brutal humidity.
Same thing with the thermostat. Instead of complaining about how cold my parents house is, now I just get up in the middle of the night and raise the heat. (My wife does too but I suspect my mother gets up and lowers it soon thereafter.)
I have successfully badgered both sets of in-laws into upgrading their computers and getting broadband. Yeah, they say they were going to do it anyway, but on this blog I’ll be the one to mete out credit.
As for the toilet paper……I bring a roll of Charmin with me everywhere.
In fact I recently whipped it out at a bar in Manhattan and it was quite the stunning conversation prop.
(Hey sickos, the “Charmin roll” is the antecedent of “it”.)
Anyway, when I am teaching Pre-Cana classes, I talk about my mother-in-law's cat allergy and advise the young couples to:
1) Find out what your in-laws are allergic to and.....
2) Buy four of them.
Never let truth or propriety smother a good joke.
Tuesday, December 13, 2005
Market Orders = Brokerages Ripping Off Their Own Customers
Thankfully I bought some gold stocks and calls last week. They rallied and these gains offset my semi-disastrous short of Apple.
Now I have been a professional trader for 10 years and I rarely ever use market orders, but on Friday I unloaded some Newmont Mining stock via a market order.
(To the layman, this means that I wanted to sell it that instant, at whatever price I could get.)
At the time, the stock was showing multiple bids of 50.44. By multiple I mean that was the bid on the New York Stock Exchange AND on at least two other electronic exchanges for a total of several thousand shares.
Bank of America filled my order and gave me a 50.42 report.
In other words, they filled me .02 below the sizable best bid.
I looked back through the tape (list of trades) and saw that they had traded my shares on the seldom-used Boston Stock Exchange.
Basically, Bank of America has some relationship/agreement or whatever with someone on the Boston Exchange whereby they conspire to rip off the customer.
Now this was, let's just say the opposite of a surprise to me. Every time you give a broker a market order, they will penalize you this way. Thus I hardly ever use such orders.
Probably the Boston guy pays Bank of America say a half of a penny or one penny per share for the right to fill market orders. So when I send my order to BoA, they will earn a commission from me AND a kickback from the Boston guy.
They will buy my stock at 50.42 and immediately sell it at 50.44 and keep the 1 or 1.5 penny profit.
That may not seem like a lot, but if they can make an extra .01 each on 100,000 shares a day, that adds up to ....
$1000 per day or....
$250,000 per year.
That is a nice little skim job all at the expense of brokerage customers.
Brokering and trading may be the biggest conflict of interest on Wall Street but Eliot Spitzer is only interested in the more politically marketable "conflicts".
My little example is a microcosm of what happens to almost every single market order on Wall Street.
Nobody, outside of professionals, is really aware of this because they would need a professional trading platform to see this rapid-fire skimming of .02 here and .02 there.
I actually oversimplified a bit what happened to my order. There probably isn't a relationship with "some guy in Boston". More likely, BoA sells my order to some trading desk. When they got my order they no doubt used a computer to find an exchange that had no bids in Newmont as high as 50.44, they found Boston and decided to route the trade through there - actually buying the stock directly from me and simultaneously selling it .02 higher on another exchange.
In other words, they go looking for a quiet place to rip off the customer. All of this happens in a split second.
And these skimmers don't limit themselves to market orders either. Recently I put in a 4.90 bid for an obscure little Nasdaq stock and the only bid that appeared was one for 4.89. The stock traded there and they gave me a 4.90 report. Essentially they bought the stock cheaper than I was willing to pay but decided to keep the savings.
For one penny per share they put my order at risk of being filled. If I had missed that stock I would have had to take them to arbitration. (That stock hit $20 recently - unfortunately I dumped it around $9.)
So now many brokerages tout half a penny per share commissions or so (around $5 for 1000 shares), but bear in mind that it is costing you MORE than that.
Sure, the ripoffs are smaller these days with decimalization and a proliferation of ECNs (electronic exchanges) BUT.... the volume has skyrocketed AND it still isn't right for brokerages to "gouge" their own customers.
IT SHOULD BE ILLEGAL TO BROKER AND TRADE IN THE SAME ACCOUNT.
AND IT SHOULD BE ILLEGAL TO "OUTSOURCE" THIS CONFLICT OF INTEREST TO ANOTHER TRADING DESK.
Look at this erroneous and naive explanation of low commissions for "market orders".
A market order guarantees execution, and it often has low commissions due to the minimal work brokers need to do....
The "low commissions" have nothing to do with "minimal work" and everything to do with the lucrative rip-off that market orders facilitate.
I even saw a brokerage firm that advertised "free commissions on market orders of 5000 shares or more".
I think the firm was called Bend-Over Brokerage.
Monday, December 12, 2005
Morons Think This Is a Recession
A friend of mine asked me this weekend if we were in a recession. I almost fell out of my chair, but sadly his inquiry is quite indicative.
Big Media has successfully propagandized economic reality. All three asset classes, stocks, bonds, and real estate are booming. Yet the MSM organs incessantly contort the current prosperity into at best a mirage with dire impending consequences and at worst....a fictional "recession".
This onslaught of negative thinking is clearly having an impact. During the 2004 presidential campaign, when attacks on the economy were in full force, 36% of Americans thought we were in recession. One year later, even though unemployment has fallen from 5.5% to 5%, and real GDP has expanded by 3.7%, the number who think a recession is underway has climbed to 43%.(link)
WHAT ASTOUNDING ECONOMIC ILLITERACY.
A 5% Unemployment rate is below the average for the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s.
Devil’s Advocate: But wait a minute CaptiousNut, are you discounting this poll? That many people can’t be wrong. Maybe your metrics are wrong?
Well first of all, the fact that since 2004, MORE people think the economy is in recession than before, even though all macroeconomic statistics are better, seems to DISCREDIT the 43%. Second of all.....
A "recession" is a well defined term:
Two or more successive quarters of negative Gross Domestic Product growth.
In our most recent quarter of July-September 2005, U.S GDP grew at a blistering 4.3%!!!!!
We haven’t had a single negative growth quarter in FOUR YEARS - nevermind two in a row (see pic below).
Shouldn’t a poll asking about a recession first verify that the respondents actually know what a “recession” is?
All that poll proves is that a substantial portion of the populace are MORONS.
That chart is illustrative of the perma-negative reporting. I grabbed it from perma-dour CNN so that accounts for the “SLOWER GROWTH” spin.
Of course that graph was published April 28th, 2005. At the time CNN used first quarter GDP numbers to forecast “the end”, including “stagflation” i.e. slower growth and higher prices. As usual, they were completely WRONG.
Instapundit summarizes the MSM's perma-negativity:
I suspect this reflects the bad economic conditions at newspapers, rather than in the nation as a whole. Workers at GM, Ford, and other uncompetitive companies probably have an unrealistically negative view of the economy, too.
Surely this is partly true, but remember as I have detailed many times, Big Media is essentially a socialist institution that would be harping on illusury negatives even if their businesses were doing better.
Bloggers and alternative media in general have effectively counteracted the more outrageous transgressions of Big Media, yet with the smaller issues the socialists remain supremely influential.
43% think we are in a recession....
That is one MASSIVE INTELLIGENCE FAILURE.
Tuesday, December 06, 2005
The Inseparable Trio - Morons, Oil, and Massachusetts.
Massachusetts strikes a heating oil deal with Venezuelan Communist and Terrorist Dictator Hugo Chavez.
"Why would it matter where it comes from?" said Bridget Durkin, 70, who lives alone in Quincy and relies on fuel assistance. "Venezuela is doing a good thing for people."
I thought they cared where oil comes from? Remember, evil oil companies are not to even disturb the caribou in Alaska, crustacea in the Caribbean, and they are definitely not to subsidize terrorism.
People are starving in Venezuela with a poverty rate conservatively estimated at 35% (USA TODAY said it was 50% in that link above). Why help the rich United States? Maybe they should send pics of warm and cozy southeastern Massachusetts residents to the millions of cardboard box denizens in Hugo’s Venezuelan utopia.
Do the Massachusetts Morons want cheap oil or not? The parent of the Boston Globe editorializes in favor of $3 per gallon gasoline. They are all over the map on this one. Companies shouldn't drill for oil if it upsets birds and whatnot, BUT discounted heating oil can be taken from terrorism-sponsoring dictators.
And from the other side of there mouths comes warnings of “risky foreign indebtedness” and how oil subsidizes terrorism.
Is it illegal for states to conduct foreign policy? By all means yes. But the larger picture is the vast irony and hypocrisy the whole escapade illuminates.
We already buy oil from Venezuela and other dictatorships BUT they are brokered by private individuals and companies – not politicians. It is a distinction with a huge difference. Imagine rogue politicians trying to negotiate separate peaces during wartime.
What is the proper response? The whole thing was a ruse to get President Bush to preclude or at least condemn it. It's nothing more than an unsophisticated attempt to make him look unsympathetic and in the pocket of big evil US Oil. Bush did the smart thing and brushed it aside. There is now $24 million less in Hugo's war chest and I guess that is one way to spin it positively.
So where did this illegal heating oil deal come from?
As always, follow the money. It was brokered by a sham non-profit run by Joe Kennedy. I know....it's shocking to see a Kennedy involved in Massachusetts BS.
I say it is a sham because Joe Kennedy makes dough (400k in 2003) from these transactions. He will undoubtedly mark up the heating oil, masked as delivery fees no doubt, and skim a good chunk of change for himself. It's funny how much "non-profits" can line one's pockets.
Click here to learn who Hugo Chavez really is.
So we have to fret over China’s human rights violations and stop out-sourcing but the blueboods in Massacusetts don’t care one iota about Hugo’s crimes against his own citizenry?
IT IS ALL ABOUT PUSHING A STEALTH SOCIALIST AGENDA.
Again, the whole thing is a political stunt. THE POOR ALREADY get heat assistance, as explained on every single heating bill. Moronic Attorney General Reilly even tells the freezing destitute residents of Massachusetts that you don’t have to pay your bills at all. All the poor has to do is stop eating the Alpo for a second and log onto his website to find out how.
From a prior post:
Utilities and Phone Service
Q: I’m 65, live by myself, and can’t keep up with my electricity bill. I have electric heat and I’m worried that they will shut off my service. What can I do?
A: In Massachusetts the utility company cannot terminate your service if everyone in the household is over 65. There is also a winter moratorium in place every year from November 15 to March 15. During those months, gas and electric companies cannot shut off your service if you are unable to pay. You may also be eligible for home heating assistance, to help pay your bills.
Wednesday, November 30, 2005
"I don't want to diminish the threat of terrorism at all, it is extremely serious, but on a long-term global basis, global warming is the most serious problem we are facing."
Thank God Al Gore wasn’t our president when 9/11 happened we’d be offering Middle Easterners hybrid vehicles instead of democracy.
Chris Matthews is also one of these over-nuanced moral relativists. Ever watch him? He is one paranoid indefatigable LOSER. His nuanced view of terrorists:
"The person on the other side is not evil -- they just have a different perspective."
Rich Karlgaard is a great writer for Forbes. Check out his blog where you will find fresh ideas and insights not widely promulgated.
He had a great post on “zero-summers” – people that have never considered that our economic pie is a growing one or that innovative capitalism ALWAYS finds a way to more society forward.
Look at this great comment someone made on Rich’s post.
Save fuel now because it will run out in 200 years? Crazy. 200 years ago we were using wood. 200 years from now we will be using helium 3 mined from a gas giant for use in fusion reactors. Conserve oil so we won't run out? That is as crazy as saving whales, in 1850, so we will still have whale oil available in 2050.
I absolutely loved this comment. Too many people run around worrying about stuff like saving energy that history has shown is itself a waste of “energy”. My mother is one of these types who conserves water and runs around turning off lights in empty rooms. Only part of it is cheapness and force of habit, the bulk of it stems from a misbegotten belief in scarcity. (I did a google image search on "save the whales" and got this pubescent gem.)
Of course she has never read anything like that whale oil comment in her New York Times-owned local paper.
Speaking of that Perma-Commi newspaper, the Times said today that:
By most measures, the economy appears to be doing just fine. No, scratch that, it appears to be booming.
But as always with the United States economy, it is not quite that simple.
“Not quite that simple”??????
Stock market at 4.5 year high, housing market booming, and bond market just off a 46 year high. What else is there?
The Times says it is all a mirage and goes on to explain it to the under-nuanced. Who really wants to read perpetual negative spin on a prosperous economy? Then again nobody buys the Times for its sports section either.
Let me christen another Moron Tactic – the Simple/Complex Spin.
Over-nuanced Morons consistently use this trick whereby they transmute the complicated into the simple and vice versa.
The economy is not really that complicated especially with all three asset classes percolating – don’t get pulled in by this RUSE of “it is not quite that simple.”
Now take something that ACTUALLY is complicated, like the war in Iraq. The sultans of nuance at the Times boil it all down to “Bush Lied. Oil for Halliburton.”
Monday, November 28, 2005
Look at this Moron. Only in New York.....
In that hackneyed Wall Street lingo…..I am currently heavily OVERWEIGHT CASH (90%). In other words, I don’t like stocks or bonds at today’s levels. I recently sold all of my long term equity investments. The stock market is at 4.5 year highs, bonds are just off 46 year highs, and real estate is still very much in nosebleed territory.
And of course I am actually short real estate because I rent.
Let me explain that. For every dollar that my theoretical first home depreciates, that is one less dollar that I will have to shell out to buy it. Renting therefore is financially equivalent to shorting the housing market. The exact same risks apply because if I am wrong and home prices continue to rise, I will have to ante up that much more later on for my first home.
Money market rates are nearing 4% in some select banks and quite frankly I am extremely happy with that yield. I have heard a lot of older people whine about low interest rates the last few years almost as if they are ENTITLED to higher returns. More likely they just weren’t accustomed to ever getting the 1% or so the money market fell to. Also the older folk may have been whining but were generally wise enough to not chase better returns from investments with which they weren't comfortable – that is something I can’t say about some of my younger, condo-flipping buddies.
REMEMBER, 4% is pretty much the annual return one needs to justify borrowing at today’s rates of 6% and buying a home. The up-in-the-air mortgage interest deduction explains that 2% reduction.
So TODAY one can get 4% risk-free in the money market or you can take your money and make a decade or two commitment to a house, neighborhood, and city or town. You'll be fretting leaking roofs, rising property taxes, foundering local government schools, and will probably end up moving and paying an exorbitant real estate fee before too long.
I think cash will be king for a couple of years at least, mostly because nobody has any. “Homeownership” may be touted at 69% - an all time high, but so is home indebtedness. Americans collectively own less than 50% of their home down from a historical average of 75%. To be sure, it is generally wise to borrow when rates are low as they have been, hitting 46 year lows this year, but much of that borrowing has been done with very risky adjustable mortgages. Even worse, adjustable rate usage has risen even at higher home prices.
Back to the financial markets.
Gold rising is bad. In case you've missed it, gold effectively hit $500 an ounce today - a level not seen since 1987. (Click chart to enlarge.)
Bubblehead macroeconomists insist that rising gold is forecasting inflation. This recent gold move has been befuddling these dopes because the dollar has been rising with gold this year.
Normally gold benefits from a weaker dollar because most global commodities, oil, grains, metals, etc. are priced in dollars. So a weaker dollar means that it will buy a smaller basket of commodities than before.....ergo we have inflation.
So what is exactly going on here with gold seemingly moving the wrong way?
The answer is that nobody knows. But I will throw out my worst-case scenario explanation. I believe that the global financial markets are worried about the long term prospects of the US economy and are therefore diversifying accordingly.
What is there to worry about?
ENTITLEMENT CRISES. That is about it. Medicare and Social Security spending are a bigger and more certain threat to out prosperity than just about anything else short of a nuke in Manhattan.
American capitalism has been the world's most indefatigible benevolent force and will surely be tested by this impending clash of actuarial realities and political impotence.
Also fueling the stock market's recent percolation is a widespread belief that the Fed will stop tightening short term rates in January. This may be an accuate forecast BUT, despite Big Media and econo-illiterates' obsession with Alan Greenspan, SHORT-TERM RATES SIMPLY DO NOT MATTER. Japan had 1% short term rates for years and it did nothing to re-stimulate its economy. The rates that matter are LONG TERM RATES.
Also, lowered short rates couldn't stimulate our economy in the early 1990s either. Banks were ravaged by real estate lending and whatnot in prior years, decided to shore up their balance sheets, and therefore simply did not pass on the lower rates to borrowers.
Today's bulls tout falling energy prices as a very positive catalyst BUT they need to be reminded that the market did not sell off one lick on Hurricane Katrina and $3 gasoline. The market correctly shrugged off that media created frenzy while it was going on.
Today's bears can point to a flat yield curve.
One thing worth noting is the so-called January Effect that seems to come earlier every year. Last year the market spiked in December and sold off hard in January. I get the feeling that this November rally may be this year's early January Effect. Basically everyone used to expect the market to rally in January, and it did for many years, so they started buying in December. Now everyone expects a December rally and have bought in this month. Anyway this is just my unscientific take - we'll see what happens.
I am not short the market, but have been playing the short side intraday a lot recently. (One stock I am short is Apple - not because I think it is going to zero, but just as a trade.)
Anyway, how does that Google look now at $429 per share?
It was $228 when I first blogged about it in May. Remember I got in at $177.
I am still comfortable with my $3,000 price target for August of 2010, but will watch it closely. Recently they announced a $900 million set-aside for socially responsible investments in things such as “alternative energy”. My regular blog readers know how much I hate crap like this.
Everyone knows that Black Friday is the day after Thanksgiving, but I just learned about Cyber Monday. Apparently it is the next Monday when everyone spends their workday Christmas shopping online.
Cramer was touting the stock of Websense yesterday as somewhat of a play on this “cyberslacking” phenomena. Websense is a software company that helps businesses monitor, i.e. limit, delinquent websurfing from their employees. They have a great corporate-speak name for what they do - something like “technology resources optimization”.
I occasionally watch Mad Money because it is entertaining and informative – not to mention his stock picks tend to be quite the movers as soon as the words leave his lips. Watch the after-hours ticker at the bottom of the CNBC screen.
There is even a story going around about some Mad Money caller who was on hold and overheard Cramer touting some stock, bought it before everyone else (the show is slightly pre-recorded), and made a bundle.
Anyway, Cramer is a pretty bright guy and has made some great picks this year. He has mostly been bullish on Google, Apple, and oil companies to name a few. To be sure he has some bombs as well that others are probably better at naming. Just google “cramer sucks” or something.
Cramer’s fortunes will ebb and flow with this mild bull market. He is not recommending any shorts (at least that I know of) and will be pilloried should the market enter a prolonged bear period. One has to remember that he is a SALESMAN, pure and simple. Guys like him are a dime a dozen on Wall Street. They can give you a compelling bull case for whatever stock they feel like. Some of these guys, like Cramer, are so persuasive that you feel like running out instantly and buying whatever they tell you. A great stock recommendation can sound almost like an earth-shattering discovery – to which only you are privy. So you run out and buy it and as you are holding it you start doing some more research. Most times you will find out that that bull argument has been around for years. The stock could languish in the dumps and you may have to wait for another set of docile buyers to push the stock in order for you to get your money back.
Like any dissembling salesman, Cramer often talks out of both sides of his mouth. Sure he has been bullish on Google mostly, but also said to lighten up at $250. And I also remember a show where he said to lighten up on the oil stocks as well.
Cramer has a, let's just say a "mixed" reputation. When he ran a hedge fund and was short a stock, he would routinely get his analysts in on that particular company's conference calls. He ordered them to grill, insinuate, and basically accuse management of shoddy performance and whatnot. All the other analysts would hear this badgering and would undoubtedly get nervous or at least less comfortable with that company. In other words, it was a manipulative way to drum up negative sentiment on a stock in which he was short.
So how was Black Friday?
USA Today said it was “Dazzling”.
Bloomberg said it was “Good”.
The Associated Press said it was “Modest”
And shocker of all shockers…..the New York Times said it was “Horrible” or at least they deeply implied that in Mall Stores See Trouble in Sales Data. The Times spun Black Friday as all about “discounting” and poor people running up their credit cards.
So when we have high energy prices from a strong global economy…that is bad.
And when we have low priced televisions and clothing, the standard fruits of capitalism......that too is a bad sign.
Black Friday just brings another day's version of the same old agitprop.
Sunday, November 20, 2005
Shame on Forbes
Shame on Forbes.
The November 14th, 2005 issue had an article titled, We’re Not That Dumb written by Michael J. Handel of the Economic Policy Institute. (Again, try bugmenot if you can't get that article.)
I am going to dissect this incoherent tripe.
First, the subtitle,
Our economic ills are supposedly due to a gap between workers' skills and job demands. That gap is a myth.
Now exactly what are “our economic ills”? Handel doesn’t say. About halfway through, I can only infer “rising wage inequality” with ZERO supporting evidence. But it’s not a good start when the reader has to guess the subject at hand.
Handel then says:
Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan has repeatedly said that U.S. workers need to beef up their skills and training if they want to compete globally in this era of technological innovation. President Bush proposes education policies based on the assumption that the quality of schools is sliding inexorably downward.
Okay, I don’t want to include too much of this article on my blog. It was painful enough to read it myself and the link is above for those so inclined. But I wanted to illustrate a common Moron debating tactic.
First, Handel makes a broad-brushed statement of our nebulous “economic ills” and then tries to link that to an equally vague notion, in this case a “skills gap”. Now this masturbater, I mean MASTER DEBATER sets off to debunk the “myth”.
Of course fueling these “ills” and the “myth” are two major enemies to socialism, Alan Greenspan and President Bush. A little background – the Economic Policy Institute is a Commi-propaganda think tank which I recognized right away but which could easily be missed by an undiscerning reader.
I fully understand the limits of space in penning an article such as this, but this is ridiculous. The first paragraph almost epitomizes the word propaganda. Handel is trying to suck the reader into a syllogism that he created out of thin air. Whatever our unnamed “economic ills” are, you can be sure that President Bush and Alan Greenspan are complicit. Nine out of ten people on the street will tell you that government schools are “sliding downward”. Only a elitist ideologue can dismiss that reality and I will get to the ideological bias later.
It is quite a leap from one Greenspan quote about workers needing to “beef up their skills” to a “wage gap” and then to our unnamed “economic ills”. But such is common practice amongst the Morons who start with ideological conclusions and then scamper to create the supporting evidence. And for good measure, this faux evidence usually impugns as many enemies of the Moron as possible, e.g Bush and Greenspan. Hey why not - it is all made up anyway?
It is almost impossible to debate a guy like this because he made no connection from our unnamed “economic ills” to his whacky construct of a “skills gap”. But like most of the Morons, I can even Marginalize this guy by assuming his misbegotten premise.
For the sake of argument, I will accept that we have some economic problems caused by deficiencies in workers’ skills. Handel proceeds to attacks this "myth":
In the early 1960s nearly 50% of all Americans had dropped out of high school, including nearly one-third of young adults. Today both figures are under 15%. Four-year college completion rates for young workers doubled from 15% to 30% over the same period. In fact, Americans are more educated now than ever before.
So why the concern with education? Scores on college entrance exams like the SAT and ACT did decline between the mid-1960s and the early 1980s. For much of that time the U.S. economy was also in recession and faced a withering challenge from the apparently better-educated Japanese. This began what is now a tradition of blaming education for economic problems.
(This last sentence is a doozy. I must have forgotten about our BLAME EDUCATION DAY. It is actually not a bad idea.)
So more kids graduate from high school and more go to college than 40 years ago. Big deal. How the heck does this imply that kids are entering the workforce today with no gap between their skills and what an employer needs? The great majority of people that I know will freely admit that they hardly use their college education at all on the job.
Furthermore, hasn’t high school education been dumbed down to the point of being a joke? For crying out loud, today students can take 12 years of ESL courses (English as a Second Language) and still earn their diploma. I would STRENOUSLY ARGUE THAT NOT BEING FLUENT IN ENGLISH IS QUITE A SKILLS GAP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Aha – now I get it. What Handel really wants to say is that our educational system is good – which is quite off-topic from the still unnamed ”economic ills” and not to mention, quite a stretch of the imagination.
High schools are so deficient today that kids (their parents and taxpayers) have to spend 100k on college just to become literate now. Yet Handel somehow sees this increased college enrollment as a validation of our public educational system? Please Mr. Handel, come back to Earth. Actually I think Handel’s idiocy is irreparable. Clearly he has that dominant 2+2=5 gene so apparent in blind ideologues.
Handel then predictably steps in the excremental SAT propaganda.
Let's set the record straight. Since the early 1980s scores have remained level or climbed, depending on the test. Math SAT scores are higher now than they were in the early 1970s.
Sorry Moron, this isn’t evidence of a solid educational system either. As he himself already stated, there has been a significant increase in college matriculation and therefore a much greater percentage of students are taking the SAT. Before, only the smartest kids took the SAT, now plenty of the dummies are also taking it.
SO SHOULDN’T AVERAGE SAT SCORES BE LOWER TODAY THAN IN THE PAST?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?
Of course they should be lower. I am going to fill everybody in on a dirty little secret.
THE SAT IS A SCAM.
They have been gradually inflating the scores for the last fifteen years at a minimum. Today a score of 1300 is just not comparable to 1300 when I took the exam in 1990-91. According to this link, the average SAT score in 1990 was 1026 and in 2004 it was 1049. Now that may not look significant but look at this steadily rising trend in average math scores.
1990 - 521
1992 - 521
1994 - 523
1996 - 527
1998 - 531
2000 - 533
2002 - 534
2004 - 537
You know, all of these public companies get in a heap of sh*t for accounting gimmicks that smooth out their reported earnings or revenue. Yes, I am accusing the College Board of deliberately inflating students' scores.
I couldn't find any historical data on the percentiles but I would bet my right arm that if 1300 was a 94th percentile score (meaning better then 94% of the other applicants' scores) in 1990, I bet it is down nearer the 87th percentile in 2005. You see, they are making the test easier, but the smarter kids benefit more from easier questions than the other students. They have all sorts of skews in there as well to try and blunt this effect, but they can only do it so much. For instance, a student may get only one question wrong on the math part, lose 30 points, and be scored at 770. But the student who gets 10 questions wrong won't lose points proportionally. In other words, he will be penalized by less than 10 * 30 points and score above 500.
IT IS NOT A STANDARDIZED TEST at all because scores are clearly not comparable from year to year. I guess all that matters is your percentile score.
Why inflate the scores? Well, they simply do it to make nice with everybody. Colleges love to tout each incoming class' higher average SAT than the prior year's. Educrats and Big Government advocates like Mr. Handel hunger for contrived statistics to hide the deficiencies of public schools. In short, society just prefers feel-good pabulum over the cold hard facts.
(Coach Thompson and star "graduate" Patrick Ewing who freely admits his illiteracy.)
By no means am I the only SAT critic. Coach John Thompson famously walked off the basketball court sixteen years ago to protest the SAT as "culturally biased". I remember his one example. He said:
"How is a minority from the inner city going to know what a 'yacht' is?"
I don't know John....maybe if they read it in a book. I never saw a yacht in central Massachusetts when I was growing up either. Libraries seem to be free in every locale that I have visited.
Seen as the end-all gateway to higher education, the SAT invites criticism from a multitude of angles beyond Thompson's ridiculous argument. Coach Thompson just didn't want his freshmen declared athletically ineligible because they couldn't score 700 or whatever the proposed minimum was.
Minorities don't score well ergo the SAT is racist.
Women lag men ergo the SAT is sexist.
The SAT is a poor predicter[sic] of college grades....Historically the test did a particularly poor job of predicting how females, students of color, and older test-takers will perform in college.
(All that from a website devoted to bashing the SAT and advocating colleges to stop requiring it.)
My wife wanted to add "football player" to that list of demographics that perform poorer on the SAT than they do once in college. Now here is the burden of humoring and debunking Moron arguments - once you start, you keep encountering more and more sophistry that needs to be taken out.
Why do many kids do poorly on standardized tests and then seemingly do better in college?
BECAUSE THEY MIGRATE TOWARDS THE EASY SUBJECTS!!!!!!!!
While at UPenn, I witnessed firsthand kids who struggle in Economics, Calculus, Engineering, and Pre-Med courses and then take mad dashes into the departments of Psychology, Sociology, Spanish, English, and the joke fields of Afro-American and Women's studies.
So they blow on standardized tests but excel in "all A's and B's", "there are no wrong answers" fluff majors. This "poor predicter[sic]" argument is another standard Moron tactic - Selective Metric Fishing.
The whole point of standardized testing is to objectively and fairly measure all students. These joke fields abominate that end. Did I mention that Michael Handel is a sociologist? I know, what a shocker.
Okay, so the Moron has made neither a coherent nor trenchant case for our educational system yet feels sufficiently content to move on.
What about rising wage inequality? Many labor economists think the spread of computer use to the broader workforce explains most of the change, especially between college- and high-school-educated workers.
Then he rambles on about how computers aren't that important or difficult to use. But wait a second, what about "rising wage inequality"? Handel doesn't bother to source this AND apparently expects readers to sheepishly nod in agreement of both its existence and depravity. CaptiousNut has already debunked its wickedness in a previous blog.
The Gini coefficient measures wealth inequality in a given society. In this country, it has been rising steadily for 30 years – implying a widening gap between the richest and poorest. Propagandists love to pounce on this stat to show how “unfair” capitalism is, yet countries with narrower gaps (lower Gini coefficients) suffer higher unemployment, lower growth, and lower standards of living. SOCIALISTS JUST CAN'T COMPREHEND THE FACT THAT THE EXISTENCE OF VERY RICH PEOPLE IS A GOOD THING FOR THE REST OF SOCIETY.
Moron Handel glosses over that crippling salient, as would any other devout socialist.
I apologize for the redundancy, but again Handel tries to elevate a dubious notion of "rising wage inequality" by linking it to some half-baked theory of computers and worker productivity and then dispelling that "myth".
(Please only skim read this insipid diarrhetic babble.)
In fact, most people use computers in ways that are relatively easily learned and do not require expert knowledge or much greater cognitive skills than before computers arrived on the job. Much of the early evidence that computers raise the average users' pay or the skill level needed for typical jobs has proven shaky on closer examination. Most of the growth in the college-versus-high-school wage gap occurred between 1980 and 1990--suggesting that technology was not the main driver or that its biggest effects on skill demand are behind us.
Of course, technology may change the job mix. But again, the most rapid shift to skilled white-collar work is in the past. It happened more quickly in the 1970s and 1980s, when the percentage of all jobs in the managerial and professional category increased by between four and five percentage points, than in the 1990s, when it grew three percentage points.
Skill requirements will continue to rise, probably at about the same steady, measured pace as in the last four decades, not at the breakneck speed of popular imagination.
("breakneck speed of popular imagination" - WTF kind of vague generalization of the populace is this?)
As the Moron drones on it becomes painfully clear that this is in fact an article about "nothing" - at least on a substantive level. Seinfeld and Costanza could maybe appreciate it, but I certainly didn't from a normally very edifying publication.
After all, if the skills gap has been growing all this time, how to explain the latter half of the 1990s, when unemployment rates plummeted, productivity growth soared to levels not seen since the late 1960s and real wages rose broadly for the first time since the early 1970s?
I just introduced the concept of Selective Metric Fishing, now I want you to meet its cousin, Causation Fishing.
The late 1990s were no doubt a period of tremendous economic prosperity and every Moron has a self-aggrandizing spin on how or why it happened. Some dreamily think the stock market rallied because Bill Clinton was in office, others think it was because we slightly raised the minimum wage, and now this Moron is using it to try and debunk his self-authored "skills gap myth".
Does anyone think I over use the Commi- and socialist labels? Well consider how Handel ends his article about "nothing".
But the problem with the skill-shortage story is that it perpetuates myths about both workers and jobs. The reason the wages of most Americans stagnated in the last 25 years is not the lack of skills or education. Rather, the economic crises of the 1970s and early 1980s resulted in a drive to lower labor costs that became institutionalized as a basic premise of management. The real problem lies not with workers but with an economy that doesn't produce enough well-paying jobs.
Unnamed "Economic Ills".
Unassailable Government Education.
Unassailable Workers' Skills.
Evil Management with an "institutionalized" drive to lower Labor costs.
The Economy is the "real problem".
A Commi is still a Commi.
Tuesday, November 08, 2005
Congressional Morons, Etc.
The joke that is government education, especially the collegiate level, is always ripe ground for harvesting morons.
It boils my skin when I hear how schools have banned the military or ROTC from their campuses. The most publicized culprit is of course Yale. Now these schools get millions in federal subsidies directly and indirectly through federally backed student loans. I was thinking the other day how outrageous this was and how the federal government should just revoke all of their funding – especially the student loan backing. The powers-at-be of Yale just don’t appreciate the military (the whole gay issue is a ruse), in fact they hate it. Yale is likely run by pathetic 60s hippies who came of age with an antipathy towards the military. I happily discovered that others already shared my sentiment. The Solomon Amendment was attempting to do just what I prescribed – withhold federal monies from these petulant schools.
CNBC anchor Steve Liesman recently asked U.S. Treasury Secretary John Snow about the deficit.
Snow: We cut taxes and it improved the deficit – contradicting what the naysayers forecasted. And now the deficit is a smaller portion of GDP than before.
(Liesman hated this answer and fired back.)
Liesman: Well what about the dollar value of the deficit?
It is tough to do justice to this in print but I will try. This little exchange illustrates why I am starting to really loathe CNBC. They have such a Commi-adversarial bias that permeates almost every second of their programming.
Liesman wanted to hit the Treasury Secretary over the head with the deficit and when Snow returned serve with the undeniable benefits of the tax cuts, Stevie got visibly perturbed. How dare Snow flaunt facts hostile to socialist propaganda!!!!!
Liesman, mental midget and terrible anchor that he is, completely glossed over what Snow said. Stuck on the deficit, he followed up with that stupid follow-up about the "dollar value" of the deficit. Which begs a worthy issue that I will get to in a moment.
While writing a draft of this blog I characterized Steve Liesman as a perma-Commi naysayer. My characterization was purely based on the empiricism of listening to him every day. I hadn't yet read his illustrious profile.
It turns out that he worked for the Moscow Times, went to Columbia School of Journalism, and has an undergraduate degree in English.
Emeril couldn't concoct a better recipe for a "perma-Commi naysayer".
So CNBC's Senior Economics Reporter lacks even an undergraduate degree in economics. WOWSERS!!!!
They pick on Liesman sometimes during programming because he is a bit of a weenie and may in fact deserve it. But to me, his economic illiteracy is the much bigger vice. If I ever debated him on TV, he might not be able to get off the mat when I was through. Way to go CNBC....great hire.
Now back to the deficit. This whole idea that we need to raise taxes to pay for the deficit couldn't be more flawed. Not only have tax cuts raised more revenue all four times enacted, econo-illiterates consistently MIS-FRAME the debate.
The fact that Congress is addicted to spending should have nothing to do with where the government sets tax levels. "Two wrongs don't make a right" is preached to 5 year olds....so why doesn't it apply to the grown-ups that run society?
Another analog. Consider the parent whose child is addicted to video games. Unable to wean him away from his Sony Playstation, the parent relents and decides to buy the geek a lot more games - to make him happy. Or when people argue that we should legalize narcotics because we can't enforce the drug laws.
Tax cuts make sense because they stimulate the economy. I just don't understand the socialists sometimes. They should be for tax cut stimulation because it will bring in more revenue that they can REDISTRIBUTE. Of course socialists don't care about the financial realities....all they care about is what tax propaganda will help them foment CLASS WARFARE.
Back to the mis-framed deficit debate. I learned the mis-framing tactic back in the fourth grade when a jesting classmate asked me:
"Do your parents know that you are gay?"
Obviously both "yes" and "no" answers elicited giggling.
Republicans have been smart to push for the recent tax cuts. Ideally, they want taxpayers to get so accustomed to the rebates that it becomes political suicide for a pol to be against the cuts. This tactic reminds me somewhat of what Robert Moses said about his huge public works projects, "...all I want to do is drive the first stake..."
These bridges, tunnels, and highways he built were mammoth in size and ungodly in cost. Who could possibly forecast the eventual cost of the Tri-Borough Bridge or the Verrazzano Bridge? Moses, typical government agent that he was, couldn't care less about the real costs. All he wanted to do was drive that first stake in the ground and he knew that no New York City politicians would let the projects lanquish or go unfunded on their watch. They always found the money even as the costs exploded far beyond the worst projections.
So this whole push for tax cuts has been driven by that logic. Congress is really just a bunch of collusive local lobbyists. The federal government scoops up tax dollars and these wanton criminals divvy it up to suit their own perceived political agendas. Congressmen think it is their duty to bring home as much federal money as possible. Think about that for a second. The present-day Congressional metric for success is how much federal tax revenue they can have wasted in their own states.
Boil it down and Congressmen are nothing more than dirty sports agents for their districts. Don't expect leadership or healthy debate on national issues from these weasels. Goverment spending should be held hostage to pro-growth and low taxation levels - not the other way around.
Republican Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist has recently jumped on the "let's tax big oil" pig-pile. He knows darn well that oil companies aren't "gouging" and that taxes will just aggravate energy prices. But this "leader" is worried that he and other Republicans are too identified with oil companies.
This is leadership? Instead of seizing this moment to educate the public on the costs of fanatical environmentalism, the economics of energy companies, and the GOUGING of gasoline taxes (almost 4 times what big oil earns).....Frist is worried about how Big Media and really dumb people percieve him. Inherent in his reasoning are two vile presumptions:
1) His constituents don't want leadership, but rather a waffling, "finger in the wind" invertebrate.
2) That his constituents are dumb and wouldn't be receptive to a common sense lecture on the realities of energy economics.
Perhaps I am wrong. Maybe Frist is pulling a Bill Clinton. Remember President Clinton would pay lip service to big issues like Social Security reform but never take a step beyond the rhetoric. If this were the case I have even less respect for Senator Frist. I mean what is to respect about a jelly-spined pol who thinks common folk are dumb AND docile?
Settle down you Clinton apologists, I am not making this up. In the not too distant past it was very hard to find and transmit information. Before the internet, politicians, pundits, celebrities, and whoever could spew inanities with almost complete impunity. Well, technology changed all that and prompted this nugget:
"We have become hostage to Lexis/Nexis...the problem is an excess of literalism."
Uttered by none other than George Stephanopoulos (while special policy adviser to President Clinton.) Of course the internet and modern telecommunications make Lexis/Nexis look like a stone aged slingshot.
Cornelius, North Carolina recently elected a very young state representative and I remember reading his fresh-eyed indictment of the state legislature. He said something like,
"It is unbelievable.....all they do is vote for each other's pet road projects...."
The failed Coburn Amendment confirms this problem at the national level. Several analyses of its demise have alluded to the “unwritten rule” in Congress of not criticizing others' pet pork projects. It was truly astounding that only 15 Senators voted against shifting the “bridge-to-nowhere” funds to Hurricane Katrina relief. I fully blame the media who couldn’t care less about the level of federal spending. Most people haven’t a clue that there even was a Coburn Amendment – no less are aware of the disgusting vote count. Yet when a perma-Commi naysayer like Steve Liesman wants to impugn the Bush Administration, all of a sudden they are concerned about government waste.
In the past, I have argued that economics is the most important force in our lives. It determines where we live, how we live, how we vacation, how safe we are, what we can offer our children, etc. Economic inefficiency remains anathema to most people because they would never manage their lives like that. Theoretically, Big Government should be doomed but in actuality, Big Media's whitewashing has aided and abetted the plunderage. For decades they have ignored government waste and equated tax cuts with poor minority children starving and the elderly living on dog food. Just yesterday, while inveighing broadly against energy companies, perma-Commi Steve Liesman said people are freezing to death over heating costs. Liesman must be counting fictional people - I guess.
Hey Stevie, why don't you wait for the actual winter before you unleash your agitprop?
I just received a political flyer in the mail from a clown named Gibran Rivera who was apparently running for Boston City Council. Forget economic illiteracy, this guy may be illiterate in general. Read this passage from his website:
We are running this campaign as an organizing campaign and see that as the only way to truly engage with people in a meaningful way. A campaign based in organizing can help to build our society rather than just get someone elected and then outsource your political responsibility to that elected official. Running an organizing campaign means that when Gibrán is elected, he will be accountable to people in a real way.
So in three profound sentences we have 4 campaign’s, 3 organizing’s, and both a “meaningful way” and a “real way”. And what the heck exactly is an “organizing campaign”? It may have been third grade where I was taught not to define a word with that same word.
His flyer is also an affront to the standards of English grammar. In it he kept using the word community over and over again. I went back, counted them, and came up with exactly 14 usages of community in a very terse pamphlet. Not only that, I counted 17 more communidad’s as well!!!
With far too many Gibran Rivera’s in our political farm leagues, it is no wonder that we end up the abomination that is our Congress. Gibran can’t so much as pen a coherent paragraph and so I doubt he’ll ever be able to comprehend the negative consequences of taxing “windfall” profits.
Tuesday, November 01, 2005
Boston - The Case Study in "Money Isn't Everything"
They all left big money on the table so they could leave Boston.
Rick Pitino walked away from $20 million in guaranteed money. (The biggest dollar walkaway in sports by a country mile.)
Nomar Garciaparra turned down a $60 million contract. (And subsequently had to accept an $8 million one.)
And yesterday, boy wonder Theo Epstein turned down $4.5 million to continue his dream job of running the Red Sox.
With Theo, sure enough the New York Times was involved. Remember the Times owns the Boston Globe and also part of the Red Sox. Theo was pissed about a Globe article they ran on him during "closed door" contract negotiations. From BostonSportsMedia.com and the Lowell Sun,
He then goes to say how Epstein was leaning towards accepting the contract offered him by the Red Sox, but that something changed his mind:
But then, shortly after waking up around 7 a.m., an article in The Boston Globe was brought to Epstein's attention. The piece struck a chord for Theo, not only because of the content (much of which defended Lucchino while diminishing Epstein's stature within the organization), but also because of how familiar the verbiage sounded. Many of it was all too familiar to words uttered by Lucchino to his general manager earlier in the week.
The only redeeming quality of Boston is the school system - that is why people of all income levels are fleeing.