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Saturday, May 31, 2014

Regulating Carbon Dioxide

Earlier today, president Obama discussed the new regulations governing emissions of carbon dioxide from power plants.  Obama actually said one reason that the regulations are needed is that there currently are no regulations of any sort that govern the amount of carbon dioxide that can come from power plants.  That's all.  To Obama, if there is an area of life that is not regulated by the government, that is reason enough to enact regulations to cover it.

Obama acts as if there is a crisis with regard to carbon dioxide that has to be dealt with swiftly.  That is simply not true.  Back at the end of the 1990's many nations around the world adopted the Kyoto Protocols which called for a 17% reduction in emissions of carbon dioxide over 15 years.  America did not approve that treaty.  Nevertheless, do you know which is the only large country to actually meet the 17% goal for reduction of carbon dioxide?  That's right; it is the USA.  While we have been cutting our emissions, other nations have been increasing theirs.  For example, the Chinese emissions have increased to the point where China is now the largest producer of carbon dioxide in the world.  Further, the full reduction here in the USA over the last 15 years is only about one-quarter the amount of the increase in emissions in China.  Does it make sense for America to hobble its economy to further reduce carbon dioxide emissions if that reduction will have no effect at all on the world climate even under the models used by the climate change advocates?  Of course not.  First of all, the actual evidence indicates that there is no meaningful connection between increasing carbon dioxide and world climate.  Second, even if there were such a link (which there is not), the regulations proposed by Obama will not make a real difference in carbon dioxide levels.  All that these regulations will do is to make electric energy more expensive, destroy the coal industry, kill at least half a million jobs and make it harder for the average American to make ends meet.  Oh, I forgot the most important part (at least for Obama).  These regulations will also make happy the extreme environmentalists who hate all sorts of industry and fossil fuels.  Since this group is part of the core of the Democrat party, Obama is hoping that the move will help at the polls.  Once again, Obama is flushing the country down the toilet in the hope of political gain for his party.

What Is The Plan?

I keep writing about how president Obama has no plan for restoring higher growth to the economy.  Indeed, after we learned that the economy shrank during the first quarter of this year, I should amend that to say that Obama has no plan to restore any growth to the economy. 

It is not enough, however, to just complain about the gross incompetence of Obama and his people.  The GOP now has to agree on a plan of its own to help the economy.  We do not need every detail; it is enough to give broad outlines.  The actual changes can be made once the Republicans are in control in Congress.  Here are the points which I believe the plan ought to include:

1.  America needs to unleash its domestic energy industry.  That means an end to unnecessary regulations that prevent responsible drilling for natural gas and oil.  It also means an end to the Democrats' war on coal.  The USA actually has a major advantage over other countries because with modern technology, we have ample low cost energy that could power us to major economic growth.  Unleashing this potential could create literally millions of new jobs.  We still need to protect the environment, but the knee jerk hostile response of the Democrats to all new energy production must end.

2.  The incredible burden of government regulation on business has to be reduced.  During the Obama years, government regulation has grown and grown to the point where it now stifles all sorts of economic activity.  The latest example of this is the proposed regulation by the EPA to deal with water and wetlands across America.  Ranchers who have an area of land that floods during heavy rains will now be subject to all sorts of EPA regulations for that land.  Farmers with small streams that flow across their fields will also get hit by the EPA.  Home builders with land containing wetlands will also need to comply with EPA regs.  The problem, however, is that these sorts of waters and wetlands are state and local issues, not the province of the federal government, and the EPA does not even have jurisdiction over them.  Nevertheless, millions of small ranchers, farmers and other businesses will have to comply with burdensome regulations from the EPA which will squelch all sorts of economic activity.  A Republican Congress needs to limit the powers of the regulatory agencies and get many of the worst offending regulations removed.

3.  The corporate tax structure of the USA needs to be revamped.  Right now, America has the highest corporate tax rate in the world.  Even worse, our laws are structured so that American companies can avoid all taxation from the federal government if they move their activities out of the country.  Worse still, a foreign competitor of a domestic company can avoid nearly all taxation here as well if it structures its activities properly.  Should America really operate its tax structure so that a Chinese equipment manufacturer can sell the same product as an American manufacture but only the American pays a 35% tax on all its profits?  America has to compete around the world, and our domestic companies need not to be put at a disadvantage here at home.  Furthermore, the special deals that let a company like the Obama-friendly General Electric earn 14 billion dollars but pay no taxes have to be ended.  All American companies have to be treated the same.

4.  Even before the final corporate tax structure is decided, there ought to be a one time holiday on the repatriation of foreign cash held by American companies.  Right now, there is about two trillion dollars sitting in accounts around the world which American companies are not bringing home in order to avoid the heavy taxes that would result.  Let's give them a year during which they can pay only 5% tax if they bring the funds home to use for investment or payment of dividends.  This would likely bring in a huge amount of money to the federal treasury.  Even better, it would likely mean additional investment in the American economy of literally hundreds of billions of dollars.  this change alone could boost economic growth by something like 2-3%.

5.  The federal government has to get rid of the burdens that Obamacare puts on business and individuals across the country.  Obamacare has reduced jobs; it has reduced the growth of new business; it has reduced consumer spending as more money has been forced to be spent on healthcare; and it has not improved the healthcare services that most folks receive.

There are many more points that should be discussed, but these five are of critical importance.  America needs to know that at least one party understands how the economy works and can take steps to provide relief from the never ending stagnation of the Obama years.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Carney Isn't Earnest

This afternoon brought the resignation of White House spokesman Jay Carney.  He will be replaced by his deputy Josh Earnest.  I can't say that I am surprised.  It must have taken an amazing psychological toll to have to go out in front of the world each day and defend the policies (or lack of policies) of president Obama and his crew of misfits.. er.. excuse me.. his staff.  Imagine having to tell the world that Obama only found out that there was a problem at the VA by watching press reports on TV.  Then imagine having to repeat this when reference is made to a speech Obama gave in 2008 denouncing the long waiting times at the VA and promising to correct them.  Then imagine having to repeat the same line a third time when asked about a warning that then president elect Obama was given about the problem in December of 2008.  In many respects, Carney's role was much like that of man attempting to hypnotize a group of individuals into distrusting reality and instead believing in a mass delusion.  I am surprised that Carney lasted as long as he did.



Surprise, Surprise, Surprise!

General Shinseki has resigned as Secretary of Veterans' Affairs.  The only surprise is that he announced the resignation early in the day rather than waiting for the usual late Friday afternoon time when news coverage is the lowest of the week.


One thing is certain:  president Obama has to actually do something here.  It is completely unacceptable to let vets continue to die while awaiting care that was promised to them by the government.  We need to hear a coherent plan from Obama about how he plans to fix this mess, and we need to hear that plan soon.

Making It To the Top

In the last day or so, there has been much coverage of America's foreign policy under president Obama.  At the West Point commencement, Obama congratulated himself for a good job (after all, someone had to do it).  The State Department spokesman yesterday said that Obama should get credit for the "process" of foreign policy;  you know, the results are poor, but the means to get those poor results were worthy of praise.  (One wonders why.)  Obama's biggest legislative "accomplishment", Obamacare, has been a disaster.  The economy is in a shambles.  That leads to the inevitable question:  Is there any area in which Obama would be ranked highest among all of America's presidents?  For what accomplishment would Obama make it to first or second place among his peers?

I thought long and hard about this question until the answer hit me.  Indeed, there is an area in which Obama ranks at the top of the list.  Without a doubt, Obama is the biggest liar who has ever sat in the Oval Office.  That is quite an accomplishment.  Remember, presidents often cannot tell the country all of the facts about an issue.  For example, during World War II, Franklin Roosevelt had to limit what he said about the conduct of the war lest he tip off the enemy to our military plans.  During the Cold War, president after president had to keep silent about various American activities for national security reasons.  In other words, it is often part of the modern job of being president not to disclose all the facts to the American people.  Obama, however, has transformed this practice.  Under Obama, the president has gone from concealing certain facts for national security reasons to out and out lying about nearly everything.  Just think of these few examples:

1.  If you like your plan, you can keep your plan, period.

2.  If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor, period.

3.  The Benghazi attack was the result of a spontaneous reaction to a youtube video.

4.  No one in the White House had any idea that the IRS was targeting conservative and Christian groups.

5.  And the latest...I knew nothing about the problems at the VA until I heard about it in the press.

The list could go on for pages and pages.  Obama is truly the biggest liar ever to make it to the presidency.


Thursday, May 29, 2014

Racism in America

Did you know that racism in America is getting worse?  At least that is what The Nation tells us in an article written by Gary Younge. 

I had to laugh when I read the article.  Younge acknowledges that there is a black president, a black attorney general and a black editor of the New York Times, but it does not matter.  According to Younge, schools are segregated again, and that is more important than anything else.  As part of the lecture, we are told that districts with a majority of minorities just do not have the resources to provide a proper education for their students.  In Younge's view, it seems we are moving back towards becoming some sort of apartheid society. 

This is totally delusional.  I live quite close to the nation's largest school system in New York City.  It also happens to be the nation's largest system with a majority of minorities.  The expenditures per pupil in New York are extremely high; there is no dearth of resources.  In fact, the state of New York spends more per pupil on public education than any other state, and New York City spends more than most other districts in the state.  For each student, New York City spends roughly $20,000 per year.  Just to put this in context, the state with the second highest level of expenditures per pupil is Alaska, and it spends roughly $16,000 per student.  In other words, the largest minority majority school district in the country is also spending way more per student than all those wealthy white districts that younge tells us have so much more in the way of resources.

Now don't get me wrong; the results achieved by the New York City schools are not good.  Those results, however, are due to educational bureaucracy, teachers' unions, protection of substandard teachers and the like.  It has nothing to do with discrimination against the students.

The reality of America is that many in our society have moved on far beyond race and racial issues.  We should not listen to those like The Nation and Mr. Younge who try to resurrect charges of racism to advance their political agenda.  Too many people fought for too long to end racism to let the race baiters bring it back, even as a political ploy.


Jobs and Growth

Yesterday, I wrote about the lack of leadership by president Obama  when it comes to the economy.  Obama has no plan to help get things growing again; he does not even seem to have any idea what needs to be done.  Today, we got further confirmation of just how bad things are.  The government issued a revised GDP report for the first quarter of this year.  The economy shrank at a 1% annual rate.  While there was very bad weather during that quarter, the number is still terrible.  At most the bad weather cut the growth rate by 1-1.5%. That means that even without the bad weather, the economy was either stagnant or just slightly growing.  We should have been seeing growth at a much higher rate, something more than 4%.

There has to be a change in Washington.  Obama's policies on other issues like energy, etc. are actually reducing the growth rate rather than helping increase it.  Someone who understands the economy has to take charge.  We will all suffer until 2017 when we get a new president.  At that time, however, we must make the right choice, or the US economy will suffer wounds from which it will be hard to recover.