Sunday, December 13, 2015

Paris Climate of Conformity

It pays to be skeptical of politicians who claim to be saving the planet. WSJ.  An excerpt. 

The moment to be wariest of political enthusiasms is precisely when elite opinion is all lined up on one side. . . if climate change really does imperil the Earth, and we doubt it does, nothing coming out of a gaggle of governments and the United Nations will save it. What will help is human invention and the entrepreneurial spirit. To the extent the Paris accord increases political control over human and natural resources, it will make the world poorer and technological progress less likely.

The climate confab’s self-described political success is rooted in a conceit and a bribe. The conceit is that the terms of the agreement will have some tangible impact on global temperatures. . . 

As for the bribe, rich countries in Paris bought the cooperation of the developing world by promising to send $100 billion a year in climate aid. So the governments of the West are now going to dun their taxpayers to transfer money to the clean and green governments run by the likes of Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe. We can’t wait to see New York’s Chuck Schumer make the case on the Senate floor for American aid to China so it can become more energy efficient and economically competitive.

Even if a Democratic Congress made these bribes politically possible, they would do little to ease the consequences of climate change. The world’s poor can best cope with climate harm if they are richer, which requires faster economic growth. Yet everything we know about economic development is that foreign aid retards growth when it expands the reach of Third World governments. . .

The grandiose claims of triumph in Paris represent the self-interest of a political elite that wants more control over the private economy in the U.S. and around the world. These are the last people who will save the planet.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

No Wonder Growth Has Been So Anemic

President Obama thinks more union membership will help the middle class. No, jobs are what’s needed. By Andy Puzder

WSJ - An excerpt.  . . . Here’s the reality: Wages and incomes for workers are stagnant because there aren’t enough jobs. It’s a matter of supply and demand. When jobs are scarce and people are unemployed, wages and benefits decline. When the job market is strong and businesses must compete for employees, wages and benefits improve. The solution, then, is more jobs. This isn’t rocket science. One can only wonder why the president continues to overlook the American businessmen and women who build the healthy economy that enables workers to find jobs and careers.  
Businesses create jobs; labor unions do not. To the contrary, labor unions often discourage businesses from creating jobs, particularly entry-level ones, by increasing the cost of labor without increasing its value. Even if labor unions could magically lift wages for those lucky enough to have a job in this economy, what about the unemployed?  
In September the labor-force participation rate—the percentage of Americans employed or actively looking for work—continued its decline under Mr. Obama, hitting 62.4%, a low last seen 38 years ago during the Carter administration. The rate has been stuck below 63% for 18 consecutive months. For prime working-age Americans—those between 25 and 54—the rate is 80.6%, the lowest figure since 1984. Nearly six million Americans are “not in the labor force” who “want a job now.” 
After more than six years of “recovery,” about 2.5 million more people are working than were employed when the Great Recession began in December 2007. However, the employable population has increased by about 18 million people—seven times the number of people who found job. . .
Full Story

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Obamacare Falls Short on Sign-Ups While Co-Op System Crumbles

The Fiscal Times. By Eric Pianin. An excerpt . . .     
The big health news last week was that the Affordable Care Act appears to be losing steam and the Obama administration is predicting a modest increase at best in the number of Americans who will enroll with private insurers next year. 
Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell announced on Thursday that an estimated 10 million Americas would be covered by Obamacare by the end of 2016, an increase of roughly 100,000 over the current year’s enrollment. That’s a lot lower than many were expecting. The Congressional Budget Office in June predicted 20 million Americans would be covered by the end of next year. 
The administration forecast is worrisome for a program that has suffered more than its share of bumps and bruises and legal challenges since its near-disastrous rollout in 2013. It suggests that Obamacare may face even bigger challenges in attracting a new wave of uninsured while hanging on to those currently enrolled in the program. 
But an even more troubling development in President Obama’s signature health care plan – one that is jeopardizing insurance coverage for hundreds of thousands of Americans -- has received relatively little attention . . . 
Full Story


Saturday, October 3, 2015

Inalienable Rights on Saturday Morning

We human beings have qualities that derive from our very nature. There is good in our very nature and there is evil in our very nature.  I believe that these qualities of our very nature are self-evident and that the better qualities of our very nature form the basis for what is just, right, and moral.

And so I believe in natural law. Natural law in the sense that some things, based on our very nature, are and always will be right and some things are and always will be wrong. The founders of our country discussed these better qualities of our very nature. From this they identified self-evident inalienable rights.  Inalienable rights are “negative” rights.  This means that inalienable rights are not a right to get something at someone else’s expense such as a “right” to a house, healthcare, food, education, or anything else that someone else is being forced to provide. Inalienable rights have to do with the right to be left alone and the obligation to leave others alone, e.g. my freedom ends where your nose begins.

In my view the right to life is the foundational inalienable right and the foundational principle for moral action.  Your life is yours.  My life is mine.  It is wrong, unjust, and immoral for me to take your life or to harm you in any way and vice versa.  By extension, your property, if gained by doing no harm to others, is yours and it is immoral for me to take if from you by force.  You are free to say and do, and make and trade, and build anything that you want as long as you do not harm anyone else or anyone else's property. By extension you have the right to defend yourself and your property. You also have the right to defend the life and property of others.

Following this principle it is wrong, unjust, and immoral for one person to hurt or steal from you, it is wrong, unjust, and immoral for two persons to hurt you or steal from you, it is wrong, unjust, and immoral for 10 persons to hurt you or steal from you, it is wrong, unjust, and immoral for 100 persons to hurt you or steal from you, it is wrong, unjust, and immoral for 1,000 persons to hurt you or to steal from you, and it is wrong, unjust, and immoral for 300 million people to to hurt you or steal from you even if they take a vote on it.

For me the better qualities of our very nature and the the self-evident inalienable rights which ensue clarify the principles for what is just, right, and moral.  Life is complex and there are many grey areas, but to the best of my ability I use these principles to guide my own behaviors and to evaluate the words and actions of individuals, politicians, preachers, governments, constitutions, laws, regulations, tax codes, wars, and everything else.

Mark Van Schuyver

Friday, September 18, 2015

The Cost of Bernie Sander's Socialistic Plan - $18 Trillion

By Laura Meckler.  WSJ. An excerpt . . .

WASHINGTON—Sen. Bernie Sanders, whose liberal call to action has propelled his long-shot presidential campaign, is proposing an array of new programs that would amount to the largest peacetime expansion of government in modern American history. 
In all, he backs at least $18 trillion in new spending over a decade, according to a tally by The Wall Street Journal, a sum that alarms conservatives and gives even many Democrats pause. Mr. Sanders sees the money as going to essential government services at a time of increasing strain on the middle class. 
His agenda includes an estimated $15 trillion for a government-run health-care program that covers every American, plus large sums to rebuild roads and bridges, expand Social Security and make tuition free at public colleges. 
To pay for it, Mr. Sanders, a Vermont independent running for the Democratic nomination, has so far detailed tax increases that could bring in as much as $6.5 trillion over 10 years, according to his staff.  
A campaign aide said additional tax proposals would be offered to offset the cost of some, and possibly all, of his health program. A Democratic proposal for such a “single-payer” health plan, now in Congress, would be funded in part through a new payroll tax on employers and workers . . .

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

If Only the Fed Would Get Out of the Way

WSJ by Rand Paul and Mark Spitznagel. An excerpt

Friday, September 11, 2015

21st Century Socialism . . .

An opposition leader gets nearly 14 years in prison. WSJ. An excerpt . . 

Congressional elections are scheduled for December and polls say that in a fair contest Mr. López and the opposition would thump Mr. Maduro’s United Socialist Party of Venezuela. With growing food shortages, increasing violent crime and hyperinflation, Mr. Maduro might still have to cancel or rig the election to avoid losing control of the unicameral legislature. But that could spark widespread social unrest—which is why Mr. López remains in prison.
Full Story

California’s Climate Change Revolt

WSJ.  An excerpt . . .
The environmental lobby has tried to turn climate change into a "social justice" issue even though its anticarbon policies disproportionately harm the poor. Honest Democrats are starting to admit this, as we saw in this week’s stunning revolt in the California legislature. . . 
The Governor hailed California as a model of green virtue at the Vatican this summer and had hoped to flaunt sweeping new anticarbon regulations at the U.N’s climate-change summit in Paris this year. 
The chief beneficiaries of the Golden State’s green government have been the well-to-do, while low- and middle-income Californians have borne most of the regulatory costs. . . 
Full Story

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Minimum-Wage Hangover

Minimum wage increases in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle have cost thousands of jobs. Andy Puzder. WSJ, an excerpt . . .

Mark Perry of the American Enterprise Institute, Adam Ozimek of Moody’s Analytics and Stephen Bronars of Edgewood Economics reported last month that the restaurant and hotel industries have lost jobs in all three numbers and discovered that the “first wave of minimum wage increases appears to have led to the loss of over 1,100 food service jobs in the Seattle metro division and over 2,500 restaurant jobs in the San Francisco metro division.” That is a conservative estimate, he notes, as the data include areas outside city limits, where the minimum wage didn’t increase.  
This comes as no surprise. In 2014 the Congressional Budget Office found that increasing the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour would result in employment falling by 500,000 jobs nationally. By the way, less than 20% of the earning benefits would flow to people living below the poverty line, as University of California-Irvine economist David Neumark has pointed out. . .  
If government makes something more expensive, businesses will use less of it. Hourly wage mandates continue to drift higher than what consumers can absorb through increased prices. Entry-level jobs will become increasingly scarce as businesses use labor more efficiently and, in some cases, turn to automation.
In particular distress is the youth population. In July, labor-force participation for those ages 16 to 19 stood at 33.5%, the fifth-lowest level since the Bureau of Labor Statistics began compiling the data in 1948. Four of these lows have occurred in the past 18 months. 
So what’s the solution? The first step is realizing that income inequality is a symptom of a larger problem. Raising the minimum wage to reduce inequality is like giving an aspirin to someone who has a brain tumor. It may appear sympathetic and for a moment alleviate the headache, but it won’t cure what is ailing the patient.
The real problem is that more than six years of progressive economic policies—higher taxes, more regulation, ObamaCare, Dodd-Frank and more—have eliminated opportunities. The poverty rate remains at levels generally observed during recessions. Child poverty is at its highest point in 20 years. The U.S. Census Bureau reports that for the first time since it began compiling the data, business closures each year have been exceeding new business startups. . .  
There is only one thing that will decrease poverty and increase opportunity: economic growth. And history has clearly shown that there is only one system that can produce economic growth sufficient to meaningfully reduce poverty and increase opportunity: free enterprise. The best development for workers would be a thriving economy in which growing companies have to compete for their services. 
Full Story

Friday, September 4, 2015

Obama’s Half-Baked Alaska

By Patrick Moore a co-founder and former leader of Greenpeace - WSJ  an excerpt . . .

When President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry visited Alaska this week, they pointed to the receding glaciers as evidence that humans are the cause of “dangerous,” even “catastrophic,” climate change. Messrs. Obama and Kerry have been seriously misinformed by their advisers, including chief science adviser John Holdren, who is a leading alarmist on the subject. 
If only the president had consulted the history of Glacier Bay, where the Huna Tlingit people have lived for more than 4,000 years, he would have found a different story. 
It is a historical fact that the glacier in Glacier Bay began its retreat around 1750. By the time Capt. George Vancouver arrived there in 1794 the glacier still filled most of the bay but had already retreated some miles. 
When John Muir, founder of the Sierra Club, visited in 1879, he found that the glacier had retreated more than 30 miles from the mouth of the bay, according to the National Park Service, and by 1900 Glacier Bay was mostly ice-free. 
All of this happened long before human emissions of greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide, could have had any impact. . .  
Full Story

Monday, August 31, 2015

Cronyism is not Capitalism

Big Solar’s Subsidy Bubble.  WSJ - an excerpt

The Department of Energy’s Inspector General revealed last week that the legendary solar-panel manufacturer Solyndra—a poster baby of the Obama stimulus—lied to the feds to get a $535 million loan guarantee before going bust in 2011.  
Solyndra is a cautionary tale, but the Obama Administration is still throwing caution to the sun.
The IG report, which follows a four-year investigation by the IG and FBI, describes how Solyndra engaged in a “pattern of false and misleading assertions,” including inflating the value of corporate contracts and sales, to win a giant loan guarantee in 2009. 
All evidence suggests that DOE was a willing victim. The IG notes that DOE loan officers felt “tremendous pressure” from the White House and Congress to rush through loan-guarantee applications. In their haste DOE officials failed “to ask specific questions, and require specific assurances” and overlooked major red flags. 
The larger problem is that the White House is more concerned with boosting the politically favored solar industry than protecting taxpayer dollars. More troubling, the solar industry may be growing too big to fail, and the Administration is assisting another taxpayer solar scam . . . 
Last week the utility commission bowed to political pressure by temporarily extending current rates so the leasing companies can continue enrolling new customers. What does it say that the President is using his bully pulpit to abet an industry that is essentially fleecing the American public?
Full Story

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

What? Socialism not working? I'm Shocked. Shocked.

WSJ.  By MAOLIS CASTRO And KEJAL VYAS Aug. 26, 2015 5:30 a.m. ET - Excerpt
LA SIBUCARA, Venezuela—Hours after they looted and set fire to a National Guard command post in this sun-baked corner of Venezuela earlier this month, a mob infuriated by worsening food shortages rammed trucks into the smoldering edifice, reducing it mostly to rubble. 
The incident was just one of numerous violent clashes that have flared in pockets around the country in recent weeks as Venezuelans wait for hours in long supermarket lines for basics like milk and rice. Shortages have made hunger a palpable concern for many . . .
Food-supply problems in Venezuela underscore the increasingly precarious situation for Mr. Maduro’s socialist government, which according to the latest poll by Datanálisis is preferred by less than 20% of voters ahead of Dec. 6 parliamentary elections. The critical situation threatens to plunge South America’s largest oil exporter into a wave of civil unrest reminiscent of last year’s nationwide demonstrations seeking Mr. Maduro’s ouster. 
Full Story

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

The Clinton Plan to Distort Market Signals

WSJ By ANDY KESSLER Aug. 24, 2015 7:13 p.m. - An excerpt . . .
Hillary Clinton’s big economic idea—ending corporate “short-termism,” as she calls it—will do more harm than good. On the campaign trail she rails against American corporations and the mysterious “tyranny of today’s earnings report.” Her solution is to raise capital-gains taxes and lengthen stockholding periods. Imagine anxiously waiting to unload during this month’s global selloff because of a holding period. Chalk it up as another misguided effort that will distort the information investors and companies rely on to make good decisions. 
Markets run on signals. . . Anything that mucks up those signals will be disastrous for decision making and the productive fabric of the economy. . . Less trading means less information. Russia’s old stock exchange shut down amid the revolution in 1917 and eventually became a naval museum. Soviet planners embarked on five-year plan after five-year plan with no price signals. That experiment eventually failed. 
The Chinese are about to unveil their 13th Five-Year Plan. None of the previous plans highlighted Alibaba and the importance of online commerce. That’s because progress happens by surprise, not government planning. Investors need report cards to judge progress, and thus there’s quarterly disclosure. . .  
The Taxpayer Relief Act of 1997, passed by a Republican House and Senate and signed by a Democratic president, Bill Clinton, lowered capital gains rates to 20% and ushered in an era of innovative business models knocking out tired ones. That kind of reform would spur long-term corporate thinking. But Mrs. Clinton’s plan will simply penalize those being productive in the economy and hamstring innovation.
Full Story 

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Minimum Wage Destroys Jobs in Seattle

Seattle Restaurants Suffer Worse Job Loss Since The Great Recession, Connor D. Wolf - Daily Caller.  Excerpt . . .

According to a report released Sunday by the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), the $15 minimum wage has caused Seattle restaurants to lose 1,000 jobs — the worst decline since the 2009 Great Recession. 
“The loss of 1,000 restaurant jobs in May following the minimum wage increase in April was the largest one month job decline since a 1,300 drop in January 2009, again during the Great Recession,” AEI Scholar Mark J. Perry noted in the report.
Full Story

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Latest Keynesian Failures

St. Louis Fed official: No evidence QE boosted economy

Excerpt . . .
In a white paper dissecting the U.S. central bank's actions to stem the financial crisis in 2008 and 2009, Stephen D. Williamson, vice president of the St. Louis Fed, finds fault with three key policy tenets.  
Specifically, he believes the zero interest rates in place since 2008 that were designed to spark good inflation actually have resulted in just the opposite. And he believes the "forward guidance" the Fed has used to communicate its intentions has instead been a muddle of broken vows that has served only to confuse investors. Finally, he asserts that quantitative easing, or the monthly debt purchases that swelled the central bank's balance sheet past the $4.5 trillion mark, have at best a tenuous link to actual economic improvements. 
Full Story

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

FBI Criminal Probe - Hillary's emails

FBI investigation of Hillary’s emails is ‘criminal probe’

An excerpt . . .
The FBI investigation into former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s unsecured e-mail account is not just a fact-finding venture — it’s a criminal probe, sources told The Post on Wednesday. 
The feds are investigating to what extent Clinton relied on her home server and other private devices to send and store classified documents, according to a federal source with knowledge of the inquiry. 
“It’s definitely a criminal probe,” said the source. “I’m not sure why they’re not calling it a criminal probe. 
“The DOJ [Department of Justice] and FBI can conduct civil investigations in very limited circumstances,” but that’s not what this is, the source stressed. “In this case, a security violation would lead to criminal charges. Maybe DOJ is trying to protect her campaign.”
Clinton’s camp has downplayed the inquiry as civil and fact-finding in nature. Clinton herself has said she is “confident” that she never knowingly sent or received anything that was classified. 
The inspector general for the intelligence community has told Congress that of 40 Clinton e-mails randomly reviewed as a sample of her correspondence as secretary of state, four contained classified information.
If Clinton is proven to have knowingly sent, received or stored classified information in an unauthorized location, she risks prosecution under the same misdemeanor federal security statute used to prosecute former CIA Director Gen. David Petraeus, said former federal prosecutor Bradley Simon.
Full Story 

Saturday, August 1, 2015

"21st Century Socialism" devastates Venezuela

Venezuela supermarket looting leaves one dead, dozens detained - Yahoo News

CARACAS (Reuters) - One person was killed and dozens were detained following looting of supermarkets in Venezuela's southeastern city of Ciudad Guayana, the state governor said on Friday, amid the ongoing food shortages in the recession-hit OPEC nation.  
Shoppers seeking scarce consumer staples including milk, rice and flour broke into a supermarket warehouse on Friday morning, leading businesses in the area to shut their doors, local newspaper Correo del Caroni reported. . .  
Full Story

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Obamanomics. The Worst Expansion Since World War II

Eric Morath, WSJ.  An excerpt . . .

The economic expansion—already the worst on record since World War II—is weaker than previously thought, according to newly revised data. 
From 2012 through 2014, the economy grew at an all-too-familiar rate of 2% annually, according to three years of revised figures the Commerce Department released Thursday. That’s a 0.3 percentage point downgrade from prior estimates. 
The revisions were released concurrently with the government’s first estimate of second-quarter output
Since the recession ended in June 2009, the economy has advanced at a 2.2% annual pace through the end of last year. That’s more than a half-percentage point worse than the next-weakest expansion of the past 70 years, the one from 2001 through 2007. While there have been highs and lows in individual quarters, overall the economy has failed to break out of its roughly 2% pattern for six years. . . 
Full Story 

Monday, July 20, 2015

Dodd-Frank is a Failure

After Five Years, Dodd-Frank Is a Failure An excerpt

 The law has crushed small banks, restricted access to credit, and planted the seeds of financial instability. . .  
Too-big-to-fail institutions have not disappeared. Big banks are bigger, small banks are fewer, and the financial system is less stable. Meanwhile, the economy remains in the doldrums. . .
Full Story

Saturday, July 11, 2015

The Unaffordable Care Act

Premiums are spiking around the country. Obama is in denial. WSJ. An excerpt,

The Affordable Care Act was supposed to make insurance, well, more affordable. But now hard results are starting to emerge: premium surges that often average 10% to 20% and spikes that sometimes run as high as 50% or 60% or more from coast to coast. Welcome to the new abnormal of ObamaCare. 
This summer insurers must submit rates to state regulators for approval on the ObamaCare exchanges in 2016—and even liberals are shocked at the double-digit requests, or at least the honest liberals are. Under ObamaCare, year-over-year premium increases above 10% must also be justified to the Health and Human Services Department, and its data base lists about 650 such cases so far. . . 

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Democrats Want Socialism

Nearly 10,000 people turned out to hear Bernie Sanders in Wisconsin. Why? Apparently, many Democrats want socialism.  
An excerpt.  Sanders is the Vermont senator who is running for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination.  
Sanders calls himself a "democratic socialist," not to be confused with New York City mayor Bill de Blasio's preferred label, "social democrat," but both believe that more power and wealth in the hands of government (and less in the hands of free people and the free market) is a good thing. They just don't want you to think they're dictators like Stalin. They may institute terrible economic policies, but they'll have the backing of voters.  
More Democrats say they plan to vote for Hillary Clinton, but she's already sounding more socialist to ward off the Sanders challenge . . . 
Full Story

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Hillary Plays The Victim in CNN Interview

Hillary Clinton still comes across as guarded, quibbling, and pokerfaced under the TV lights. - Lloyd Grove - Daily Beast.  An excerpt . . .
Widening her eyes and nodding at times like a bobblehead doll—occasionally emitting a percussive laugh—Clinton dodged one policy question after another, pretended Sanders barely exists, and proclaimed her “total respect” for the pesky press—the same press that her campaign aides actually lassoed with ropes in the middle of a New Hampshire street in order to keep them away during a July 4th parade. 
“I’m not running my campaign for the press. I’m running it for voters,” Clinton explained to Keilar, an edge to her voice. That at least sounded truthful. But then Clinton added, with apparent insincerity: “I totally respect the press, and what the press has to do.”

Full Story

Monday, July 6, 2015

Renewable-Energy Fantasy

Decarbonization using today’s technology is beyond astronomical Rupert Darwall - WSJ An excerpt,

There is no objective cost-benefit analysis that could justify the president’s target for renewable energy. . .  Recently Bill Gates explained in an interview with the Financial Times why current renewables are dead-end technologies. They are unreliable. Battery storage is inadequate. 
Google engineers came to a similar conclusion last year. After seven years of investigation, they found no way to get the cost of renewables competitive with coal. “Unfortunately,” the engineers reported, “most of today’s clean generation sources can’t provide power that is both distributed and dispatchable . . .  If Mr. Obama gets his way, the U.S. will go down the rocky road traveled by the European Union. . .
There is no rational justification for policies favoring renewables. In 1972 environmentalist guru E.F. Schumacher wrote “Small Is Beautiful,” taking as his guide what he called Buddhist economics, which he’d discovered in Burma. . .
Mr. Obama’s renewable target is a triumph for Shumacher’s Buddhist economics—which amounts to being poor and staying poor. It does not produce jobs, growth or prosperity. 
Full Story

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Greece Disaster Socialism Fails Again

Think Greece can’t happen here? You’re wrong

An excerpt - Most Americans look at the rerun of the Greek euro crisis with something between smug amusement and condescending disapproval. When will those profligate Greeks get their economic house in order and stop looking to others to bail them out? 
But, should people living in glass economic houses really throw stones?
After all, just like Greece, the United States government has been living beyond its means, running up an enormous debt that will eventually need to be repaid. 
True, our budget deficit this year will be lower than it has been, just $486 billion compared to $1.4 trillion as recently as 2009. But this is just a temporary respite. Within the next couple of years the deficit will start to rise again. By 2025, we will again face trillion-dollar shortfalls. . .  
As government grows, the private sector contracts. Greece has one of the most inhospitable business climates in Europe, ranking 84th in the world in the most recent Economic Freedom of the World Index. Meanwhile, as the United States continues to increase taxes and regulations, we have fallen from the second highest economic freedom ranking just 15 years ago to 12th place. 
Full Story

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Puerto Rico is a failed welfare state - WSJ

An excerpt,
The U.S. has its own version of Greece in Puerto Rico, and the meltdown could be nearly as ugly when it arrives. . . the territory’s $72 billion debt “is not payable.” Europeans will notice the Greek-like reasons: excessive borrowing, anti-growth policies, human and capital flight, and the refusal of local politicians to address the failure of entitlement state politics. Oh, and don’t forget the policy damage from Washington. 
Puerto Rico’s economy has been contracting for nearly a decade, and employment has shrunk by 14% since 2005. Its 12.4% jobless rate would be higher if not for its astonishing 40% labor participation rate, compared to 63% nationwide. The island’s population has declined by roughly 300,000 in a decade as young people flee to the mainland, where they can work as U.S. residents. . .  
Rich welfare benefits provide a disincentive to work. A household of three can receive $1,743 per month in food stamps, Medicaid, utility subsidies and welfare compared to minimum-wage take-home pay of $1,159. Employers are required to provide 15 days of vacation and 12 sick days annually and a $600 Christmas bonus. Government employees make up a quarter of the island’s workforce. 
To pay for all this, politicians have borrowed and taxed to the limit. Public debt has tripled since 2000 and exceeds 100% of gross national product. In 2006 the territory instituted a 7% sales tax, which this year was raised to 11.5% and next year will become a value-added tax. Since 2013 Mr. Padilla Garcia has raised the petroleum tax to $15.50 from $3 per barrel, imposed a 1% tax on insurance premiums and the gross income of financial institutions, and increased sewage rates by 60%. 
Puerto Rican officials like to blame destructive Washington policies, and they have a point. The U.S. minimum wage is a killer for a territory with relatively low labor productivity. A 1992 study from the National Bureau of Economic Research found that Congress’s 1974 minimum wage hike reduced Puerto Rican employment by 8% to 10% compared to what it otherwise would have been. . . 
Full Story

Monday, June 29, 2015

The ObamaCare Wreckage

Premiums are skyrocketing and choices are shrinking. Dr SCOTT W. ATLAS - WSJ   
An excerpt,
Despite the Supreme Court decision to uphold the subsidies for private insurance in King v. Burwell, the fundamental problems with the Affordable Care Act remain. Ironically, it is the growing government centralization of health insurance at the expense of private insurance that must be addressed.  
The 107 million people on Medicaid or Medicare in 2013 will increase to 135 million by 2018, a growth rate tripling that of private insurance, according to projections by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. At the same time, private health-care insurance premiums are expected to skyrocket in 2016, many by more than 30%.  
This will not improve American health care. Private insurance is superior for both access and quality of care. Reforms should therefore be focused on how to maximize the availability and affordability of private insurance for everyone, regardless of income or employment, rather than put more people into government insurance while causing private insurance to become unaffordable to all but the affluent . . .   
Reforming America’s health care rests on reducing costs while improving access to the best doctors and hospitals. That comes from private insurance, not government insurance.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Federal Government Should Not Be in the Marriage Business At All

Rand Paul: Government Should Get Out of the Marriage Business Altogether - Rand Paul

I acknowledge the right to contract in all economic and personal spheres, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a danger that a government that involves itself in every nook and cranny of our lives won’t now enforce definitions that conflict with sincerely felt religious convictions of others . . . 
Justice Thomas is correct in his dissent when he says: “In the American legal tradition, liberty has long been understood as individual freedom from governmental action, not as a right to a particular governmental entitlement.” 
The government should not prevent people from making contracts but that does not mean that the government must confer a special imprimatur upon a new definition of marriage . . . 
Full Story

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

A Property Rights Raisin in the Sun!

The Supreme Court strikes a major blow for property rights.  Wall Street Journal - an excerpt

It only took 78 years, but on Monday the Supreme Court overturned a New Deal relic that confiscated private property in order to raise prices. Hear, hear. The 8-1 decision is an important vindication of the Fifth Amendment as a bulwark against the abuse of government power. . .   
Full Story

Monday, June 22, 2015

Government Eats Internet

Obamanet Shows its Fangs -  by L. Gordon Crovitz, WSJ.  An excerpt . . . 
‘No, no, no, no!” Tom Wheeler shouted at the moderator. The Federal Communications Commission chairman was speaking at an Internet industry conference in March, soon after the FCC voted to regulate the Internet. His bureaucrats, he insisted, would never set rates, rule on tariffs or otherwise treat the Internet like an old-fashioned utility. 
Make that “Yes, yes, yes, yes!” 
The regulations went into effect earlier this month . . . The FCC now claims authority over the entire system, and Mr. Wheeler’s assurances to the contrary were known to be false when he made them. 
Among Mr. Wheeler’s whoppers: He claimed in Wired magazine: “There will be no rate regulation.” The FCC’s fact sheet on the new regulations repeated the claim, adding that “broadband providers shall not be subject” to rate regulation and that the new rules don’t include “utility-style rate regulation.” 
The truth is that the core of President Obama’s demand for change is the replacement of technologists operating freely in the market with rules and rates set by bureaucrats. . . 
Full Story

Friday, June 12, 2015

Outside Liberal La La Land, Obamacare is Sputtering

It's not easy to make medical socialism work - Reason Magazine,  | June 12, 2015.  An excerpt . . .

ObamaCare's supporters would like everyone to believe that with now functioning, everything is just fine and dandy. Contrary to what the conservative press (which I guess would include me) has been saying about the many problems of ObamaCare, Vox's Ezra Klein declared last September that "in the real world, it's working." In February, his fellow Voxland inhabitant Sarah Kliff rattled off eight ways in which the law had proved its critics wrong. 
But has it? Not really. 
For starters, the exchanges have enrolled about 3 million fewer people than the Congressional Budget Office projected in 2010. And far fewer of the enrollees are from the ranks of the uninsured than hoped. Medicaid enrollment is lower too, for the simple reason that states refused to expand the program. 
The core of President Obama's sales pitch to America was that the program, which he called the Affordable Care Act, would "bend the health care cost curve" and save an average family $2,500 on their premiums each year. How would it accomplish this feat? Essentially, he said, by forcing uninsured "free loaders" who show up in the emergency room to obtain free care to either buy (subsidized) coverage on the insurance exchange or sign up for the expanded Medicaid program. The point was that if they had coverage, they'd get cheaper care sooner in a doctor's office rather than more expensive care later in a hospital emergency room. 
Things don't seem to be working out that way. ObamaCare is indeed bending the cost curve, but up, not down . . .  Full Story 

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Income Equality

MSNBC’s Reverend Al Sharpton cited a New York Time’s pol that says the majority of Americans believe that income inequality is on the rise.  According to Reverend Sharpton the poor earn too little and the rich earn too much. The Reverend says income inequality is unfair and immoral and that government must use force to re-distribute income in a way that addresses this social injustice.  Income inequality must be replaced with — income equality.

Before we roll out the tanks to impose income equality I would like to ask a few questions.

Income inequality posits that it is not fair that some people earn more money than other people. If this is correct then what is the mathematical formula for achieving income equality?  Would we achieve income equality if the highest earners were forced to surrender 80% of their earnings, 90%? 99%? Should CEOs, business owners, rock stars, NFL quarterbacks and television talk-show hosts earnings be capped at a maximum of $1,000 per hour, $100 per hour, $20 per hour? or how about $15 per hour?  What equality of outcome formula would achieve the Reverend’s definition of a moral and fair re-distribution of income?

Does income equality have a mathematical low bar for unskilled labor?  Would a federally mandated minimum wage of $15 per hour achieve income equality between high and low earners?  No?  Well, how about $20 per hour? $100 per hour? or maybe $1,000 per hour? How shall a fair distribution of income that insures income equality be determined? What equality of outcome formula would satisfy the Reverend’s scale of a moral and fair re-distribution of income?

Does income inequality mean that a rich person such as the aforementioned Reverend Sharpton is immoral because he has earned more than a relatively poor person such as I?  Does income inequality mean that the government should use force to take that which the Reverend has earned and give it to me? If so, how is that moral and fair?  What entitles me to take by force that which the good Reverend has earned?  What entitles anyone, rich or poor, to take by force that which someone else has earned? How is taking that which does not belong to you moral and fair?

Mark Van Schuyver