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December 08, 2011

DOOM: My bills are all due and the baby needs shoes and I'm busted


It turns out that this computerized automated service-oriented society of ours still needs quite a few guys and gals who can handle a wrench and drive a lathe. Who knew?

A big reason for the demand is changes on the factory floor. At Ariel, Wright points out, the operator of a modern CNC (computer numerical control) machine, which programs repetitive tasks such as drilling, is running equipment that can cost over $5 million. A new hire in this position must have knowledge of programming, metallurgy, cutting-tool technology, geometry, drafting, and engineering. Today’s factory worker is less Joe Six-Pack and more Renaissance man.

A mail-bomb was sent to a Deutsche Bank executive in Frankfurt but was intercepted before it could be delivered. This is the kind of thing the Baader-Meinhof/Red Army Faction used to do back in the 1970’s.

Obama vs Capitalism. Barack Hussein Obama is (judging by his public utterances) as innocent of basic economic knowledge as a stone. Yet somehow this complete ignorance of a basic facet of daily life was no bar to achieving the highest office in the land. This doesn’t reflect well on this poor debased Republic of ours.

Obama’s constant class-warfare rhetoric is finally starting to pall on an old Democrat stalwart named Jamie Dimon. (Dimon runs a little mom-and-pop financial outfit called JPMorganChase.)

It’s funny how often politicians echo Augustine of Hippo’s prayer: “Grant me chastity and continence, but not yet.” Politicians also forget (as Augustine did not) that repentance is incomplete without atonement.

Victor Davis Hanson: Exceptional America.

That yawning chasm stretching as far as the eye can see? It's the debt pit, and we're on the cusp of taking a swan-dive into it.

Keith Hennessey provides a sort of beginner's guide to the European debt crisis. If you want a high-level, non-specialist explanation of the issues, this is a good place to start.

It’s hard out there for a symphony orchestra.

"Even an artist like Lady Gaga makes more money by being Lady Gaga than she does off straight record sales."

You know this whole “austerity” business is getting serious when the powers-that-be are regulating the amount of toilet paper you’re allowed to use. This is a splendid example of why over-reliance on the government is a bad thing. Rugged individualists make do with bark, corncobs, leaves, or pages torn from the New York Times. It may not be as comfortable as the lah-di-dah scented two-ply bungwipe you’re used to, but you also render the government helpless when they try to control how much and how often you can wipe your own ass.

Walter Russel Mead delves into the problems a shrinking public sector presents to minorities, especially to black Americans. It’s one of the insidious evils of the Blue State model: by removing large percentages of minorities from the private sector, the government in essence made them dependents on the state...and when that state goes broke, blacks and other minorities suffer proportionally more than anyone else. This is not an argument to sustain the Blue State model, but rather to abolish it (to the extent possible) and reintegrate minorities more fully into the private sector. (And it’s not just minority public-sector workers who are facing hard times.)

As many new homeowners find out, simply maintaining your home is a significant yearly expense. And the more ornate and complex your house is, the more it costs to maintain. Note that I said “maintain” and not “improve” -- you must expend more and more effort (and cash) simply to keep things as they are. If you wish to expand or improve, you must put even more energy and money into the house. It’s the same with a complex society, but on a vastly larger scale. A high-tech society like ours costs a lot to run and maintain. And future growth is not guaranteed: most of the low-hanging fruit is gone, and “innovation” is getting harder and harder.

When the math doesn’t agree with the politicians, the politicians simply use different math. (Remember: if you torture numbers long enough, you can make them confess to anything.)

There are a lot of things wrong with Obama’s recent stump-speech; to list them all would be a book-length project. But one thing stands out, and it’s more a thematic issue than with anything in particular that President Obama said or did not say. He keeps spewing the canard that the government is capable of moving poor people into the middle class -- that somehow it is in a benevolent government’s power to perfect the raw human material and turn it into something better and nobler. In previous Administrations, this took the form of pushing home ownership -- the idea being, of course, that owning a home would foster the qualities that one finds in the middle class: frugality, civic-mindedness, responsibility, a strong sense of community and family, and so on. However, others have pointed out that Obama and his fellow travelers get it exactly backwards: people achieve a middle class life because they are thrifty, responsible, and careful; not the other way around. President Obama once again displays his fundamental and abyssal ignorance of his own country’s character and history. (The progressive project to 'improve' humanity always seems to focus less on moral and ethical development than it does on behavioral changes: "progressives" seem to view citizens as little more than rats scurrying around a Skinner box.)

The IBD calls President Obama a big lying liar who lies.

The “Robin Hood Tax” on financial transactions would yet again punish savers, not the banks or hedge funds.

California, this is what you voted for, and you’re going to get it good and hard. Governor Brown is calling for tax increases. Who could have predicted such a thing? Who, I ask you?

While a sales tax increase of a "half-cent," or 0.5%, as it is sometimes reported sound innocuous, those increases are raises in the tax rate. Thus, a "half-cent" sales tax increase on the state's base rate of 7.25% to 8.25% is actually an increase of 6.9% on the price of everything Californians buy that requires sales tax.

Yeah, they’re boned: if California were forced to use the same accounting rules businesses have to use, it would have been declared insolvent long ago.

Your ugly chart-fu of the day: food stamp (now called SNAP) participation from 1969 to the present. It's not all bad; food stamps go quite a bit further now than they did back in 1969.

According to the LAT, it is vitally important that we continue to pay people not to work. At present, the combination of federal and state unemployment benefits run to 99 weeks. That’s nearly two years. If you’re unable to find a job in that time, you’ve probably moved beyond “unemployed” and into “unemployable” status, even in this economy. If you’ve been unemployed for two full years, then a few more weeks of UE benefits ain’t gonna do much for you. And all it’s going to do for the country is increase our already-mountainous debt.

Keynes did get this right: the markets can stay irrational longer than you can stay solvent.

We spoke a bit yesterday on how Teh Krugman slandered Friedrich Hayek. Here are some weighty pieces that go into detail as to how influential Hayek really was (and continues to be).

Democrats: the kings of crony capitalism.

“Capitalism” may be just another way of saying “delayed gratification”. And it tends to promote the kind of virtues we need to keep civilization on a paying basis: prudence, patience, responsibility, respect for the (fairly-enforced) law, and so on.

“I am an economist in transition.”

The article is entitled “The Euro Deal: New Doubts Emerge”, but that’s misleading: there never was a deal. There was only a bunch of talk, and proposals, and plans, but never an actual “deal”. And even if pieces of paper do eventually get signed and some solemn oaths get sworn, none of it will amount to an actual solution to the problem the EU faces.

Six more reasons why the job market is still bad. It’s almost like the NFP numbers were ginned up to make the Administration’s jobs rhetoric sound less empty, or something.

Richard Posner on structural unemployment.

Remember back when we could mock the commies for their habit of crushing private businesses under the iron boot of an overbearing State? Good times, good times.

Jon Corzine: "You know how sometimes some change will fall out of your pocket and into the crack in the couch while you're watching football or something? Well, I checked my couch yesterday and that $1.2 Billion isn't there. I did find a Canadian quarter, though. And a linty Jolly Rancher. I brought both of them with me so you can see that I have nothing to hide."

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posted by Monty at 08:55 AM

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