Monday, November 23, 2009

Chipotle, I love you. But we have to talk...

If you're truly trying to advocate responsible food production/consumption, you should re-think directing your customers to Best Buy. Those guys have institutionalized deception, consumerism, and possibly even evil. This doesn't help your credibility.

If Google's motto is "Do no evil" Best Buy's motto is "I've got a fever, and the more evil!"

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Told you so

Cash for Clunkers results in higher used car prices:

Who could have predicted that artificially limiting supply would lead to higher prices? Well, anyone who's ever scalped tickets or Tickle-Me-Elmos, for starters.

Keep in mind the price increases were masked by a major recession and greatly reduced consumer lending. The increases would be even higher if people could get either jobs or credit.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Friday, November 06, 2009

Gasoline on a fire

Peter Schiff explains:

"During the boom, we spent money we did not have to buy things we did not produce and could not afford. As a result, we are now deeply in debt and must sharply reduce our spending to replenish our savings. By focusing solely on consumer spending, the Administration is neglecting the capital investments necessary to improve our infrastructure and productive capacity."

"To generate legitimate economic growth and meaningful jobs, we must reverse the trends that brought us down. Consumers may have led us into this recession, but they can't lead us out. The road to recovery is a one-way street, and it's paved with savings, capital investment, and production. It's not an easy road, but we must follow it to ensure our future prosperity."

"As a first step, our politicians must stop pushing us backward. Rather than imposing more market-distorting regulations, we should repeal those most responsible for inefficient resource allocation. Rather than creating new moral hazards, we should withdraw guarantees for large financial institutions and irresponsible consumers. Rather than continuing the Greenspan policy of keeping interest rates too low, we should let them rise. Rather than trying to prop up asset prices, we should let them fall to market levels. Rather than increasing the burden of bureaucracy on the economy, we should look for ways to lighten the load. Rather than encouraging people to borrow and spend, we should reward those who save and produce."

Sounds good to me.

-- Posted from my iPhone

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Imagine two entities...

Person A and Person B. Both are in positions of authority, and given responsibility for important tasks. Both fail. Miserably. Person A is held accountable, and loses his job. Person B is granted more power, and given twice as much money with the hope that he'll do a better job next time.

What's the difference?

Person A is part of a capitalist enterprise. Person B is a government entity.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009


"WASHINGTON – The government's latest count of stimulus jobs significantly overstates the effects of the $787 billion program under a popular federal preschool program, raising fresh questions about the process the Obama administration is using to tout the success of its economic recovery plan." -AP article, via Yahoo!
"Most of the inflated figures were like those cited in the 935 saved jobs reported by the Southwest Georgia Community Action in Moultrie, Ga. The agency, like hundreds of others collecting Head Start money, claimed all its existing employees' jobs were saved because they received a pay raise with the stimulus cash."
"'It's a glitch in the system,' said Ben Allen, the research director at the National Head Start Association. 'There was some misunderstanding among some in the Head Start community about completing the reporting requirements.'

Allen said a cost-of-living adjustment 'may not be viewed traditionally as a job saved, but one could interpret it that, by providing COLA, you're retaining staff.'

This is completely detached from reality. Giving a raise is not the same as creating a job, or even "saving" one.

First, these employees weren't going to quit their jobs without a raise. If they did, it would only be because they had a better opportunity elsewhere. How is that a bad thing? If they did quit their job to take a better one, it would actually open up a position for one of the millions of people looking for work. As with most government intervention, the meddling actually made the problem worse.

During high school, the concept of "imaginary numbers" made my head hurt. I think the mathematical concepts in the next quote are even worse.

"At Southwest Georgia Community Action Council, director Myrtis Mulkey-Ndawula said she followed the guidelines the Obama administration provided. She said she multiplied the 508 employees by 1.84 — the percentage pay raise they received — and came up with 935 jobs saved."

So a 1% salary increase equals a job created or saved?

According to this kind of math, if the Southwest Georgia Community Action Council gave its employees a 2% raise via stimulus funds, it would have "saved" over 1,000 jobs. If they would have given them a 20% raise, they would have saved over 10,000 jobs. If they would have multiplied their pay by 60, we'd have met the 3,000,000 jobs "created or saved" that Obama promised.

Back here in the real world, not a single job was created by this.

The AP is biting back

About a week ago, the Associated Press released a report challenging some of the stimulus statistics touted by the Obama administration. The White House blasted the AP report, saying that everything would be fixed when the final numbers came out last Friday.

Apparently the AP didn't appreciate being handled this way. They again debunked the "fixed" stimulus data, and today, they're tackling Cash for Clunkers.

I suppose it's one thing for the White House to aggressively go after Fox News. Most Fox viewers probably don't support Obama anyway. It's harder to make the argument that the Associated Press is biased. And attacking borders on ridiculous.

Monday, November 02, 2009

If you are looking for a good DSLR for CHEAP

See this deal.

Make SURE you read the directions carefully. If you do it right, and sell the printer and extra lens, you can get an excellent $750 DSLR for a net cost of $250.

An example of why I'm against the death penalty

Multiple wrongful convictions, all by the same prosecutor. Arguing that this type of situation is rare is not only incorrect, but also irrelevant. How many innocent people must be executed to outweigh the alleged benefits of capital punishment?

I'll give you a hint. It's less than two.

Many lawyers lie in bed awake at night for this very reason...

Telling your boss that you've screwed up is never fun. When your mistake potentially costs $1.26 billion, you really have problems.

Why are these people in charge?

These people are supposed to be the experts. Yet they didn't see the crisis coming, denied that it was possible, and claimed that the economy was in great shape as the economy crumbled around them. They have no credibility. Why does anyone think they can fix the problem? They are the problem.

Alan Grayson asked Ben Bernake a question around the 3:45 mark of this video. Bernake's three-word response should have gotten him fired, indicted, or both.

Basically, Grayson wanted to know which foreign banks received $500 billion from the Federal Reserve. Bernake's response: "I don't know."

There are two possibilities. Either Bernake is lying, or he's admitted to inconceivable levels of incompetence perhaps unequaled in history. Neither are good. Either should cost him his job, at the very least.

I think he's lying. To Congress. Blatantly.

Does anyone really think that the Federal Reserve would dish out half a trillion dollars without the Fed Chairman's approval? Does anyone think that the Fed Chairman would approve distributing $500 billion without checking ID? As ridiculous as it was that mortgage lenders would approve mortgages without verifying income, Bernake claims he allowed the Fed to distribute half a trillion dollars without even knowing who was getting the money.

Responsible lending requires lenders to determine whether the party borrowing the funds will be able to pay them back. Also, lenders should determine if lending the money will be beneficial. It is impossible to do either of these things without knowing the borrower's identity. If Bernake approved this without knowing where the money was going, it would be recklessness beyond comprehension.

There's a much simpler explanation. He's lying.

He shouldn't be able to get away with it.

More student loan analysis

Here's another take.

Makes a lot of sense.

Do you have student loans? If so, you should pay attention to this...

I've been saying this for a long time. People think students couldn't afford college without federal student loans. In reality, federal tuition assistance programs make college far, far more expensive.

Before federal tuition involvement, a decent summer job could pay for a year's tuition. Yet the government wanted to make college more "affordable", so it started various federal tuition programs. As a result, college students don't have to have a summer job, and can live the high life while in college, paid for by student loans. But then they have to spend the next 10-20 years paying off tens, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt, before you count the interest. If they didn't have that debt, instead of paying interest they could invest that money and earn interest. Or put a down payment on a house.

Why has college gotten more expensive? I certainly don't think it's because the quality of education is any better. I'm quite convinced the opposite is true. The government's good intentions of providing students with more for less backfired on both fronts. Just like it did with Fannie/Freddie/CRA and housing. Just like it did with Social Security and retirement.

And just like it's going to do with health care.

Canon is a Great Company

I use Nikon DSLRs, but Canon has always gone above and beyond in the customer service department in my experience. I had some issues a while back with a refurbed multifunction that I bought from Newegg, but they ultimately made it right, and replaced it with an even nicer printer. To be fair, I think the problem was Newegg's fault, rather than Canon's.

As a result, I'm a loyal Canon customer, at least as far as inkjet printers and point and shoot digital cameras are concerned.

Here's another example of Canon taking care of its customers.