Sometimes Reality Is Just Not Fun

The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) is known for its fight for a $15 minimum wage for fast food workers. The union chooses to ignore the fact that these are entry-level workers learning the basics of holding a job–showing up on time, being conscientious, treating people with respect, etc. Recruiting these people into the SEIU provides a larger base for union dues (and bigger donations to Democratic candidates), but where has the battle gotten the workers?

Ed Rensi posted an article at Forbes on Tuesday talking about the consequences of the push for a $15 minimum wage for fast food workers.

The article points out a few of the unintended consequences:

Let’s start with automation. In 2013, when the Fight for $15 was still in its growth stage, I and others warned that union demands for a much higher minimum wage would force businesses with small profit margins to replace full-service employees with costly investments in self-service alternatives. At the time, labor groups accused business owners of crying wolf. It turns out the wolf was real.

Earlier this month, McDonald’s announced the nationwide roll-out of touchscreen self-service kiosks. In a video the company released to showcase the new customer experience, it’s striking to see employees who once would have managed a cash register now reduced to monitoring a customer’s choices at an iPad-style kiosk.

…Of course, not all businesses have the capital necessary to shift from full-service to self-service. And that brings me to my next correct prediction–that a $15 minimum wage would force many small businesses to lay off staff, seek less-costly locations, or close altogether.

…The out-of-state labor groups who funded these initiatives aren’t shedding tears over the consequences. Like their Soviet-era predecessors who foolishly thought they could centrally manage prices and business operations to fit an idealistic worldview, economic reality keeps ruining the model of all gain and no pain. This brings me to my last correct prediction, which is that the Fight for $15 was always more a creation of the left-wing Service Employees International Union (SEIU) rather than a legitimate grassroots effort. Reuters reported last year that, based on federal filings, the SEIU had spent anywhere from $24 million to $50 million on the its Fight for $15 campaign, and the number has surely increased since then.

This money has bought the union a lot of protesters and media coverage. You can expect more of it on November 29. But the real faces of the Fight for $15 are the young people and small business owners who have had their futures compromised. Those faces are not happy ones.

I suspect that over time many of the businesses involved would have switched to kiosks anyway, but the drive for $15 an hour definitely helped speed up the process. The fact that the SEIU was able to gather (or pay) protestors and that the news covered this story in a positive light is evidence that we are not teaching people basic economics in school. Somehow we have lost sight of the fact that businesses are in business to make a profit. When businesses are no longer profitable, they go out of business. In this case even the businesses that could afford to automate cut back on their workforce because of increasing labor costs. This is another example of shortsightedness on the part of the unions and of the law of unintended consequences.

The Economic Recovery Is Still Struggling

Market Watch is reporting today that New York area manufacturing conditions fell rapidly in August.

The article reports:

The Empire State general business conditions index nose-dived to a reading of negative 14.9, from positive 3.9 in July, marking the worst level since April 2009, the New York Fed said. The index, on a scale where any positive number indicates improving conditions, was far worse than the positive 4.5 forecast in a MarketWatch-compiled economist poll.

The article includes the following chart:

NewYorkStateManufacturingConditions

The only good news in this is that the decline may cause the Federal Reserve to delay interest increases for a while.

First Amendment Rights For All Americans?

First Amendment RightsPlease keep this picture in mind when reading the following article.

This is what the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution states:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

(The italics and underline are mine.)

Today CBN News posted an interview of DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz.

Ms. Wasserman-Schultz stated:

“If you’re a religiously affiliated organization then you have wider latitude in terms of the Constitution and the protections that the First Amendment provides,” Wasserman-Schultz said.

“I think Americans make a distinction between protecting the First Amendment rights of a religious organizations or religiously affiliated organizations and being able to discriminate, broadly, simply because of one individual who owns a business and their own values and their being able to impose those values on either their employers or their customers.”

So let me get this straight–according to Ms. Wasserman-Schultz, the First Amendment only applies to religious organizations–it does not apply to individuals. So churches are allowed to act according to their religious beliefs, but people don’t have that right. Wow.

Individuals who hold traditional religious beliefs are losing their rights. Recently a gag order was put on an Oregon couple who refused to bake a cake for a gay wedding (article here). A left-leaning website claimed there was no gag order. Here is the gag order:

Oregon Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian added a gag order to the fine, ordering the Kleins “to cease and desist from publishing, circulating, issuing or displaying, or causing to be published, circulated, issued or displayed, any communication, notice, advertisement or sign of any kind to the effect that any of the accommodations, advantages, facilities, services or privileges of a place of public accommodation will be refused, withheld from or denied to, or that any discrimination will be made against, any person on account of sexual orientation.”

The head of the Democrat National Committee does not think individual business owners have First Amendment rights. Please keep this in mind as you consider your vote in the next election.

Hoisted On Their Own Petard?

Yesterday the Los Angeles Times reported that Los Angeles labor leaders, who recently supported a minimum wage increase approved last week by the Los Angeles City Council, are now asking for changes in the law that would exempt companies whose workforces are unionized.

The article reports:

For much of the past eight months, labor activists have argued against special considerations for business owners, such as restaurateurs, who said they would have trouble complying with the mandated pay increase.

But Rusty Hicks, who heads the county Federation of Labor and helps lead the Raise the Wage coalition, said Tuesday night that companies with workers represented by unions should have leeway to negotiate a wage below that mandated by the law.

“With a collective bargaining agreement, a business owner and the employees negotiate an agreement that works for them both. The agreement allows each party to prioritize what is important to them,” Hicks said in a statement. “This provision gives the parties the option, the freedom, to negotiate that agreement. And that is a good thing.”

Laws for thee, but not for me. If a unionized company can be exempt in order to stay in business, why can’t a non-unionized restaurant be exempt?

The Council voted to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2020. The increase in the minimum wage will be a problem for both restaurants and fast food places. The increase will also pose a problem for other small businesses.

The Economic Recovery In Real Numbers

Politichicks posted an article today with some of the economic numbers President Obama seems to have omitted from his State of the Union speech.

The article reminds us:

While it might be true that businesses have created 11 million jobs (not Obama), what President Obama fails to mention is that he has been in office 6 years and during his first year in office the economy lost over 4 million jobs. Even with the new jobs created, at best, the economy has created a net amount of 7 million jobs private sector jobs. However, due to the fact that there has also been a loss in government jobs, under President Obama there has been a creation of, at most, 6.4 million jobs during his time in office.

What President Obama and most media outlets also failed to mention is that in order to keep up with population growth, the economy needs to create at least 125,000 jobs per month or 9,000,000 jobs in the 72 months since President Obama took office.

The article also reports:

  • The current labor force participation rate is 62.7%, which matches the lowest rate on record. The lowest rate on record was set in September 2014.
  • Since the beginning of the Great Recession (2008), only 943,000 more people are employed, but the number of individuals over the age of 16 has grown by 14,159,000.
  • Worker’s wages have stayed stagnated. In constant dollars (dollars adjusted for inflation), worker’s wages have actually decreased.
  • The Consumer Price Index has increased by 11.2% since President Obama took office, even with the price of energy dropping by almost half.

The article concludes:

The truth of the matter is that we have endured the worst economic recovery on record and much of it is due to President Obama’s policies. Even with the millions of new jobs that have been created and the fact that people’s confidence in the economy is increasing, we still have a long way to go to reach pre-recession economic levels and if President Obama keeps pushing his big government policies, we may never get there.

Somehow none of the above was mentioned in the State of the Union speech.

 

From The Young Conservatives Website

The following cartoon is from the Young Conservatives website:

branco min wage cartoon

The article below the cartoon states:

A survey of American economists found that 90 percent of them regarded minimum wage laws as increasing the rate of unemployment among low-skilled workers. Inexperience is often the problem. Only about two percent of Americans over the age of 24 earned the minimum wage.

Advocates of minimum wage laws usually base their support of such laws on their estimate of how much a worker “needs” in order to have “a living wage” — or on some other criterion that pays little or no attention to the worker’s skill level, experience or general productivity. So it is hardly surprising that minimum wage laws set wages that price many a young worker out of a job.

Support of an increase in the minimum wage is political–it is  not based on economic realities. Unions support it because it allows them to negotiate for higher wages. Eventually this cycle leads to inflation and hurts low-income wage earners the most.

The Supreme Court Has Reached A Decision On Hobby Lobby

Fox News is reporting today that the Supreme Court has ruled in favor of Hobby Lobby in its suit against the ObamaCare requirement that it provide contraceptives for female employees.

The article reports:

The justices’ 5-4 decision is the first time that the high court has ruled that profit-seeking businesses can hold religious views under federal law. And it means the Obama administration must search for a different way of providing free contraception to women who are covered under objecting companies’ health insurance plans.

…The court stressed that its ruling applies only to corporations that are under the control of just a few people in which there is no essential difference between the business and its owners.

Alito also said the decision is limited to contraceptives under the health care law. “Our decision should not be understood to hold that an insurance-coverage mandate must necessarily fall if it conflicts with an employer’s religious beliefs,” Alito said.

The really good news here is that Hobby Lobby will remain in business. There was some question as to whether the company would have stayed in business had the family that owns the company  been forced to do things that were in conflict with their religious beliefs.

Blocking American Prosperity

There is a strong entrepreneurial spirit in America. Sometimes that spirit gets a little overzealous, as in the tech boom of the nineties, but generally speaking, that is the spirit that drives the American economy. One reason for the slow recovery from the financial crisis of 2008 is that the entrepreneurial spirit is being blocked by the government.

On May 7, The Heritage Foundation posted an article on the development of American oil resources.

The article reports:

Production of crude oil in the United States is up to 8.36 million barrels per day—the highest since January 1988. The increased supply of oil has widespread economic benefits, but a new Congressional Research Service report shows that when the numbers are broken down by ownership it becomes clear that the situation could be even better. Although oil production overall has almost doubled in less than six years, production continues to fall on federally owned land areas.

The article included the following chart:

At the present moment, the federal government is subsidizing ‘green’ energy before the technology is workable and blocking the development of America’s own fossil fuel resources. The development of America’s oil resources is a national security issue as well as an economic issue. How would American diplomacy change if we were not dependent of Venezuela and the Middle East for our energy needs?

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Is This Really What We Want For America?

See Update at the bottom of the page!

Today’s Daily Caller is reporting on some further consequences of being outspoken about your Christian faith.

The article reports:

First they lost their television show. Now the Benham brothers say they are losing their business.

SunTrust Banks is cutting ties with would-be reality stars David and Jason Benham after liberal activists attacked them for their conservative views on abortion and gay marriage, The Daily Caller has learned.

In a statement provided first to TheDC on Friday, the Benham brothers confirmed that SunTrust Banks has pulled all of its listed properties with the Benham brothers’ bank-owned property business, which includes several franchisees across four states.

Please follow the link above to the article to read the details of the story.

I have a few comments on this story. First of all, companies are entitled to do or not do business with anyone they choose. If a company wants to discriminate against someone because they hold a traditional view on marriage, and the board of directors of the company agrees to this decision, the company is free to make that decision. However, as an average American, I will make sure that in turn I do not support in any way businesses that take that stand. That is also my right. Second of all, if those who support gay marriage accuse those of us who don’t of being intolerant, what in the world is this? There is room for alternate views in the universe. The idea is to be fair in allowing both views to be expressed and to acknowledge that a person who believes in the Bible has the right to practice his religion and to support traditional marriage. The fact that the Benham brothers were treated this way because of their religious beliefs is chilling.

From the Daily Caller late this afternoon:

After an uproar from conservative customers, SunTrust Banks announced Friday afternoon that the decision to end its relationship with real estate entrepreneurs David and Jason Benham had been reversed.

Earlier Friday, The Daily Caller reported that SunTrust Banks had pulled all of its listed properties with the Benham brothers’ bank-owned property business.

I don’t care why SunTrust made that decision, it was the right decision to make, and I applaud them.

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If You Can’t Beat It, Charge For It

The quest for individual energy independence has increased as utility rates have risen due to the environmental policies of the Obama Administration. If the Obama Administration continues its war on coal, we can expect electricity rates to go even higher. As that happen, people are looking for ways to generate their own electricity and cut their utility bills. Well, not so fast.

Think Progress, a progressive organization, posted an article yesterday reporting that Oklahoma will be charging consumers who provide their own energy through solar panels or windmills an additional fee (read “tax”).

The article reports:

On Monday, S.B. 1456 passed the state House 83-5 after no debate. The measure creates a new class of customers: those who install distributed power generation systems like solar panels or small wind turbines on their property and sell the excess energy back to the grid. While those with systems already installed won’t be affected, the new class of customers will now be charged a monthly fee — a shift that happened quickly and caught many in the state off guard.

“We knew nothing about it and all of a sudden it’s attached to some other bill,” Ctaci Gary, owner of Sun City Oklahoma, told ThinkProgress. “It just appeared out of nowhere.”

The article further reported:

The bill was staunchly opposed by renewable energy advocates, environmental groups and the conservative group TUSK, but had the support of Oklahoma’s major utilities. “Representatives of Oklahoma Gas and Electric Co. and Public Service Co. of Oklahoma said the surcharge is needed to recover some of the infrastructure costs to send excess electricity safely from distributed generation back to the grid,” the Oklahoman reported.

Adding the surcharge is not smart. The advantage of people adding individual solar panels or windmills to their homes is that the panels can generate electricity during peak use times and prevent utility companies from having problems meeting the demand at those times. Obviously, the surcharge will discourage people from adding either panels or windmills. I suspect that a single small windmill does not create some of the problems that a large wind farm causes.

Allowing people who choose to add alternative power to their homes should not be a political issue. If the addition conforms to community standards, the use of alternative energy should be welcomed. If the utility companies have become so powerful that they can prevent the individual from becoming energy independent, it is time to elect people to government that will stand up against those companies. I don’t want to deny anyone a profit, but I also don’t want to see people denied the opportunity to become energy independent.

Sometimes conservation measures are not welcomed by bureaucrats. In the small town we used to live in, residents were asked to conserve water. After we had done our best to do that, the residents were told that because we were using less water, the Water Department was forced to raise the water rate to cover expenses. Simply speaking, that is not fair.

 

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I’m Not Sure Where This Came From, But I Love It!

A toothpaste factory had a problem. They sometimes shipped empty boxes without the tube inside. This challenged their perceived quality with the buyers and distributors. Understanding how important the relationship with them was, the CEO of the company assembled his top people. They decided to hire an external engineering company to solve their empty boxes problem.
The project followed the usual process: budget and project sponsor allocated, RFP, and third-parties selected. Six months (and $3 million) later they had a fantastic solution – on time, on budget, and high quality. Everyone in the project was pleased.
They solved the problem by using a high-tech precision scale that would sound a bell and flash lights whenever a toothpaste box weighed less than it should. The line would stop, someone would walk over, remove the defective box, and then press another button to re-start the line. As a result of the new package monitoring process, no empty boxes were being shipped out of the factory.
With no more customer complaints, the CEO felt the $3 million was well spent. He then reviewed the line statistics report and discovered the number of empty boxes picked up by the scale in the first week was consistent with projections, however, the next three weeks were zero! The estimated rate should have been at least a dozen boxes a day.
He had the engineers check the equipment; they verified the report as accurate. Puzzled, the CEO traveled down to the factory, viewed the part of the line where the precision scale was installed, and observed just ahead of the new $3 million dollar solution sat a $20 desk fan blowing the empty boxes off the belt and into a bin. He asked the line supervisor what that was about.

“Oh, that,” the supervisor replied, “Bert, the kid from maintenance, put it there because he was tired of walking over, removing the box and re-starting the line every time the damn bell rang.”

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What About The Baker’s Rights?

On Sunday, KATU.com reported that the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries ruled that the Gresham bakery violated the civil rights of a same-sex couple when it refused the order for a wedding cake on Jan.17, 2013.

The article reports:

Portland, OR—A Gresham bakery violated the civil rights of a same-sex couple when it denied service based on sexual orientation, a Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI) investigation has found.

The couple filed the complaint against Sweet Cakes by Melissa under the Oregon Equality Act of 2007, a law that protects the rights of gays, lesbians, bisexual and transgender Oregonians in employment, housing and public places.

Under Oregon law, Oregonians may not be denied service based on sexual orientation or gender identity. The law provides an exemption for religious organizations and schools, but does not allow private business owners to discriminate based on sexual orientation, just as they cannot legally deny service based on race, sex, age, disability or religion.

The investigation concludes that the bakery is not a religious institution under law and that the business’ policy of refusing to make same-sex wedding cakes represents unlawful discrimination based on sexual orientation.

What about the rights of the bakery owners to practice their religion? If they are Bible-believing Christians, their Bible states that homosexual marriage is wrong. To bake a cake for a lesbian couple goes against the bakery owners’ religious beliefs. I think this is a situation where the law should not be involved–the couple could have easily gone to another bakery for their cake. If we are going to support the rights of homosexuals, we also need to support the rights of Christians.

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It Was A Dark And Stormy Night…

I love the Peanuts cartoon. If you read the cartoon, you know that Snoopy is perpetually writing a novel. Many of his novels begin with “It was a dark and stormy night…” That is what the latest episode of the ObamaCare saga reminds me of.

National Review is reporting today that over the weekend, without telling anyone, in the dark of night, the Obama Administration has moved the deadline to sign up for ObamaCare.

The article cites a Washington Post story as its source:

Sources told the Post that the 24-hour extension has been built into the online system and is intended as a precaution in the event that the the problem-plagued website sees a surge of traffic from individuals looking to sign up at the last minute, and buckles under the weight.

The extension, said the sources, cannot be overridden by insurance companies if they object to it. It is the latest of several last-minute, ad hoc rule changes issued by the administration, including last week’s announcement that individuals whose insurance plans were canceled may receive an exemption from the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate

Please note that none of these changes are being sent through Congress and they are simply decided on by the Obama Administration. What happened to the legal process of passing and amending a law? Where is the Constitution in this? Why isn’t Congress complaining about being left out of a large part of the implementation of this law?

Have we entered a period in our history when laws are changed in the dead of night without anyone other than the Administration having any input?

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A Perspective On American Energy That Isn’t Being Heard

Scott Noble is the President of Noble Royalties, Inc. (NRI). NRI is a company that specializes in acquiring valuable mineral, royalty and overriding royalty properties. The company was founded in 1997. Mr. Noble is also chairman of the New American Energy Opportunity Foundation, which supports energy independence for America.

Mr. Noble was interviewed on the Bill Bennett show during the last presidential campaign. This is the audio from that interview:

Some highlights from the website of the NAEOF:

The United States has more energy resources than any other country in the world.  Because of recent advances in technology, American

has the potential to become the number one energy producer in the world by the end of the decade. The main obstacle to achieving this goal is over-regulation by the federal government. Because of those regulations, there are fewer jobs, higher prices at the gas pump, and our national security is at risk.
Under the Obama Administration, new leases on federal land have dropped to under 2 million a year from 12 million in 1988. According to a study conducted by Noble Royalties, returning to 1980’s leasing levels would generate

750 billion dollars in lease and royalty fees for the federal government and add

5 trillion dollars to America’s economy. That is how you fight unemployment.
The Obama Administration has blocked the development of oil sources in Alaska and offshore, and it has blocked the building of new oil refineries.
The article at NAEOF concludes:

Beyond outright bans on development and the failure to issue new leases, numerous new laws have been passed in the past 30 years increasing administrative requirements on energy producers.  A 2004 report from the U.S. Department of Energy determined that there are more than 140 different laws which impact natural gas production in the United States.  Most of these laws apply equally to oil development as well.  The result of this new mound of bureaucracy and red tape has been increased permitting delays, lawsuits and compliance costs that are additionally stymieing development.

Of course, it is reasonable to expect the US government take steps to make sure energy companies are developing oil and gas responsibly.  But environmental regulations long ago passed from the necessary to the ridiculous.  For instance, the Bureau of Land Management recently put a moratorium on drilling in 380,000 acres of land during the mating season of prairie chickens. But when pressed, BLM admitted that the ban was not based on any scientific analysis.

Instead of doing the things that will build our country’s future, we are borrowing from children who aren’t even born yet. America needs to wake up and elect people who will move forward on American energy independence.

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Good News For Religious Freedom

Ed Morrissey at Hot Air posted an article today about a recent decision by a divided three-judge panel of the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. The ruling states that forcing business owners to fund and facilitate contraception and sterilization services against the tenets of their faith encroaches on their free exercise of religious belief, and that the government’s argument that protecting womens’ health trumped that right was absurd.

The article reports:

…What Judge Janice Rogers Brown wrote in her decision was that corporations themselves, whether for-profit or non-profit, do not have First Amendment standing for religious exercise.  However, those who own or run them do, and even though the Gilardis’ businesses are corporations, the net effect of the HHS mandate is to penalize the Gilardis individually for living their faith.

The argument the Obama Administration has made for the requirement that companies provide contraception and abortion services is that these services need to be covered in order to protect women’s health. The Court seems to be saying that providing insurance for these services does not necessarily protect a woman’s health and should not override the religious freedom granted in the First Amendment.

This case or a similar case will eventually make its way to the Supreme Court.

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Did You Know About The Belly Button Tax?

Yesterday the Wall Street Journal posted an article about the debate over the Belly-Button Tax in Obamacare. Yes, you read that right. There is a tax on every person covered by an insurance plan–policy holder, spouses, and children. This has become known as the belly-button tax.

The article reports:

It’s paid by every company that provides insurance — big businesses, organized labor, and insurance carriers. The likely beneficiaries of the compensation fund, though, are just the traditional insurance carriers, who will become required to sell coverage to everyone, regardless of their medical history.

Large employers and unions have fought hard to get an exemption, saying the levy is unfair because they don’t directly benefit from the fund. Insurers say it’s an important fee they need to keep.

If you are going to require insurance companies to insure everyone regardless of pre-existing conditions, you need to find a way to keep them from going bankrupt. We need to remember that companies are in businesses to make money. If they are not able to make money, why should they stay in business? The International Economic Development website reports that the profit margins for health insurance companies is about 3 percent. They rank about 88 among 215 industries as far as profit margins go. That profit margin is not overly large–these companies don’t have a lot of wiggle room to accommodate the federal government seriously impacting their profits. I don’t support ObamaCare, but if you are going to have ObamaCare, you need a belly-button tax.

ObamaCare does not make sense economically or otherwise. It will eventually collapse under its own weight. We just need to make sure it collapses before it totally destroys healthcare in America.

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The Problem With Speaking The Truth

Below is a video of Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff speaking with Michael Coren on his SUN TV program. Mrs. Sabaditsch-Wolff is currently in America speaking out about the dangers of losing our right to free speech. I attended one of her presentations last week (rightwinggranny.com). The original article is at GatesofVienna.net. The video is also posted on YouTube.

Here is the video:

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Consequences Of Some Small Print In ObamaCare

CNS News reported today that the U. S. Treasury has released data stating that the outstanding balance for all of the direct student loans the federal government has issued topped $600 billion in April.

The article reports:

In January 2009, when Obama was inaugurated, the balance was $119.803 billion and has since increased more than fivefold.

The $480.654 billion increase since January 2009 in what is owed to the Treasury in direct student loans represents a climb of about 250 percent in just over four years.

What happened?

The article explains:

Before Obama’s first term, federally guaranteed student loans were made both by the government directly and by private lenders using their own capital through what was called the Federal Family Education Loan program. Language inserted into the the Obamacare law signed in March 2010, however, abolished the latter type of federally guaranteed student loan, giving the U.S. Treasury a monopoly over those loans.

As the Congressional Research Service has described it, this Obamacare provision made the U.S. Treasury the exclusive “banker” for federally guaranteed student loans. Thus, U.S. taxpayers essentially own these loans.

This is the housing bubble played out in student loans. The American taxpayer is the lender in these loans.

The article reminds us:

If the students who have borrowed the current outstanding balance of $600 billion in federal direct student loans default on those loans–or if Congress forgives them their debts–the burden of that $600 billion loss will fall on U.S. taxpayers.

This is not pocket change. This could well be our next financial crisis.

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As The Economy Struggles To Remain Above Water Massachusetts Raises Taxes

The Massachusetts state Senate passed a bill last night that will raise taxes on the residents of Massachusetts about $500 million dollars. The taxes will take the form of increases in gasoline, cigarette, and corporate taxes. So tell me again why a business would want to relocate to Massachusetts?

The Boston Herald posted the story today. The article states:

The plan calls for raising the gas tax by 3 cents and tying future increases to inflation, increasing the cigarette tax by $1 perpack, imposing new taxes on computer system design services, allowing the MBTA to sell naming rights to stations and redirecting funds from other areas of the budget.

 The bill is a blow to Gov. Deval Patrick, who had been seeking $1.9 billion in new taxes for transportation and education. The House version of the bill also raises taxes by $500 million, but the Senate — after a veto threat — pulled money from other areas of the budget to bolster revenues closer to the $1 billion sought by Patrick. Last night, the governor seemed resigned to the diminished scope of the package.

 

Barbara Anderson, well known in Massachusetts for her work against tax hikes, posted the following on her Facebook page:

 

From media reports, the Senate Transportation bill that passed yesterday includes a 3-cent gas tax, a $1 tax on cigarettes, and $244 million in utility and business-related computer fees. Sen. Bob Hedlund, who appeared briefly at the rally during a Senate break, led the Republican effort to remove language indexing the gas tax to inflation beginning in 2015, but his amendment failed. Watch that tax on computer fees: very unfair to small businesses, and could be the beginning of expanding the sales tax to other services.

Raising taxes in less than ideal economic times is not a good idea. This move by the Senate will slow the growth of jobs and opportunity in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. It is not a good idea.

There is, however, something good in this tax bill (if it actually happens). The article in the Boston Herald reports:

The bill, which is designed to pour money into the highway system as well as the perennially cash-strapped T, includes two amendments that would pull the veil off the T’s pension system after years of scrutiny by lawmakers, judges and law enforcement — and a week of Herald reports.

Sen. William Brownsberger (D-Belmont) said he filed the legislation to make the MBTA Retirement Fund subject to the state’s public records law and require the board to post pensions payments on the state’s Open Checkbook website after he saw the Herald’s reports last week on the secretive pension system. He said he filed similar legislation about four years ago that failed to gain attention.

If the transparency actually occurs, it will be a good thing for the taxpayers of Massachusetts.

 

More Questions Than Answers

 

I am posting this article because I honestly do not know what the truth of the matter is. I saw some people interviewed on television today regarding this, and I honestly don’t know if their objections are valid or not, so here is the story.

On February 6, Cape News reported on the possible impact of the Falmouth Board of Selectmen’s decision last week to remove the two town-owned wind turbines at the wastewater treatment facility. The article stated that the removal of the turbines might have an impact on other planned projects throughout the nation.

The article reports:

The Falmouth Wind Turbine Options Process reported that removing the turbines would cost the town $9 to $9.4 million. Last week, Assistant Town Manager Heather B. Harper told selectmen that number could be as high as $11.9 million. Town Manager Julian M. Suso said yesterday that there are many unknowns about the process of removing turbines. “Some work lies ahead to be certain what costs are appropriately in that figure,” he said.

Falmouth is seeking help from the state to relieve some of the financial burden of removing the turbines. Last week, Mr. Suso sent a letter to Massachusetts Clean Energy Center Chief Executive Officer Alicia Barton McDevitt, asking for relief from some of the money owed on the town-owned turbines. He asked the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center to consider relieving the town of any obligation to repay the $1 million in renewable energy credits that will not be produced if the turbines are removed.

At the same time Falmouth is reaching out to state representatives for help paying the debt associated with the turbines. “The board has directed that we contact other appropriate state officials regarding further assistance to the Town in regard to the very significant financial obligation related to this removal and dismantling,” Mr. Suso wrote in a letter to the Clean Energy Center.

The article explains why the turbines are being removed:

If Falmouth voters agree to remove the turbines, it could be the first case anywhere in the country of commercial-sized turbines coming down within three years of being installed because of noise and health complaints of residents.

Massachusetts did a Wind Turbine Health Impact Study in January 2012. I am not a scientific type, but after reading some of the study, it seems as if there is a strong possibility that wind turbines can negatively impact the sleep of the residents who live near them. The couple I saw interviewed on television specifically stated that their sleep had been disrupted.

The report states on Page 13:

2.  There is limited evidence from epidemiologic studies suggesting an association between noise from wind turbines and sleep disruption. In
other words, it is possible that noise from some wind turbines can cause sleep disruption.
3.  A very loud wind turbine could cause disrupted sleep, particularly in vulnerable populations, at a certain distance, while a very quiet wind turbine would not likely disrupt even the lightest of sleepers at that same distance. But there is not enough evidence to provide particular sound-pressure thresholds at which wind turbines cause sleep disruption. Further study would provide these levels.
4.  Whether annoyance from wind turbines leads to sleep issues or stress has not been sufficiently quantified. While not based on evidence of wind turbines, there is evidence that sleep disruption can adversely affect mood, cognitive functioning, and overall sense of health and well-being.

I am not opposed to alternative energy. I am opposed to pushing a form of alternative energy before we get the bugs worked out of it. This will be a rather expensive boondoggle for Falmouth and probably for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

 

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The Continuing Battle To Overturn The HHS Mandate In Obamacare

The American Center For Law And Justice (ACLJ) is reporting today that the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals has issued a ruling that temporarily blocks the abortion-pill mandate from being imposed on business owners in Illinois.

The article reports:

With this important ruling, all of the ACLJ’s clients with pending litigation over the HHS mandate have now been granted a temporary reprieve from the mandate’s violation of religious liberty as our lawsuits continue.

The article also mentions:

It is also important to note that the court stated that the Supreme Court’s refusal to intervene in Hobby Lobby’s challenge to the mandate earlier this week, is not determinative of this case or many others across the country, as the legal standard for the Supreme Court’s intervention requested in that case “differs significantly” from the standard applicable to motions for injunction in federal trial and appellate courts.

It should be illegal to force business owners to violate their consciences. Hopefully, the Supreme Court will rule that way when the case eventually arrives.

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Following The Money On America’s Domestic Energy Front

John Hinderaker at Power Line posted an article today about the Matt Damon movie, “Promised Land.” The movie is essentially an anti-fracking movie that plays fast and loose with the actual truth. The movie was funded by the United Arab Emirates. We are supposed to believe that they are neutral parties in America‘s quest for energy independence. Yeah, right.

The article reports:

But the movie is actually worse than a garden-variety, ill-informed environmentalist fantasy, in which companies–especially energy companies–are villains, and whoever opposes development of resources–especially energy resources–is a hero. The original script for Promised Land portrayed anti-fracking activists as disinterested, admirable whistle-blowers. But while the film was in production, it came to light that several of the main real-world anti-fracking activists were peddling frauds:

The article then goes on to list some of the cases that have proved that the complaints against fracking are not valid.

The article explains how the movie dealt with the anti-fracking fraud:

News stories about these frauds were widely enough circulated that the filmmakers were concerned that moviegoers may be aware of them, and it could make the premise of their movie laughable. So, did they respond by telling the truth about the anti-fracking movement? Of course not. Did they cancel the film and eat their losses? Don’t be silly! No, they changed the script. In the finished version of Promised Land, “the fraudulent environmentalists are secretly working for the gas company to smear the environmental movement.”

I have a few questions about this whole fracking thing. “Why is the environmental movement so against America becoming energy independent?” Wouldn’t the environment be cleaner if every country used its own energy sources? Isn’t the use of local resources a better idea than taking a chance on oil spills by transporting oil all around the world? Are the environmentalists themselves using less energy to show that they practice what they preach?

Almost every country in the world has an energy source. The only country that I am aware of that uses almost 100% green energy is Iceland. They have harnessed the volcanoes the country sits on and used the superheated steam from the volcanoes to provide electricity. Obviously, every country does not sit on volcanoes and can’t do that, but America sits on large deposits of natural gas, a relatively clean source of energy that can be retrieved by fracking. We need to use our own resources. The United Arab Emirates needs to find new customers!

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There Is A Time And A Place For Fun–This Is Not It !

This is a campaign ad from the Republican party. It is not a joke–the audio you hear is actually real. I have no problem with having fun and being lighthearted, but this is a presidential campaign that will decide the future of America and American small business. The bottom line here is, “How much freedom do you want as an American citizen?”

This is the video (now on YouTube):

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Words Have Consequences

Yesterday Guy Benson at Townhall.com posted a story about the “Crumb and Get It” Bakery in New River Valley, Virginia. This mom and pop bakery has been open for about three months, and the advance team for Vice President Joe Biden was hoping to use the bakery for a photo-op for the campaign. When the advance team approached the owners about doing the photo-op, Chris McMurray, the owner of the bakery said, “no.”

The article reports:

Why in the world would a new business owner say “no” to a photo op with the Vice President of the United States? McMurray said it was President Obama’s recent remarks about small business and who built what. “Very simply, ‘you didn’t build that’” McMurray said. “Speaking of small businesses and entrepreneurs all across this country and actually last night my wife was up all night. No sleep, she’s worked a full 24 hours.”

It isn’t surprising that the owners said no to the photo-op. What is surprising is what happened next.

The story continues:

Secret Service officers associated with Vice President Joe Biden bought a pile of cupcakes from the baker who refused to host Biden at his shop — and they did so out of gratitude. It’s a startling news nugget at the bottom of a local report. “Shortly after Crumb and Get It told Biden’s advance people ‘no’ — the secret service walked in and told [owner] Chris McMurray “Thanks for standing up and saying ‘no’ — then they bought a whole bunch of cookies and cupcakes,” according to the Valley Reporter (Va.). McMurray refused to host the Biden entourage as a protest of Obama’s comment, made in the nearby town of Roanoke, that “if you’ve got a business — you didn’t build that.” The Secret Service’s purchase proved to be a herald of things to come, as Virginia locals rewarded McMurray with a rush of business this morning. The bakery ran out of food by 1:15 pm.

I think there are a lot of small businessmen who have worked long hours to build their businesses and are trying to keep their businesses running in the Obama economy who feel that way. The combination of over-regulation and the impending taxes which will take effect on January 1st have created a very difficult business climate. I am very concerned as to whether or not America’s economy can survive four more years of Obamanomics.

Thank you, Chris McMurray, for your courage.

 

 

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A Philosophy That Doesn’t Really Fit America

Today’s Washington Times posted a story and a video of a recent campaign speech by President Obama.

The statement:

There are a lot of wealthy, successful Americans who agree with me — because they want to give something back.  They know they didn’t — look, if you’ve been successful, you didn’t get there on your own.  You didn’t get there on your own.  I’m always struck by people who think, well, it must be because I was just so smart.  There are a lot of smart people out there.  It must be because I worked harder than everybody else.  Let me tell you something — there are a whole bunch of hardworking people out there.  (Applause.)

 If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help.  There was a great teacher somewhere in your life.  Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive.  Somebody invested in roads and bridges.  If you’ve got a business — you didn’t build that.  Somebody else made that happen.  The Internet didn’t get invented on its own.  Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the Internet.

The point is, is that when we succeed, we succeed because of our individual initiative, but also because we do things together.  There are some things, just like fighting fires, we don’t do on our own.  I mean, imagine if everybody had their own fire service.  That would be a hard way to organize fighting fires. 

Let’s look at that statement for a minute. Many successful people did get there on their own. In a classroom taught by a great teacher, there are no guarantees that any student is going to be successful. If a great teacher could make everyone in her class successful, we would have a lot more successful people. This unbelievable American system was not created collectively–it was created by individuals. Yes, we do things together, but we do things together as individuals–each contributing their own particular talent. Most of us have gotten over our envy of the rich–we understand that most wealthy people worked very hard to gain their wealth. The mindset in this speech is one of collectivism–not of free enterprise. This whole speech does not belong in an American Presidential campaign. It is an insult to the founding fathers of America.  

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