econscius

Posts Tagged ‘President Obama’

ObamaCare Buyer’s Remorse

In Uncategorized on April 20, 2013 at 12:36 am

The Administration’s implemenation of “ObamaCare” is proving problematic.  Some unions are not turning against the very law they once supported.  See this link for a detailed story: http://finance.yahoo.com/news/unions-grow-wary-health-law-034700539.html

The International Union of Operating Engineers Local 150 of Countryside, Ill., which represents construction workers and insures about 65,000 people, is also examining whether some lower-earning workers would eventually be better off leaving the union-sponsored plan and instead getting federally subsidized insurance.

 

“I’ve told my members, as this evolves, your health care will not look like it does today,” said James Sweeney, president and business manager of the local. “I have to cut it back.”

One of the laws’ architects, Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT), told HHS head Sebelius he sees “a huge train wreck coming down” because of Administration implementation failures.  (see  http://www.politico.com/story/2013/04/max-baucus-stirring-controversy-on-all-sides-90295.html#ixzz2QycKQV7Z)

Ethanol Uses 40% of US Corn; Can We Afford It in a Drought?

In Obama Administration, Uncategorized on August 12, 2012 at 1:42 pm

Image

The Wall Street Journal points out, with corn prices projected to hit record levels as US supply is projected by the USDA to drop 13% to 10.8 billion bushels, [1] a rather surprising 40% of US corn production is consumed neither by humans nor animals but by ethanol. [1]

The piece doesn’t make the following point, but it is implicit: if 40% of corn production produces about 13.2 billion gallons of ethanol (because almost all ethanol comes from corn), how do we achieve 36 billion gallons of ethanol in 2022?  The US Renewable Fuels Standard requires that much ethanol by 2022, of which 15 billion is to be corn-based and 21 billion gallons from other ethanol forms (e.g. sugar), [2] but the question is how can that even be achieved?  That implies a larger proportion of the US corn crop and then an incredible amount from currently non-economically feasible, essentially non-existent sources.

International aid agencies have asked the US EPA to temporarily suspect the ethanol mandate (the US accounts for a full 60% of global corn exports) but it is unlikely to happen in an election year when President Obama trumpeted support of ethanol in battleground Iowa.  I see another failure of US government energy policy.

[1] http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10000872396390443404004577581140907497810.html

[2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Energy_Independence_and_Security_Act_of_2007, retrieved on 8/12/12.

Picture from Wikipedia Commons.

You Built Your Business, President Obama Did Not

In Economy, Political Rhetoric, President Obama on July 16, 2012 at 9:23 pm

Sorry, Mr. President, but you’re wrong. 

If you have a business, you built it.  It’s yours, not Barrack Obama’s.  You’re the one who quit your comfortable day job to take on a dream.  It was your 401(k) savings you dipped into for the start-up.  It was your credit card that purchased office supplies.  You’re the one who had trouble sleeping at night when you signed for the lease, knowing you needed to sell like crazy to justify the risk.   You’re the one who sped to the bank before it closed to deposit a receivable check you personally picked up.  It is you who sent a check to the state to incorporate. 

It is you who learned QuickBooks and how to do payroll.  You learned about liability insurance and key man policies and a million other tidbits of business you never imagined you’d have to.  You’re the one who reassured your spouse you weren’t insane when the economy took a downward trend or you lost your big customer.

You’re the one who gets up at 4AM and leaves last in the evening.  You’re the one who signs personally for your bank loans.  You’re the one who signs the tax returns.  It is you who negotiates with salespeople of your vendors.  You work so hard because your day seems to be filled with meetings, meetings and more meetings.  You’re the one who deals with the angriest customers when things go wrong.  You’re the one who does the thankless jobs – like interviewing or firing people when times are tough.  It’s your drive and vision that pushed each new product.

You’re the one who has to be a rock.  When customers or employees scream and swear, you’re the one who has to settle things down.  You’ll get sued if you don’t, after all, you’re the supposed ‘deep pocket’.  When times are tough, you cheer up the staff.  When times are good, you dampen overenthusiasm, lest it put the firm in a bad spot later.

You’re the one who had trouble sleeping at night when you contemplated adding a second location or moving to a larger facility.  There were no guarantees.  You’re the one who had to testify in court about the frivolous lawsuit.  Even though the judge tossed it, your insurance rates went up, anyway. 

You’re the one who gave back to your community as you succeeded.  You sponsored a little league team, you organized fundraisers and gave more and more to local charities.  You volunteered for Junior Achievement and you offered leftover food from your restaurant to a homeless shelter.  As your company grew, more and more people in your community asked for your advice.  They started recommending you get involved.  You didn’t have the time, but you ran for school board or village board, anyway.  You paid a fortune in taxes, not only income but real estate and sales taxes for your business.

No matter what politicians say, you are the bedrock of the American economy and society, too. 

President Obama revealed perhaps more than intended of his feelings toward entreprenuers and successful people in general.  Ironically, most successful people are quick to extend credit to people who’ve helped them along the way, be it parents, mentors, teachers, spouses and the like. 

But, Apple and Hewlett-Packard didn’t become great companies because of the workmen who build the garages they started in. [1]  They became industry leaders by the endless hard work, drive and brilliance of Steve Wozniak, Steve Jobs, Bill Hewlett and David Packard.  Millions of American business owners toil away in far less glamorous surroundings, though the dry cleaner, cleaning service and local restaurant are all crucial to local economies.

I reprint Obama’s remarks at length below, sourced from whitehouse.gov:

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. [2]

[1] Early Apple computers really were made in Steve Job’s parent’s garage in Los Altos, CA.   http://cicorp.com/apple/garage/index.htm

[2] Note he is even wrong about the internet, which was created by the Defense Dept. for national security purposes, not “so companies… could make money”.  The internet is nothing without private telecomm, too (phone lines, switches, routers, etc.)  Many years after the invention of the internet, smart entrepreneurs figured out ways to make the internet useful to consumers and thus, make money. http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2012/07/13/remarks-president-campaign-event-roanoke-virginia?utm_source=wh.gov&utm_medium=shorturl&utm_campaign=shorturl

Pictures (Steve Jobs’ parent’s garage and early HP & Apple logos) from Wikipedia Commons.

Government Vultures Pick At Taxpayer Carcasses for Green

In 2012 Elections, Economy, Government Spending, President Obama on July 6, 2012 at 8:09 pm

 

Unused parking spots near author’s residence. Photo by author.

President Obama is no fan of American capitalism of the venture sort.  He actually used the term ‘vulture’ to refer to Bain Capital. [1]  Despite Bain’s obvious success in promoting many successful companies WITH ITS OWN MONEY, Obama has been the real vulture, picking at taxpayer carcasses. 

One after another, the President’s ‘green’ investments have failed.  Oops, did I say the President’s investments?  I mean your investments he makes.  Unlike Bain, the Obama bad investments, which seems to be essentially all of them, come right out of your pocket.

Bloomberg reports on Abound Solar’s failure:

Abound plans to file for bankruptcy in Wilmington, DE, next week and will fire about 125 employees, according to a statement yesterday.

The company, based in Loveland, CO, borrowed about $70 million against its guarantee. U.S. taxpayers may lose $40 million to $60 million on the loan after Abound’s assets are sold and the bankruptcy proceeding closes, Damien LaVera, an Energy Department spokesman, said in a statement. [2]

After Solyndra, Ener1 [3] and other taxpayer-backed bankruptcies, it should be clear to everyone it is best to leave investing to the real venture capitalists, private equity firms and stock markets and avoid the real vulture: the federal government, which tends to make bad investments to politically-connected parties.  Anthony Kim, analyst at Bloomberg New Energy Finance in New York said this of the Abound Solar bankruptcy, “This is not surprising at all,” because they backed the wrong type of technology. [2]  With your money. Solyndra logo.svg

 [1] http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304840904577424583779000656.html [2] http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-06-29/abound-failure-revives-debate-over-obama-solar-policies.html [3]http://abcnews.go.com/Blotter/ener1-parent-obama-backed-green-company-files-bankruptcy/story?id=15456414 Parking lot picture by author.  Solyndra logo from Wikipedia Commons.

Obama No Friend to Hispanic Immigration but GOP No Better

In Immigration, Obama Administration on July 6, 2012 at 1:20 pm

The GOP allowed Obama to box it in on immigration.  Look at how little Obama actually did for Hispanics:

1. Obama is the top deporter in history at 400,000+ per year. [1]  He stepped up deportation audits of American employers.

“The president is trying to have it both ways–appease the enforcement hard-liners while appealing to Hispanic voters,” said Craig Regelbrugge, co-chairman of the Agriculture Coalition for Immigration Reform, a group that lobbies for a loosening of restrictions on illegal immigrants. The audits “routinely hit good employers who … treat workers well, leaving crippled farms and shattered families in their wake.” [2]

2. The President made no effort on promised immigration reform during the first two years of his Presidency, even with a supermajority in each house of Congress.  

3. In the Fast and Furious scandal, the Obama Administration illegally allowed guns into Mexico, resulting in the deaths of at least 150 Mexicans plus one US border agent. [3] 

4. Hispanic unemployment (11.0% in June 2012) remains stubbornly high and above the white jobless rate. [4]

5. The much touted Obama recent policy change on deportation delays did what?  It tells you, young undocumented person, you may stay in the US for another two years.  Then you will be deported (see #1 above).  In the meantime, your parents, your brother and your sister – all may be deported today (see #1).  Good luck fending for yourself in the meantime.  Obama offers no path to citizenship. [5]  [6]   In other words, Obama did very little but most in the GOP offer even less (exceptions exist, see Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL).  Hello, Governor Jan Brewer.

6. Obama picked fights with the Catholic Church on matters such as whether churches can choose to cover contraception in their health plans.  Some 68% of American Hispanics are Catholic. [7]

Pinata ceiling at Mi Tierra restaurant, San Antonio, Texas

 

President Obama took Hispanics for granted, giving the GOP an opening.  But the Republicans failed to use their chance. 

America’s dismal economy diminished the need for new workers.  Recently, immigration from Mexico dropped to net zero as many recent comers have returned to Mexico for better opportunities. [8]  Mexico now has higher GDP growth than the USA.  The fact US Hispanic unemployment is higher than whites suggests Latinos are not ‘stealing’ jobs.

Jobs accepted by fresh immigrants tend to be work native-born Americans simply will not take, such as busing tables, mowing lawns in summer heat and working in dairy farms in remote corners of South Dakota. [9]

Kung Pao chicken

The GOP’s failure to move forward with serious immigration reform allowed President Obama to offer virtually nothing to Hispanics even as he looks set to win a strong plurality of Latino votes.  Immigration is one area where what’s best for the US economy happens to be what’s in the best tradition of America (openness to people who, after all, are eager to move here).  The utter lack of progress on immigration constitutes a political failure of Obama, the Democrats and the GOP, too.

[1] http://pewresearch.org/pubs/2158/latinos-hispanics-immigration-policy-deportations-george-bush-barack-obama-administration-democrats-republicans

[2] http://www.northernag.net/AGNews/tabid/171/articleType/ArticleView/articleId/6810/Homeland-Security-Targeting-Illegal-Farm-Workers.aspx

[3] http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Americas/2011/0309/Mexico-lawmakers-livid-over-US-Operation-Fast-and-Furious

[4] http://www.bls.gov/news.release/empsit.nr0.htm, accessed on 7/6/12.

[5] http://news.yahoo.com/us-halt-deportations-young-illegal-immigrants-143617764.html

[6] http://chronicle.com/article/Undocumented-Dreamers/132711/

[7] http://www.nytimes.com/2007/04/25/us/25cnd-hispanic.html

[8] http://www.nbcsandiego.com/news/local/Migration-Mexico-to-US-Drops-Pew-Hispanic-Reserch-Center-148567645.html

[9] http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304870304577488973455967032.html

Mi Tierra picture by author.  Ellis Island, Chinese-American food and famous immigrant picture (Sergey Brin, founder of Google) from Wikipedia Commons.

Firing Workers Can Be A Good Thing

In Uncategorized on May 23, 2012 at 5:13 pm

Yes, firing people is a good thing.  A very good thing sometimes.  Just ask President Obama when he touts the GM downsizing.

A troubled company in a declining or increasingly competitive industry may need to cut a bloated workforce to keep itself in business, saving the remaining workers.

Take GM. GM’s worldwide workforce declined by about 36,000 workers between December 31, 2008 and December 31, 2011. [1] [2]  The GM workforce declined by about 14,000 US workers during that time frame. [3]

 

[1] page 15 of http://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/1467858/000146785812000014/gm201110k.htm

[2] page 19 of http://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/40730/000119312509045144/d10k.htm

[3] The 2011 annual report states there were 77,000 US employees is 62% of the total [2].  The 2008 annual report states 62,000 employees were 68% of the total.  Dividing the 62,000 by 68% yields about 91,000.  91K minus 77K equal 14K.

Are Democrats Racist?

In 2012 Elections, Racism on May 18, 2012 at 2:10 am

Are Democrats racist?

What about Democrats who will not vote for President Obama in their 2012 Democratic Presidential Primary?

We’ve all heard Republicans are “against” Obama because of racism. [1]  Nothing to do about the economy, government regulation or spending, nor the federal deficit.  The presumption is if Obama resigned today, the Republican Party (and whites in general) would pop open the champagne and vote for everything Joe Biden proposed because, well, hey he’s a white dude.  A very “white” dude.

[For the record, I hope President Obama stays healthy through the end of his term because he’s certainly far more intelligent than the buffoonish Biden.]

State seal of North Carolina

If Republicans voting Republican and opposing a Democratic President is racist (as opposed to what Republicans do), then what of Democrats who won’t support a Democratic President? 

Are they racist, too?  Or are there valid reasons to voice disapproval of President Obama?

In 2012, Obama lost the Democratic Primary in 15 Oklahoma counties. [2]

The President is running surprisingly tight against an unknown in Arkansas. [3]

Obama came close to losing the West Virginia Democratic Primary.  His Democratic opponent was serving time in a Texas jail but still managed 41% of the vote. [4]

In North Carolina, Obama had no opposition but “no preference” still took 21% (199,104 votes) in the Democratic Presidential primary. [5]

Real racism is disgusting (and foolish), which is why it should be taken as a serious charge.  It should not be bandied around carelessly.  As a result, I am unwilling to just assume every North Carolina or Oklahoma Democrat who opposed Obama was doing so out of racism.

Might Obama policies on energy have something to do with it?  Oklahoma is a huge state for oil.  The Keystone pipeline the Obama Administration has frozen would have run through Oklahoma.  West Virginians may oppose Obama policies against coal as well as hydraulic fracturing of oil and gas (so-called “fracking”).  More recently, might some Democrats in culturally conservative Arkansas oppose gay marriage?  What about the economy?  In Arkansas, might some even still be sore about Obama’s 2008 defeat of former Arkansas First Lady Hillary Clinton? 

Could some of those Democratic primary voters who won’t support Obama have a genuine gripe about foreclosures, unemployment or government deficits?  Might some of them be genuinely opposed to “ObamaCare” and other Obama era expansions of government power?  Or are they all racists?  If you think they’re racists, how do you know?  Do you know if they are white voters? 

What do you think?  If you’re a Democrat who opposed Obama in a 2012 state primary, I’d love to hear why; is it the color of his skin or do you have real gripes? 

 

 

[1] https://econscius.wordpress.com/2011/08/30/what-obamas-gallup-rating-shows-about-racism/

[2] http://news.yahoo.com/obama-loses-dem-primary-15-oklahoma-counties-050431645.html

[3] http://talkbusiness.net/2012/05/obama-in-for-a-battle-in-the-fourth-romney-on-cruise-control/

[4] http://articles.latimes.com/2012/may/09/news/la-pn-texas-inmate-wins-41-of-the-vote-against-obama-in-wv-primary-20120509

[5] http://www.wral.com/news/political/page/11007490/?group=president

Pictures from Wikipedia Commons.

Statistics Show 2009-12 The Weakest Economic Recovery Ever

In Economy, Obama Administration, Regulation, Unemployment on April 11, 2012 at 1:16 am

The worst economic recovery ever? 

Yes, this ‘recovery’ is worse than those following the Great Depression and the near depression of the 1980, 1981-2 double dip recessions.  Deep recessions are usually followed by broad-based booms.  Consumers and corporations have delayed needs that are typically fulfilled through accelerated purchases.  Twenty Twelve does not have a feel even remotely like robust 1984.  Few would refer to today as “Morning in America.” 

An excellent free piece (not behind the paywall) at the Wall Street Journal comes from Edward P. Lazear. [1]  Highlights follow:

The Great Depression started with major economic contractions in 1930, ’31, ’32 and ’33. In the three following years, the economy rebounded strongly with growth rates of 11%, 9% and 13%, respectively.

The current recovery began in the second half of 2009, but economic growth has been weak. Growth in 2010 was 3% and in 2011 it was 1.7%. Who knows what 2012 will bring, but the current growth rate looks to be about 2%, according to the consensus of economists recently polled by Blue Chip Economic Indicators. Sadly, we have never really recovered from the recession. The economy has not even returned to its long-term growth rate and is certainly not making up for lost ground.

Contrast this weak growth with the recovery that followed the other large recession of recent decades. In the early 1980s, the economy experienced a double-dip recession, with contractions in both 1980 and ’82. But growth rates in the subsequent two years averaged almost 6%. The high growth that persisted throughout the 1980s brought the economy quickly back to the trend line. Unlike the current period, from 1983 on, the economy was in rapid catch-up mode and eventually regained all that had been lost during the early ’80s.

It would be difficult to argue that government polices over the past three years have enhanced confidence in the U.S. business environment. Threats of higher taxes, the constantly increasing regulatory burden, the failure to pursue an aggressive trade policy that will open markets to U.S. exports, and the enormous increase in government spending all are growth impediments. Policies have focused on short-run changes and gimmicks—recall cash for clunkers and first-time home buyer credits—rather than on creating conditions that are favorable to investment that raise productivity and wages.

[1] http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702303816504577311470997904292.html

Pictures from Wikipedia Commons.

Government Backed Fisker Car Breaks Down for Consumer Reports

In Electric Cars, Obama Administration, Top 1% on March 12, 2012 at 1:14 am

Consumer Reports tests new cars.  Sometimes flaws are exposed but the US government backed Fisker, a subsidized $107,850 car for the ultra-rich, gave Consumer Reports a new experience when it suffered a catastrophic malfunction with less than 200 miles on the odometer. [1]

We the taxpayers are playing venture capitalists through the US government’s backing of start-up electric car companies.  Fisker, which builds its cars in Finland, received a $529 million US government loan. [2]

Consumer Reports wrote: 

We have owned our [Fisker] car for just a few days; it has less than 200 miles on its odometer…. After calling the dealer, which is about 100 miles away, they promptly sent a flatbed tow truck to haul away the disabled Fisker.

We buy about 80 cars a year and this is the first time in memory that we have had a car that is undriveable before it has finished our check-in process.

We encountered other problems with a Karma press car that visited the track for a few hours, and we have heard of problems at press events. In addition, we see that some owners are experiencing a variety of issues, as evidenced by forums such as FiskerBuzz.com. [1]

Financing a brand new venture is always a risk.  The US government deals to back private car companies are wrong on many levels. 

First, the risk is asymmetric: if a company like Fisker is successful, the benefit goes to its investors.  They might become very rich.  At best, the US taxpayer gets its money back, but the interest rate charged Fisker is below market rates, meaning it is a lousy deal, even if successful.  At worst, companies like Fisker fail and the taxpayer is never repaid.

Second, it is an improper role of the government to back private, for-profit companies.  It is picking winners and losers.  It amazes me we hear so much about bank bailouts and the “1%”, yet few decry this sort of corporate welfare. 

Thirdly, there is no need.  Venture capital and banking are long-established in the US.  Private companies with promising outlooks will find financing without burdening the already stressed US Treasury.

Fourth, the money is subject to politics and it may or may not be coincidence Obama campaign contributors just happen to back a private electric car company that received a government loan. [2] 

 

[1] http://autos.yahoo.com/news/bad-karma–our-fisker-karma-plug-in-hybrid-breaks-down.html

[2] http://abcnews.go.com/Blotter/car-company-us-loan-builds-cars-finland/story?id=14770875

For more on electric car subsidies, specifically Tesla, see also: https://econscius.wordpress.com/2012/02/01/road-trip-to-see-your-tax-dollars-at-work-140000-car-for-the-1/.  Pictures from Wikipedia.

$10,000 Government Cash For The Rich: $175K Earners Get Volt Rebates

In Electric Cars, Obama Administration, Tax Breaks, Top 1% on February 28, 2012 at 10:44 am

I hope you enjoy subsidizing the rich because President Obama loves the rebate checks sent to the crème-de-la-crème who can afford ultra-expensive electric cars.  Mr. Obama is proposing expanding the free money to $10,000 per vehicle.  Is this a good idea?

Sure, if you are a rich buyer of an electric car.  The average annual income of a Chevy Volt buyer is $175,000. [1]  By comparison, Nissan Leaf buyers are relative paupers, earning a mere $125,000 a year. [2] No wonder they need the check from Uncle Sam!   It turns out the Leaf isn’t attracting buyers new to hybrids for all that money, either, most Leaf buyers already have owned a hybrid. [2]  But they will get your taxpayer money, anyway.

Electric cars still have problems like short battery lives and high costs, thus the Obama Administration is determined to sell thousands more of these expensive cars through highly expensive subsidies.  I would prefer to have people use their own money to buy their cars; this is doubly so for the rich consumers who buy Teslas and Volts. [4]

[1] http://autos.aol.com/article/why-the-chevy-volt-is-attracting-wealthy-buyers/

[2] http://www.greencarreports.com/news/1049202_just-who-is-a-typical-2011-nissan-leaf-buyer-we-find-out

[3] http://content.usatoday.com/communities/driveon/post/2012/02/president-obama-budget-electric-car-subsidies-chevrolet-volt/1

[4] Rebates were $7,500 from the US Treasury (an additional $5,000 available from the State of California), pending the President’s proposed expansion to $10,000 per car.  http://www.mychevroletvolt.com/chevrolet-volt-tax-incentives-and-rebates

Pictures from Wikipedia Commons.