Monday, August 15, 2011

Corporatists or Crony Capitalists?
You can't tell the players without a scorecard.

First, it was the banksters; then Fannie, Freddie and the Wall Street crony capitalists. Then it was suspending the rule of law for the Chrysler bondholders. Then it was GE's CEO Jeff Immelt being appointed Chief Apparatchik of Obama's Private Sector Jobs Pogrom. (Immelt's qualifications for this position were 1- spending millions lobbying for "green" regulations and subsidies specifically favoring GE, 2- exporting over 20,000 jobs from the United States and, 3- large contributions to the Democrats and Barack Obama.)

Following Mr. Immelt we get Judith Faulkner:
Democrat donor gets federal health policy slot despite conflicts of interest.

A federal committee that includes a major donor to President Obama and whose company stands to profit from the panel's recommendations holds in its hands the future of health information technology policy.

Judith Faulkner, founder and CEO of Epic Systems Corp., secured a seat on a panel charged with recommending how $19 billion in stimulus money dedicated to health IT be spent, despite opposing a key administration position on the issue.

Faulkner and her company oppose the president's vision for health IT, but Epic employees are massive Democratic donors. They've given nearly $300,000 to Democrats since 2006, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

That may help explain both Faulkner's appointment to the 13-member Health Information Technology Policy Committee as a representative for health IT vendors, and the accolades her company regularly enjoys from prominent Democrats...

Faulkner told Bloomberg News in 2009 that sharing medical records "doesn't work when you mix and match vendors. ... It has to be one system, or it can be dangerous for patients."
Apparently the terms "X12 EDI" and "W3C" would not signify anything to Ms Faulkner. These are reliable, long standing methods for efficient and accurate exchange of information between computer systems.

Standards controlled by a single technology vendor are "standards". Look at Microsoft, they earned a de facto status as "standard", used it to suppress competition, and got sued by federal anti-trust enforcers. Bill Gates' mistake was never being appointed to a government committee to decide what the mandated personal computer operating system, word processor and spreadsheet would be.

Call these latter day "captains of industry" Crony Capitalists, Corporatists or proto-Fascist* dupes. The part that is worrisome for the United States is that our State Crony Corp. no longer thinks they need hide this.

*Mussolini, after all, called his nation's system "the corporate state"; political and economic power were vested in a cross-industry cartel controlled by the state.

P.S. Isn't it amazing they are still deciding how to spend "stimulus" money while the statist economics gurus whine that the stimulus didn't work because it was too small?

Update Oct 5-2011, 5:41PM
A comment from Veronica Alverston:
I see here you're talking about how Judy Faulkner got a health policy slot in the Obama administration. This article explains how to contact a congressmen to urge an investigation of Faulkner - - I really think this goes hand in hand with your article.
Indeed it does.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

The Bullying Pulpit

I'm sorry, but a group called the National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance (NAAFA) seems like just another group of professional victims organizing their pity party. Or, it did, until the weight of the First Nanny started to come down on them.

Truly, this should help people connect the dots between bullying and the Federal government. It helps explain how Dr. David Ludwig felt comfortable suggesting in public that fat kids be taken away from their parents.

If bullying is so terrible when practiced by children, why is it just peachy when the Feds do it?

Criticism on the basis of body shape is out of line. Just eat your peas, and never mention that though Obama's suit may be empty, the same could not be said of Michelle's shorts.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

"...labor cartels with no interest in their customers"

That's what I said Monday.

Today, Investors Business Daily asks, "Why Are Tuitions So High?"
An IBD analysis of data from the National Center for Education Statistics shows that from 1989-2009 the number of administrative personnel at four- and two-year institutions grew 84%, from about 543,000 to over 1 million.

By contrast, the number of faculty increased 75%, from 824,000 to 1.4 million, while student enrollment grew 51%, from 13.5 million to 20.4 million.
RTWT You'll soon see that it is the confluence of Federal interference in K-12, Federal regulation of higher education, Federal student loans and Pell grants, and teacher's unions political clout which are responsible for the perfect storm of rising costs.

Monday, August 08, 2011

Higher Education Bubble Rent Seekers

It's not the students. It's the ADMINISTRATORS.
A Senate bill that would encourage the growth of alternative training programs for teachers and principals, some of which would not be based at colleges or universities but would have the authority to give certificates considered the equivalent of master’s degrees, has come under fire from higher education organizations that argue Congress should focus on higher education institutions in efforts to improve teacher quality...

“While our organizations support the reform of educator preparation programs, we have several concerns about this legislation, and we ask you not to support it,” they wrote in the letter, which was signed by the American Council on Education, the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, and the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education, among others.
"[H]igher education organizations" = arrogant closed shop public employee unions pretending to be professional associations. AKA labor cartels with no interest in their customers.

Of "higher education organizations that argue Congress should focus on higher education institutions" one can only ask, "Where have you been and what have you been doing to improve teacher quality while Congress was solely focused on your votes institutions, whose costs have risen vastly more (439% from '82 to '07) than any other segment of the economy? Why is the biggest category to increase in your bloated spending that of administration? Why are you still propagating useless 'diversity' and 'feminism' studies? What does the term "intellectual diversity" mean to you?"

Sunday, August 07, 2011

Cognitive Dissonance

Our Democrat leaders in Washington passed a bill last week that they didn't much like. The passage of this bill increased government tax receipts by about $30 million a day, and 'saved or created' 70,000 construction jobs along with 4,000 federal jobs. Since the Dems claim to be about 'revenue enhancement' and government 'job creation,' you might wonder why they weren't patting themselves on the back, rather than complaining that the GOP "put a gun to our heads."

The bill in question was a temporary extension (the 21st such since 2007) of the Federal Aviation Administration's operating authority. Since July 23 of this year the lack of this authority had caused the FAA to miss collecting taxes of $28.6 million a day. If the partial suspension of FAA operations continued until September, when all our Congresscritters will have completed reunions with their Pomegranate trees consultations with their constituents, that could have totaled a billion dollars. That's billion with a "B".

The partial shutdown was caused by the Democrat's insistence on preserving $17 million in pork and changing a unionization process rule that has been in place for 75 years. So, for Senate Democrats, pork preservation and enabling public service unions to more easily organize are higher priorities than jobs and tax receipts. These preferences come together under the general heading of 'bribing the base.'

The Democrats were getting a bit squirmy about it, though. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and the president pleaded with Congress to solve the problem; As if the problem was the whole Congress and not just Democrats in the Senate insisting on pork and a mini-version of card-check:
The GOP-led House passed a long-term FAA funding bill last month that included a controversial labor provision that would overturn a decision by the National Mediation Board allowing airline and railroad employees to form a union by simple-majority vote. Republicans, who have long been concerned about union intimidation in these votes, want to keep the former rule treating a non-vote as a "no" vote.

But once that bill stalled over Democratic objections, lawmakers turned to a short-term extension that has passed 20 times before to keep the FAA operating since 2007.

But that effort stalled, too, when Republicans added a separate provision stripping $16.5 million in subsidies for rural airline services.
The rural airport subsidies come from the well-worn pork barrel Congressman John Murtha made infamous with the John Murtha Johnstown-Cambria County Airport.

The labor provision may have been 'controversial,' but only because the Senate Democrats were insisting on letting a bunch of bureaucrats at the NMB change a rule that's been in place for over 75 years.

So what did the Senate Democrats do after passing a temporary extension they could have passed 2 weeks earlier? They called a press conference to tell us the delay was all the fault of the Republicans. This charade proved too much even for ABC:

What is scary is that Senior Democrats were not feigning outrage and shock when there wasn't universal acceptance of their ludicrous assertions - they truly believe what they said. When leaders' foundational beliefs and tried and true methods suddenly don't work - even are mocked - dangerous things can happen.

There is a final twist. The Transportation Secretary announced that he is not bound by the pork elimination provision, in any case. So, the Democrats cost the United States Treasury over $200 million in tax receipts, and then will go ahead and spend another $17 million on several examples of Murtha's folly in violation of the law they just passed.

Update 2:05PM: Debra J. Saunders reports in the San Francisco Chronicle that Senator Barbara Boxer, blocked a vote on the legislation.
Sen. Barbara Boxer chided Karl for showing "a certain naivete" in not understanding that "this is about government threats." She also challenged Karl by asking if he had reported on GOP opposition to a vote on a "clean" bill. "Clean" here means no pork cuts.

Boxer seemed to have forgotten that she blocked a vote on the House Bill.

Monday, August 01, 2011

Iceberg ahead, Sir!
Steady as she goes, Helmsman.

Nancy Pelosi is being coy about her support for the Government bailout of the Government. Congressional Liberals are whinging about 'Satan Sandwiches.' The statist street is suggesting Obama has betrayed them - again. The Vice President called the tea party "terrorists." "Hostage takers," is the Progressive phrase of the day. If the hard left doesn't like it, it must be good, right? After all, the Wall Street Journal is calling the debt deal a 'big win' for the tea party, though continuing to criticize those who were elected for keeping their campaign promises.

It's a set up. All this angst is to reinforce the idea that the tea party philosophy is rigid and unreasonable. It is not rigid, it is principled. It is not the least unreasonable. Still, in the next round we're going to hear, "You terrorist cretins refused to compromise last time, and THIS TIME you're not getting your way."

Here's the terrible thing those moronic Hobbits wrought:

  • $9 trillion Baseline increase over ten years
  • $0.917 trillion spending reduction...
  • For a $8.083 trillion Baseline increase over ten years
  • Add to that a $1.5 trillion Budget Act Super Committee tax increase, (my prediction) and you get... a $9.583 baseline spending increase over ten years.
And that's if future Congresses don't go back on the promises of the current pirates, and the largest tax increase in American history is enacted by letting the Bush tax cuts expire.

Oh, and we get to have a fantasy vote on a Balanced Budget Amendment in the Senate.

Status quo on the debt trajectory. Size and scope of government unchanged. Summary: We avoid a liquidity crisis by increasing the ongoing solvency crisis.

Here are two examples of what the debt ceiling deal means will continue.

Graphs courtesy Zero Hedge.

You decide if that represents an immediate, existential threat to the United States.