Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Saturday Afternoon with the Wall Street Journal

March 30, 2010

Given the internet and my lack of faith in contemporary journalists, I rarely read newspapers anymore. Except for the Wall Street Journal. In fact, it’s one of the few if not the only major newspaper that has not lost circulation in recent years.

A few days ago I decided to spend some time reading the weekend edition of the Journal. As a business professor I should really spend at least an hour a day reading it front to back, noting articles to talk about in class; others to link to for my students. That’s hard to do given the different demands on my time.

At any rate, I decided to take some time Saturday afternoon to leisurely read the paper. I was amazed at how chock full of controversial material just the first section of that day’s Journal was.

For instance:

--A few years back when the anti-Wal-Mart frenzy was at its peak, the city of Chicago refused to allow the big retailer to put a new store within the city limits. As I recall, Wal-Mart instead located nearby just over the city limits in a suburb. In reality, Wal-Mart has for the most part ringed Chicago with suburban stores. Except for one Wal-Mart in Chicago, the core city has lost sales taxes, jobs, and a place for lower income people to shop. Now, things have changed: ministers from Chicago’s South Side – most of them black – are pressuring the Chicago city council to permit a Wal-Mart Supercenter in a middle class neighborhood called Chatham Market. Some of these ministers earlier opposed Wal-Mart. But there are hard economic realities: the article quotes a Wal-Mart executive as saying that Chicagoans are going to the suburbs to spend a half a billion dollars each year at Wal-Marts. I don’t know what Chicago’s sales tax is, but if it’s 10% and all those stores were in the city, that would total $50 million in tax revenue. Of course, not all of those stores would be inside Chicago, but you get the idea. Also, the executive said, 2,400 Chicagoans commute to the suburbs to work at Wal-Mart stores. Plus, many lower-income people have to leave town to take advantage of Wal-Mart’s prices. Despite the recognition of advantages of having Wal-Mart in Chicago, there are still opponents. For instance, the inappropriately-named Good Jobs Chicago Coalition wants Chicago employers of more than fifty people to legally be required to pay a “living wage” of $11 dollars per hour. Wal-Mart sees it differently. They start people a few dollars below that; however, that changes over time: the average wage for non-management people at Chicago’s only Wal-Mart is $11.30. That’s more than what the Good Jobs coalition wants. I think the ministers see that, too. Besides, I’d trust the guys who know the realities of the free market to determine wages rather than a group of Chicago community organizers.

--I’ve written earlier that this health care bill is a complex Rube Goldberg scheme that has flaws, contradictions, potential lawsuits, and gaps in care that we’re going to be discovering and discovering and discovering as things go in effect. First, we found out that the bill designed to cover all uninsured children with pre-existing conditions doesn’t. Now, here’s another problem: the bill requires establishment of high-risk pools to cover people with health problems who are currently uninsured. The bill says the pools have to be set up in 90 days. Right. We could get to the moon in less than a decade but it seems that the people charged with organizing these pools are finding that 90 days may not be enough time to set them up. Aren’t you glad they passed the bill so we could find out about all this neat stuff?

--On Page A6 of the weekend Journal was a story about a federal regulation requiring contractors who remodel older homes to have special federal lead-paint certifications, to spread plastic all over the place while working, and to wear special clothing to offset the alleged dangers of lead in paint in older houses. Are you kidding me? We rip things up on our 107-year-old farmhouse and don’t worry about things like that. Wasps, yes; lead paint, no. The EPA claims over a quarter of a million children over a five year period ending in 2004 had elevated lead levels in their blood. I doubt it. The EPA is the group, after all, that is not really tuned into reality. They’re the ones who want to tax the air we breathe and to regulate cow flatulence. Please. If any kids suffered the effects of lead paint like the EPA says, I doubt if it was from a remodeling job. But here’s real the kicker: this all goes into effect April 22. April 22!!!! As in a few weeks. The EPA says it has trained 50,000 individuals to remodel in the EPA way and they say another 50,000 will be trained by April 22. But an industry association says so far only 135 of the 212,000 contracting businesses and 14,000 of the 236,000 individual contractors have been certified. Whom to believe? They had better figure something out quickly because when this goes into effect, contractors face fines of $37,000 per day for noncompliance. Have any of these EPA people ever worked in the private sector?

--Also on Page A6 is a great picture that illustrates much of what I’ve written above. It’s from Ellicott City, Maryland, and it’s a picture of an eight-car train wreck.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Creek of Consciousness:

We have both parties to thank for all the illegal immigrants, in my judgment: the Republicans wanted cheap labor; the Democrats wanted cheap votes…Maybe I’ll write on my tax return envelope this year what I said last year: “I paid my taxes, Mr. Treasury Secretary. I hope you paid yours”…It’s what they all have in common: Newt Gingrich has a politically correct way of identifying terrorists. He calls them “non-Rotarians”...Ever notice the way President Obama hisses out the word “profits” as though it were the equivalent of child pornography?…Unlike many other couples, the Cutest Community Organizer and I rarely disagree about money. Except maybe a little bit: she says she’s frugal and I’m cheap…I knew we were in trouble last year when John McCain, the Republican candidate, said he didn’t know much about economics. Oh, great, I thought. You know what you call people who don’t understand economics? They’re called Democrats...Some people think the things Glenn Beck says are crazy, extreme. I wish. The President brings communists into the White House, puts Mao on the Christmas tree, calls for wealth redistribution and nationalizes the banks, the car companies and the health care system all while indebting us beyond comprehension. And Glenn Beck is extreme?...After global warming dumped a foot of snow on Northwest Arkansas, the temperature then rocketed into the 60s. A friend said he was driving with the air conditioning on while watching the snow melt…Question for the death panels: my university students will be evaluating my teaching next week. Where do I send the results to determine if I’m still productive enough for health care?...Freud’s discredited but I still said it: writing a news release for a candidate I’m working for, I accidentally referred to the new government scheme as “health scare.”

On the Links

On the links

Sharpening the Patriot Act against the right.



Crimes of opinion in the People’s Paradise



No wonder the President insulted the Supreme Court over their corporate communications decisions. It’s allowing center-right groups to speak out.



Grandma the Terrorist? Michelle Malkin on all the hand-wringing by Democrats regarding those hateful Tea Partiers:



Speaking of which. Here’s some news the Establishment would consider non-news:
twenty – count ‘em – twenty leftist death threats against Sarah Palin:



Gore: "…we might be publicly criticized for running a pro-Democrat voter mill and even risk having Congress stop us." You think?



“But something about that deep rumbling out in the country says We the People have only begun to controvert.” From a few days ago, but Mr. Paul says it well.



“So, what happens when a dragon slayer – paid per dragon head – runs out of real dragons to slay? Well, he invents new ones, of course.” Matt Barber on the Southern Poverty Law Center.


Adult reassurance: Just because I post links doesn’t mean I agree with everything they say. Sometimes I wonder if I agree with absolutely everything I say.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Why I Quit Eating Steak

March 25, 2010

While an undergraduate at Michigan State University about 1969, there was a little steak cafeteria just off campus that I’d go to maybe once a week. I could buy a nice little steak, some Texas toast, a baked potato, and a salad. By drinking water, I kept the price to right at a dollar – that’d be about $5.75 today. Not bad for a really good meal.
Then came graduation and a move to Colorado in 1971. That was the year President Richard Nixon introduced wage and price controls. It was his plan to fight inflation that was what? Five percent?
Introduced in August, the wage and price controls lasted ninety days. Then for the next few years, there were different phases of wage and price controls that were, I think, on again and off again.
My personal problem with those wage and price controls was that they made me stop eating steak.
In 1972, having married the lady who would someday become the Cutest Community Organizer, I enjoyed going maybe once a week with her to a little steak house near where we lived in Pueblo, Colorado. It was somewhat similar to the cafeteria at Michigan State and the steak was good and the price was right.
As the seventies moved on and the Nixon Administration attempted to work its magic with the economy, I noticed the quality of steak began to decline. Then I learned that wage and price controls had messed up the supply chain that delivered the steak. I don’t remember the details, but as the cattle moved from rancher to feedlot operator to slaughterhouse to wholesaler to retailer to my plate, somebody in the chain got to raise their prices while somebody else in the chain could not. Again, I can’t recall the specifics, but it might have been something like the ranchers or feed suppliers could raise their prices but the feedlot operator could not. At any rate, somebody in the chain had to buy product at unregulated prices then had to sell the product at regulated prices. It was an economic idea worthy of government: buy high, sell low.
With those machinations, whoever was being squeezed in the supply chain began to pass on lower qualities of meat. Instead of those nice sweet steaks of Michigan State and early Pueblo days, I now was wrestling with tough junk that tasted flat and was hard to chew.
I quit eating steak. I learned that the low priced steak houses could no longer provide what I had expected in one of my favorite foods. To this day, I dislike modestly-priced steak. Even in nice restaurants where I would pay more money for steak, I found that you take your chances: sometimes a high-priced steak would be good; otherwise it wouldn’t. So why bother? Why risk a good amount of money to be disappointed?
I may be missing something in the economics of this. Since I rarely eat steak any more, I don’t pay much attention to it as a product . It may be many things have occurred besides Nixon messing with the economy nearly forty years ago that have resulted in my inability to find good inexpensive steak and my reluctance to spend top dollar for so-called quality steak.
All I know is that government tampering with markets ruined for me the pleasure of a nice, juicy steak.
Which brings me to my real concern.
I can live without a modest steak indulgence, but the forces which wrecked the steak supply chain are going to start killing people.
Watching government types think they can command and control all aspects of the pricing, supplying, regulating, and, yes, rationing of the health care system would be funny if it weren’t so serious.
They’ve developed a Rube Goldberg device and no one can comprehend what’s in it. How many rancher-to-feedlot-type contradictions are in there? What happens when there is too much Item A provided when we need Item B? And that it all should at Point C instead of Point D? What if the whole thing creates a picture as ridiculous as all of those New Orleans buses that could have been used to evacuate people from Katrina but were never moved to higher ground before the flooding began?
People are going to die from this.
Already I’ve heard two insurance professionals say that the new health care bill’s demand that insurers pay out 85 percent of premiums instead of the current 65 percent will have a devastating effect come January 1. Either insurance companies will have to double or triple premiums or go out of business.
Buy high, sell low.
Other creepy things are beginning to push their way out of this mess of a health bill. For instance, one of the big arguments for the health plan was that it would cover pre-existing conditions. Now, the Associated Press says the language of the bill does not cover pre-existing conditions for some children.
Great. I thought that was another reason why they had to do this. For the children.
What governments refuse to face is that free markets create information that allows buyers and sellers to determine the true value of goods and services. In other words, free markets determine prices. Given the seemingly infinite number of transactions and prices that must be determined, only markets – not government – can generate the required information to truly determine value.
But the government guys always have to interfere.
“We want to help the people. We’ll use our power to suspend the laws of economics. After all, it’s for the people. We know what’s best for them. We want to protect them. True, they may not like it, but they’ll come love it. In the meantime…
“Let them eat steak.”

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Paging Doctors Moylan and Crusher...

March 24, 2010

Doctor Moylan was our family doctor when I was growing up in the 1950s Detroit suburb of Oak Park. I don’t know his first name. “Doctor,” I guess.

Doc Moylan was maybe 40 years old. Or 45. Or 50. I was a kid, after all, and as a kid you think everyone is old.

Being about nine years old I remember one day when my mother sent me to visit Doc Moylan. Obviously I wasn’t sick because I walked or rode my bicycle a little over a half mile to Doc Moylan’s office. Might have been a physical checkup or something.

Doc Moylan had his little office on Geneva Street just off Nine Mile Road in Oak Park. I was in that neighborhood a lot. Across Geneva Street was Efros Drugs where my mother would send me to pick up stuff for her. I liked Efros because they had a lot of comic books and they had a cool section in the back where you could buy a bunch of those magic tricks that were advertised in the comic books. A few doors down from Efros on Nine Mile were the offices of Carpentry by Landry, a major contractor run by my uncle and a place from which my dad and most of my uncles worked.

I don’t remember if Doc Moylan had a secretary or a receptionist. I do know that he was an oldtime lone practitioner. And he made house calls. I recall him coming to our house and into my Vicks Vapo-Rub-smelling bedroom when I was sick. He had the traditional little doctor bag and would poke and examine me, then speak confident medical-type words to my mother, assuring her I was okay.

Doc Moylan liked to talk. You got not only health care from Doctor Moylan, but you got an enjoyable visit with a genial man who genuinely liked people. I remember on that day when I went by myself to his office on Geneva that he wanted to know how my parents were and what was going on with us.

I don’t remember paying Dr. Moylan anything that day – I imagine he billed my parents or more likely settled up with them the next time one of them made a visit.

Doctor Moylan couldn’t exist today. For one thing, advances in medical care for the most part have done away with the house call. Can’t lug all that fancy equipment around in the back of a Buick. Also, you can’t financially support the clerical staff needed for insurance and Medicare processing by sitting around chatting with the folks. Medical practice today has to be about producing revenue. And while I’m sure Doc Moylan had some kind of liability insurance he probably did not worry too much about his patients suing him. After all, they were his patients, his friends, and he was almost like an uncle in their families.

Doc Moylan had the luxury and the privilege of mainly providing personal care and expertise, much of it based upon the knowledge he carried around in his head (I’ve heard the old docs were experts at diagnosis by focusing on the smell of the patient and the room).

As great as Doctor Moylan was, I wouldn’t want to go back to the medical care of the 1950s.

Dentists offices in those days were torture chambers and an out-patient cataract operation I had about ten years ago would have required three weeks of recuperation in bed and permanent poor vision despite the operation. Today, it’s different: we have friends whose son had laser-directed heart surgery – heart surgery! – as an out-patient procedure.

It’s like we’ve been on the way to that little device Dr. Beverly Crusher waved over the patients of Star Trek the Next Generation that magically healed them.

Ah, but that won’t be coming anytime soon.

At least not from the United States.

That’s because we took the most advanced medical system in the world and one Sunday we broke it.

Correction: “we” did no such thing.

They did.

Driven by their pride, their bribes, their tricks, their cunning and most of all by the white hot Marxist agenda of the President and his White House thugs, they choked and stomped and kicked and gouged the American people until they got what they wanted.

And they’re wrecking a great health care system. It’s a system that prompted a Canadian provincial premier to leave left his national medical system to come here for surgery. Castro probably would have come here for medical treatment, too, but that would be hard to explain to the folks back in the worker’s paradise so he went to Spain instead.

To attain that health care has required investments of billions of dollars. And to secure those billions of dollars has required operation of the free market, even a free market compromised by government interference and the efforts of blood sucking tort lawyers.
And it truly has been a great system.

But now, like Captain Smith and the Titanic designer examining the damage shortly after the ship hit the iceberg, it’s dawning on us what we’re in for.

And it’s not pretty.

There’ll be no magic tools for Dr. Crusher.

And the standards we have today won’t last.

And medicine won’t be practiced the way it is now.

Which brings me back to Dr. Moylan.

Dr. Moylan had a personal relationship with his patients. But the technological advances made guys like him obsolete. Productivity became the byword. And because of changes in philosophies we had about insurance, we began to expect all the medical magic but with someone else paying. Throw in government pressure through Medicare and there was no way Dr. Moylan could spend his time chatting about your family.

As wonderful as the medical advances have been, a generation ago we lost the personal aspect of medicine. For a long time it’s been about costs and containment. Even my current doctor of fifteen years, a great guy in the tradition of old Doc Moylan, has time pressures. When I see him I can sense that as much as he’d like to sit and talk, there’s crushing financial overhead to fend off and revenue to be generated by moving on to another patient.

I understand.

But wait until my current doc becomes a government employee. We know how bureaucracies do things: they’ll squeeze the life out of us as individuals, but with their innate inefficiencies, they will never cut costs.

Sorry, Dr. Moylan. Sorry, Dr. Beverly Crusher.

It looks like the past and the future of American medicine are gone.

On the links

Whoops! Old John Dingell had a slip of the tongue on Detroit’s WJR and admitted that the health care bill is to “control the people.”

Thomas Sowell recalls FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover’s control over presidents and others with his infamous files. And he says, wait until the politicos get our health records.

Ben Stein quotes Churchhill: “In defeat, defiance.”

On the links…

If taxes are the price we pay for civilization, we’ve now become more civilized, right? Not according to Christopher Chantrill in American Thinker



It’s All About Them.

Boston Globe: With the Vote a New Stature for Obama
ABC News Tonight: Peloso “Most Powerful Woman” in History.


I’ll remember that when my Federal Cost-Benefit Analysis/Department of Motor Vehicles Review/Internal Medicine-Revenue Service dispatches me to the death panel.

Guess it’s time to check Netflix for Soylent Green.

Monday, March 22, 2010

I Don't Have Time for This

I don't have time for this. I don't have time for this. I don't have time for this.

But this blog has been kicking around in my head for a long time.

It's a political blog. Sort of. My thoughts, and links to thoughts of others.

And a bit of a personal blog – maybe there’ll be a few comments on Belle the World’s Wimpiest German Shepherd and comments on what’s happening on Wildcat Creek. But I’ll spare you a lot of that.

This blog will examine other things in which I'm interested and hope to make interesting to you: the cultural wars, perhaps.

And biblical issues.

The problem is, I don’t have time for this.

But, like a lot of people, given the events of the weekend, I will be making time for new things. (Now learning to get by with four hours of sleep some nights, instead of five).

I am a conservative – that’s CONSERVATIVE. Without apology. I believe in an old-fashioned concept called American exceptionalism. That means I believe that a group of 18th century geniuses applied biblical principles to organize a government based upon freedom of the individual but one that recognized the need to keep in check the sinful nature of human beings. It actually goes back further than the 18th century, but that’s for discussion at another time.

Primarily this blog will be about politics.

And politics is not my idea of a good time.

Yet I felt compelled to serve on a board position in the local Tea Party for awhile. Now I'm actively working in a political campaign. And my sweetie and I are examining political offices we may run for in the future. We’ve become active in the Republican Party because they’re the only game in town that will tolerate – and I emphasize the word “tolerate” -- people like us. But I recognize how the Republican establishment opposes what we believe in.

Again, politics is not my idea of a good time. But that's how we got to where we are: people with little or no interest in politics have been working jobs, raising kids, coaching soccer, helping their churches and communities. As a result, we’ve allowed the power-hungry, the greedy, the venal, and the unprincipled to take over our political system.

And the Democrats are bad, too.

So on with the show.

Below are links to things being said today.

Welcome to Wildcat Creek.

Today's Link-O-Rama

Lots of despair on the net today. Don't go there.
Rick Moran of American Thinker "The Sun Came Up This Morning:


And Judi McCloud in Canada Free Press "Tomorrow Never Dies."


Bulletin! Even the Los Angeles Times got something half right. Okay, a third right. That's pretty good for them.
Mark Z. Barabak: "After healthcare vote, Democrats turn to damage control


Rule the USA with your Chevrolet

Now that the federal government will be dictating the health insurance we buy, will their Government Motors also require us to buy their cars?

Ever think of the loss of decent used cars that cash for clunkers caused? Guess that’ll be another chapter in my someday book The Liberal War Against the Poor.

Thanks, Blanche Lincoln

Nancy Pelosi was very concerned that the House passage of the People's Health Care Bill not pass by one vote, since the Democratic honorables would have to go home to their districts and be blamed for being the deciding vote on this mess.
Actually, she got her wish with a bit to spare. But there is one vote – one vote! – directly responsible for this mess. It’s that of Senator Blanche Lincoln from here in Arkansas. Senator Lincoln passed the deciding vote to send the Senate version to cloture. She could have stopped it. But she didn’t. Now, of course, since the Democratic Health Care Rationing Act of 2010 has passed, she’s crowing about her part in passing it. Thanks, Senator Lincoln. Can’t remember which Republican U. S. senatorial candidate said this: “In November let’s send Blanche back home to Virginia.”

Today is an interesting anniversary

From an e-mail I received:

FYI: Today, March 22, 2010, is the anniversary of the British Parliament inacting the Stamp Act. On March 22, 1765 the British government began imposing unrelenting taxes, WITHOUT REPRESENTATION, on us.
Today, March 22, 2010, there is again no representation, the Democrats in our Congress are only representing themselves and their special interest groups, not the people.