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Health Care vs. Wealth Care.
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Americans Voting With Their Feet.
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Idea Majorities Matter.
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Twilight Zone Economics.
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From Ashes, GOP Opportunities.
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Let Economic Freedom Reign.
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Biggest Health Care Moment In Decades.
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Unions Antithetical to Liberty.
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Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 722 -- Texas Banks Outperforming National Banks.

Trend Solidifying-

•Across the country, nearly 29% of subprime mortgages were at least 90 days late or in some stage of the foreclosure process in the third quarter. In Texas, the figure was less than 17%, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association.

•Texas banks have stronger defenses against loan losses than banks nationwide. Their problem assets — non-current loans plus real estate seized from delinquent borrowers — are equal to just 17.2% of their defenses — equity capital plus reserves against loan losses. Nationwide, the figure is 24%. In neighboring Arizona, where a real estate bubble burst, the figure is 51.2%. Anything over 100% indicates a bank is in danger of failing.

• Texas banks were five times as profitable as U.S. banks overall and were charging off bad loans at less than half the rate of banks nationwide during the third quarter, the FDIC says.

• Just five banks have failed in Texas this year, fewer than 4% of the 140 bank failures nationwide. From 1988 to 1991, Texas accounted for more than 37% of bank mortality.

• The jobless rate in Texas was 8% in November — painfully high but 2 percentage points below the national rate. "Our fundamentals are very strong," says Mine Yucel, senior economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas. Forbes magazine recently rated Texas' economic climate No. 1 in the country.


Previous Trivia Tidbit: IRS Audits.

Posted by Will Franklin · 30 December 2009 10:56 AM · Comments (11)

Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 721 -- IRS Audits.

Trend Solidifying-

A government big and powerful enough to give you everything you always wanted is also big and powerful enough to take it all away. Take IRS audits, for example:


* Enforcement revenue up 50% from 2000
* Individual audit rate up 100% from 2000
* A millionaire is six times more likely to be audited than someone earning less than $200,000
* Business audit rate down 15% from 2000
* The only businesses with a higher audit rate in 2009 than 2000 are small businesses (< $10m assets). The audit rate of larger businesses (including those with over $250m of assets) is lower in 2009 than in 2000

If we're getting to a point where the IRS is auditing individuals and small businesses rather than big companies, because big companies have the resources to bog them down, while individuals and small businesses don't, then government is simply too big and powerful.

You shouldn't need a team of attorneys to avoid being audited by the IRS.


Previous Trivia Tidbit: Texas Rising.

Posted by Will Franklin · 29 December 2009 09:51 AM · Comments (1)

Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 720 -- Texas Rising.

Trend Solidifying-

After the devastation of the Civil War, many Southerners promised that the South would rise again. For some, it was a cultural thing. For others, it was economics-- simply rebuilding the burnt out cities. It meant a lot of things to a lot of people, some of the reasons better than others, but these days, it is all about Southern states (and, frankly, Western states with similar policies) attracting more people and jobs, and producing more economic growth and opportunity, than other parts of America that once seemed destined to lead forever.

The South is indeed rising again:


As more people move from those former juggernaut states like Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New York, to places like Texas, Georgia, and Florida, let's not forget why this is happening. It's not simply the warmer weather or the barbecue or whatever that is attracting people to these states. It's jobs. It's the lower taxes and government spending. It is the opportunity that comes with fairer, more predictable regulatory climates. It is knowing you can move your family to Texas or one of these other states, risk your capital, and succeed.

That can all change. The South is not predestined to be the growth center of America forever. As these millions of people migrate from one part of the country to another, they must be cognizant that they are fleeing not just the lack of a robust economy but the policies that led to the lack of a robust economy in the first place.

Michael Barone believes Texas is displaying its swagger based on the past decade's migratory patterns:

Immigration into Nevada, Arizona and California continues, though at lower rates than earlier in the decade. Interestingly, several Northeastern states -- New Jersey, New York, Massachusetts, Maryland, Connecticut and Rhode Island -- continue to attract large percentages of immigrants, but even they (except for Massachusetts) suffer from domestic outflow. Public policies -- high taxes and welfare benefits -- may account for these seemingly contradictory trends.


No. 3 in percentage population growth in 2008-09 was giant Texas, the nation's second most populous state. Its population grew by almost half a million and accounted for 18 percent of the nation's total population growth. Texas had above-average immigrant growth, but domestic in-migration was nearly twice as high.

There may be lessons for public policy here. Texas over the decades has had low taxes (and no state income tax), low public spending and regulations that encourage job growth. It didn't have much of a housing bubble or a housing price bust.

Under Govs. George W. Bush and Rick Perry, it has placed tight limits on tort lawsuits, and has seen an influx of both corporate headquarters and medical doctors.

The South is rising, but so are Wyoming, Utah, and other conservative states with policies similar to the South.

The lesson for America is pretty obvious. While Obama is determined to move the entire country closer to California/Michigan, we obviously need to a) get rid of one-size-fits-all policies and let states compete, and/or b) be more like Texas, Georgia, and Utah when and where we can't not have a one-size-fits-all policy for whatever reason.

UPDATE: Under the new electoral map, Bush could have lost Ohio to John Kerry and still won the election:

On the new map, the 2004 election ends with 291 for Bush, 247 for Kerry.

The bottom line: On this new map, if John Kerry had won everything he got in real life, plus Ohio's newly reduced number of electors (18) he still would have lost the election with 265 electoral votes.

People moving means political power-- not merely economic power-- shifts.


Previous Trivia Tidbit: Obama's Quickly Failing Administration.

Posted by Will Franklin · 28 December 2009 11:08 AM · Comments (0)

As Democrats Ram Through Socialized Health Care, Obama's Numbers Tank Further.


The Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll for Tuesday shows that 25% of the nation's voters Strongly Approve of the way that Barack Obama is performing his role as President. Forty-six percent (46%) Strongly Disapprove giving Obama a Presidential Approval Index rating of -21 That’s the lowest Approval Index rating yet recorded for this President.

Fifty-three percent (53%) of men Strongly Disapprove along with 39% of women. Most African-American voters (58%) Strongly Approve while most white voters (53%) Strongly Disapprove.

Seventy-four percent (74%) of Republicans Strongly Disapprove as do 52% of unaffiliated voters. Forty-seven percent (47%) of Democrats Strongly Approve.

For the second straight day, the update shows the highest level of Strong Disapproval yet recorded for this President. That negative rating had never topped 42% before yesterday. However, it has risen dramatically since the Senate found 60 votes to move forward with the proposed health care reform legislation.

Worst. President. Ever.

Posted by Will Franklin · 22 December 2009 01:49 PM · Comments (1)

Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison's Explanation For Her Vote With Democrats Does Not Stand Up To Scrutiny.

Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison's ex-post-facto explanation for her embarrassingly bad vote with the Democrats to break the Republican filibuster of Obamacare, in the wee hours of Friday morning, is that she was just doing it for the troops.

But that's not what she said just minutes before the vote:

Senator Hutchison voted against the attempted Republican filibuster of Obamacare. Remember that fact when this bill passes before Christmas.

I am not sure what is worse, the vote itself, or her use of the American military as a shield for her egregious deception about that vote. Both disqualify her from becoming the Governor of Texas.

Read More »

Posted by Will Franklin · 22 December 2009 12:59 PM · Comments (3)

Great Moments In Going The Wrong Way.

Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison really goofed last week when she teamed up with the two lefty Republican Senators of Maine and the entire Democratic caucus to end the GOP's efforts to filibuster the socialized health care bill:

KBH REALLY goofed on her excuse:

Senator Hutchison needs to seriously reconsider her entire candidacy at this point. There is still time for her to do the graceful thing and withdraw her name.

Sign up to help Governor Perry here. Donate here.

Read More »

Posted by Will Franklin · 20 December 2009 10:29 PM · Comments (3)

Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 719 -- Obama's Fall.

Trend Solidifying-

Obama "acted stupidly." His numbers continue to fall:


Every group has peeled off in terms of support for Obama:


Obama, albatross for Democrats in 2010.

UPDATE: A reader emails me to tell me I am wrong:

Your comment "Every group has peeled off in terms of support for Obama:" is innacurate as one group has INCREASED in support.

Support by Blacks went UP from 86 to 89%. I think that's germane.

As Instapundit would say, "Indeed."


Previous Trivia Tidbit: How Blue Are Blue Dogs?.

Posted by Will Franklin · 18 December 2009 12:42 PM · Comments (1)

Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 718 -- How Blue Are Blue Dogs?

More Blue Than They Get Credit For-

Larry Sabato's Crystal Ball explains that blue dogs are only slightly less liberal than the rest of Pelosi's caucus:

At the end of the day, contrary to the current media narrative, over two-thirds of Blue Dogs solidly support the Democratic agenda, with 36 of the 52 members voting the party line on over 90 percent of the time. In fact, only three Blue Dogs (Gene Taylor, with a 78 percent party voting score; Bobby Bright, AL-2, with 71 percent; and Walt Minnick, ID-1, with 68 percent) vote with the party on less than 80 percent of votes. On the vast majority of bills, most Blue Dogs vote just like their Democratic colleagues.

On health care, many blue dogs still voted for socialism:

Blue dog Democrats are still Democrats. There is no reason Democrats should represent conservative districts. None.


Previous Trivia Tidbit: U.S. & Texas Debt Factoids.

Posted by Will Franklin · 17 December 2009 09:06 AM · Comments (0)

Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 717 -- Debt.

Debt Trajectory-

Trillions in federal debt and growing:


Compare these trillions in federal debt to the states' debt burdens, which are generally far more under control. Texas, for example, has the second lowest state debt per capita and the second lowest state debt as a percentage of personal income.

It is important to distinguish between "general obligation" debt and "revenue" debt. Also "self-supporting" debt versus "not self-supporting" debt. Self-supporting debt, in a sense, is not even real debt, assuming it is structured to pay for itself with program revenue. Non-self-supporting debt is the "bad" debt-- it doesn't pay for itself, and it must be paid for by taxpayers.

Non-self-supporting debt in Texas has decreased from $3.40 billion in FY1999 to $2.85 billion FY2008, a 16% decrease (.pdf).

Because of Texas' fiscal responsibility and strong economy, Texas' S&P Bond Rating is now one of the highest in the country, at AA+.


Previous Trivia Tidbit: Buying Power.

Posted by Will Franklin · 16 December 2009 12:57 PM · Comments (1)

Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 716 -- Buying Power.

It's Getting Better-

Carpe Diem is definitely a blog that is worth bookmarking. One of their recent posts looks at "portable" music systems then and now:


More consumer product comparisons here. Even in these tough times, Americans still have greater buying power for the latest and greatest consumer goods than anyone has had at just about any time in human history. The market delivers better products at better prices. The problem with health care today is not too much market and too little government, it's too little market and too much government.


Previous Trivia Tidbit: Federal Debt.

Posted by Will Franklin · 15 December 2009 10:58 AM · Comments (0)

Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 715 -- Too Much Debt.

Debt Dragging America Down-

A little debt is not a terrible thing, and zero debt might actually indicate a level of dysfunction in government, but we are approaching a dire situation with regard to government debt in America.

A great fact sheet from Heritage on federal debt:

Increase Would Be Largest in History: Because this will be a difficult vote, the majority's leadership has suggested raising the limit enough to avoid another vote on the debt limit before the November 2010 elections. The estimated $1.8 trillion increase would be the single-greatest increase of the debt limit in history.

Senator Hutchison has voted 9 times to raise the debt ceiling, but I am sure now that people are scrutinizing her, she'll vote against raising the ceiling this time around.


Previous Trivia Tidbit: Federal Job & Salary Boom.

Read More »

Posted by Will Franklin · 14 December 2009 11:46 AM · Comments (0)

Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 714 -- Federal Job & Salary Boom.

Washington, D.C. Growing Like An Amoeba-

Some fascinating numbers from USA Today:

Federal employees making salaries of $100,000 or more jumped from 14% to 19% of civil servants during the recession's first 18 months — and that's before overtime pay and bonuses are counted.

Federal workers are enjoying an extraordinary boom time — in pay and hiring — during a recession that has cost 7.3 million jobs in the private sector.


The highest-paid federal employees are doing best of all on salary increases. Defense Department civilian employees earning $150,000 or more increased from 1,868 in December 2007 to 10,100 in June 2009, the most recent figure available.

When the recession started, the Transportation Department had only one person earning a salary of $170,000 or more. Eighteen months later, 1,690 employees had salaries above $170,000.


The growth in six-figure salaries has pushed the average federal worker's pay to $71,206, compared with $40,331 in the private sector.

This is obscene. Every newly-created federal job created means more government employee union money and activism. This explosion means hundreds-- possibly even thousands-- more 2-3 thousand dollar donors to the Democratic Party, all of whom have very personal vested interests in the perpetual growth of big government and many of whom will be donating a small fraction of their paychecks to protect those vested interests.


Previous Trivia Tidbit: Earlier Primaries.

Posted by Will Franklin · 11 December 2009 09:51 AM · Comments (0)

Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 713 -- Earlier Primaries.

Parties Choosing Earlier & Earlier-

A graphical look at how presidential primaries and caucuses are moving earlier and earlier:


Hillary Clinton might be POTUS right now with a more dragged out process. She dominated Obama in the final weeks of this process, after losing some early battles. There is currently a move within both parties to push the process later by about month, but there are also states jockeying to be among the first, so those pressures will continue pushing against each other.


Previous Trivia Tidbit: Collegiate Merchandise Sales.

Posted by Will Franklin · 10 December 2009 10:03 AM · Comments (1)

Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 712 -- Collegiate Merchandise Sales.

Texas Number One-

The University of Texas is still number one in merchandise sales:


Texas took the lead somewhere around 2003-2004 and has been there ever since, and it will probably remain there as long as Texas football, basketball, and baseball are competing for national titles. Florida definitely jumped up on this list over the past few years, based on their recent success in football and basketball. I am somewhat surprised by Notre Dame's poor showing on this list, despite their football failure under Charlie Weis.


Previous Trivia Tidbit: Texas Versus Michigan.

Posted by Will Franklin · 9 December 2009 11:25 AM · Comments (0)

Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 711 -- Home Prices & Migration.

Jobs & Economy-

By some accounts, the national recession began three years ago.

Home prices, since the recession began, are up in only a small number of states:


Prices tend to be higher in states to where people are still moving. Prices have fallen dramatically in states from where people are leaving-- or at least not moving to in droves any longer. Michael Barone has some interesting analysis from early this year on domestic migration:

California, for one, which had net domestic outmigration of 3.9 percent, offsetting almost all of its net international migration of 5.4 percent. There was a similar pattern in Florida, where there was for the first time in many years net domestic outmigration (0.5 percent), offset by net international migration of 4.2 percent. In the South, the Carolinas boomed, while growth in Georgia (which is to say metro Atlanta, which is about half the state) tapered off. Texas, with no state income tax, continues to boom, with significant net domestic migration (5.8 percent) and net international migration (3.8 percent). Tennessee, another state with no income tax, continues to outperform the other states between the Atlantic Coast and Texas. Nevada, which once topped the list, is down because of the decline of the gaming industry, which became visible in spring 2007. The Pacific Northwest remains robust, as does mineral-rich Wyoming.

Home prices didn't crash in Texas, partly because there was never the kind of bubble seen in other states, but also because there was still a robust demand for new and old homes-- because people were still moving to Texas in droves over the past few years. The same could be said for North Carolina and a few other growing states.


Previous Trivia Tidbit: Texas Versus Michigan.

Posted by Will Franklin · 8 December 2009 10:49 AM · Comments (0)

Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 710 -- Texas Versus Michigan.

Jobs & Economy-

By many accounts, the nation entered a recession three years ago. Since that time, Texas is the only state to have created a substantial number of jobs:


Indeed, among the ten largest states in the nation, Texas has the lowest unemployment rate. Compare that with California and Michigan:


Michigan's Canadian Governor, meanwhile, has proven that pro-big labor, pro-government, left-wing ideas do not create jobs:

No state in the nation has lost jobs at the rate Michigan has, and only California edges us out as a state government fiscal disaster. But state government keeps growing in Michigan, creating jobs for government unions.


Granholm brags that the new “green economy” she is pushing for Michigan will produce 50,000 jobs over the next 10 years. 10 YEARS? Under the liberal policies of Jennifer Granholm, Michigan has lost 50,000 jobs every 5 months.

Michigan does not have the recipe for economic success, yet the Michigan gameplan is where we seem to be headed under President Obama.


Previous Trivia Tidbit: Creating Jobs.

Posted by Will Franklin · 7 December 2009 11:46 AM · Comments (0)

Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 709 -- Jobs Don't Magically Appear.

We Need Investment-

There is a strong connection between jobs and business investment:

Annual private investment has fallen by $316 billion since the recession started--a 20 percent drop. This fall continued even after the stimulus became law, providing a clear indication that less private investment means less job creation. As long as business investment remains low and entrepreneurs refrain from starting new enterprises, job creation will remain low and unemployment will stay high.

Creative destruction turned into just destruction:


This graph is important. Jobs aren't just "lost" when times are bad. Jobs aren't just "created" when times are good. Both are constantly happening. The important thing is to create conditions that promote job creation to outweigh the unsettling job losses that occur even in good times.

People have a lot of angst about job losses anytime, and despite a sub-5% unemployment rate in November 2006, people opted for pro-union, anti-trade protectionism to protect their jobs. A whole lot of good that choice did America.

When no new jobs are being created, it ups that angst level substantially. We'll see in 2010 if people have learned their lesson yet. Democrats are not pro-job.


Previous Trivia Tidbit: Young Voters Hate Everything Obama Does, Still Support Obama.

Posted by Will Franklin · 4 December 2009 03:47 PM · Comments (1)

Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 708 -- Young Voters Hate Everything Obama Does, Still Support Obama.

Political Marketing-

Barack Obama won among young voters 18-29 by a 66%-32% margin and still enjoys relatively high approval ratings among young voters, at 58%-39%. It doesn't matter, apparently, that they disapprove of every single thing he does (.pdf):


The good news is that fewer young people now support Obama than did during the campaign in 2008. The bad news is that far too many young people, unlike the rest of America, still support Obama relatively strongly. But back to the good news-- young people do not support any identifiable part of the Obama agenda. I would wager that they support him even less on things like Social Security. Among white young people, Obama's disapproval now outweighs his approval (among all white Americans, Obama's approval is down from 61% to 39% over the past few months):


Eventually, young people will forget about the will.i.am/Scarlett Johansson video and the cool stickers and concerts and face the real world. And then they will become Republicans.


Previous Trivia Tidbit: Texas Fiscal Situation.

Posted by Will Franklin · 3 December 2009 01:44 PM · Comments (0)

Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 707 -- Texas Fiscal Situation.

Texas Faring Well-

The National Association of State Budget Officers, an affiliate of the National Governors Association, released its Fall 2009 Fiscal Survey of States, which highlights TX budget health compared to other states (.pdf):

click for larger version

Texas was one of nine states to cut taxes for 2010. 29 states raised taxes. Texas was listed as one of three states without budget gaps for 2009-2010-2011.

At an estimated $8.9B in balances/surpluses (Rainy Day Fund, plus other surpluses), Texas has 28 percent of the total of all state balances/surpluses, nationally. Texas is also one of only ten states with balances/surpluses exceeding 10% of annual spending.

While some people crow about stimulus dollars that Texas has received, Texas did reject more than half a billion in stimulus dollars available for unemployment insurance expansion, and Texas remains a major donor state, which means the state sends more in tax dollars to Washington than it gets back in benefits.


Previous Trivia Tidbit: Christmas Price Index.

Posted by Will Franklin · 2 December 2009 01:13 PM · Comments (0)

Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 706 -- Christmas Price Index.

Four French Hens, Etcetera-

According to PNC, the gifts mentioned in the 12 Days of Christmas song would cost $21,465.56 this year:

PITTSBURGH, Nov. 30, 2009 — Thanks to the weak economy in 2009 the PNC Christmas Price Index increased by a modest 1.8 percent compared to last year in the whimsical economic analysis by PNC Wealth Management based on the prices of gifts in the holiday classic, "The Twelve Days of Christmas."

According to the 26th annual survey, the price tag for the PNC CPI is $21,465.56 in 2009, just $385.46 more than last year. It is the smallest increase since 2002, when the index fell 7.6 percent.

The PNC CPI exceeds the U.S. government’s Consumer Price Index, the widely used measure of inflation calculated by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which is down 1.5 percent this year.

A nice annual publicity stunt for PNC.


Previous Trivia Tidbit: Stunning Lack Of Private Sector Experience For Obama's Administration.

Posted by Will Franklin · 1 December 2009 11:10 AM · Comments (1)