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Willisms

« April 2010 | WILLisms.com | June 2010 »

Honor Memorial Day.

memorialday2010.gif

Reposting what I wrote 5 years ago on Memorial Day here at WILLisms.com:

Today, Memorial Day, we honor those who fought and died for the United States of America, the land, the people, and the idea. We should strive each day to keep America, with our freedom of speech and religion, our fair system of justice and our robust free enterprise system, our rights and our privileges, all worth fighting for.

After the Declaration of Independence was signed, on July 4, 1776, John Adams explained the meaning of sacrifice:

"I am well aware of the toil and blood and treasure that it will cost to maintain this Declaration, and support and defend these States. Yet through all the gloom I can see the rays of ravishing light and glory. I can see that the end is worth more than all the means."

Honoring the sacrifice of the heroes of the American Revolution, past, present, and future is the very least we can do this day.

Take a moment today, in between the barbecue and the trip to the lake, between running errands and lounging around the house, between the yard work and the movie theater, between paying the bills and surfing the blogs, to remember why there's a day called Memorial Day.

whymemorialday.gif

Posted by Will Franklin · 31 May 2010 09:39 AM · Comments (3)

Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 804 -- Leave Texas Alone.

EPA Takes Over Texas Refineries-

The Obama administration is not letting this oil seep crisis go to waste, and they are using it to implement all kinds of anti-drilling measures. They're also seizing permitting control of dozens of Texas refineries and other facilities.

Texas is doing just fine reducing emissions and promoting alternative energy sources, without these kinds of draconian (and counterproductive) federal takeovers.

From 2004-2007, for example, Texas reduced carbon dioxide emissions by double-digits (10.9%), which was good enough for second best in the country. Only 17 states reduced emissions at all during this period:

texassecondbestimprovement.gif

By the way, this data is from a liberal environmentalist group called Environment Texas, so save the "paid for by Exxon Mobil" schtick.

Texas is also making improvements on other types of emissions.

Texas produces a fifth of the nation's crude oil, a fourth of the nation's fuel supply, a fourth of the nation's natural gas, roughly 60% of the nation's chemicals. Since 2000, the population in Texas has grown by nearly 3.5 million people.

Yet, over the same frame of time, statewide ozone levels have fallen 22% and nitrogen oxide levels have fallen 46%:

texasozoneandnox.gif

Per capita carbon dioxide emissions in Texas are down 17% from 1990-2007 and 8% from 2004-2007. Texas went from 9th per capita to 14th per capita from 1990 to 2007. Specifically, industrial emissions (which are what the Obama administration is allegedly concerned about, here) are down 25% in Texas from 2004-2007.

Of the 10 metropolitan statistical areas with the highest ozone values for 2006-2008, none are in Texas, despite the number of large and growing cities in our state. Not a single county in Texas is in non-attainment for fine particulate matter, and there really is no real crisis that would warrant Washington interjecting itself into the situation and overriding the successful program we have in our state.

When Republicans eventually take power again in Washington, we should make it our mission to reduce the power of the federal government. States should not have to endure this sort of madness from the EPA.

The crux of this issue:

1. Texas is improving its environment, while continuing to grow economically and add jobs.

The Texas model stresses working with businesses to achieve results, which is far from the EPA's top-down, antagonistic way.

2. The federal government doesn't care about results. They care about process. They care about everyone following their one-size-fits-all way. Red tape. Bureaucracy. That Bill Lumbergh-ish sort of thing.

The people in charge in Washington aren't concerned about improving the environment. They're more concerned with expanding their own power and punishing those who deign to achieve success in their own ways.

3. The likely consequence of this federal takeover: numerous thousands of lost jobs, and Texas' success in reducing emissions may be compromised.

-------------------------------------

Previous Trivia Tidbit: Odds For Republican Wave Election In 2010.

Posted by Will Franklin · 28 May 2010 08:38 AM · Comments (1)

Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 803 -- Republican Wave Election In 2010?

1994 Versus 2010-

How much is 2010 going to be like 1994?

Probably a good deal. But, then again, not.

The ever-astute Michael Barone runs down some key polling around the country pointing to a big wave election in November:

Such signs abound for Democrats these days. For example, Republican Jim Renacci leads incumbent Democrat John Boccieri 47%-36% in Ohio 16. Boccieri won this district, which had been held by Republicans since 1950, by a 55%-44% margin in 2008. He switched from no to yes on the health care bill in March 2010. That doesn’t seem to have helped.

Another late switcher on health care, Steve Driehaus of Ohio 1, is also trailing. From my colleague David Freddoso comes the news of a poll by the Republican firm Public Opinion Strategies showing Republican former Congressman Steve Chabot leading Democratic incumbent Steve Driehaus 53%-39%. Driehaus was one of the “Stupak five” who said they wouldn’t support a health care bill that funded abortion but who turned around and provided the key votes that passed the bill March 21. The result is very similar to a poll conducted in January for the liberal blog Fire Dog Lake showing Chabot leading Driehaus 56%-39%.

Meanwhile, Scott Rasmussen reports that Republican Rick Berg leads 18-year incumbent Democrat Earl Pomeroy 52%-43%. This is the fourth straight Rasmussen poll in which Berg has led Pomeroy.

And here’s a shocker from a governor race. According to Rasmussen, Republican Chris Dudley leads Democrat John Kitzhaber for governor of Oregon 45%-44%. That’s not statistically significant, but it’s a lot different from Kitzhaber’s winning margins of 51%-42% in 1994 and 64%-30% in 1998. The last time a Republican was elected governor of Oregon was 1978.

Indeed, the latest Rasmussen poll shows Republicans with an 8 point lead over Democrats, generically-speaking.

Taking a look at the latest "Crystal Ball" scenario, Republicans are projected to make gains, but we're in such a deep hole that it is unlikely that Republicans will control Congress after the 2010 elections:

notenoughformajorities.gif
At this point, the Crystal Ball believes Republicans would pick up 32 House seats if the midterm election were held today—an increase from our earlier estimate of 27. How do we arrive at the number 32? We have 13 Democratic-held seats clearly leaning to the Republican Party, with 22 more races as pure toss-ups that may well go GOP—minus the three Republican seats tilting to the Democrats.

....

If this projection holds, 2010 will produce a sizeable Republican victory that will limit to a great degree what Democrats could pass in the House of Representatives. Remaining Democratic Blue Dogs could be expected to defect with some frequency on more liberal Obama Administration-backed legislation. A 32-seat gain would also be the largest since 1994.

At the same time, Republicans would remain in the House minority. Even a small Democratic majority in the House would produce Obama victories in some areas, and Democrats would retain committee chairmanships and all the perks that come with being in charge.

Looking at specifics, Democrats have to defend more vulnerable seats than Republicans-- seats they had no business winning in the first place.

demheldhouseseats.gif

Democrats have a lot more seats to defend, although most of them are "Likely" holds due to the power of incumbency and the way some of these districts tend to vote.

Republicans, on the other hand, have practically bottomed out:

republicanheldseats.gif

When even "Mavericky" anti-establishmenty Democrat Senator Russ Feingold is virtually tied with his Republican opponent in Wisconsin, you know some crazy things are going to happen this year.

Key points:

1. Republicans will almost certainly make big gains in 2010.
2. Republicans likely won't make enough gains to take back Congress in 2010.
3. President Obama, in some ways, has to be rooting for Republicans to take over Congress in 2010. If Democrats still control Congress in 2012 and are perceived to have a death-grip on power for a few more cycles, despite strong Republican waves, Obama is almost assured of being a one-termer.

-------------------------------------

Previous Trivia Tidbit: Private Employee Income Down, Government Payouts Up.

Posted by Will Franklin · 27 May 2010 10:48 AM · Comments (10)

Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 802 -- Private Employee Income Down, Government Payouts Up.

Atlas Shrugging-

These lines are going the wrong way:

atlasshrugging.gif
Paychecks from private business shrank to their smallest share of personal income in U.S. history during the first quarter of this year, a USA TODAY analysis of government data finds.

....

Key shifts in income this year:

• Private wages. A record-low 41.9% of the nation's personal income came from private wages and salaries in the first quarter, down from 44.6% when the recession began in December 2007.

•Government benefits. Individuals got 17.9% of their income from government programs in the first quarter, up from 14.2% when the recession started. Programs for the elderly, the poor and the unemployed all grew in cost and importance. An additional 9.8% of personal income was paid as wages to government employees.

The liberal think-tanker quoted in the article claims, "It's the system working as it should."

Kind of gives you some fresh perspective on the true motives behind these enormous stimulus programs.

-------------------------------------

Previous Trivia Tidbit: The Congressional Wealth Destruction Effect.

Posted by Will Franklin · 25 May 2010 09:54 AM · Comments (0)

Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 801 -- Congress Ruins America.

Markets Down When Congress Meets, Up When They Aren't Meeting-

A few years ago, an article was published explaining that when Congress is in session, regardless of the party in power, markets go down. When Congress is not in session, markets rally. Powerful differences emerge between in-session and not-in-session periods, over long eras of time.

Someone took that idea and ran with it in reality:

congressstockmarketperformance.gif
The Congressional Effect Fund tries to capture most of the stock market's returns while minimizing the inherent political risk. Since its launch in 2008, the Fund has a cumulative (not annualized) return of +1.49%, as compared to the S&P 500 Index, which has lost -18.21% over the same time period. A shareholder who invested with us on the first day the Fund launched has a profit since 2008 (a $10,000 investment would have grown to $10,149) as compared to a loss ($8,179) from investing the same amount in the S&P 500. This constitutes a CEFFX performance difference of +24.09% over the S&P 500.

I am not trying to sell this fund, but this is pretty stark evidence that the existence of Congress is harmful to America.

William F. Buckley once said, "I'd rather entrust the government of the United States to the first 400 people listed in the Boston telephone directory than to the faculty of Harvard University."

You have to wonder. John Hawkins would take it one step further. He would even replace the Democrats in Congress with 254 randomly selected minimum security prisoners.

-------------------------------------

Previous Trivia Tidbit: Brazil's Energy Policy.

Posted by Will Franklin · 24 May 2010 10:25 AM · Comments (3)

Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 800 -- Brazil's Energy Policy.

"Traditional" Energy Still Runs The World-

There is a myth out there, particularly on the left, that Brazil is some kind of magical, energy-independent, oil-free place. Wrong.

Brazil-energy.gif

The understandable knee-jerk reaction of some to the oil seep in the Gulf of Mexico is to declare that oil is unmitigated evil and that we need to shut down drilling.

They don't want to talk about the 47 million gallons of oil that naturally seeps into American waters each year. Or the fact that we just can't switch over, overnight, to corn or anything else (even wind and solar combined) without serious damage to our civilization as we know it.

-------------------------------------

Previous Trivia Tidbit: America's Debt.

Posted by Will Franklin · 19 May 2010 03:11 PM · Comments (0)

Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 799 -- America's Debt.

Raging Debt-

We're not in good shape, people:

The U.S. national debt will soon reach 100% of GDP, the IMF predicts in a new report.

The following graph shows the sharp rise in U.S. debt starting in around 2006. By 2015, the IMF suggests, debt could reach well over 100% of GDP.

unitedstatesofamericadebt.gif
The IMF predicts that the U.S. would need to reduce its structural deficit by the equivalent of 12% of GDP, a much larger portion than any other country analyzed except Japan. Greece, in the midst of a financial crisis, needs to reduce its structural deficit by just 9% of GDP, according to the IMF's analysis.

And yet, the wasteful spending just keeps ratcheting upward.

-------------------------------------

Previous Trivia Tidbit: States With No Income Taxes Do Better Than Other States.

Posted by Will Franklin · 17 May 2010 11:24 AM · Comments (0)

Former Houston Mayor Bill White Is Liberal, Scandal-Plagued, and He Mismanaged Houston.

Bill White is not fit to be Governor of our Great State:

Sourcing and background.

No wonder Bill White is down and increasingly out in this race.

Read More »


Posted by Will Franklin · 17 May 2010 11:04 AM · Comments (2)

Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 798 -- States With No Income Taxes Outperform States With Income Taxes.

Keep Taxes Low & Grow-

Some undeniable stats that really should undermine any support for an income tax in Texas or the other 8 states without personal income taxes-- ever:

stateswithnoincometaxdobetter.gif
For total GSP growth, the states with no personal income tax rate (PIT) have on average outperformed those states with the highest PIT rates by 26.5 percentage points over the past decade; they have outperformed the U.S. average by 20 percentage points.

....

For those states with no personal income taxes, average population growth over the past decade was about 15.95 percent, or 9.6 percentage points higher than the average of those nine states with the highest personal income tax rates, almost 6 percentage points higher than the U.S. average...

....

And, for non-farm payroll employment growth, the average difference was a similar 9.76 percentage points higher (18.2 percent versus 8.44 percent) for the states with no income taxes versus the highest personal income tax rate states, almost 8 percentage points for the U.S. average.

Data.

Let's pay attention to it every now and then.

-------------------------------------

Previous Trivia Tidbit: American States Versus European Countries.

Posted by Will Franklin · 14 May 2010 12:13 PM · Comments (2)

Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 797 -- America & Europe.

Bailouts Unpopular Everywhere-

For generations after World War II, the United States emerged as the global economic powerhouse, as Europe resigned itself to weaker growth in exchange for a more Obama-like nanny state:

The American model favored growth, income, and vibrancy; the European model was said to favor fairness, equality, and stability. The long-term superiority of the American model with regard to growth was well-established before the financial crisis, but the extent of that superiority may be surprising to some.

In 2008, the average resident of the troubled state of Michigan, as well as 40 other American states, was richer than the average resident of Austria. Germany leads the European bailout but the average German, and the average Brit, is poorer than the average person in Alabama. In terms of personal income, Germany bailing out Greece is equivalent to Alabama bailing out Mississippi.

EUvUS.gif

America's trajectory looks increasingly like Europe's, while Europe has generally been moving toward freer markets and lower taxes in recent years.

Even the Germans are mad at their right-of-center Chancellor Angela Merkel for supporting the bailout of Greece in the same way that right-of-center Americans have been punishing certain Republicans for losing their way.

In both cases, the result was-- unfortunately-- a lurch to the left. It's as if voters are saying, "Hey conservatives, you want to act like liberals? We'll just get the real thing."

Our only hope is not to root for European failure but to get back to our own limited government roots and force competition. Much of Asia has already figured that out.

-------------------------------------

Previous Trivia Tidbit: TABOR Worked.

Posted by Will Franklin · 13 May 2010 09:55 AM · Comments (3)

Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 796 -- TABOR Worked.

Colorado Benefited From TABOR, Other States Could Benefit From It-

In Colorado, establishment politicians from both parties-- especially RINOs and liberals-- hated TABOR. TABOR, of course, being the taxpayer Bill of Rights implemented in the early 1990s by limited government activists, was vilified and held out as the reason for anything and everything that was going wrong in Colorado.

Colorado, turning from deep red to purplish over the course of 15 years, ended TABOR during that fleeting left-wing conniption fit that afflicted our nation, in 2007.

The thing is, though-- TABOR worked. It kept government spending in check and paved the way for booming prosperity in Colorado:

taborworked.gif

While Texas has kept spending relatively in check over the years, and we do have a balanced budget requirement in our state Constitution, spending does tend to creep upward faster than inflation and population growth during the good times, when we're flush with cash.

A Texas-style TABOR would solidify Texas as the fiscally sane leader in the nation and ignite economic growth which would ultimately lead to more tax revenue for the things the liberals and progressives robotically whine about mean conservatives shortchanging.

Our Governor supports two Constitutional amendments that would require a supermajority of the Legislature to raise taxes, and limit the growth of state spending based on inflation and population growth. His Democrat opponent-- a liberal trial lawyer who supports the Obama agenda-- doesn't.

It's an easy choice.

We should also recognize that razor-thin Republican margins in the legislature won't get this done. We need to elect a strong majority of strong conservatives in the Texas legislature.


-------------------------------------

Previous Trivia Tidbit: America's Looming Debt Shock.

Posted by Will Franklin · 11 May 2010 11:16 AM · Comments (4)

Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 795 -- America's Looming Debt Shock.

Downgraded Credit Rating In 3 Years If We're Not Careful-

The United States has too much debt, and there is no clear indication of any tangible steps toward changing that equation for the better:

creditrating.gif
In the wake of the financial crisis and recession, Moody's Investors Service has brought new transparency to its sovereign ratings analysis — so much so that 2018 lights up as the year the U.S. could be in line for a downgrade if Congressional Budget Office projections hold.

The key data point in Moody's view is the size of federal interest payments on the public debt as a percentage of tax revenue. For the U.S., debt service of 18%-20% of federal revenue is the outer limit of AAA-territory, Moody's managing director Pierre Cailleteau confirmed in an e-mail.

Under the Obama budget, interest would top 18% of revenue in 2018 and 20% in 2020, CBO projects.

But under more adverse scenarios than the CBO considered, including higher interest rates, Moody's projects that debt service could hit 22.4% of revenue by 2013.

When America's credit rating begins to falter, the negative ripple effect will be immediate, profound, and lasting.

-------------------------------------

Previous Trivia Tidbit: Big Government Is The Enemy Of Small Business.

Posted by Will Franklin · 10 May 2010 09:26 AM · Comments (1)

Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 794 -- Obama Hates Small Business.

Small Business Taxes Going Up Under Obama-

Tax rates for small businesses are going up, up, up, under the Democrats:

smallbusinesstaxes.gif
Another implication of the Rangel plan is that America's successful small businesses would pay higher tax rates than the Fortune 500, and for that matter than most companies around the world. The corporate federal-state tax rate applied to General Electric and Google is about 39% in the U.S., and the business tax rate is about 25% in the OECD countries. So the U.S. would have close to the most punitive taxes on small business income anywhere on the globe.

....

A new study by the Kaufman Foundation finds that small business entrepreneurs have led America out of its last seven post-World War II recessions. They also generate about two of every three new jobs during a recovery. The more the Obama Democrats reveal of their policies, the more it's clear that they prize income redistribution above all else, including job creation and economic growth.

Big Government is the enemy of small business.

-------------------------------------

Previous Trivia Tidbit: Does Internet News Make Us More Isolated, More Partisan?.

Posted by Will Franklin · 7 May 2010 10:13 AM · Comments (19)

Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 793 -- Does Internet News Make Us More Isolated, More Partisan?

Segmenting Ourselves Ideologically-

Is the internet causing polarization and extreme partisanship? That's the theory many have, and it's easy to see why.

When interacting with certain individuals who get their news exclusively from liberal blogs and MoveOn.org emails, sometimes I feel like I am talking to someone from another planet entirely. Their facts are different, so of course their opinions are different.

Some new research indicates, though, that internet news gathering-- while allowing people to narrowly filter their own information through the clique they choose-- is no more isolating than many other forms of media:

Hassett-NR-Internet.jpg
88 percent of the visitors to foxnews.com are conservative, whereas 40 percent of the visitors to nytimes.com are. Fully 98 percent of visitors to glennbeck.com are conservative, while only 6 percent of those visiting thinkprogress.org are.

But the results also suggest that Internet users are voracious readers who flit from site to site with abandon. In the end, that means that the typical conservative visits many sites that are more liberal than he is, and the typical liberal visits many sites that are more conservative than he is.

The authors capture these movements with something they call the "isolation index," which is plotted in the nearby chart. If conservatives visit only sites with all conservative visitors, and liberals visit only sites with all liberal visitors, then the index is 100. If there is no political pattern to site visits, then the index is 0.

The chart shows the isolation index for different types of media. In the case of the Internet, the average conservative viewer visits websites with a viewership that is 60.6 percent conservative. The average liberal visits websites with a viewership that is 53.1 percent conservative. The difference between those two, 7.5 percent, is the isolation index for the Internet. That figure is distinctly higher than the index for magazines, broadcast news (the evening newscasts of ABC, CBS, NBC, PBS, or the BBC), cable television (CNN, Fox News,MSNBC, CNBC, or Bloomberg), and local newspapers. But it is lower than for national newspapers (the New York Times, USA Today, and the Wall Street Journal), and for random face-to-face interactions within one's zip code.

Interesting stuff.

-------------------------------------

Previous Trivia Tidbit: Are We In An Economic Recovery.

Posted by Will Franklin · 6 May 2010 09:53 AM · Comments (3)

Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 792 -- Is Economic Recovery Here?

The Economy-

The Dallas Federal Reserve believes the economy, particularly in Texas, is perking up and is officially "in recovery" mode:

Economic conditions have firmed up in Texas over the past six weeks, and new data and anecdotal evidence suggest that a recovery is under way in the state. Texas payroll employment is growing at a modest pace, and the Texas Business-Cycle Index has increased for three consecutive months. Factory output is expanding, residential real estate is firming up, and retail sales and exports are rising. The Texas Leading Index continues to show gains, consistent with gradual improvement.

Definitely good news after a tough 2009 everywhere, and good news for retail sales in Texas:

retailrising.gif

Texas, as the number one exporting state in America for several years running, benefits disproportionately from a robust global economy. Rising exports are a very good sign:

Exports Are Rising Aided by the falling dollar and a pickup in global demand, real Texas exports climbed 7.6 percent in February, following an increase of 20.3 percent in the second half of 2009. Anecdotal reports from the April Beige Book confirm this increase, with transportation service contacts in cargo, rail and intermodal trade noting continued improvement in demand.

Relatively speaking, things are looking better in Texas:

leadingindex.gif

The lingering fears that many still have: will we have a "jobless recovery" or a "double-dip recession" over the short run in the United States. Those are both probable over the next couple years.

The real concern I have is over the longer run. We simply don't have a solvent fiscal balance sheet in America, and there are no serious steps being taken today to fix that imbalance.

-------------------------------------

Previous Trivia Tidbit: Obama Losing Independent Support.

Posted by Will Franklin · 5 May 2010 10:19 AM · Comments (1)

Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 791 -- Obama's Definition Of Too Wealthy.

Obama-

A Texas reader, Tad F., sent in this graph of Obama's income versus the national median income:

Incomes.jpg

Nice work.

Obama's flagging support is mostly in the Republicans and Independents realm. Democrats still-- by and large-- love the guy:

obamaapproval.gif

Being at 42% in Gallup among Independents, though, is pretty remarkable, given where we were as a country just 18 months ago. If that Republican number falls into the single digits and the Independent number can get below 40% and stay there for any serious length of time, it is hard to imagine Obama even being all that competitive for a second term.

-------------------------------------

Previous Trivia Tidbit: Best States For Business.

Posted by Will Franklin · 4 May 2010 10:28 AM · Comments (1)

Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 790 -- Best States For Business.

Texas #1 For The Sixth Year In A Row-

Each year, CEOs rank the states according to a variety of criteria, including taxation, regulation, workforce quality, and living environment (which includes education, real estate market, and other factors).

For the sixth year in a row, Chief Executive Magazine named Texas the best overall business climate in America:

texasbusinessrank.gif
Texas, the second-most populous state and the world’s 12th largest economy, is where 70 percent of all new U.S. jobs have been created since 2008. Unsurprisingly, it scores high in all the areas CEOs value most. “You feel like state government understands the value of business and industry to create jobs and growth,” observed one CEO. Its tax credits and incentives to business choosing to locate or expand are among the most aggressive. The Texas Enterprise Fund is by far the largest deal-closing fund of any state, with grants totaling $377 million disbursed in 2008.

Little wonder then that while Texas gained over 848,000 net new residents in the last 10 years, according to the Census Bureau, California lost 1.5 million. New York State’s net loss exceeded 1.6 million - the highest of any state. High-tax, big- government New Jersey ranked fourth, with a net loss of almost 460,000, enough to drop it from 10th to 11th place in population.

Almost every week, there is a new ranking on this general subject showing Texas and other conservative states at or near the top, and liberal states like California at or near the bottom.

That isn't a coincidence.

-------------------------------------

Previous Trivia Tidbit: Best Cities For Jobs.

Posted by Will Franklin · 3 May 2010 10:44 AM · Comments (1)