Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Work Ideas

Dear Governor Romney,
My name is Mike Rowe and I own a small company in California called mikeroweWORKS. Currently, mikeroweWORKS is trying to close the country’s skills gap by changing the way Americans feel about Work.  (I know, right? Ambitious.) Anyway, this Labor Day is our 4thanniversary, and I’m commemorating the occasion with an open letter to you. If you read the whole thing, I’ll vote for you in November.

First things first. mikeroweWORKS grew out of a TV show called Dirty Jobs.If by some chance you are not glued to The Discovery Channel every Wednesday at 10pm, allow me to visually introduce myself. That’s me on the right, preparing to do something dirty.
When Dirty Jobs premiered back in 2003, critics called the show “a calamity of exploding toilets and misadventures in animal husbandry.” They weren’t exactly wrong. But mostly, Dirty Jobs was an unscripted celebration of hard work and skilled labor. It still is. Every week, we highlight regular people who do the kind of jobs most people go out of their way to avoid. My role on the show is that of a “perpetual apprentice.” In that capacity I have completed over three hundred different jobs, visited all fifty states, and worked in every major industry.
Though schizophrenic and void of any actual qualifications, my resume looks pretty impressive, and when our economy officially tanked in 2008, I was perfectly positioned to weigh in on a variety of serious topics. A reporter from The Wall Street Journal called to ask what I thought about the “counter-intuitive correlation between rising unemployment and the growing shortage of skilled labor.” CNBC wanted my take on outsourcing. Fox News wanted my opinions on manufacturing and infrastructure. And CNN wanted to chat about currency valuations, free trade, and just about every other work-related problem under the sun.
In each case, I shared my theory that most of these “problems” were in fact symptoms of something more fundamental – a change in the way Americans viewed hard work and skilled labor. That’s the essence of what I’ve heard from the hundreds of men and women I’ve worked with on Dirty Jobs. Pig farmers, electricians, plumbers, bridge painters, jam makers, blacksmiths, brewers, coal miners, carpenters, crab fisherman, oil drillers…they all tell me the same thing over and over, again and again – our country has become emotionally disconnected from an essential part of our workforce.  We are no longer impressed with cheap electricity, paved roads, and indoor plumbing. We take our infrastructure for granted, and the people who build it.
Today, we can see the consequences of this disconnect in any number of areas, but none is more obvious than the growing skills gap. Even as unemployment remains sky high, a whole category of vital occupations has fallen out of favor, and companies struggle to find workers with the necessary skills. The causes seem clear. We have embraced a ridiculously narrow view of education. Any kind of training or study that does not come with a four-year degree is now deemed “alternative.” Many viable careers once aspired to are now seen as “vocational consolation prizes,” and many of the jobs this current administration has tried to “create” over the last four years are the same jobs that parents and teachers actively discourage kids from pursuing. (I always thought there was something ill-fated about the promise of three million “shovel ready jobs” made to a society that no longer encourages people to pick up a shovel.) 

 There is also "America  works" bt Peter Cove.  I have found 13th of January 2013.  All in all It is a lot of reading to take in and understand to then start how to put into practice. To start, take a small step and start the  journey.   as it explains it start

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Government dividends go where?

Household electricity prices - 1991 to present. ODT Graphic.
Household electricity prices - 1991 to present. ODT Graphic.
Former Energy Minister Max Bradford takes issues with criticism of the electricity reforms of the 1990s. It is policies since 2002 that have caused prices to explode.
In a recent ODT opinion page article, retired engineer Lex Smith opines, among other things, that market forces "will do little for the long-term good of New Zealand in the initial supply of electricity".
He then criticises the electricity reforms of the 1990s which often erroneously bear my name.
This is par for the course of those commentators who do not understand the role of market forces in electricity generation and supply, or approach the electricity sector from an ideological point of view: any private sector involvement in generation, transmission, distribution (lines) or retail sales is anathema.
Mr Smith demonstrates his complete misunderstanding by describing a couple of analogies. He asks us to imagine a national roading system run by six companies, each trying to get toll charges for bridges and highways. Even more absurdly he postulates six "police companies" enforcing the law nationally. He says these are "a reasonable analogy" of the electricity sector reforms. It's rubbish.
Our electricity system comprises a number of competing or stand-alone generating companies which supply electricity through a wholesale market. The market determines the basic prices that generators (such as Contact or Meridian) charge their own customers or other retail distributors (such as Powershop) which then market to their retail customers.
The electricity is distributed via the national government-owned transmission system (Transpower) and then locally through lines companies which are both publicly and privately owned. They are all monopolies, where market forces can never work, nor have ever been contemplated as market-driven. They are regulated by the Commerce Commission. These monopolies are the proper analogy in Mr Smith' roading system.
It is the competing trucking and bus companies on his roading system that are the correct analogy to the competing generation and retail companies in the electricity system.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Environment Cost and Unemployed Postponed

Report: EPA Delaying Job-Killing Regulations to Aid Obama Re-Election

Barack Obama and Lisa Jackson, head of the Environmental Protection Agency
President Obama is putting off major environmental regulations until after the November elections in order to avoid the political blowback of the economic damage those regulations will cause, according to a new Senate report.
Environmental regulators in the Obama administration “don’t want this economic pain to hit American families just before the election because it would cost President Obama votes,” states the report, released by Environment and Public Works ranking member Jim Inhofe (R-OK) on Thursday, “so they have simply decided to punt, intending to move full speed ahead if they gain a second term.”
The report lists a number of major environmental regulations that are either in their nascent stages or have yet to be implemented. Collectively, those regulations “will destroy millions of American jobs and cause energy prices to skyrocket even more,” Inhofe said in a news release accompanying the report.

Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security, traded out

Can the figures that mention the medi and social security be true??


When it comes to explaining the problems with our economy, one of the hardest things to do is to get people to understand that we are living in an economic fantasy world that is completely and totally unsustainable.  As a nation we consume far more than we produce, we spend far more than we bring in, our debt is growing much faster than our GDP is, our entitlement programs are growing at an exponential rate, our retirement system is a Ponzi scheme and the Federal Reserve is printing money as if there is no tomorrow in a desperate attempt to paper over all of our problems.  But we have all grown so accustomed to the debt-fueled prosperity that we have been enjoying for so many decades that it actually feels "real" to most of us.  Unfortunately, history has shown us that it is simply not possible to grow your debt faster than your economy indefinitely.  At some point your consumption will drop back to a level more equal to your production.    Sometimes that adjustment can be gradual, but other times it can be extremely painful.  In our case, we have been living way above our means for so long that it would take a major economic miracle just to keep our adjustment to an "exceedingly painful" level.  We are living in the largest debt-fueled prosperity bubble in the history of the world, and our unsustainable economy is going to crash and burn at some point.  Hopefully it will be later rather than sooner, but a crash is most definitely coming.
The following are some of the reasons why the bubble economy that we are living in right now is unsustainable....
The Trade Deficit
Most Americans do not really understand what a "trade deficit" is, but it is at the very core of our economic problems.
Basically, we buy far more stuff from the rest of the world than they buy from us.  We send them huge piles of our money, and they send us oil that we burn in our cars and cheap plastic products that we end up throwing away.  We keep doing this month after month after month, and this is systematically making us poorer as a nation.
In 2012, it is being projected that our trade deficit will fall somewhere between 500 billion and 600 billion dollars.
At this point, the United States has a trade imbalance that is more than 7 times larger than any other nation on earth has.
Overall, the United States has run a trade deficit of more than 8 trillion dollars with the rest of the world since 1975.
Instead of going out of the country, those 8 trillion dollars could have gone to U.S. businesses and U.S. workers.  In turn, taxes would have been paid on those 8 trillion dollars and our debt problems would not be nearly as dramatic today.
But we didn't do that.
We chose to allow tens of thousands of businesses, millions of jobs and trillions of dollars of our national wealth to leave the country.
Stupid move, eh?
But both political parties have been endlessly pushing the "free trade" agenda.  They have both promised that it would bring us tremendous prosperity.
Well, just take a look at our formerly great manufacturing cities today.  Do they look prosperous to you?
It turns out that Ross Perot was right when he warned about the "giant sucking sound" that would happen if NAFTA was implemented.
When NAFTA was pushed through Congress in 1993, the United States had a trade surplus with Mexico of 1.6 billion dollars.  By 2010, we had a trade deficit with Mexico of 61.6 billion dollars.
That didn't work out so well, did it?
What about opening up trade with China?
Back in 1985, our trade deficit with China was approximately milliondollars (million with a little "m") for the entire year.
In 2011, our trade deficit with China was 295.4 billion dollars.  That was the largest trade deficit that one nation has had with another nation in the history of the world.
Our trade with China is tremendously unbalanced.  Today, U.S. consumers spend approximately 4 dollars on goods and services from China for every one dollar that Chinese consumers spend on goods and services from the United States.
This is a huge reason why shiny new factories are going up all over China, and our blue collar cities are turning into rotting war zones filled with unemployed people.
If you can believe it, the United States has actually lost more than 56,000 manufacturing facilities since 2001.
Until we fix the trade deficit we are going to continue bleeding factories, jobs and national wealth at an astounding pace.
The National Debt
It is being projected that U.S. GDP will grow at a rate of about 2.2 percent this year.
The problem is that our federal budget deficit will be somewhere around 7 percent of GDP this year.
With each passing day we are losing ground.  No other nation on earth has been able to run up debt like this indefinitely, and neither will we.
Does this chart look like a healthy situation to you?....
Sadly, all of this government debt is just about the only thing holding up our economy at this point.  Since Barack Obama has been in the White House, the U.S. national debt has increased by about 5.5 trillion dollars.  Of course the Obama administration has spent a lot of that money on incredibly stupid stuff, but it still gets into the pockets of average Americans that in turn spend it on food, gas, mortgage payments, etc.
If we could go back in time and suck that 5.5 trillion dollars of extra spending out of the economy we would be in a horrible economic depression right now.
But that does not mean that borrowing and spending all of that money was the right thing to do.  We have stolen it from our children and our grandchildren and we are going to stick them with the bill.
That is highly immoral and it is a national disgrace.
Yet we continue to do it because we can't help ourselves.  We are ruining the future of this nation in order to make the present more pleasant for ourselves.
As I noted yesterday, the U.S. national debt jumped more on the very first day of fiscal year 2013 than it did from 1776 to 1941 combined.
We are completely addicted to debt and we can't stop.  We know that we are destroying the future of the United States but we have absolutely no self-discipline.
By the end of Barack Obama's first term, the U.S. government will have accumulated more debt during those four years than it did from the time that George Washington took office to the time that George W. Bush took office.
But most Americans seem fine with that.
Most Americans don't even really know why this is happening, and most don't really seem too concerned about finding out.  They just want the good times to continue to roll.
Sadly, the truth is that our financial system is designed to create government debt.  It is one of the primary purposes of the Federal Reserve system.
At this point, the U.S. national debt is more than 5000 times larger than it was when the Federal Reserve was first created.
So I guess you could say that the Federal Reserve is doing a good job of what it was designed to do.
And until we change the system things are going to continue to get worse until the entire system collapses.
Boston University economist Laurence Kotlikoff is warning that we are basically facing financial armageddon if something is not done.  Kotlikoff speaks of a "fiscal gap" which he defines as "the present value difference between projected future spending and revenue".  His calculations have led him to the conclusion that the United States is facing a fiscal gap of 222 trillion dollars in the years ahead.
Where in the world are we going to get an extra 222 trillion dollars?
Every society needs a safety net, but we are rapidly getting to the point where there are going to be more Americans on the safety net than there are Americans supporting it.
Back in 1983, less than 30 percent of all Americans lived in a home where at least one person received financial assistance from the federal government.
Today, that number is up to an all-time record of 49 percent.
Many people don't believe me when I tell them that more than 100 million Americans are enrolled in at least one welfare program run by the federal government right now, and that does not even count Social Security or Medicare.
But it is actually true.
Overall, there are nearly 80 different "means-tested welfare programs" that the federal government is currently running.
But of course the biggest financial burdens are Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security.  All three are on course to become completely and totally unsustainable.
For example, the number of Americans on Medicaid soared from 34 million in 2000 to 54 million in 2011, and it is being projected that Obamacare will add 16 million more Americans to the Medicaid rolls.
Well, what about Medicare?
Sadly, Medicare is even more frightening.
As I wrote recently, it is being projected that the number of Americans on Medicare will grow from 50.7 million in 2012 to 73.2 million in 2025.
How in the world can we afford that?
At this point, Medicare is facing unfunded liabilities of more than 38 trillion dollars over the next 75 years.  That comes to approximately$328,404 for each and every household in the United States.
Are you ready to contribute your share?
Social Security is in really bad shape as well.
At the moment, approximately 56 million Americans are collecting Social Security benefits.
By 2035, that number is projected to soar to a whopping 91 million.
Overall, the Social Security system is facing a 134 trillion dollar shortfall over the next 75 years.
Where are we going to get that money?
Total Debt
Of course the national debt is not out only debt problem.  All over the country there are state and local governments that are on the verge of insolvency.  Corporations and financial institutions are leveraged like crazy.  And of course consumers have absolutely gorged on debt over the past several decades.
As a result, we are drowning in debt from sea to shining sea.
The good news is that our GDP is more than 12 times larger than it was 40 years ago.
The bad news is that the total amount of debt in our country is more than 30 times larger than it was 40 years ago....
Obviously this is something that cannot go on forever.
We simply cannot keep accumulating debt much faster than our economy is growing.
Nobody knows exactly when the "adjustment" is coming, but it most definitely will arrive at some point.
Money Printing
The Federal Reserve has attempted to monetize many of our economic problems by printing gigantic mountains of money in recent years.
The Federal Reserve is at the very heart of our economic problems, but most Americans don't realize this.  It was the Federal Reserve that created the conditions for the housing bubble, and it was the Federal Reserve that badly mismanaged the response when that bubble burst.  The Federal Reserve decides how much money will be printed and what our interest rates will be.  The Federal Reserve lends out trillions of dollars to the banks that they like, and other banks they let die.  The Federal Reserve picks winners and losers in our economy, and most of the time that means good things for the big Wall Street banks and bad things for the rest of us.
In a desperate attempt to keep our unsustainable financial system from collapsing, the Federal Reserve has decided to start printing unprecedented amounts of money.  Just look at what this has done to the monetary base....
And QE3 really hasn't even started to kick in yet.
So how bad will that chart look after QE3 has been adding another 40 billion dollars a month to the financial system for a while?
You know, the Weimar Republic was absolutely convinced that they were doing the right thing by printing lots of money too.
But in the end that didn't work out very well for them at all....
So should we really be celebrating the fact that the Federal Reserve is going down the same path that the Weimar Republic did?
Demonocracy has released a great new graphic that does a wonderful job of illustrating just how huge the amounts of money involved in QE3 are going to be.  If you have not seen it yet, you can view the graphicright here.
The rest of the world is watching the games that we are playing with our currency.  Right now we think that we are getting away with it, but what we are doing is not sustainable.  At some point the rest of the world will totally lose confidence in the U.S. dollar, and when that happens the U.S. dollar could easily lose its status as the primary reserve currency of the world.
If that were to happen the coming shift in our standard of living would happen much more rapidly.
Please share this article with as many people as you can.  We need to wake people up and get them to understand how incredibly vulnerable our financial system really is.  We are on a path that is unsustainable any way that you want to look at it, and if something dramatic is not done our economy is going to experience an unprecedented collapse.
So what happens if nothing is done and everything crashes all around us?
Well, I hope that you are prepared because it isn't going to be pretty.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

who to control market and liberty


Published: 14 November 2011
Mises’s Naive View of the State?
Ludwig von Mises’s Human Action was published in 1949. The book has since gone on to great acclaim in classical liberal and libertarian circles. It influenced more than a generation of economists not only in the Austrian-school tradition but also from the prominent Chicago (such as Gary Becker), UCLA (Armen Alchian), and Virginia political economy (James Buchanan and Gordon Tullock) schools. Still, not everyone is a fan.Today’s document, a review of Human Action in 1949, by J.K. Galbraith, echoes a familiar dissatisfaction by opponents of classical liberal thought. Galbraith, like so many others, seems to paint Human Action as merely an apology for laissez faire, or free market, economics.
The first edition of Human Action was 889 pages. It was, after all, a treatise on economics. Galbraith, however, barely mentions this. Instead he concentrates his review on Mises’s view of the State. Written in a tone of “Can you believe how irrational this is?,” Galbraith shows how Mises paints the government to be the enemy of the market. There is no need to deny Mises’s distrust of the State. As Galbraith points out, to Mises “Government is in the last resort the employment of armed men, of policemen, gendarmes, soldiers, prison guards and hangmen. The essential feature of government is the enforcement of its decrees by beating, killing and imprisoning.”
Galbraith does seem to show some respect for Mises’s defense of the market. As Galbraith put it, “The market, even more than the wheel, is one of the great commonplace servants of man. Professor Mises powerfully defends it against those who would subvert it to the service of the selfish or shortsighted ends.” But, he continues, “it is possible that the defense is stronger when in the hands of somewhat more moderate men.”
Should the defense of the market, and liberty, be left to more moderate men? I would argue no, it should not. What is moderate will depend on what is popular. Liberty and free markets are not in fashion, just as they were not when Human Action was written. Moderate men would compromise liberty away, just as Mises had warned. And a major reason for this is that many do not see the State for what it truly is. It may make one a radical to claim, as Frederic Bastiat did one hundred years before Mises wrote Human Action, that “the state is the great fiction by which everyone tries to live at the expense of everyone else.” And the State does this through the use of coercion. What the State gives it must take violently away from someone else. One need not be an anarchist to recognize this. (Neither Mises nor Bastiat was an anarchist). If someone doesn’t recognize the danger of fire, we shouldn’t be surprised when he gets burned (which is not to claim that the state is as necessary or useful as fire).
The critics of Human Action should take more time to carefully read it. Mises builds a system of economics from the ground up; thus his beliefs expressed about the State do not appear out of thin air. Perhaps if they read more carefully, those who share Galbraith’s view would realize that such a blind faith in the State to cure the ills of society is really the naive position.

Develop Energy Freedom

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Energy Know-It-Alls
By Lawrence W. Reed
Growing up, I was taught that wisdom begins with understanding that no matter how much you may think you know, there’s still an infinite amount of knowledge that you don’t.
That truth had two big effects on me in all the decades since I first heard it. One, it ignited a curiosity to learn more. Two, humility became a habit. I realized that all the knowledge I’ve gained—especially about the future—is still no bigger than a blade of grass on a football field.
Yet all around us are people who claim to know far more than I suspect they do or ever will. When they dream and scheme with their own time and money, it’s not a problem. What’s disturbing is that many of these know-it-alls are so confident in their pseudo-omniscience that they want to use the force of government to impose their dreams and schemes on the rest of us. Washington is full of people who are busy planning almost every aspect of our lives, no matter how well or poorly they might be managing their own.
Energy is a case in point. An entire religion has arisen against fossil fuels and in favor of various “green” options. Its high priests tell us that we’re running out of oil, that things like wind or solar or algae power are the way to go, and—here’s the rub—subsidies, taxes and mandates are needed to get us there.
They would do well to contemplate the wisdom of the late Nobel laureate economist F. A. Hayek, who said, “The curious task of economics is to demonstrate to men how little they really know about what they imagine they can design.”
In the early 19th century, Americans used whale oil as their primary fuel for lighting. Prices rose as the demand for whale oil grew and the supply of whales declined (they were “common” property, not private, so everyone had an incentive to use them and no one had much reason or ability to conserve them). No federal energy department existed to either plan our lighting future or regulate the problem into perpetuity. And guess what? No bureaucrat predicted it in 1850 but within 25 years, we switched from whale oil to kerosene, derived from crude oil produced by a brand new industry. Supply and demand, prices acting as signals in a free marketplace, entrepreneurs taking risks to make a buck—all of that worked beautifully and without a mastermind.
Isn’t this what happens all the time when people are economically free? Computer chips, satellites and lasers replaced wires, transistors and vacuum tubes. Cars replaced mountains of horse manure in our city streets. If we started running out of trees, do you think we’d have to wait for a government edict before somebody would think to plant more? What on earth makes anyone think that government regulators, control freaks and spendaholics know more about the future than do the real creators of wealth who actually have to solve problems or go out of business?
Think about it. If somebody claims to know the future well enough to justify government pushing us there, you should demand that they answer this question: “Why aren’t you a quadrillionaire?” Anyone who knows the future and has the courage to put his own money where his mouth is has no excuse for not owning the planet.
Maybe wind, solar, algae or something as yet undiscovered will prove superior to fossil fuels. I don’t know. But how will anybody know unless we let all possibilities compete freely? I can think of no good reason to substitute the judgment of short-sighted, election-focused and often power-hungry government officials over the judgment of markets. How many green-energy boondoggles, steeped in political pay-offs to cronies, must we endure before this elemental principle is widely understood?
America was born in a healthy, well-earned skepticism of central planners. Perhaps we should re-learn why that was the case because some pretty remarkable things happened as a result. As economist Thomas Sowell puts it, “American prosperity and American free enterprise are both highly unusual in the world, and we should not overlook the possibility that the two are connected.”
(Lawrence W. Reed is president of the Foundation for Economic Education. A condensed version of this piece will appear this month in the quarterly newsletter of the Mackinac Center for Public Policy— Before becoming president of FEE in September 2008, Reed was president of the Mackinac Center since its inception in 1987.)
For further reading, see:
“Witch-Hunting for Robber Barons: The Standard Oil Story” by Lawrence W. Reed:
“Let’s Not be Energy Independent” by David R. Henderson:
“Mandating Renewable Energy: It’s Not Easy Being Green” by Michael Heberling:
“A Free Market Energy Vision” by Robert L. Bradley Jr.:
“The False Promise of Green Energy” by Morriss, Bogart, Meiners and Dorchak:
Lawrence W. Reed is president of the Foundation for Economic Education in Irvington, New York.