Friday, June 26, 2009

Mr. Quarter Despairs

By Mr. Quarter

After several months of blogging, montoring the comments sections, adding polls, and adding "our friends" sections, with virtually zero response, I am convinced that we are indeed howling at the moon here in Mr. Quarters Corner. It feels sort of lonely. The feed back we get is mostly from each other - that is from Mr. Quarter, The Deuce, and Conservative Ken. C'est la vie. I have done my best to publicize our blog to friends and acquaintances. I announce the posting of new blogs herein on my page on Facebook so at least my "friends" know to come here and read the post, but to no avail. I am convinced that the American public is too busy to care about the important issues or is to ignorant to care. I know in my heart that I and my co-bloggers have done our best to speak out to the world, to render our opinions and try to stimulate some interest and dialog. But no one is seems to be there, so I despair. I despair for the lost energy of civic interest and involvement. I despair for the country that I grew up in and the eternal promise that it offered to me personally. As I write, Senator John Bohner is waging a lonely battle on the Senate floor filibustering the pending carbon cap and trade bill. Does anyone out there give a damn? I fear not.

So as I squat here in the dim light, I look up and metaphorically howl at the moon from deep within my soul. Howl with despair for what might have been. Howl with frustration that I can't reach the light. Howl with sorrow that I cannot change what is. If a trees falls in the forest and no one is there, does it actually make a sound?

Nevertheless, we will plunge onward and outward. Because if no one speaks then no one will hear.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Green Jobs - the Obama way

By Mr. Quarter

I stumbled on an opinion by George Will that cited a study done by Gabriel Calzada, Ph.D at the Universidad Rey Juan Carlos entitled Study of the Effects on Employment of Public Aid to Renewable Energy Sources. The Obama administration has cited the example of Spain as the rationale for "Going Green" as a means of spurring the economy and creating jobs. Dr. Calzada has examined in some detail the economic benefit and cost of Spain's massive subsidies to the alternative energy market in that country. The Executive Summary from that study is presented below verbatim in its entirety. This is important enough that every tax paying working American should read it and understand what Obama's policies mean for America.

"Europe’s current policy and strategy for supporting the so-called “green jobs” or renewable energy dates back to 1997, and has become one of the principal justifications for U.S. “green jobs” proposals. Yet an examination of Europe’s experience reveals these policies to be terribly economically counterproductive. This study is important for several reasons. First is that the Spanish experience is considered a leading example to be followed by many policy advocates and politicians. This study marks the very first time a critical analysis of the actual performance and impact has been made. Most important, it demonstrates that the Spanish/EU-style “green jobs” agenda now being promoted in the U.S. in fact destroys jobs, detailing this in terms of jobs destroyed per job created and the net destruction per installed MW. The study’s results demonstrate how such “green jobs” policy clearly hinders Spain’s way out of the current economic crisis, even while U.S. politicians insist that rushing into such a scheme will ease their own emergence from the turmoil. The following are key points from the study:

1. As President Obama correctly remarked, Spain provides a reference for the establishment of government aid to renewable energy. No other country has given such broad support to the construction and production of electricity through renewable sources. The arguments for Spain’s and Europe’s “green jobs” schemes are the same arguments now made in the U.S., principally that massive public support would produce large numbers of green jobs. The question that this paper answers is “at what price?”

2. Optimistically treating European Commission partially funded data, we find that for every renewable energy job that the State manages to finance, Spain’s experience cited by President Obama as a model reveals with high confidence, by two different methods, that the U.S. should expect a loss of at least 2.2 jobs on average, or about 9 jobs lost for every 4 created, to which we have to add those jobs that non-subsidized investments with the same resources would
have created.

3. Therefore, while it is not possible to directly translate Spain’s experience with exactitude to claim that the U.S. would lose at least 6.6 million to 11 million jobs, as a direct consequence were it to actually create 3 to 5 million “green jobs” as promised (in addition to the jobs lost due to the opportunity cost of private capital employed in renewable energy), the study clearly reveals the
tendency that the U.S. should expect such an outcome.

4. At minimum, therefore, the study’s evaluation of the Spanish model cited as one for the U.S. to replicate in quick pursuit of “green jobs” serves a note of caution, that the reality is far from what has typically been presented, and that such schemes also offer considerable employment consequences and implications for emerging from the economic crisis.

5. Despite its hyper-aggressive (expensive and extensive) “green jobs” policies it appears that Spain likely has created a surprisingly low number of jobs, two-thirds of which came in construction, fabrication and installation, one quarter in administrative positions, marketing and projects engineering, and just one out of ten jobs has been created at the more permanent level of actual operation and maintenance of the renewable sources of electricity.

6. This came at great financial cost as well as cost in terms of jobs destroyed elsewhere in the economy.

7. The study calculates that since 2000 Spain spent €571,138 to create each “green job”, including subsidies of more than €1 million per wind industry job.

8. The study calculates that the programs creating those jobs also resulted in the destruction of nearly 110,500 jobs elsewhere in the economy, or 2.2 jobs destroyed for every “green job” created.

9. Principally, the high cost of electricity affects costs of production and employment levels in metallurgy, non-metallic mining and food processing, beverage and tobacco industries.

10. Each “green” megawatt installed destroys 5.28 jobs on average elsewhere in the economy: 8.99 by photo-voltaics, 4.27 by wind energy, 5.05 by mini-hydro.

11. These costs do not appear to be unique to Spain’s approach but instead are largely inherent in schemes to promote renewable energy sources.

12. The total over-cost – the amount paid over the cost that would result from buying the electricity generated by the renewable power plants at the market price - that has been incurred from 2000 to 2008 (adjusting by 4% and calculating its net present value [NPV] in 2008), amounts to 7,918.54 million Euros (appx. $10 billion USD).

13. The total subsidy spent and committed (NPV adjusted by 4%) to these three renewable sources amounts to 28,671 million euros ($36 billion USD).

14. The price of a comprehensive electricity rate (paid by the end consumer) in Spain would have to be increased 31% to being able to repay the historic debt generated by this rate deficit mainly produced by the subsidies to renewables, according to Spain’s energy regulator.

15. Spanish citizens must therefore cope with either an increase of electricity rates or increased taxes (and public deficit), as will the U.S. if it follows Spain’s model.

16. The high cost of electricity due to the green job policy tends to drive the relatively most electricity-intensive companies and industries away, seeking areas where costs are lower. The example of Acerinox is just such a case.

17. The study offers a caution against a certain form of green energy mandate. Minimum guaranteed prices generate surpluses that are difficult to manage. In Spain’s case, the minimum electricity prices for renewable-generated electricity, far above market prices, wasted a vast amount of capital that could have been otherwise economically allocated in other sectors. Arbitrary, state-established price systems inherent in “green energy” schemes leave the subsidized renewable industry hanging by a very weak thread and, it appears, doomed to dramatic adjustments that will include massive unemployment, loss of capital, dismantlement of productive facilities and perpetuation of inefficient ones.

18. These schemes create serious “bubble” potential, as Spain is now discovering. The most paradigmatic bubble case can be found in the photovoltaic industry. Even with subsidy schemes leaving the mean sale price of electricity generated from solar photovoltaic power 7 times higher than the mean price of the pool, solar failed even to reach 1% of Spain’s total electricity production in 2008.

19. The energy future has been jeopardized by the current state of wind or photovoltaic technology (more expensive and less efficient than conventional energy sources). These policies will leave Spain saddled with and further artificially perpetuating obsolete fixed assets, far less productive than cutting edge technologies, the soaring rates for which soon-to-be obsolete assets the government has committed to maintain at high levels during their lifetime.

20. The regulator should consider whether citizens and companies need expensive and inefficient energy – a factor of production usable in virtually every human project- or affordable energy to help overcome the economic crisis instead.

21. The Spanish system also jeopardizes conventional electricity facilities, which are the first to deal with the electricity tariff deficit that the State owes them.

22. Renewable technologies remained the beneficiaries of new credit while others began to struggle, though this was solely due to subsidies, mandates and related programs. As soon as subsequent programmatic changes take effect which became necessary due to “unsustainable” solar growth its credit will also cease.

23. This proves that the only way for the “renewables” sector - which was never feasible by itself on the basis of consumer demand - to be “countercyclical” in crisis periods is also via government subsidies. These schemes create a bubble, Study about the effects on employment of public aid to renewable energy sources which is boosted as soon as investors find in “renewables” one of the few profitable sectors while when fleeing other investments. Yet it is axiomatic, as we are seeing now, that when crisis arises, the Government cannot afford this growing subsidy cost either, and finally must penalize the artificial renewable industries which then face collapse.

24. Renewables consume enormous taxpayer resources. In Spain, the average annuity payable to renewables is equivalent to 4.35% of all VAT collected, 3.45% of the household income tax, or .6% of the corporate income tax for 2007."

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The Deuce Ponders III

Who are the men in the above image?

1. Applicants for one of the 100 Czar positions available at the White House.

2. AIG employees lining up for their bonus payments.

3. Mortgage applicants at Fannie May.

4. All the judges better qualified than Sonia Sotomayor for Supreme Court Justice.

5. Former GM employees lining up for unemployment checks.

6. Former Chrysler employees lining up for unemployment checks.

7. Men fleeing rising sea levels caused by global warming/climate change/a cloudy day.

8. Members of the new public option health care plan waiting to see a doctor/nurse/commissar.

10. Guys at the Greyhound Bus Terminal buying tickets to get out of California.

Correct Answer: That's all of us in 2012.

What's the first thing you think of when you see the above image?

1. Progress? Towards what? Chaos?

2. Andy Warhol would have been a better choice.

3. What's wrong with his neck? His chin is always up in the air. Reminds me of Mussolini.

4. From unknown senator to president in three years? Community organizer, here I come!

5. When does he speak at the U.N. and smack his shoe on the lectern?

6. Uhhhhhhh, blah blah blah ( media applause ), Uhhhhhhh, blah blah blah ( media applause ).

7. Thank God I bought that stock in Teleprompter Inc.

8. Why can't my wife spend all her time in the vegetable garden like Michelle.

9. I don't get it...Chris Mathews gets a thrill up his leg and all I get is a pain in my ass.

10. That looks as authentic as the birth certificate he posted.
Correct Answer: I gotta learn to hypnotize people like this guy!

If you saw the thing pictured above walking down the street, what would be your most appropriate response?

1. Call the White House and tell them that there's an escapee from Area 51 running loose.

2. Call Wringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus and say, "Boy, have I got an act for you."

3. Thank God you're not the TSA dude that has to get this thing through the metal detector.

4. Call your daughter and thank her for marrying that biker that deals meth.

5. Call your disappointment of a son and tell him how proud you are of him.

6. Tell him, "I agree, that whole hepatitis thing is just fear mongering."

7. Join the stampede of hysterical pedestrians fleeing for their lives.

8. Tell the thing not to waste his money joining

9. Ask him, "What channel is your reality show on? I gotta see that!"

10. Shoot first, ask questions later.
Correct Answer: Hey, there goes Obama's new Czar of Self Esteem!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

The Deuce and Baseball

Some funny things happen as you get older ( and a bunch of things not so funny, but I'll set those aside for now ). One of the funny things that happens is that some of your tastes change.

Growing up I played about every organized sport that was available to me. From age eight until I graduated high school I was constantly playing whatever sport was in season. Football in the fall, basketball in the winter and baseball in the spring and summer. Later on it was track and field in the spring. Baseball was my least favorite. I like baseball now...a lot. What changed?

Well, I changed. Looking back I now know that I really didn't understand the game. It seemed simple. Hit, run, catch and throw. What's so mysterious about that? When you're playing in Little League, not much. Just trying to master the basic skills of baseball is about all a ten year old is capable of. But even in high school I didn't get it. It wasn't all my fault. I played for a small school with only one coach, and one coach can't spend the time necessary to teach all the mysteries of the game. My dad never played organized sports so he was of little help, and baseball was the least popular sport in my school ( and most schools still today ) and few paid any attention to it. Chicks may dig the long ball, but there were damn few chicks watching my baseball teams.

There was one other reason baseball was my least favorite sport, but I'm hesitant to talk about it. It hurts my pride to say it, but few other games will expose your lack of skill or composure like baseball, and I absolutely hated looking like a fool in front of even the smallest crowd. Boot an easy grounder, muff a pop-up, have your throw to first base sail into the bleachers six feet over the first baseman's head...all of these would make me feel humiliated to the point I wanted to find a hole and jump in it to escape the scowling scrutiny of the fans, the coach and my teammates. The catcalls from the opposing team made my blood boil and I offered a challenge to fight the more insulting opponents more than once. In short, baseball was a psychological mine field for me, and I lacked the emotional maturity to deal with my failures in a constructive way. Baseball, like golf, is a game that you absolutely can not play well if you're nervous. The game requires precision and fluid relaxed movement. Nerves make you tighten up, your movements become jerky and unpredictable...and the next thing you know you've just thrown a pitch that's outside by five feet. Like Bob Uecher said in Major League..."Juuuust a bit outside." How embarrassing!

Well, I don't play the game now, but I enjoy watching it more now than ever, more then even football. Why? Because I'm starting to grasp the mysteries.

Most people who don't like baseball say it's boring. On the contrary, to anyone who's deciphered the mysteries, baseball is very rarely boring. Each pitch marks a change in the game. Hundreds of decisions have to be made between every pitch.

Pitchers are asking themselves what pitch to throw next and where to locate it; high heat or waste a splitter down and away? Can I walk this guy to get to the next batter who has a lower average? Does this batter like to swing at balls low and inside, or does he like to extend his arms on pitches that are up? Can he hit my breaking ball? Is the guy on first a threat to steal? Is this a bunt situation?

Batters are asking themselves similar questions. What's this pitchers "out" pitch, his favorite? Does he have command of his breaking ball? Should I try to work the count to increase the likelihood of getting a fastball or should I look for the fastball on the first pitch? Can I get around on his fastball? Should I slow my bat speed and go for the opposite field hit? Should I sacrifice myself to advance the runner?

Fielders have their own mysteries to solve. Am I in the best position for this batter? Should I be guarding the line against a pull hitter? Is a bunt on? Do I play deep for a double play or play in to get the runner at the plate and prevent a run? Who's covering second base, the shortstop or the second baseman? Is the wind a factor on flys and pop ups? Who's the cutoff man and where's he going to be? How fast is the base runner and can I force him out if the ball is hit deep in the hole or do I go to first?

Managers have all of these mysteries to deal with on every play. That's a challenge suitable for a chess master.

If you've been introduced to the mysteries of baseball, you get to play along. You're considering the same questions. You're debating every decision. You know what's being discussed when the manager goes out to the mound to talk to his pitcher. You look for the signals flying between pitcher and catcher, between the infielders, between the base coaches and the hitter and base runners. You know if the pitcher's stride is getting shorter and his arm is dropping he's getting tired. You know if a batter opens his stance that he's trying to hit to the opposite field. You know if a runner at first takes a huge lead he's baiting the pitcher to throw over so he can gauge the pitcher's pick off move.

When you begin to understand the mysteries, that's when you really begin to enjoy the game.

If you think baseball is boring, it's only because you're not seeing everything that's going on. Look harder. You won't be disappointed.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

The Deuce and the Sexiest Women Ever

When the economy is dying a slow death, North Korea is wrangling for more food aid by testing nukes and launching ICBMs, Iran is "electing" the same psycho president, and the Cubs are below .500, there's really only one thing we can talk about without having a

Specifically, the sexiest women who have walked the planet Earth in the last 100 years.

Now obviously I haven't seen all the women who have lived in the past 100 years and the current state of physics and engineering limit me to our home world, so my list must be limited to those Terran women I have seen. Most of these women are actresses or models or both, since they get the most press. I will include a handful of women I have personally known...first names only, to protect the innocently lusted after.

No consideration is given for talent, intellect, political affiliation, professional success, nationality, bitch level, emotional stability, degree of promiscuity or kindness to animals. The only criteria that matters is do they put the Slugger in my Louisville. Each woman is considered while at her peak of desirability.

Personal disclaimer. I'm a big man, and I tend to like my women to have some meat on them. Hey, I gotta be me.

1. Sophia Loren. Still alive, and still magnificent! She's got it all; beauty, body and attitude.

2. Anna Nicole Smith. Dumb as a rock, gold digger extraordinaire and psychologically erratic...but my God!

3. Raquel Welch. The sexiest redhead ever...looks great in fur and not afraid of dinosaurs!

4. Ava Gardner. Broke up Frank Sinatra's marriage and dated Howard Hughes. You know she was a ring-a-ding doll.

5. Salma Hayek. Watch her dance in the movie From Dusk Til' Dawn. Grrrrrrrr!

6. Elizabeth Taylor. To see her in her prime watch the movie Cleopatra. Both Caesar and Marc Anthony had to have her, Roman empire be damned. I agree.

7. Rita Hayworth. Golden moonlight. See her in Gilda! Married Orson Wells...who knows why?

8. Catherine Zeta-Jones. Smokin' hot! The Welsh beauty married to Michael Douglas...lucky guy.

9. Angelina Jolie. Exudes sexuality. Can corrupt any man. Just ask Billy Bob Thornton or Brad Pitt. Satan's handmaiden.

10. Jayne Mansfield. Marilyn Monroe's chief rival as sex kitten of the 50's. Also did the Kennedy boys ( chicks don't just dig the long ball ). Died to young at age wreck.

11. Jennifer Lopez. Perhaps the most famous ass of all time.

12. Halle Berry. Just exquisite!

13. Marilyn Monroe. Sexiest purr ever. Did both JFK and Robert. Sadly allowed herself to be used and abused.

14. Marlene Dietrich. German sex goddess that swung both ways. Not so much a classic beauty, but her very open sexuality scandalized her era. Seduced a married John Wayne. I forgive him!

15. Nicole Kidman. Incredibly beautiful with a sexy Aussie accent, but a bit too skinny for my tastes to rank higher.

Now, as Willie sang, to all the girls I've loved, from no particular order.

Dawn. An Ava Gardner look alike. Her musk perfume drove me nuts.

Heidi. Think Salma Hayek but not Hispanic. Jaw-dropping figure!

Kerri. Rita Hayworth's twin. Golden.

Linda. A honey-blond Raquel with freckles. Devastating!

YMCA Girl. I don't know her name, and I only saw her once. I was working out at the local Y some years ago when she walked by. Late teens, blond, perfect complexion with a figure fit for a Greek goddess. She exuded innocence, health, fertility and sex in equal measure. She was simply breathtaking. I stared openly and I didn't give a damn who might object.

Here's to those women who make us act like fools, who make our very genes shout MATE! God bless 'em.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Follow Up to Interest Rates, Inflation, and the Coming Poverty

By Mr. Quarter

A short followup to my howling at the moon the other day in the post entitled Interest Rates, Inflation and the Coming Poverty. First, read this editorial in the online version of The Economist. An excellent treatment of the current state of affairs with regard to exploding public debt - not only in the US but around the world. One key point made in the editorial is the the only way to address massively exploding debt is to CUT SPENDING and NOT RAISE TAXES. Hell, I'm no economist, but it makes sense to me.

As for the danger of uncontrolled inflation that is on our horizon, you can refer to this article in the online edition of Forbes. One key point of made is as follows:

"The core cause of the credit crunch was the management--some would say mismanagement--of money supply by governments in an attempt by regulators to manage liquidity in the economies of the world over the so called "economic cycle." Bubbles come from too much money chasing not enough stuff and too much money comes as a result of government policy.

The economic result of the various global stimulus packages are not only bound to be huge, but also unpredictable and hard to control. In order to save the world from economic meltdown this time around, government money supply management across the globe has been attempted on a colossal and historic scale. The exact outcome is almost impossible to predict, but the odd-on favorite is inflation.

As the actions to end the credit crunch have been reflationary, any error is highly likely to be inflationary and potentially massively so. The outcome of an inflationary misstep already built into the economies of the world will result in an eventual sharp tightening and this tightening, when it comes, will toss the markets back into the dumpster for a period."

Again, Mr. Quarter does not pretend to be an economist, but I do stand by my predictions of hard times coming. Save your pennies and hunker down!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

The Deuce and the Duke

In a Harris poll taken in late 2008 the American people announced their latest cast of favorite actors. It is as follows.

1. Denzel Washington
2. Clint Eastwood
3. (tie) John Wayne, Will Smith
5. Harrison Ford
6. Julia Roberts
7. Tom Hanks
8. Johnny Depp
9. (tie) Angelina Jolie, Morgan Freeman.

All are currently working actors except one. John Wayne has been dead for 30 years. Today is the 30th anniversary of his death.

Thirty years! Why is the Duke still near the top of America's favorite actors? No one ever accused Wayne of being a great actor, though he did win one Oscar, for his role as Rooster Cogburn in True Grit, released in 1969. Most Hollywood insiders insisted that Oscar win was not for his performance, but was instead really a life-time achievement award. It was probably some of both. So if Wayne was not a great actor, why does he still hold such a fascination with so many Americans?

Women didn't find the Duke sexy, like they did Carey Grant or Clark Gable. He didn't play noir cynics like Humphrey Bogart or dashing highwaymen or pirates like Errol Flynn. He didn't play great historical figures ala Chuck Heston ( unless you consider Davey Crocket to fit that description, a role Wayne played in his own production of The Alamo ) and he didn't star in blue-screen special effects extravaganzas like Star Wars or The Matrix. The Duke worked primarily in two genres, westerns and war movies. The Searchers is generally regarded as his best western, and in fact considered by film experts as the best western ever made. As far as I know, none of Wayne's war movies is considered great, but fans most often mention Sands of Iwo Jima as their favorite. But Wayne's continuing popularity doesn't rest on just one or two of his movies, but instead on his entire body of work. Okay, what's so special about John Wayne?

What makes the Duke special is that every one of the characters he played exhibited the character traits most American men and a sadly shrinking number of women, associate with manliness. Even in our current climate of metro-sexual nice guys trying so hard to be inoffensive and nonthreatening to women by sublimating their masculinity, John Wayne still resonates!

John Wayne's characters were manly men. They wouldn't tolerate injustice and fought to protect the weak. They were plain spoken and direct men who said what they meant and meant what they said, nuance happily unknown to them. They understood that what a man says is a damn sight more important than how he says it. They did not judge men by anything other than the high standards of their own code of honor...honesty, integrity, physical and moral courage, and intrepidity. They didn't want to die, but understood that some things are worth dying for. They were civil and demanded civility in return. In Wayne's movie, The Shootist, released in 1976, his character J. B. Books, an aging gunfighter dying of cancer, states the code he lived by; "I won't be wronged, insulted or laid a hand on. I don't do these things to other people and I require the same from them." Not a bad code to live by, if only we could get away with it in today's America.

As it happens, Wayne was already dying of cancer when he made The Shootist. Clearly he was drawn to play the role of J.B. Books, because Books was looking for a way to die as he lived, with his boots on and gunning down the never ending cast of evil doers that were close to hand. To die with some semblance of dignity, as he saw it, not to slowly fade away lying in bed dying from some disease. Unfortunately, that is exactly how the Duke died. Lying in a hospital bed, helpless and delirious from pain and powerful medications. Modern life offered him no dignified way out.

There is one Duke movie that stands out from all the others. Not because his character is any different from all his others, but because of the setting. It's not a western or war movie, but what I always thought of as a retelling of Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew. The Quiet Man is one of my favorite Wayne movies. He plays an American prize fighter who inadvertently killed a man in the ring. He returns to his ancestral homeland, Ireland, to find a life of peace and tranquility away from America and the boxing ring. He is drawn to a high spirited red head Mary Kate Danaher, played by Maureen O'Hara, but his interests in her are challenged by her older brother, Red Danaher, acting as the patriarch of her family. Oblivious to Irish custom, Wayne's character, Sean Thornton, soon learns that both of the Danaher's expect him to fight for the right to court and marry Mary Kate. Reluctantly, Thornton obliges, answering Red's challenge in an epic fist fight that covers most of the country side, then literally dragging Mary Kate back to his cottage, her fighting him all the way. Thornton then demands that Mary Kate prepare supper for himself and his soon to be brother-in-law, Red. Mary Kate happily obliges, secure in the knowledge that Sean loves her enough to fight for her. I'm sure the modern American feminist, both female and male, are appalled at such behavior.

I'm fully aware that the Duke's life did not always mirror the nobility of the characters he portrayed. Married three times and too often separated from his children as he made a living to support them, he was not a perfect husband, father or man. He loved to hang out with his buddies, director John Ford and fellow actor Ward Bond, drinking and playing cards on Ford's yacht as they sailed the waters between Los Angeles, Catalina Island and Mexico. John Wayne worked hard and played hard.

Sadly, the elites of America don't hold John Wayne or the traits his characters exemplified in much esteem any more. They would say the Duke is an anachronism; an uncouth brute lacking in nuance or the social graces; unwilling to accept the modern America of political correctness, affirmative action, socialism, professional politicians inseparable from their teleprompters, and moral relativism.

Mores the pity.

Rest in peace Duke. Some of us are still fighting to preserve the America you knew, and the individual character traits that made America great.

( For a differing opinion on the social and psychological meaning of The Shootist, see this rather lengthy essay, written in 1981, but still I think a good example of the psycho-babble nonsense so common among academics and "serious" critics today. It'll turn your stomach, but I offer it as an example of what is wrong with film criticism today, especially among the hoi pal-oi of the east coast establishment. )

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Interest Rates, Inflation, and the Coming Poverty

By Mr. Quarter

I have opined previously that, "hard times are coming", and I thought that they were actually already here. My recent reading of the various news sources and analyses suggests that perhaps we really haven't seen the worst of the hard times yet.

First, consider these facts:
  1. The Federal Reserve, for the first time in history is monetizing huge amounts of debt. The Fed is purchasing Treasury bonds, and various other assets (some of them in the "toxic"category). This purchase is accomplished by creating money out of thin air via an accounting entry. This is vastly increasing the monetary base - currency in circulation, bank reserves, and vault deposits.
  2. The monetary base has increased in the past 8 months by 120 percent.
  3. Bank reserves - have increased by over 10 fold in the past 8 months. This is the money that banks have to keep on deposit with the Fed. It is the basis for loans. Right now they are sitting on it and not loaning it out.

These point to a scary near future - way too much money chasing too few products. The result is inevitably inflation, probably on a scale that would make even Jimmy Carter blush. Those of us that have taken it in our collective 401k/IRA shorts due to devaluation of the stocks in our portfolio will now see what is left diminished even further.

Second, national debt is exploding and the Congress and Obama don't seem inclined to even try to rein in the spending. The solution seems to be tax more and often. Tax everything. Tax the health care plan you get from your employer as income. Tax your purchases with a Value Added Tax. Tax the very air that you exhale, or that is exhaled from your tail pipe, water heater, and electric outlet. Tax the emissions from the cow that provides your hamburger, the pig that provides your bacon.

The Obama wisdom seems to be that while collecting those taxes, spend some more and borrow the money to do it! I read recently that by 2019 the share of the national debt for every household is projected to be $155,000 and climbing. To finance the spending in the near term, the federal government will have to sell bonds. But with the debt climbing, bond markets will begin to weigh the risk of repayment. So to attract buyers for these bonds (Can you say China?) the interest rates will have to climb. To unprecedented levels. And the portion of the annual US budget devoted to interest payments increases until there are really only two budget line items: interest payment on the debt, and entitlement payments to the citizenry.

Don't be mislead. This will impact every single American. Rapidly, perhaps exponentially, rising prices for all goods and services with a corresponding erosion of purchasing power. Purchasing power diminished even further by a Value Added Tax on everything except food and clothing (maybe). You won't be able to buy a house or a car without paying at least double digit interest rates, because after all, you will be competing for available credit with the US government. Declining take home pay for poor schmucks that work for a living because of rising payroll taxes to pay for Social Security, Medicare, Nationalized Health Care, and Prescription Drugs. Mandatory increase in retirement age to 70 or 75, with limits based on means testing. Rising income taxes - don't you believe it for a minute that if your income is less than $250,000 you've got nothing to worry about. And don't forget about the future support payments to keep GM, Chrysler, AIG, CitiBank, and Bank America solvent, after all, the government occupy the majority of the seats on their board, and unions will control a large share of the car companies (now that is bound to result in really "good" business decisions).

Obama rocketing this country into ruin with new spending on a scale that is breathtaking, the Congress is doing nothing to reduce spending on any existing program and talking about all the ways they can raise more revenue. Worst of all, the American people are sitting like sheep waiting for the slaughter, doing nothing and letting it happen.

Monday, June 1, 2009

And Now, A Word from Pravda

By Mr. Quarter

I stumbled upon this article published in the June 1, 2009 edition of Pravda entitled, "American capitalism Gone With a Whimper." As some readers may know, Pravada was the official organ of the Soviet Union during the cold war years. Reading the article made me feel great shame because of its accruacy, but that all of the howling we do on this blog is exactly on point. It is reprinted here:

"It must be said, that like the breaking of a great dam, the American decent into Marxism is happening with breath taking speed, against the back drop of a passive, hapless sheeple, excuse me dear reader, I meant people.

True, the situation has been well prepared on and off for the past century, especially the past twenty years. The initial testing grounds was conducted upon our Holy Russia and a bloody test it was. But we Russians would not just roll over and give up our freedoms and our souls, no matter how much money Wall Street poured into the fists of the Marxists.

Those lessons were taken and used to properly prepare the American populace for the surrender of their freedoms and souls, to the whims of their elites and betters.

First, the population was dumbed down through a politicized and substandard education system based on pop culture, rather then the classics. Americans know more about their favorite TV dramas then the drama in DC that directly affects their lives. They care more for their "right" to choke down a McDonalds burger or a BurgerKing burger than for their constitutional rights. Then they turn around and lecture us about our rights and about our "democracy". Pride blind the foolish.

Then their faith in God was destroyed, until their churches, all tens of thousands of different "branches and denominations" were for the most part little more then Sunday circuses and their televangelists and top protestant mega preachers were more then happy to sell out their souls and flocks to be on the "winning" side of one pseudo Marxist politician or another. Their flocks may complain, but when explained that they would be on the "winning" side, their flocks were ever so quick to reject Christ in hopes for earthly power. Even our Holy Orthodox churches are scandalously liberalized in America.

The final collapse has come with the election of Barack Obama. His speed in the past three months has been truly impressive. His spending and money printing has been a record setting, not just in America's short history but in the world. If this keeps up for more then another year, and there is no sign that it will not, America at best will resemble the Wiemar Republic and at worst Zimbabwe.

These past two weeks have been the most breath taking of all. First came the announcement of a planned redesign of the American Byzantine tax system, by the very thieves who used it to bankroll their thefts, loses and swindles of hundreds of billions of dollars. These make our Russian oligarchs look little more then ordinary street thugs, in comparison. Yes, the Americans have beat our own thieves in the shear volumes. Should we congratulate them?"