12/16/2012

Screen-Scraping Stock Market Data with HtmlAgilityPack

I’ve been involved with the stock market since the early 80’s when I was a rookie broker with Merrill Lynch in Orlando. In fact probably the main reason I got out of stock trading and into programming was because I spent more time looking at the technical indicators than selling stocks and mutual funds!

Back in the 1970’s legendary market guru Norman Fosback developed a “Daily Market Forecast” index that had an uncanny accuracy with predicting the direction of the next day’s market. Most of the items I have in this article were included in that index.

There is a page on Yahoo Finance, http://finance.yahoo.com/advances  which provides most of these indicators daily. Another page on the WSJ, http://online.wsj.com/mdc/public/page/2_3021-tradingdiary2.html  provides the daily TICK and TRIN (Arms index) that are also components of Fosback’s indicator.

I put together a console application that can be run daily via Task Scheduler to scrape these values daily and store them in a SQL Server database table. I use HtmlAgilityPack, which basically converts an HTML document into an XPath-compliant XML document to get the values, and Dapper to perform the SQL insert / updates.

Here’s how it works:

using System; 
using System.Collections.Generic;
using System.IO;
using System.Linq;
using System.Text;
using System.Threading.Tasks;
using HtmlAgilityPack;
using System.Net;
using Dapper;
using System.Configuration ;

namespace DJMarketData
{
class Program
{
static void Main(string[] args)
{
string tickPage = "http://online.wsj.com/mdc/public/page/2_3021-tradingdiary2.html";
string targetUrl = "http://finance.yahoo.com/advances";

// create a new HtmlDocument object
HtmlAgilityPack.HtmlDocument doc = new HtmlDocument();
// load the html page via WebClient
WebClient wc = new WebClient();
byte[] b = wc.DownloadData(targetUrl);
MemoryStream ms = new MemoryStream(b);
wc.Dispose();
doc.Load(ms);
//Get the HtmlNodeCollection of TD elements that have our values
var stuff = doc.DocumentNode.SelectNodes("//td[@align='right']");

string val = "";
string name = "";
Dictionary<String, double> items = new Dictionary<string, double>();

int ctr = 0;
// iterate over our nodelist and get each value; assign the correct fieldname based on the
// FieldNames enum
foreach (var nod in stuff)
{
var prevNode = nod.PreviousSibling;
if(prevNode!=null)
name = prevNode.InnerText;
val = nod.ChildNodes[0].InnerText;
var fieldName = Enum.GetName(typeof(FieldNames), ctr);
if (val.Length > 13)
val = val.Substring(0, 13);
else
val = val.TrimEnd();

items.Add( fieldName, double.Parse(val));

Console.WriteLine(fieldName + " : " + val);
// if we hit the last item we can stop processing
if (fieldName == "BBTOTV") break;
ctr++;
}

// Now get the Tick and Trin from the WSJ page
HtmlAgilityPack.HtmlDocument doc2 = new HtmlDocument();
WebClient wc2 = new WebClient();
byte[] b2 = wc.DownloadData(tickPage );
MemoryStream ms2 = new MemoryStream(b2);
doc.Load(ms2);

var ticks = doc.DocumentNode.SelectNodes("//td[@class='text']").Where(x=>x.InnerText=="Closing tick").ToList();
var arms = doc.DocumentNode.SelectNodes("//td[@class='text']").Where(x => x.InnerText.Contains("Closing Arms")).ToList();

var NYSETICK = int.Parse(ticks[0].NextSibling.NextSibling.InnerText);
var NYSETRIN = double.Parse(arms[0].NextSibling.NextSibling.InnerText);
// Create a TradeData object to hold all our values
TradeData data = new TradeData()
{
TRADEDATE = DateTime.Today,
NYSEADV = (int) items["NYSEADV"],
AMEXADV = (int)items["AMEXADV"],
NASDADV = (int)items["NASDADV"],
BBADV = (int)items["BBADV"],
NYSEDEC = (int)items["NYSEDEC"],
AMEXDEC = (int)items["AMEXDEC"],
NASDDEC = (int)items["NASDDEC"],
BBDEC = (int)items["BBDEC"],
NYSETOT = (int)items["NYSETOT"],
AMEXTOT = (int)items["AMEXTOT"],
NASDTOT = (int)items["NASDTOT"],
BBTOT = (int)items["BBTOT"],
NYSENH = (int)items["NYSENH"],
AMEXNH = (int)items["AMEXNH"],
NASDNH = (int)items["NASDNH"],
BBNH = (int)items["BBNH"],
NYSENL = (int)items["NYSENL"],
AMEXNL = (int)items["AMEXNL"],
NASDNL = (int)items["NASDNL"],
BBNL = (int)items["BBNL"],
NYSEUV = (int)items["NYSEUV"],
AMEXUV = (int)items["AMEXUV"],
NASDUV = (int)items["NASDUV"],
BBUV = (int)items["BBUV"],
NYSEDV = (int)items["NYSEDV"],
AMEXDV = (int)items["AMEXDV"],
NASDDV = (int)items["NASDDV"],
BBDV = (int)items["BBDV"],
NYSEUNV = (int)items["NYSEUNV"],
AMEXUNV = (int)items["AMEXUNV"],
NASDUNV = (int)items["NASDUNV"],
BBUNV = (int)items["BBUNV"],
NYSETOTV = (int)items["NYSETOTV"],
AMEXTOTV = (int)items["AMEXTOTV"],
NASDTOTV = (int)items["NASDTOTV"],
BBTOTV = (int)items["BBTOTV"],
NYSETICK = NYSETICK,
NYSETRIN = NYSETRIN

};

// convert the TradeData instance to a set of DynamicParameters
DynamicParameters parms = SqlMapperUtil.GetParametersFromObject(data, null);
// Perform the SQL insert / update
SqlMapperUtil.InsertUpdateOrDeleteStoredProc("InsertMarketData", parms, "local");
// DONE!

}

public enum FieldNames
{
NYSEADV,
AMEXADV,
NASDADV,
BBADV,
NYSEDEC,
AMEXDEC,
NASDDEC,
BBDEC,
NYSETOT,
AMEXTOT,
NASDTOT,
BBTOT,
NYSENH,
AMEXNH,
NASDNH,
BBNH,
NYSENL,
AMEXNL,
NASDNL,
BBNL,
NYSEUV,
AMEXUV,
NASDUV,
BBUV,
NYSEDV,
AMEXDV,
NASDDV,
BBDV,
NYSEUNV,
AMEXUNV,
NASDUNV,
BBUNV,
NYSETOTV,
AMEXTOTV,
NASDTOTV,
BBTOTV
}

}
}


There is also a class to hold the TradeData for each day’s scraped values:



using System;
using System.Collections.Generic;
using System.Linq;
using System.Text;
using System.Threading.Tasks;

namespace DJMarketData
{
public class TradeData
{
public DateTime TRADEDATE {get;set;}
public int NYSEADV {get;set;}
public int AMEXADV {get;set;}
public int NASDADV {get;set;}
public int BBADV {get;set;}
public int NYSEDEC {get;set;}
public int AMEXDEC {get;set;}
public int NASDDEC {get;set;}
public int BBDEC {get;set;}
public int NYSETOT {get;set;}
public int AMEXTOT {get;set;}
public int NASDTOT {get;set;}
public int BBTOT {get;set;}
public int NYSENH {get;set;}
public int AMEXNH {get;set;}
public int NASDNH {get;set;}
public int BBNH {get;set;}
public int NYSENL {get;set;}
public int AMEXNL {get;set;}
public int NASDNL {get;set;}
public int BBNL {get;set;}
public int NYSEUV {get;set;}
public int AMEXUV {get;set;}
public int NASDUV {get;set;}
public int BBUV {get;set;}
public int NYSEDV {get;set;}
public int AMEXDV {get;set;}
public int NASDDV {get;set;}
public int BBDV {get;set;}
public int NYSEUNV {get;set;}
public int AMEXUNV {get;set;}
public int NASDUNV {get;set;}
public int BBUNV {get;set;}
public int NYSETOTV {get;set;}
public int AMEXTOTV {get;set;}
public int NASDTOTV {get;set;}
public int BBTOTV {get;set;}
public int NYSETICK {get;set;}
public double NYSETRIN {get;set;}
}
}


The downloadable Visual Studio 2012 solution contains a SQL Script to create the SQL Server table and stored procedure that match this code.



Download Source Code

11/19/2012

The Fiscal Cliff, Currency Devaluation, and You

When it comes to the alleged “fiscal cliff”, both supply-siders and Keynesians are in agreement that jumping off would bring tragic economic consequences. However, conventional wisdom is nearly always wrong, and I believe it’s wrong here.


We won’t reach the fiscal cliff because the incentives that drive politicians ensure a deal.


With the economy still limping, very few politicians will want to be on record as having voted to raise rates of taxation. Every member of the House of Representatives is up for re-election in 2014, a third of all senators are, and they’re not going to vote for large tax increases. Considering spending, though it nearly always occurs at the expense of growth, politicians exist to spend our money. We’ll never jump off the "fiscal cliff".


For Keynesians like Obama and his advisers, they’re deluded by the false belief that government spending is an economic stimulant. So automatic reductions in spending by the feds would directly subtract from GDP growth.


The Keynesians are actually right. GDP would decline in the very near term amid automatic spending cuts, but all this tells us is that Gross Domestic Product is a worthless number.


Economies are nothing more than a collection of individuals, and when we break the U.S. economy down to the individual, it’s easy to see how wrong the Keynesians are. Indeed, are you better off when the federal government taxes away your earnings and consumes limited capital that might otherwise fund a future Apple? No? Well, you’re the economy.
In short, government spending is an economic retardant.


What’s missed by some, but not all supply-siders, is that we’re already in a recession. GDP is once again a worthless number, but if we remove the economic wet blanket that is government spending from the calculation, there’s not much growth to speak of at all. The FED has injected trillions in fiat electronically printed dollars into the world economy. This is the classic definition of inflation - currency devaluation.


When money is devalued, the size of our paychecks shrinks. Supply-siders correctly understand that income taxes eviscerate our paychecks, but not enough understand that currency devaluation achieves the same, and that’s why devaluation always correlates with slow growth. Devaluation is a tax on work.


Tax cuts on income, investment returns and dividends are great, but they’re largely irrelevant at the moment. Worse, their wonders are being discredited by dollar destruction that began under George W. Bush, and that has continued under President Obama.


We’re never going to reach the fiscal cliff given the incentives that drive politicians. Government spending reduces real growth, while tax cuts only work if they’re paired with a strong dollar. Both supply-siders and the Keynesians miss the point.

11/07/2012

The Fiscal Cliff, the Democrats and Barack Obama

“Fiscal cliff” is the popular term used to describe the conundrum that the U.S. government will face at the end of 2012, when the terms of the Budget Control Act of 2011 are scheduled to go into effect.

Among the laws set to change at midnight on December 31, 2012, are the end of last year’s temporary payroll tax cuts (resulting in a 2% tax increase for workers), the end of certain tax breaks for businesses, shifts in the alternative minimum tax that will take a larger bite, the end of the Bush tax cuts from 2001-2003, and the beginning of dozens of new taxes related to Obamacare. These tax changes affect everyone -– not just “the rich”.

At the same time, the spending cuts agreed upon as part of the debt ceiling deal of 2011 will begin to go into effect. According to Barron’s, over 1,000 government programs – including the defense budget and Medicare are in line for “deep, automatic cuts.”

This bill was signed into law by Barack Obama on August 2, 2011.

Republicans should allow this to take effect. All of it.

Democrats need to  understand what they elected. Obama supporters will reap what they have sown. Unless Congress acts by the end of the year, more than 26 million households will for the first time face the AMT, which threatens to tack $3,700, on average, onto taxpayers’ bills for the current tax year. Because those people have never paid the AMT, they have no idea they are in its crosshairs.

The Obama administration was a week late with its Sequestration Transparency Act, which was supposed to detail where budget cuts would fall:

Sequestration would impose cuts of 9.4 percent in nonexempt defense discretionary funding and 8.2 percent in nonexempt, nondefense discretionary funding. A 2 percent cut would hit Medicare providers, 7.6 percent would affect other nonexempt nondefense mandatory programs, and 10 percent would be applied to nonexempt defense mandatory programs, according to the report. Cuts in the range of 7.6 percent to 8.2 percent would affect everything from the Capitol Police to the Merit Systems Protection Board to the States Interagency Council on Homelessness.

Amusingly, Obama actually said the law he signed into effect “will not happen.”

When Mitt Romney pointed out the devastating $1 trillion in cuts set to hit our military via sequestration, Obama stated flatly, “[those] cuts will not happen.”

Obama is pledging that he will ignore a law he signed into effect. 

Democrats will now expect Republicans to bend to Obama’s will.

Harry Reid pledged not to work with a President Romney.

Barack Obama had a grand bargain in hand when he stiffed Boehner on the deal.

The first time he was elected Obama said “I won.”

In 2010 Obama said, “We don’t mind the Republicans joining us. They can come for the ride, but they gotta sit in back.” Obama successfully shut Republicans out of the stimulus and Obamacare process.

Now Obama will be looking for a legacy. It is not now nor has it ever been about the country. It was always about Barack Obama.

Republicans have the chance to grant Obama the legacy he signed into law- sequestration.

Obama signed it. He owns it. Let it happen. All of it.

This is a good time for Obama supporters to understand that sacrifice is not simply something for others to make. This is a good time for Obama supporters to understand what they have done.

I for one will enjoy watching them cry about paying their fair share for a change.

10/14/2012

Obama’s Legacy of Deception

When the President, his Vice President, his Secretary of State and others deliberately lie to American citizens about the tragic killing of an American ambassador and three of his staff, the nation has reached a point where decisions need to be made on Election Day.

What disturbs me the most is the utter disdain for the truth that has marked the presidency of Barack Obama. It has been nearly four years of repeated lies about the steps that were taken to respond to the financial crisis; the so-called “stimulus” which wasted billions, and the literal explosion of entitlement programs.

The administration literally seized control of General Motors and Chrysler, which were then in the normal process of bankruptcy, claiming to save the jobs of auto workers. What they really did was bypass the legitimate creditors and investors. They arbitrarily discontinued GM’s relationship with hundreds of auto dealerships, adding their employees to the unemployment lines. They then insisted that GM invest millions in the creation of an electric car that cost $47,000 to purchase and ended up buying them for government use with taxpayer’s money.

Obamacare, more than 2,700 pages in length and incorporating more than twenty new taxes, was passed by a Democrat-controlled Congress with little evidence that any of those who voted for it had even read it.

Under Obama, the foreign policy of this nation has  seriously weakened its position in the world and, combined with cuts to defense spending, put its ability to protect the homeland and project power abroad at risk. The administration failed to negotiate an agreement with Iraq that would permit U.S. troops to remain in place,  leaving Iraq vulnerable to al Qaeda. Setting a date for withdrawal from Afghanistan has only emboldened the Taliban. Obama’s foreign policy has been an abject failure.

The so-called Arab Spring has mutated, not into the establishment of democratic institutions in nations like Egypt or Libya, but an opportunity for the Muslim Brotherhood to ascend to positions of power in opposition to America’s interests in the Middle East and Northern Africa.

We now know that President Obama skipped some sixty percent of the daily CIA briefings and this no doubt led to his ignorance of the impending tragedy in Libya, but the fault also  lies  with the State Department that ignored the slain ambassador’s pleas for increased security for the embassy and consulate. This is a president who has been absent without leave as the Islamic jihad began to heat up across the face of the globe.

The hostility of President Obama’s administration to the vital energy sector of our nation has denied access to oil extraction on vast acreage of federal lands. It has denied permits for offshore drilling. It has mercilessly attacked the coal industry, responsible for nearly fifty percent of all electricity generation in the nation. Plants for electricity have closed down under the pressure of costly EPA regulations. Only the natural gas sector has grown, thanks to the technology of fracking, but both oil and gas is being extracted mostly on private land.

The economy, which could have recovered in much the same way it did during the Kennedy and Reagan administrations, has limped along while 23 million Americans remain out of work or have stopped looking for jobs. There are 47 million Americans on food stamps, utilizing eighty percent of the budget of the Department of Agriculture. There are millions who have seen the value of their homes decrease and others have faced foreclosure.

The Federal Reserve has pumped Trillions in fiat money into the banking system, and it hasn’t done a thing except to raise the specter of rampant inflation. The Labor Department was just caught rigging the data on new jobs to get it below 8 percent in a record-setting 43 months.

Barack Obama, a man whose personal life history is mostly a concoction of lies, whose personal records have been hidden from public examination, and who stunned viewers of his first debate with Mitt Romney by appearing so unprepared and so willing to repeat past lies, has been at the heart of a disastrous presidency.

Americans, no matter what their political affiliation, who are now saddled with $16 trillion in national debt, nearly six trillion of which was imposed in just the last four years, have a common interest to defeat Barack Obama. It’s high time for a big change, folks.

10/06/2012

How I Became a Conservative


I grew up in a middle-class Jewish (but not religious) family where most everyone was - surprise - a Democrat, and voted Democratic. As I was growing up and into my teens and early 20's nobody really talked much about politics.

It was basically, XYZ president or politician promised me this, and and I like him/her and I'm going to vote for him. Little if any critical independent thinking was devoted to "how" Mr. XYZ intended to PAY for whatever he promised.

In my 20's I decided I needed to broaden my horizons, and traveled to Israel to live on a Kibbutz for about a year. I had a great time. I also worked hard (you HAVE to work on a kibbutz, period!). But I also learned that the kibbutz mentality is very socialistic, and not quite as capitalistic as many may think. I also learned a lot about the Jewish culture, morality, and history and how Christians and Jews are "joined at the hip". After all, Jesus Christ was born - and lived - a Jew. So were most of his Apostles. I also traveled extensively through Europe.

Upon my return to the US, working various jobs, completing college and eventually earning a Ph.D. in economics, I did a lot more studying. I read Mortimer Adler, I read Milton Friedman, I watched Wm. F. Buckley. And eventually I found the basic truism that drives the conservative philosophy: You become a conservative when you've earned something to CONSERVE. LIberals simply do not understand this basic fact - yet it remains the very cornerstone on which our great country was founded.

Since then, I've been involved in local GOP organizations such as the Orlando Young Republicans and have supported Tea Party candidates as well. The Tea Party is anathema to liberals! Why? Because they believe in smaller government and less taxes! That's "evil"?
So, I'm a proud Conservative with libertarian leanings. I'm also a political realist, and I just voted for Mitt Romney here in Florida. By realist, I mean that Romney's not perfect. But when you compare him to president Obama and the complete shambles he's made as Commander in Chief, I'll hold my nose and take Romney any day!

8/26/2012

Debating Liberals Department

Over the past several years, I’ve engaged in numerous debates with my liberal friends, and I think I’ve just about learned most of the tricks they pull at this late stage of the game.

Here’s my short list of the “Favorite Nine”:

1) Attack The Messenger: Instead of addressing the argument that has been made, people using this method attack the person making it instead. This is particularly easy for many on the left who believe that almost everyone on the right is a racist, sexist, homophobic, Fascist, or some other horrible label. 
2) The Bait & Switch: When a claim is made and your opponent refutes it, don’t try to respond, simply change the subject. 
3) The Blitzkrieg: The goal here is blast your opponent with so many accusations that they can’t possibly respond. 
4) Enter The Strawman: Tremendously exaggerating your opponent’s position and then claiming to fight against a position they don’t hold is always a great way to dodge the issues
5) History Will Be Kind For I Intend To Write It: The technique is similar to using strawmen in some respects. What you try to do is to rewrite history, to claim that a debate in a previous time was different than it actually was.  
6) I’m Not Hearing You — La La La: Just totally ignoring what your opponent has to say and going on to something else is another technique often used by politicians of all stripes.
7) Motives Matter, Results Don’t: Oftentimes when people on the left are losing an argument or can’t explain why they seem to be so inconsistent on certain issues, they start questioning the motives of their opponents. 
The Bush administration may have claimed to care about stopping terrorism, weapons of mass destruction, humanitarian causes, or UN Resolutions, but it was really all about stealing oil, getting payoffs for business buddies, getting revenge for an attack on “daddy", etc.
8) Context On A Need To Know Basis: Stripping away the context of a situation is a favored technique of people who hate the United States. They talk about something the United States has done without discussing the reasoning behind it, the actions that provoked it, or other things that the United States might have also done that would place us in a more favorable light. It’s very easy to make someone look like a bad guy if you simply don’t include every detail that doesn’t support your case. 
9) Mean, Mean, Mean! When it comes to certain subjects, ordinarily rational people turn into complete bubbleheads. For example, you could probably put together a bill that called for nuclear waste to be dumped in every Walmart in America and as long as you called it the, “Feed The Children For A New Tomorrow Bill” about a 1/3rd of the American population would support it. So naturally, some people take advantage of this and claim that certain policy proposals are “mean”.  You hear this all the time from the left in Congress: “Mean spirited Republicans”.

This is of course, not to say that right-leaning debaters don’t use any of these diversionary tactics – they do. But they seem to be more prevalent in use among the liberal and progressive crowd.

If you want to debate on facts, figures and arithmetic and leave out the ad-hominem and straw-man tactics, I’m all ears. I love a good debate, and when I’m beat, accept defeat graciously.

8/25/2012

What Really Caused the Great Recession of 2008?

You’ll find plenty of blame to go around on this subject, but a little study shows that there were four or five major factors that caused the last big recession, and neither a single president or a single party can be blamed.

First, the expanded mandate of Fannie and Freddie - The housing collapse can be traced back the Clinton administration’s pressuring of Fannie and Freddie to encourage more home buying. The Community Reinvestment Act — in which banks were encouraged to lend to people who normally would not be worthy of obtaining home loans — was especially pernicious. The Act had been around for a long time prior to Clinton, but the Clinton Administration turned a once-obscure and lightly enforced banking regulation law into one of the most powerful mandates shaping American cities. This actually started way back in the Carter administration.

Second, The FED kept interest rates too low for too long. Keeping interest rates artificially low led predictably to excessive credit and speculative asset bubbles — such as occurred in the housing market, which was the bubble that brought everything down. It wasn’t Wall Street at all – they were just doing what they normally do. What happened is that Fannie and Freddie badly misrepresented the soundness of the loans that Wall Street was securitizing.

Third, mark-to-market accounting, which requires financial institutions to adjust their balance sheets and capital accounts whenever the value of an asset they own increases or decreases. The trouble with this is that it requires banks to show paper losses for assets they may have no plans to sell. FDR suspended mark to market accounting in 1938, but unfortunately, the George W. Bush administration brought it back in 2007.  Of the more than $700 billion that financial institutions have written off, almost all of it has been book write-downs, not actual cash losses.

Fourth, repeal of the uptick rule – enacted by FDR, the uptick rule says investors can’t short a stock unless it goes up in price.  In 2007, the SEC got rid of the rule, resulting in investors betting against the market, manipulating the market, and depressing stock prices.  I should add that many dispute this, but the fact remains that it had an effect.

Fifth, Repeal of Glass-Steagall – A main provision of Glass-Steagall was separating investment banking from commercial banking. But in 1999, the Gramm–Leach–Bliley Act (passed by a majority of Republicans and signed by Bill Clinton) repealed that provision. The problem is that this encouraged banks to be speculative — to take risks, knowing all along that the FDIC would insure their loss. 

This list focuses on things where government was responsible in one way or another. But it’s also worth noting that the creation and rapid expansion of new financial instruments (credit default obligations and credit default swaps) certainly contributed to the financial crisis. These problems were collectively created in a bipartisan fashion — with mistakes being pretty evenly divided between the Clinton and Bush administrations. Most of the primary contributors to the Great Recession are still in place. Fed rates are near zero. Banks are still Too Big To Fail — Dodd-Frank certainly didn’t end that. Very little has been fixed. In fact, the government is now attempting to use the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to implement the very same “easy credit” mortgage policies that got us into this mess in the first place.

8/05/2012

Why I Don’t Trust the IPCC for Climate Science


The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is an intergovernmental body, set up at the request of member governments. It was first established in 1988 by two United Nations organizations, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), and later endorsed by the United Nations General Assembly through Resolution 43/53. Its mission:

"to provide comprehensive scientific assessments of current scientific, technical and socio-economic information worldwide about the risk of climate change caused by human activity, its potential environmental and socio-economic consequences, and possible options for adapting to these consequences or mitigating the effects."

Note carefully that the mission of the IPCC clearly states "climate change caused by human activity" as a foregone conclusion - before it even begins to do any scientific research!

The chief characteristic which distinguishes a scientific method of inquiry from other methods of acquiring knowledge is that scientists seek to let reality speak for itself, supporting a theory when a theory's predictions are confirmed and challenging a theory when its predictions prove false.

Journalists are among the IPCC's most ardent admirers. They say that it’s “Climate Bible” is written by thousands of the world's top experts who all agree with its conclusions. They routinely use words such as gold standard, authoritative, and pre-eminent to describe it. Indeed, when discussing the IPCC the media sound more like cheerleaders than hard-nosed reporters:
the IPCC...has shown us the way (Time magazine)
It is chapter and verse, it is Holy Writ (Irish Independent)
most scientists have been awed by the IPCC's deliberate work (New York Times)
The greatest feat of global scientific cooperation ever seen...utterly unique and authoritative (UK Guardian)

Let us be sensible for a moment. Planet Earth is 4.5 billion years old. During that time it has endured all sorts of perfectly natural climate transformations. As recently as 20,000 years ago 97% of Canada was covered by ice. This ice melted and the Ice Age went away by itself.

It is claimed repeatedly that the "IPCC engages thousands of the world's best experts."

But such claims are bogus. For starters, some of the world's most experienced experts have been left out in the cold. In 2005 an atmospheric science professor from Colorado State University named William Gray told a US Senate Committee:

“Despite my 50 years of meteorology experience and my many years of involvement in seasonal hurricane and climate prediction, I have never been asked for input on any of the [IPCC] reports.”

The reason he wasn't invited to the party, he says, is because he doesn't think global warming causes more (or stronger) hurricanes. "They know my views and do not wish to have to deal with them."

You can find numerous examples of this kind of "cherry picking" at the IPCC. This suggests the IPCC defines top scientists and best experts differently than do most of us.

In early 2010 the InterAcademy Council, an organization comprised of science bodies from around the world, took an historic step. It established a committee whose purpose was to investigate IPCC policies and procedures.

The collected answers to the questionnaire total 678 pages. As early as page 16, someone complains that: "some of the lead authors...are clearly not qualified to be lead authors."
Here are other direct quotes:
There are far too many politically correct appointments, so that developing country scientists are appointed who have insufficient scientific competence to do anything useful.
This is reasonable if it is regarded as a learning experience, but in my chapter...we had half of the [lead authors] who were not competent.
(p. 138)
The whole process...[is] flawed by an excessive concern for geographical balance. All decisions are political before being scientific. (p. 554)
…half of the authors are there for simply representing different parts of the world. (p. 296)

According to the IAC report, IPCC assessments are intended to rely mainly on peer-reviewed literature. An analysis of the 14,000 references cited in the Third Assessment Report found that peer-reviewed journal articles comprised 84 percent of references in Working Group I, but comprised only 59 percent of references in Working Group II and 36 percent of references in Working Group III.
 
The current IPCC procedure requires authors to critically assess unpub­lished or non-peer-reviewed sources, reviewing their quality and validity before incorporating them (Appendix D).Non-peer-reviewed sources are to be listed in the reference sections of IPCC reports, followed by a statement that they are not peer-reviewed.

it is clear that these procedures are not always followed. A search through the Working Group reports of the fourth assessment found few instances of information flagged as unpublished or non-peer-reviewed. Blogs, newspaper articles, press releases, advocacy group reports, and proprietary data were thought by many to be inappro­priate.

The infamously wrong IPCC Fourth Assessment prediction in 2007 that the Himalayan glaciers could disappear by 2035 or sooner was based on a World Wildlife Fund report that was based on a 1999 article in New Scientist that, in turn, was based on unfounded speculation in an email from an Indian professor! This is not good climate science. It is politically motivated JUNK SCIENCE PROPAGANDA.

However, the IAC report did not pick up what, to me, is the clearest indication that IPCC is a con game:

Instead of first determining WHETHER there is genuine warming ARISING FROM causes about which man has some control, it PREDETERMINES its structures and conclusions, thus (from p.6 of IAC's report):

Working Group I assesses the physical scientific aspects of the climate system and climate change, including attribution of past change and projections of future change.
Working Group II assesses the vulnerability of socioeconomic and natural systems to climate change [NOTE that man made climate change  is first ASSUMED] negative and positive consequences of climate change, and options for adapting to it.
Working Group III assesses policy and technology options for mitigating climate change [NOTE that man made climate change  is first ASSUMED] through, for example, limiting or preventing greenhouse gas emissions and enhancing activities that remove them from the atmosphere.

IPCC has, in this manner, PREDETERMINED IN ADVANCE that there IS a MAN-MADE problem worth studying. Once again, this is not how real science works.

Journalists say we should trust the IPCC's conclusions because its reports have been written by the world's finest scientific minds. But in order for that to be the case the IPCC would need to apply very different criteria when selecting its authors.

The improper relationship between activists and the IPCC is illustrated by a 2007 Greenpeace publication. The foreword to that document was written by none other than Rajendra Pachauri, head of the IPCC. At the end of his remarks, beside his photograph, he is identified not as a private individual expressing private opinions but as the chairman of the IPCC. The following year Pachauri wrote another foreword for another Greenpeace publication. Think about this for a moment. The IPCC's role is similar to that of a trial judge. It examines the scientific evidence and decides whether or not human-produced carbon dioxide is guilty of triggering climate change. How much faith would you have in the impartiality of a murder trial if the judge was hearing evidence during the day and partying with the prosecution team during the evening?

Climate modelers also write other IPCC report sections – including the crucial attribution chapter. For the IPCC's 2007 report, the two most senior authors of that chapter – Gabriele Hegerl and Francis Zwiers – were both climate modelers. They based their decision on what they believe their models reveal. [footnote 7-2] But the computer models are flawed. The IPCC may claim that the world's top scientific minds and climate modelers are one and the same. But I think that's a stretch. In July 2007, five IPCC authors wrote an article for Scientific American in which they equated climate models with a fortune-teller's crystal ball. On the one hand, they declared it a certainty that people, plants, and animals would all be living with the consequences of human-induced climate change "for at least the next thousand years." On the other, they said: Unfortunately, the crystal ball provided by our climate models becomes cloudier for predictions out beyond a century or so. Each of us has to make up our own mind regarding whom to trust and what to believe. But when I became a grownup, I stopped believing in crystal balls.

If the IPCC followed proper scientific principles and wasn’t a politically motivated arm of the United Nations, I’d have a lot more faith in their reports. Unfortunately, that is not the case.

8/01/2012

Obama’s Calculated Deception

A graph titled 'Private Sector Job Creation' on the Obama-Biden campaign website… announces proudly that 4.4 million private sector jobs have been created over the past 28 months.

But at the same point during the Reagan recovery, the economy had created 9.5 million new jobs.     Contrary to the Obama campaign's misleading claim of 4.4 million new jobs created, total jobs today are still half a million less than in January 2009 when Obama entered office.    The unemployment rate, which we were told would not exceed 8% if we enacted Mr. Obama's stimulus package…has never fallen below 8% during his presidency. The rate has averaged 9.2% since February 2009.

After Bush's tax rate cuts were all fully implemented in 2003, the economy created 7.8 million new jobs over the next 4 years and the unemployment rate fell from over 6% to 4.4%.

President Obama and his chairman of the Council of Economic Advisors, Alan Krueger, brag that private sector jobs have now grown for "28 straight months." But job growth is the norm -- in the 62 years from January 1946, after World War II, until January 2008, jobs grew in 86% of the months, or 640 out of 744. Reagan's recovery produced job growth in 81 out of its first 82 months, with 20 million new jobs created over those 7 years, increasing the civilian workforce at the time by 20%. Even George W. Bush oversaw 52 consecutive months of job growth, including nearly 8 million new jobs created after his 2003 capital gains and dividends tax rate cuts became effective.

Obama is campaigning as if he were certain that a majority of Americans do not know that all recessions end and that labor markets recover eventually.Obama's tragic jobs record reflects the dismal economic growth under his administration's throwback, Keynesian economic policies. For all of last year, the economy grew by a paltry real rate of 1.7%, only about half America's long-term trend. The average so far this year has been no better. That dismal growth is further reflected in the Census Bureau reports of falling real wages under Obama, kicking median family income back over 10 years, with more Americans in poverty today than at any time in the more than 50 years that Census has been tracking poverty.

In the second year of Reagan's recovery, the economy boomed by a real rate of 6.8%, the highest in 50 years. Real per capita disposable income increased by 18% from 1982 to 1989, meaning the American standard of living increased by almost 20% in those first 7 years of the Reagan boom alone. The poverty rate, which had started increasing during the Carter years, declined every year from 1984 to 1989, dropping by one-sixth from its peak. That is the proper comparison for Obama's economic performance.

Obama also attacks the wealthy with his "fair share" mantra. "The Distribution of Household Income and Federal Taxes, 2008 and 2009," issued by CBO on July 10, reports that the top 1% of income earners paid 39% of federal individual income taxes in 2009, while earning 13% of the income. That means their share of federal income taxes was three times their share of income. And that is down from 2007, before President Obama was even elected. In that year, after 25 years of Reagan Republican tax policies, the top 1% paid 40% of federal individual income taxes. CBO further reported that in 2009 the top 20% of income earners, those earning more than $74,000, paid 94% of federal individual income taxes, virtually all of the net total. That was 85% more than the share of national income they earned.

The Obama campaign continues its calculated deception in saturating the Internet with advertising alleging that Mitt Romney's "tax plan" would raise taxes on the middle class and working families. Not only has Romney proposed no such thing, House Republicans have already voted for Rep. Paul Ryan's tax reform plan that would cut the federal income tax rate for all families earning less than $100,000 to 10%, and Romney has endorsed that as well.

Obama's lying allegation regarding Romney flies in the face of that reality. Rather, it is Obama who has raised taxes on the middle class, in gross violation of his 2008 campaign pledge not to do so. That has been held, in fact, by the United States Supreme Court, which ruled that the individual mandate in Obamacare is constitutional precisely because it is a tax. And that individual mandate tax applies to the middle class, and working people.

It is a classically abusive Saul Alinsky trick to accuse your opponent of planning to do exactly what you have done, as Obama does in continually accusing Romney of proposing to raise taxes on the middle class. Only an idiot can fail to see that the entire Democrat party's spending plans require sweeping tax increases on the middle class!

The entire Democrat party needs to be held responsible for Obama, the abusive dishonesty of his campaign operation, and the accelerating downward spiral of America his neo-Marxist policies are producing.

7/29/2012

Global Cooling Past 15 Years Despite CO2 increases

Over the last 15 years, we've been told that human CO2 emissions would cause global warming to accelerate to new dangerous levels, and this "unequivocal" warming would generate fantastic, catastrophic climate change disasters - the IPCC's climate models told us this, and truth be told, they were absolutely and spectacularly wrong.

Hadcrut global cooling co2 ipcc climate models global warming june 2012

As the U.S. has baked during the hot summer of 2012, the rest of the globe has been treading water, so to speak.  As the HadCRUT global temperature chart above shows, the large growth in atmospheric CO2 levels continues. Yet the 15-year trend of stable to a slight global cooling remains.

This extended 180-month period of non-warming was not predicted by a single global climate model.

The IPCC's climate models obviously have very serious, fundamental issues that can't just be 'tweaked' away. The most serious issue is their being CO2-centric, thus minimizing other factors (i.e., forcings) that influence temperatures and climate. Water vapor and solar variation don’t even make it into the IPCC computer climate models.

From recent experience, it is quite clear that the climate models' sensitivity to CO2 levels is likely to be way overstated - in other words, the climate is not as sensitive to CO2 as the programmers thought.

7/15/2012

Socialism does not work


Socialism in Europe and in this country always starts the same way – promise people free health care and free retirement and free housing and whatever free stuff wins political favor and gets you reelected. This is what progressive liberals do and what Obama is doing. And people keep voting for them because they love "free stuff".  They don't care where the money comes from. 

Some claim that the "rich" will pay for it all. But, the rich do not have enough money. They may have enough to pay for the very poor, but not for everyone. So, the socialists borrow the money. That way, they are still giving the populace free health care. But, at some point you can't borrow the money anymore because the people you are borrowing it from realize that they will never be paid back. This is the tipping point at which socialism fails. Past this point, you have to tax the people to whom you promised the "free" stuff in order to pay for their "free" stuff (those people are the middle class).

The people understandably don't want to give up their free stuff  -- or have to pay for it. But, they will have to do one or the other. And, an entire generation will suffer. Have a look at the EU right now and you can see it in all it's gory details. And -- make no mistake -- we're right behind them unless we wise-up real fast.

I have liberal friends who try to tell me that the austerity and pain in Europe today is because of GOP “Policies”. Europe’s pain and contraction is precisely because  20 years of profligate Socialist spending and borrowing is no longer working. When a country’s debt to GDP ratio gets into the 100% range, rating agencies begin to downgrade government debt. It is simple math. Sooner or later, the Piper will be at the door carrying an AK-47.

What is Trickle-Down Economics?

“Trickle down” is of course a disingenuous misnomer invented by the left to stigmatize conservative supply-side economic policies. It implies favoring the rich—that doing so will “trickle down” to everyone else. Nonsense. Conservatives don’t care any more or less about the rich than do liberals. The point for conservatives is not to help the rich, but to limit the harm done to incentives by tax policy so individuals have greater opportunities to become rich. President Obama misrepresents supply-side economics and then goes on to misinform his audience that it’s never worked. People are entitled to their own opinions, but they’re not entitled to their own facts.    Every time supply-side economic policies have been tried, tax rate reductions were applied to every income group — lower-income, middle-income, and upper-income alike — giving everyone a better shot at success. This is true regarding supply-side policies of the 1920s, 1960s, 1980s and 2000s.

Economist Thomas Sowell has written that the actual path of money in a private enterprise economy is quite the opposite of that claimed by people who refer to the trickle-down theory. He noted that money invested in new business ventures is first paid out to employees, suppliers, and contractors. Only some time later, if the business is profitable, does money return to the business owners—but in the absence of a profit motive, which is reduced in the aggregate by a raise in marginal tax rates in the upper tiers, this activity does not occur. Sowell further has made the case that no economist has ever advocated a "trickle-down" theory of economics, which is rather a misnomer attributed to certain economic ideas by political critics.

Although the term "trickle down" is mainly political and does not denote a specific economic theory, some economic theories reflect the meaning of this pejorative. Some macro-economic models assume that a certain proportion of each dollar of income will be saved. This is called the marginal propensity to save. Many studies have found that the marginal propensity to save is considerably higher among wealthier people. Policies, including tax cuts, that seek to increase saving are often aimed at the wealthy for this reason. Saving usually means some form of investment, as even money placed in savings accounts is ultimately invested by the banks.

The first known use of trickle-down as an adjective meaning "relating to or working on the principle of trickle-down theory" was in 1944.   In an economic slump, some say the government should make efforts to increase the supply (output or production) of an economy. Say's Law states that the way to economic growth is to boost production, and demand naturally follows. This flew in the face of the belief of the time, which was that a lack of money -- and thus lack of demand -- caused bad economic times. Say asserted that there will always be a demand for the right kind of products.

You could think of it this way: If there are people willing to work during a recession, they obviously want money in order to consume something. They must already have a demand that is not being met -- what they demand is either too expensive for them to afford or is not being produced. Producing in-demand products and driving down costs will create profit for the seller, and thus the means for him to satisfy his or her demand. Hence, production greases the wheels of the economy. This logic made sense to major thinkers of the time, including Thomas Jefferson and James Madison.

A century later, the tide had turned in the United States. By the time the Great Depression hit in the 1930s, many legislators held the opposite view. The most notable opponent to Say's Law during this time was John Maynard Keynes, a British economist. Keynes argued that there are such things as overproduction and lack of demand, and the key is to increase demand rather than supply. Government should promote consumer demand rather than entrepreneurial production. When people consume more, they create more jobs and production.

Laffer's curve shows that when tax rates are at zero, revenues are zero as well -- the government makes no money when it taxes nothing. But it's the same result if the tax rate were 100 percent. The Laffer Curve postulates that once the rates get too high, the steep taxes discourage work to an extent that the revenues themselves suffer. Laffer showed examples in U.S. history where lowering high tax rates increased not only government revenue, but also increased gross domestic product (GDP) growth and lowered the unemployment rate.

Sowell, an ardent supporter of trickle-down theory, argues that the popular definition gets it backward. Instead of benefiting the wealthy first, the policy actually benefits the working class first. This may sound impossible -- after all, it's the wealthy who get the tax breaks, not the poor. However, Sowell maintains that because the wealthy make investments in order to make a profit, they spend the money first on expenses of the business venture. (In other words, spending money to make money.) These wealthy investors must pay workers, thus creating jobs, before they can expect to see any profits. Therefore, it's the workers who receive the most immediate relief.

There have been a number of well documented studies showing that it is a combination of spending cuts and reduction of tax rates that is the most effective way to stimulate economic growth. So before you start bashing "trickle down economics", study the facts.

7/14/2012

Why I'm Voting for Mitt Romney

Romney is making this election about Barack Obama.
Considering the current state of the economy, Barack Obama has a record that he simply cannot run on. This is why the "Generic Republican" did so well in the primary season polls against Obama.  Republicans are putting forward a contrasting vision, but the election is ultimately a referendum on Obama.  Romney is correctly focusing on that issue.

Romney has a history of turning things around.
With the economy still limping along, only a 63 percent labor force participation rate, and American debt dangerously spiraling out of control, this country absolutely must have a change in direction.  Fixing entities that are in trouble is exactly what Mitt Romney has spent much of his life doing. As CEO of Bain Capital, Romney oversaw the investment and renovation of numbers of struggling companies, with an 80% overall success rate.  He successfully led the effort to save the 2002 Winter Olympics, which had previously been plagued by a bribery scandal and a huge budget deficit. This is the kind of turnaround management that America needs right now. Obama has not only demonstrated his complete lack of experience in this area but has actually instituted policies that have made things much worse.

Romney knows how to create jobs.
Republicans need a nominee that understands how to create jobs.  Mitt Romney has a proven record of job creation.  People can argue about exact numbers, but there is no argument that Romney is the only candidate that has contributed to significant job creation in both the private and public sector. He understands that the way to get the economy moving is to remove the uncertainty and provide a stable business environment for growth. He's had a detailed 160 page economic plan on his web site for almost a year:  http://goo.gl/8mnsx   What's more, Romney fully understands the looming dangers and costs of Obamacare and has vowed to get it repealed.

Romney has executive experience.
The presidency is a unique role that can only be compared to the executive position at the state level. Romney is the only Republican candidate that has executive experience.  As Governor of Massachusetts, Romney had to perform executive duties similar to those that will be required of a president.  Considering how complex our government has become and the example Obama has set for what happens with an inexperienced president, executive experience is an important trait for the nominee. Mitt Ronmey also understands that now is the time to begin the long, slow restoration of a representative republic as our founding fathers envisioned it, as opposed to the Socialist entitlement "Nanny State" promoted by Obama.

Romney will be responsible to conservative goals as president.
Romney will require a full coalition of Republican voters to win.  He understands that conservatives will oppose and fight him when he strays.  As Jonah Goldberg said, “it is better to have a president who owes you than to have one who claims to own you”.  Mitt Romney will owe conservatives if he is elected, and that is a debt he will have to pay to be a successful president.

7/07/2012

The US Can Learn A Lot From Europe

1. Higher taxes lead to higher spending, not lower deficits. Evidence from Europe shows that politicians almost always claim that higher taxes will be used to reduce red ink, but the inevitable result is bigger government. 

2. A value-added tax would be a disaster. The statists won’t be able to impose a European-style welfare state in the United States without first imposing this European-style money machine for big government.

3. A welfare state cripples the human spirit.

4. Nations reach a point of no return when the number of people mooching off government exceeds the number of people producing. The welfare state, unchecked, inevitably leads to fiscal collapse. One need only look to Greece to see this in action.

5. Bailouts don’t work.   Imagine how much better things would be in Europe if Greece never received an initial bailout. Much less money would have been flushed down the toilet and this tough-love approach would have sent a very positive message to nations such as Portugal, Italy, and Spain about the danger of continued excessive spending.

European Central Bank Research Shows that Government Spending Undermines Economic Performance

Europe is in the midst of a fiscal crisis caused by too much government spending, yet many of the continent’s politicians want the European Central Bank to purchase the questionable debt of reckless welfare states such as Spain, Italy, Greece, and Portugal in order to prop up these big government policies.

So it’s especially noteworthy that economists at the European Central Bank have just produced a study showing that government spending is unambiguously harmful to economic performance. Here is a brief description of the key findings:

“…we analyse a wide set of 108 countries composed of both developed and emerging and developing countries, using a long time span running from 1970-2008, and employing different proxies for government size… Our results show a significant negative effect of the size of government on growth. …Interestingly, government consumption is consistently detrimental to output growth irrespective of the country sample considered (OECD, emerging and developing countries).”

The evidence shows that the problem is government spending, and that problem exists regardless of whether the budget is financed by taxes or borrowing. Unfortunately, too many supposedly conservative policy makers fail to grasp this key distinction and mistakenly focus on the symptom (deficits) rather than the underlying disease (big government).

The second key takeaway is that Europe’s corrupt political elite is engaging in a classic case where one bad government policy is used to justify another bad government policy. In this case, they undermined prosperity by recklessly increasing the burden of government spending, and they’re now using the resulting fiscal crisis as an excuse to promote inflationary monetary policy by the European Central Bank.

The ECB study, by contrast, shows that the only good answer is to reduce the burden of the public sector. Moreover, the research also has a discussion of the growth-maximizing size of government.

The key lesson here is that government is far too big in the United States and other industrialized nations, which is precisely what the scholars found in the European Central Bank study.  The number one message from this new ECB research is that lawmakers – at the very least – need to  make sure government spending grows slower than the private sector. Fortunately, that is quite possible to do.

In the early 1960s a young Roman Polanski made a short experimental film behind the Iron Curtain that perfectly expressed the problems of communism and socialism. Two tramps are running through a snow-covered forest headed for somewhere that never becomes clear. They are traveling by taking turns carrying each other. One jumps on the other's back and trots for a couple of hundred yards. Then he hops down and they very formally switch places. They go on for another hundred yards or so and then switch places again. And so it goes.

What happens in the space of the four-minute film is that the distance the one tramp carries the other keeps getting shorter. After four or five exchanges, the carrying tramp only carries the other a few short yards before he quits and wants to be carried again. Finally one tramp jumps on the other's back and they go nowhere. He gets down and they stand mute looking at each other for a moment. End of film.

It is a perfect critique. This is what happens under socialism and Communism. When everybody becomes convinced that everybody else is taking care of things, everybody ends up doing nothing and the economy comes to a stop. Take a look at Greece now to see it in action.

7/03/2012

Why Do Conservatives Hate Black People?


First of all, this is just not true. Secondly, this makes an assumption that all conservatives are white. There are many black conservatives.  

Are there racists in the Republican party? Sure, but no more than you’ll find in the Democratic Party. So, why are Republicans being constantly accused of racism? It’s a political strategy. If black Americans weren’t convinced that the GOP was racist, they’d probably break 70/30 or even 60/40 for the Democrats instead of 90/10 and that would be devastating to the left. That’s why the Democrats are desperate to shout "racism" at every possible opportunity. It doesn’t matter if it’s true or false because the political stakes are so high for the left.

Thinking for oneself, loving your country, understanding and embracing the free market capitalist system, and loving your Constitution means you are not “black” but instead you are a "house negro" or a "token" for the Republican party. 

After a half a century of liberal control of Black communities and inner cities, we have rampant poverty; abysmal employment rates, poor educational outcomes and a negative birthrate.  Many are still looking to the Federal Government to accept blame for these problems and fix them, but it cannot.  But others now say that black people must look to themselves.  The breakdown of the Black family is the root of all of these societal ills, and if we repair and elevate the Black Family, every other issue becomes manageable, and will eventually  be cured.

Blacks used to be solidly Republican. Republicans were behind all the major civil rights acts. Republicans ended slavery. Republicans recognized a black person is a whole human, not a fraction of one. Republicans recognized the right of a black citizen to vote. Republicans were behind the drive to end segregation.

The Democrats started a civil war over the fear of losing their slaves, and brought us the KKK and Jim Crow.   They just worked out a sideways method to re-enslave the black man by trying to turn him into a permanently dependent permanent underclass through targeted entitlements and preaching class warfare.

The real racists are the Liberal Democrats who have been trying to suck this country dry, and have managed to fool black people into voting for them.

Black Conservatives are welcome in the Republican Party. You see them today as members of Congress. And, there will be plenty more.

6/30/2012

Some Advice to the U.N. About Global Warming

 
UN? Here’s how to get your mojo back on global warming:
(1) Stop holding sustainability conferences in the world’s most exotic locales, like Rio, and stop booking yourselves into five-star hotels on everybody else’s dime. People’s BS detectors are pretty much set on “high” all the time these days, given the beleaguered state of the global economy.
When you preach that everyone else needs to adopt a more modest lifestyle while living high off the public teat and emitting enough greenhouse gases to choke a whale, you undercut your credibility.


(2) Stop organizing conferences attended by 50,000 people. Seriously, 50,000? That’s a fuster cluck, not a meeting.


(3) Stop pushing ways to make fossil fuels more expensive (through carbon taxes and the ineffective and corrupt cap-and-trade market in Europe) and start pushing ways to make renewable energy less expensive.
The economics are simple. Tell people your entire plan for saving the planet means they have to go into fuel poverty and sell their first born to pay their electricity bills, and they’ll tell you to go intercourse yourself.
On the other hand, make it economically worthwhile for them to help save the planet and, just as if you’d invented a better mousetrap, the world will beat a path to your door.


(4) Accept reality. For now, admit wind turbines and solar panels aren’t ready for prime time, meaning mass use in developed, industrial economies. They can’t supply enough power, they can’t supply it reliably, they only last as long as the government subsidies do and they have to be backed up by fossil fuel energy, anyway.
The real fuels of the future, as Robert Bryce explains in his book Power Hungry, are low-emitting natural gas (from both conventional and shale sources) and non-emitting nuclear power, at least until renewable energy advances to the point where it is cost competitive with fossil fuels.


(5) Stop confusing weather with climate, or at least start disassociating yourselves from greens and “environmentalists” with degrees in political science and feminist studies, who do. Start explaining to people that just because they experience a hot summer or a cold winter in their neck of the woods, that’s not proof of climate change, that there’s a difference between global and regional warming and cooling, and that North American auto sales have nothing to do with hurricane frequency.


(6) Stop trying to guilt people into using less energy. It’s one thing to campaign against the greed of oil companies, whom everyone knows fix the price of gasoline, no matter how many government competition bureaus claim they don’t.
But it’s quite another to tell someone who has no other way of getting to work than driving his car, so he can pay his taxes, so his government can fund the UN, that he’s a planet killer for doing so. After a while, people just stop listening.


(7) Finally, start telling the truth. That man-made global warming is a problem, but not an existential one and only one of many global problems we face, that can all best be addressed by rational, economically sensible policies, and not by running around like Chicken Littles with our heads cut off, screaming “the sky is falling” or rather, “the planet is burning”, while bankrupting ourselves in the process.

6/29/2012

Obamacare: How To Do Healthcare Right

The Danish health care system is the nightmare of any anti-government free market believer -- it's a tax-funded state-run universal health care system. Denmark provides "free" health care to all residents, funded through taxes.

There is an optional private health care sector, but it is tiny compared with the vastly larger public system that is used by most of the population. Users pay for a few procedures, such as fertility treatments (from the third attempt onwards) and non-essential cosmetic surgery, as well as most of their own dental care and a portion of prescription medication.    Apothecaries are privately owned, but doctors" visits and hospitalization, including tests, treatment, follow-up care, and some medication, are fully covered.

The Danish health care system is not cheap. According to OECD's Health Data 2009, Denmark's health cost per person, public and private, was $3,512. But in the US the cost is more than double at $7,290! In addition, Danish health care covers everybody - 100 percent of the population-while in the U.S. fewer than 80 percent of citizens are covered, and often only partially. So basically the U.S. system costs more than twice as much and still leaves nearly a quarter of the population in the lurch if they need any medical care. In fact, the U.S. could get universal coverage and still save about 1 trillion dollars per year on health care.

So what makes Danish health care so cheap? It's not because it's of poorer quality. According to international surveys, more than 90 percent of Danes are totally satisfied with their health care, and it uses the most advanced methods available anywhere. And per capita there are more hospital beds and doctors than in the U.S. It's mainly cheap because it's a lot simpler to manage. There are no medical insurance companies or lawyers operating for profit, or financial background checks. There are no uninsured, so there is no paperwork if you get sick or injured.    Some proof of identity-citizenship or residence status - is all you need. And Danes are still free to pick their own family doctors, as long as they choose one within their own geographical area, and they have a choice of hospitals and in certain cases can even opt for treatment abroad.    Of course Denmark's universal health care means a higher overall tax bill and that healthy people are paying for the treatment of sick people through their taxes. But because the system is simpler and less profit-oriented, it ends up being cheaper for everybody.

U.S. health care is the most expensive system on earth and incredibly wasteful. Of course the Danish or Scandinavian welfare systems have a radically different social model. But Denmark and the other Scandinavian countries clearly prove that a government-run system can provide its population with superior care without being inefficient, bloated, or costly. Stronger state regulations ensure that the money pouring through the system ends up where it's supposed to: with doctors and health care providers.  The pharmaceutical industry still gets its fair share since medication is still bought on the free market. This rewards innovation.

In the U.S., health care financing is siphoned off by lawyers, administrators, and insurance companies; the cost of lobbying lawmakers and advertising is astronomical.    The U.S. is the only industrialized country in the world that does not support universal health care for its citizens. A greater degree of government involvement in health care might be un-American, but when the American system has abjectly failed, a refusal to look abroad for better models is simply self-defeating.

A good public healthcare system starts with learning to control unit costs. Obamacare, that monstrosity that was jammed down our throats by the Congress with little debate and lawmakers openly admitting they never ever read the bill, does nothing to control costs. We can do better.

Unique Google Search Operators You May Not Have Seen

Google (and most other search engines) have special operators and search url suffixes that many internet users are unaware of. Here is a fresh list for your searching pleasure.

intitle: Restricts the search to the titles of the web pages, for example if you want to search for the web pages having WordPress or Blogging in the title, use the syntax intitle:WordPress or intitle: “digital photography” (multiple words can be grouped into a phrase by putting them inside quotes).

inurl: If you include this keyword in your query, Google will restrict the results to documents containing that word in the URL (address of the website). The query inurl:teaching will return documents that mention the words teaching in their URL.

intext: The query using intext:term results in documents containing the term in the text/content. For instance: intext:Globalization will return documents mentioning the term globalization. Additionally, you can use allintext:term with phrases or combination of words.

site: If you want to search for a specific site or domain, use the site keyword as follows — site:microsoft.com for site specific search and site:edu for enlisting domain specific sites.

link: The query link:http://www.example.com enlists the pages that point to the specified URL http://www.example.com. For example, to find pages that point to Google Dictionary enter the query link:www.google.com/dictionary.

filetype: Use this to search for a particular file-type. Use filetype:suffix wherein you need to specify the extension of file as a suffix. This special syntax enables Google to search for all the files whose names end in specified suffix. filetype:pdf searches for all the Adobe Acrobat files.

related: The query related:URL enlists the web pages similar to the web page you specify as the URL. For instance, related:www.wikipedia.com will list web pages that are similar to the Wikipedia home page.

define: If your search query contains define:term, Google displays the definitions of the term from across the  pages on the web. This search operator is useful for finding definitions of words, phrases and acronyms. This comes as a handy dictionary.

Range Specific Search: If you want to search for some news or innovations in certain particular time period, use two periods in succession without space like “..“. To enlist what was in news from 15th Aug 2011-15th Sept 2011, you can frame your query as news 15/08/2011..15/09/2011.

safesearch: If you want to exclude unsafe, profanity, and other types of hate content stuff from your search results, use the syntax safesearch:term.

Google cached version of a url:  cache:url

To locate pages that contain links to related searches, backlinks, and pages containing the url:  info:url

To restrict the search to links and not in text or title:  allinlinks:keyword

To search only specified file types:  filetype:filetypes

In order to view the name and address of a phone number:  phone:keyword

To lookup the search query in a stock index: stock:keyword

Some Interesting [Near] Realtime Google Search Operators:

This list shows what they do:

&tbs=rltm:1 [real time results, not currently operational]
&tbs=qdr:s [past second]
&tbs=qdr:n [past minute]
&tbs=qdr:h [past hour]
&tbs=qdr:d [past 24 hours (day)]
&tbs=qdr:w [past week]
&tbs=qdr:m [past month]
&tbs=qdr:y [past year]

A numerical value can be added to the end of the s, n, h, d, w, m, y to specify number of unit. For example, s30 will search past 30 seconds, n30 for past 30 minutes, h12 for past 12 hours, y2 for past 2 years.

Google+ Profile Search:
https://www.google.com/search?q=ASP.NET&tbs=prfl:e  Note the “&tbs=prfl:e” suffix.

filter=0    Eliminates the “omitted results” or “similar results” filter, and allows all results to show in the SERP.

s_q=should+contain    The results should contain all of the words entered, same as normal search
as_epq=must+include    It’s the exact phrase that you’re looking for. It can also be entered in brackets like “must include”
as_oq=any+of+these    The results should contain any of these words, the search operator is OR
as_eq=none+of+these    The results should contain none of these words, the search operator is -
as_dt=e    What as_eq is for queries as_dt is for operators, as_dt=e excludes the following operator, as_dt=i includes it, e.g. as_dt=e&as_filetype=pdf returns results excluding pdfs, can also be entered using the - in front of the operator
as_filetype=pdf    Returns results of a certain filetype, e.g. pdf, can be entered into query filetype:
as_lq    Returns a sample of links to any site, also usable via the link: command
as_sitesearch    Search a specified site, you can also use the operator site:
as_rq    Shows a sample of related websites, also addressable using related:
as_occt=any    Specify where keywords shall occur on the page
any
title
body
url
links
as_nlo=1    Numbers range starts with 1
as_nhi=44    Numbers range ends with 44 a range. It can be typed into the search bar using 2 full stops .. between the first and last number
as_rights=cc_attribute    This attribute limits the search results to pages that have certain rights. It is quite useful for things like image or graphics search. The possible attributes are:
cc_publicdomain
cc_attribute
cc_sharealike
cc_noncommercial
cc_nonderived
You can combine all of these attributes in one query putting them in brackets and combining them via the | character.
num=100    Sets the number of results per page. It can only be used if Google Instant results are turned off. Instant limits results to 10 per page.

pws=0    Parameter that allows you to turn-off personalization
cd=2    Passes down the keyword rank clicked. In analytics suites this can come in handy if you’d like to track the keyword rank. A guide how this can be applied can be found here
pq=previous+query    Shows the previous query. This parameter appears when switching queries during one Google session. It might be quite valuable to extract this parameter for analytics purposes to detect search chains. 
oq=original+query    Shows the original query. Try searching for one thing, say sunflowers and then searching on for sunflower seeds. You’ll notice in the URL that a parameter oq=sunflower+X appears. X might be “seeds” or just nil depending on whether or not you have clicked on the Google suggest query. The query parameter will show the full query “&q=sunflower+seeds”, though.
filter=0    Include omitted results
complete=0    Turn auto-suggest on or off
nfpr=1    Turn off auto-correction of spelling
ncr=1    No country redirect: Allows you to set the Google country engine you would like to use despite your current geographic location. Though it works best if no Google cookie has been set yet.
safe=on    Turns the adult content filter on or off
biw=1920    Browser inner width, here 1920px
bih=832    Browser inner height, here 832px
start=30    Show results rankings from this number, so 30 is page three for 10 results per page
sa=    User search behavior parameter
sa=N – User searched
sa=X – User clicked on related searches in the SERP
btnG=”Search”    Text that appears on the search button (customization option for including search on one’s own site), here “Search”
newwindow=1    Open the results in a new window
navclient/client/sourceid=ie7    Where the search originated from, e.g.:
navclient – Google toolbar
navclient-ff – Google search toolbar for Firefox
firefox-a – Firefox search box
chrome
rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official    Source of query with version of the client and language set.

source=univ    Google navigational parameter specifying where you came from, here universal search
tbo=1    Always show search tools in the left sidebar
prmd=    Parameter that determines which of Google’s vertical search engines are suggested in the left sidebar besides web, they can be combined, the most important ones are:
prmd=a – only applications
prmd=b – only books
prmd=c – only places
prmd=d – only discussions
prmd=i – only images
prmd=n – only news
prmd=s – only shopping
prmd=p – only patents
prmd=u – none (only web)
prmd=v – only video
stick=    The stick parameter is one of the newest additions that we will likely see more and more. It encodes the knowledge graph box that is shown on the right next to many different queries. Try playing around with it.
Example: https://www.google.com/search?q=sex&stick=H4sIAAAAAAAAAONgVuLQz9U3MCkvLAIAW7x_LwwAAAA  - this uses the unique identifier for Marilyn Monroe

6/23/2012

Are Consumers the Real Job Creators?

I’ve seen several pieces over the last week that maintain this as economic fact:

http://www.forbes.com/sites/johntharvey/2012/06/17/job-creators/

http://whowhatwhy.com/2012/05/27/rich-guy-on-how-middle-class-are-the-job-creators/

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2012/06/17/1100766/--The-Only-Real-Job-Creators-Are-Consumers

I think what happens here is that some liberal blogger, professor or pundit writes something like this and then everybody else jumps aboard and starts echoing the meme without doing any critical thinking.

Consumers do drive an economy, but these authors miss the mark. Lots of businesses happen to be consumers of other businesses. So when you tax businesses and pass legislation that makes it harder for business to succeed, businesses stop buying things, which ultimately hurts consumer spending.

All of this does not even touch on the fact that small businesses are the true engine of growth for this country. And, most small businesses are taxed like individuals, i.e., the owners pay the tax.

The notion that we can somehow "create" demand is a fallacy. The notion that cutting government spending will not improve the economy is a fallacy. The government doesn’t have any money, so every dollar they spend is a claim against the savings of their citizens. The less of these claims that exist, the better off financially the people will be and they can adjust their outlook accordingly.

Workers are hired for one reason: the employer feels the added value (such as profit) they bring in, outweighs their cost – that’s it. If you could hire someone for $50k a year but they bring in $200k more a year in business or production then you would keep hiring as many people like that as possible.

Keynesianism makes sense, until you actually think about it. Demand does not come out of thin air like magic which most Keynesians believe. Demand comes from production, demand does not come from demand.

The 2008 crash occurred because we actually tricked ourselves into thinking borrowed money equaled productive capacity. It no more equaled that than borrowing against a future paycheck equals a raise. If you do this long enough eventually you have to cut back hard, and it’s painful, hence 2008.

By the logic of Keynesians we could solve all of our world’s problems if we just built a new aircraft carrier. This ship would not add any productive capacity to our economy but it would also not have a final completion date or price tag. It would thus cost unlimited amount of money and as a result generate an unlimited amount of jobs. It would move the aggregate demand curve off the charts. We would call this ship the USS Paul Krugman and it would be our path to utopia.

Consumers do drive an economy. However, how does a consumer receive his fuel (money)? By having a job. How does he attain this gainful employment? Because a business has a need for him. How does a business decide it needs an employee? Because it decides to expand. How does a business expand? By receiving the money to do so. How do they receive said money? By having a tax and regulatory environment that encourages growth. The consumer needs the business for work, and the business needs the consumer to buy from it. Unfortunately, we have proven that taxing businesses and wealthy individuals does not prove to be a feasible long-term solution. We may raise revenue in the short-term, but in the long-term, we have a disappearing middle-class. This is why even though top tax rates have ranged from a low of 28% to a high of 92% over the last 60 years, the revenue to the government as a percentage of GDP has remarkably stayed at about 18 percent.

One last point – we are not in a free market economy right now and look at the mess we’re in. The government, via the FED, controls the most important pricing discovery mechanism in capitalism. We can’t return to prosperity until interest rates are allowed to be determined by market forces and we stop the Keynesian tinkering with interest rates and money-printing stimulus programs.

6/15/2012

What Keynes Really Said

According to Keynes, the root cause of economic downturns is insufficient aggregate demand. During  World War II and it's immediate aftermath, Keynes was immensely influential. By the 1970's when the great inflation was unfolding,even Keynes' chief critics such as Milton Friedman or Robert Mundell still retained many Keynesian assumptions. With the crisis of 2008, Keynesian policies came back with a bang and reoccupied center stage.

Following the Crash of 2008, these policies are no longer satisfactory. If the entire global economy is to follow Keynesian medicine, which requires more money printing, spending, borrowing and bailing out - on top of all the money printing, spending and borrowing that preceded the crisis, then we need to look at them with fresh and critical eyes.

The place to begin is with what Keynes actually said.

First of all, Keynes did not believe that fiscal stimulus alone could ‘kick’ the economy into full employment equilibrium as many of his modern day proponents, such as Paul Krugman, claim. Keynes viewed fiscal stimulus as a short-term stop-gap more than anything; viable to get the economy going and keep people in employment, but not sustainable in the long run.

Keynes himself in his writings is often obscure, even at first glance self-contradictory. In some cases, very close examination reveals that Keynes was not actually contradicting himself. Often he was simply being sloppy, although sometimes he seems to be intentionally opaque, rather like former US Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan used to be when testifying to Congress. Opacity has its uses in politics, especially when there is a logical difficulty to obscure or evade.

Keynes stated that Interest rates are too high.

"The rate of interest is not self-adjusting at a level best suited to the social advantage but constantly tends to rise too high. . "

This is a frontal assault on the entire price system.

Keynes does not define any of his terms. He does not say what the "social advantage" is. He does not tell us how we will know when interest rates have fallen far enough. Nevertheless, he has told us something important—that the price system cannot be trusted.

It is important to keep in mind that interest rates are a price, the price of borrowed money. They are not only a price; they are one of the most important prices in an economy. All prices are interconnected, but this price in particular affects all other prices.

Keynes stated that by continually lowering interest rates, we can abolish slumps and enjoy a state of perpetual quasi-boom. It may appear extraordinary that a school of thought should exist which finds the solution for the trade cycle in checking the boom in its early stages by a higher rate of interest. The remedy for the boom is not a higher rate of interest but a lower rate of interest! For that may enable the boom to last. The right remedy for the trade cycle is not to be found in abolishing booms and thus keeping us permanently in a semi-slump; but in abolishing slumps and thus keeping us permanently in a quasi-boom.

This, of course, is precisely the formula for creating inflations, bubbles, and crashes.   If printing "a bit more money", as economist Paul Krugman often maintains, will "cure" a "massive economic slump," then only the tiniest amount of newly printed money should be needed to keep a boom going. But this has not proved to be the case. In fact, larger and larger amounts of new money are needed to keep a bubble from popping. Eventually all the debt associated with the new money becomes too great a burden for the economy and everything collapses. 

But the central paradox of Keynesianism is that it attempts to “fix” the price and profit system — by subverting it. No free price or profit relationship is left untouched.  Keynes wanted interest rate controls,subsidies, direct or indirect currency controls, asset price floors, wage floors, executive compensation controls, direct price controls, trade barriers, and interference with the profit system.

President Obama says "I strongly believe in a free market system". Unfortunately he doesn't understand, in his Keynesian righteousness, that he has been jamming big sticks into the spokes of the market wheel, then loudly exclaiming that the wheel is not moving and is in urgent need of government repair.