Nuts of Deception: Planters Mixed Nuts

I love Planters.  From Honey Roasted Peanuts to Dry Roasted Sunflower Kernels to Mixed Nuts, they make some tasty snacks.

But a man can only turn a blind eye to injustice for so long.  Shown below are the entire contents of a 248g pack of Planters Deluxe Mixed Nuts: Cashews, Almonds, Brazil Nuts, Pecans, and Pistachios:

posted image

What’s wrong with this picture?

This is not an anomaly.  I eat these regularly and it’s always the same.  This time I decided to separate the nuts to see if the disparity was really as bad as it seemed to be.  The results:

Cashews: 113g
Almonds: 113g
Brazil nuts: 8g (2 nuts)
Pecans: 8g (~6 nuts)
Pistachios: 8g (~16 nuts)

I know some nuts are more expensive than others so I don’t expect the ratios to be exactly one to one... but TEN to one?  That’s just pathetic.  Planters, you oughta be ashamed of yourselves.

Posted by Anthony on 4 replies

ObamaCare Diagnosed in One Sentence

Quoting Dr. Barbara Bellar:

So, let me get this straight.  We’re going to be gifted with a healthcare plan that we’re forced to purchase and fined if we don’t, which purportedly covers at least 10 million more people without adding a single doctor but provides for 16,000 new IRS agents, written by a committee whose chairman says he doesn’t understand it, passed by a Congress that didn’t read it but exempted themselves from it, and signed by a President who smokes, with funding administered by a Treasury chief who didn’t pay his taxes, for which we will be taxed for four years before any benefits take effect, by a government that has already bankrupted Social Security and Medicare, all to be overseen by a Surgeon General who is obese and finally, financed by a country that’s broke. ... What could possibly go wrong?

Posted by Anthony on reply

The Inanity of Blaming Your Problems on Businesses

These Occupy Wall Street kids are really upset that, after taking out loans, you have to pay them back; that sometimes the only jobs available pay less than you’d like; and worst of all, that some Americans make more money than you do.  It’s a laundry list of typical far-left complaints, mostly absurd and therefore not worth paying much attention to, except when the complainants flock together and start blocking traffic.

Of course anyone with half a brain can see that it’s all a lot of misdirected hostility:

Quoting Doug Mataconis:

This "corporations run the government" meme has been around since the 1970s, and it’s no more true now than it was then.  As Rick Moran points out, if corporations really ran the government would we have an EPA, OSHA, SEC, the EEOC, the FHA, the Department of Labor, or any of the other number of state and federal agencies that regulate corporate behavior?  If corporations truly "ran" the government, then why would any of these organizations exist?

Corporations do influence the government, of course.  But then so do labor unions, the legal profession, the medical profession, special interest groups based on one form of racial or ethnic grievance or another, and lobbying interests ranging from Iowa corn to Texas oil.  The problem isn’t corporations, the problem is that we have a government that has its fingers in nearly every aspect of the economy.  That means that policy makers have the ability to pick economic winners and losers every day, and it’s only natural that those policies would be of concern to the people that they’re going to impact most directly, the businesses affected by them.  That’s lobbying and petitioning the government for redress of grievances, not "running the government."  This kind of reflexive anti-business mentality seems to be quite common in some sectors of society, but it has little basis in reality and seems firmly entrenched in resentment and envy rather than an honest examination of the country’s political system.

If you’re mad about the bailouts, then you march on the corrupt government that distributed them, not on the businesses that received them.  The too-big-to-fail businesses -- including banks and automakers -- should have been allowed to fail; the fact that they were instead bailed out represents a problem in the government, not in the businesses.  It’s idiocy to expect a failing business to not accept a handout.

Posted by Anthony on reply

Obama's Speech: So Full of Lies

It’s infuriating to hear the president state so many things that are so misleading or outright false.

Quoting Barack Obama:

In the year 2000, the government had a budget surplus.  But instead of using it to pay off our debt, the money was spent on trillions of dollars in new tax cuts

Tax cuts are not spending.  When you confiscate money from the people, then give a portion of that money back to the people, you haven’t "spent" anything.

Quoting Barack Obama:

To make matters worse, the recession meant that there was less money coming in, and it required us to spend even more on tax cuts for middle-class families; on unemployment insurance; on aid to states so we could prevent more teachers and firefighters and police officers from being laid off.

When a liberal brings up "cops and firemen and teachers", it means there’s a load of BS coming your way.  By "prevent [them] from being laid off" what he means is "keep them rolling in their outrageously lavish pensions", because the truth is that that’s where the vast majority of the bankrupt states’ money is going: to pensions that they can’t afford to pay, but can’t adjust because of union BS.

Quoting Barack Obama:

This balanced approach asks everyone to give a little without requiring anyone to sacrifice too much.

False.  Half of the country pays ABSOLUTELY NOTHING in federal income taxes, and you aren’t asking them to start paying their fair share.

Quoting Barack Obama:

The only reason this balanced approach isn’t on its way to becoming law right now is because a significant number of Republicans in Congress are insisting on a cuts-only approach an approach that doesn’t ask the wealthiest Americans or biggest corporations to contribute anything at all.

False.  The wealthiest Americans ALREADY pay the vast majority of the taxes in this country.  But apparently, to Barack "Social Justice" Obama, confiscating anything less than 100% of these evil successful Americans’ wealth means that they are "not contributing anything at all".

Quoting Barack Obama:

We all want a government that lives within its means

False.  The government itself clearly does not want the government to "live within its means".  If it did, it wouldn’t be continually growing, always hiring more government workers, and never firing any of them.

Quoting Barack Obama:

Keep in mind that under a balanced approach, the 98% of Americans who make under $250,000 would see no tax increases at all.  None.

OK you delusional nutcase, which is it?  Is it "balanced", or are 98% of Americans not going see their taxes increase at all?

Posted by Anthony on 1 reply

Rabbit Inspectors: Your Government At Work

Quoting Jerry Pournelle:

A man in Missouri sold about 600 rabbits for ten to twelve bucks each in 2008 and 2009.  He made about 200 bucks profit.  The United States Department of Agriculture discovered that he did this without a Federal License.  Apparently you can’t sell bunny rabbits in rural Missouri without the permission and license of the government in Washington.  The United States Department of Agriculture is on this case: they have assessed a fine of Ninety Thousand Dollars ($90,000.00).  If he doesn’t agree to pay this fair and reasonable assessment, he will be subject to a fine of $10,000 for each rabbit sold, although they might be willing to round this down to half a million dollars. [...]

I don’t know what else this branch of the United States Department of Agriculture does, but given this example of their work I am pretty sure we could do without it.  I suspect the entire Department could be eliminated, but perhaps that’s a bit drastic: but surely the Republic need not borrow money to pay people whose work is to assess a $90,000 fine for selling six hundred bunny rabbits. [...]

This branch of the USDA may be doing something worthwhile in preparing this pamphlet and finding unlicensed rabbit sellers, closing them down, and assessing fines; it may be a Good Thing for the Federal government to prevent cruelty to bunny rabbits and Easter chicks and ducks; but do we need to go into debt to do this? [...]

In times of economic crisis do we need rabbit inspectors?
Posted by Anthony on reply

Stimulus for Tax Cheats

In a piece about yet another massive failure by the government, Doc Zero provides this concise observation about the absurd hypocrisy of government spending:

Quoting John Hayward:

It’s funny how spending is always such an urgent business that we can’t even read the legislation, or carefully investigate the individuals and corporations we are compelled to subsidize.  On the other hand, even the smallest spending reduction is an agonizing process which stretches out for months, while Democrats denounce budget cutters as heartless monsters who want to kill as many women and elderly people as they can.

Which reminds me of a bumper-sticker I saw yesterday: "Liberalism: such a good idea, it has to be mandated."

Posted by Anthony on reply

A Nation of Takers

Quoting Stephen Moore:

More Americans work for the government than work in construction, farming, fishing, forestry, manufacturing, mining and utilities combined.  We have moved decisively from a nation of makers to a nation of takers.  Nearly half of the $2.2 trillion cost of state and local governments is the $1 trillion-a-year tab for pay and benefits of state and local employees.  Is it any wonder that so many states and cities cannot pay their bills? [...]

One way that private companies spur productivity is by firing underperforming employees and rewarding excellence.  In government employment, tenure for teachers and near lifetime employment for other civil servants shields workers from this basic system of reward and punishment.  It is a system that breeds mediocrity, which is what we’ve gotten.

Most reasonable steps to restrain public-sector employment costs are smothered by the unions.  Study after study has shown that states and cities could shave 20% to 40% off the cost of many services--fire fighting, public transportation, garbage collection, administrative functions, even prison operations--through competitive contracting to private providers.  But unions have blocked many of those efforts.  Public employees maintain that they are underpaid relative to equally qualified private-sector workers, yet they are deathly afraid of competitive bidding for government services.

Posted by Anthony on reply

Teachers Unions Prevent Education

How long will America allow teachers unions to fail its children?

Quoting Jerry Pournelle:

In Los Angeles, where the teachers unions have the most favorable contracts I know of from a large school district, the District, forced to cut back, chose to do so by laying off teachers from the 3 worst performing schools in the district.  The American Civil Liberties Union promptly went to court to upset this, saying they couldn’t solve their problems on the backs of students from schools for the poor.  In theory the lawsuit was to protect the students, although what they are being protected from isn’t clear.  Apparently they have a right to be taught by ineffective teachers?  But the ACLU and the school district reached an agreement in which the District will be able to lay off teachers using complex rules that have some concession to teacher effectiveness rather than strict seniority.  The LA teacher union, predictably, threatens court action.  Solidarity forever.  The student be damned, bad teachers have rights.  Students don’t.  Students have no right to an effective teacher: the purpose of the student is to justify the payments to their teachers, and teacher effectiveness must never be considered in school management.  So it goes.

Bill Gates has financed studies that strongly indicate that we could double the effectiveness of our school system simply by firing the worst 10% of the teachers.  Just fire them.  You needn’t replace them.  Send the students to other classes.  Yes, that would raise class sizes: but our cups overflow with evidence that class size is a far smaller influence on education success than teacher effectiveness.  That has been known since the Chapman report.  (Good luck on finding the report; I probably don’t know how to look, but I can’t.  It was done prior to 1972, and is hardly the only data, as for instance Debunking the Class Size Myth: How to Really Improve Teacher Effectiveness.  It’s easy to find more.  I bring up Chapman to indicate that we have known all this for a long time.)  The point is that almost everyone who has studied the problem understands that the first and most cost effective move we can make would be to fire bad teachers, and that we have known this for forty years, and that it is harder to fire bad teachers now than it was in the days of "Why Johnny Can’t Read".  One might suppose that children have a right to be taught effectively, but that is not the case: what they have a right to is the teacher with the most seniority without regard to that teacher’s abilities.  The entire system exists to assure bad teachers that they will always be paid.

Destroying the educational and employment prospects of huge swaths of future generations is bad enough, but that’s not all the teachers unions do: they’re also a primary cause of the pension disaster coming soon to cities and states near you.  Because making kids stupid isn’t enough; they ought to be bankrupt, too.

Posted by Anthony on reply

Even Worse Than a Waste of Time and Money

Bruce Schneier on airport security:

A short history of airport security: We screen for guns and bombs, so the terrorists use box cutters.  We confiscate box cutters and corkscrews, so they put explosives in their sneakers.  We screen footwear, so they try to use liquids.  We confiscate liquids, so they put PETN bombs in their underwear.  We roll out full-body scanners, even though they wouldn’t have caught the Underwear Bomber, so they put a bomb in a printer cartridge.  We ban printer cartridges over 16 ounces -- the level of magical thinking here is amazing -- and they’re going to do something else.

This is a stupid game, and we should stop playing it.

It’s not even a fair game.  It’s not that the terrorist picks an attack and we pick a defense, and we see who wins.  It’s that we pick a defense, and then the terrorists look at our defense and pick an attack designed to get around it.  Our security measures only work if we happen to guess the plot correctly.  If we get it wrong, we’ve wasted our money.  This isn’t security; it’s security theater. [...]

Exactly two things have made airplane travel safer since 9/11: reinforcing the cockpit door, and convincing passengers they need to fight back.  Everything else has been a waste of money.

Unfortunately it’s worse than merely wasteful, because the TSA’s latest bit of security theater involves them seeing you naked via x-ray machines whose safety has not been proven and which may in fact be quite dangerous:

Quoting Jason Bell:

These questions have not been answered to any satisfaction and the UCSF scientists, all esteemed in their fields and members of the National Academy of Sciences, have been dismissed based on a couple of reports seemingly hastily put together by mid-level government technicians or engineers.  The documents that I have reviewed thus far either have NO AUTHOR CREDITS or are NOT authored by anyone with either a Ph.D. or a M.D., raising serious concerns of the extent of the expertise of the individuals and organizations evaluating these machines with respect to biological safety.  Yet, the FDA and TSA continue to dismiss some of the most talented scientists in the country...

With respect to errors in the safety reports and/or misleading information about them, the statement that one scan is equivalent to 2-3 minutes of your flight is VERY misleading.  Most cosmic radiation is composed of high energy particles that passes right through our body and the plane itself without being absorbed.  The spectrum that is dangerous is known as ionizing radiation and most of that is absorbed by the hull of the airplane.  So relating non-absorbing cosmic radiation to tissue absorbing man-made radiation is simply misleading and wrong.  Of course these are related and there is over-lap, but we have to compare apples to apples.

Furthermore, when making this comparison, the TSA and FDA are calculating that the dose is absorbed throughout the body.  According the simulations performed by NIST, the relative absorption of the radiation is ~20-35-fold higher in the skin, breast, testes and thymus than the brain, or 7-12-fold higher than bone marrow.  So a total body dose is misleading, because there is differential absorption in some tissues.  Of particular concern is radiation exposure to the testes, which could result in infertility or birth defects, and breasts for women who might carry a BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation.

There are plenty of other experts who believe the TSA is either wrong or lying about these devices, for example:

Quoting U.S. Rep. Rush Holt:

Earlier this year, the Congressional Biomedical Caucus - of which Holt is a co-chair - hosted a briefing by Dr. David Brenner of Columbia University on the potential health effects of "back scatter" x-ray devices.  According to Dr. Brenner, the devices currently in use and proposed for wider deployment deliver to the scalp "20 times the average dose that is typically quoted by TSA and throughout the industry."  Dr. Brenner has pointed out that the majority of the radiation from X-ray backscatter machines strikes the top of the head, which is where 85 percent of the 800,000 cases of basal cell carcinoma diagnosed in the United States each year develop.

According to Dr. Brenner, excessive x-ray exposure can act as a cancer rate multiplier, which is why Holt has urged the government to investigate thoroughly the potential health risks associated with this technology.  In August, Holt wrote to the House Committee on Appropriations calling for a freeze in funding for any further full-body scanning devices employing "back scatter" technology until the GAO completes its examination of the technology.

But aside from the fact that all of this nonsense doesn’t make us any safer, and may in fact be giving us cancer, there is the simple issue of the obvious conclusion to this path we’re on: namely that terrorists who wish to blow up airplanes will put the explosives in the only place left: up their butts.  (It’s happened before.)  At that point, by the TSA’s logic, the response must be either full medical-style x-rays, or anal probes, for every passenger.

We’ve given the TSA about a decade, and I think we can all agree that by now they’re at or near the pinnacle of suckitude.  It’s time we start exploring other, more realistic methods of airline security.  I’ll propose a couple ideas to get things started: first, instead of having just the two options of strip-search or groping, we should expand the list to strip-search, groping, or kicking a government official in the face.  Second, in terms of the bigger picture, it’s well past time that we seriously consider the nuke the moon option.

Posted by Anthony on reply

The TSA Hands Victory to the Terrorists

Quoting Marco Arment:

So, to summarize: With no supporting evidence whatsoever that it will make anyone any safer, and in response to absolutely no credible threats, the TSA has decided to implement a policy, that nobody asked for, in which every passenger must allow TSA agents to either see or touch their genitals before boarding a plane.

Posted by Anthony on reply

The Ruling Class, Their Heels, and Our Throats

Quoting Politico:

America is struggling with a sputtering economy and high unemployment -- but times are booming for Washington’s governing class.

The massive expansion of government under President Barack Obama has basically guaranteed a robust job market for policy professionals, regulators and contractors for years to come.  The housing market, boosted by the large number of high-income earners in the area, many working in politics and government, is easily outpacing the markets in most of the country. [...]

As a result, there is a yawning gap between the American people and D.C.’s powerful when it comes to their economic reality -- and their economic perceptions.

A new POLITICO poll, conducted by market research and consulting firm Penn Schoen Berland, underscores the big divide: Roughly 45 percent of "Washington elites" said the country and the economy are headed in the right direction, while roughly 25 percent of the general population said they felt that way.

Posted by Anthony on reply

Obama's Foremost Goal for NASA

What do you suppose President Obama would specify as the foremost goal of NASA?  Something related to space, perhaps?  Don’t be silly.

Quoting NASA Administrator Charles Bolden:

When I became the NASA administrator -- or before I became the NASA administrator -- [Obama] charged me with three things ... perhaps foremost, he wanted me to find a way to reach out to the Muslim world and engage much more with dominantly Muslim nations to help them feel good about their historic contribution to science...

Obviously, what NASA really needs to do is find ways to boost the self-esteem of Muslim nations.

Is it too much to ask for junior-senators-turned-presidents to know what NASA actually is?

Posted by Anthony on 1 reply

Misstatement of the Year

Quoting Dudi Cohen:

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s chief of staff, Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei ... is considered a close affiliate of the Iranian president and has previously caused a stir by saying that Iran was "a friend of the Israeli people".  He later retracted this statement and issued a contrary one saying Israel should be destroyed.

I, too, always mix up "friend" and "destroy".

Posted by Anthony on reply

Gulf disaster on level of Three Mile Island

Well that’s certainly the absurd headline of the day.  The TMI partial meltdown resulted in no deaths, no injuries, and no significant release of radiation; it was about the best possible outcome you could hope for in the event of a nuclear meltdown.  So how exactly is the Deepwater Horizon disaster "on the level of" TMI, considering that it’s killed 11 people and leaked several million gallons of oil into the gulf?

Or perhaps by "on the level of" he means that it will result in a decades-long stagnation of another vital energy industry within the US, while other countries move ahead with the technology?

But this article’s stupidity isn’t limited to its headline:

"Creating an independent blue-ribbon panel on this oil spill will help provide the recommendations to ensure that similar disasters do not happen again," said Rep. Ed Markey, D-Mass.

No, it won’t.  Anyone with half a brain knows it won’t.  You can’t prevent accidents; all you can do is plan better responses to them.  And since the federal government has proven that it cannot or will not respond effectively to these kinds of issues -- from Katrina to Deepwater Horizon to the southern border -- it’s clear that relying on any such federal response is a recipe for further disaster.

Posted by Anthony on reply

How to Fix the IRS: Nuke it From Orbit

While doing my taxes, I read something about the "EITC".  I wondered what that was, so I looked it up.  I arrived at the IRS website, on a helpful page that purported to tell me whether I’m eligible for this tax credit.

Ten minutes and several pages of questions later, I finally got to a page containing questions like these:

"Are you or your spouse younger than your relative?"

"Did you file only to claim a refund and neither spouse was required to file a refund?"

"How do you manage the telegramophone whilst wearing gentleman’s sport gloves?"

That’s where I gave up.

Posted by Anthony on reply

Taxpayers and Freeloaders

Nearly half of US households pay no federal income tax:

Quoting Yahoo Finance:

Tax Day is a dreaded deadline for millions, but for nearly half of U.S. households it’s simply somebody else’s problem. [...]

In recent years, credits for low- and middle-income families have grown so much that a family of four making as much as $50,000 will owe no federal income tax for 2009 [...]

The result is a tax system that exempts almost half the country from paying for programs that benefit everyone, including national defense, public safety, infrastructure and education.

Of all the ways in which this country is screwed up, this is one of the worst.  Representation without taxation is no better than the reverse.  If you don’t pay taxes, you shouldn’t be able to vote; and why don’t you go find some other country to be a parasite in?

Glenn Reynolds has it right:

Everyone should pay at least some income tax.  And everyone’s tax bill should go up or down whenever federal spending does.  Alternatively, we should abolish the income tax and replace it with a sales tax that varies in the same fashion.

Related: How to Cut Government Pay:

Government employees on average have higher pay and bigger benefits than the private-sector employees who support them with taxes.  This has become a well known fact.

When private firms run extended losses -- spending more money than they take in -- their employees must share in the necessary adjustments.  But how about when governments spend much more than they take in, running huge and extended deficits?  What should happen then?  This is something Americans who work in private companies might consider while they file their tax returns over the next week.

It’s outrageous that half the country pays no federal income tax, and equally outrageous that the government continually spends money it doesn’t have.  I was going to say it’s outrageous that more people aren’t more outraged over these two issues, but it’s actually not: half the country believes this is unfair, and they’re the Tea Partiers; the other half is the half who are freeloading, so of course they don’t mind.

Posted by Anthony on reply

President Obama: "ALL YOUR BASE ARE BELONG TO US"

From Obama’s Speech after the ObamaCare vote:

Quoting President Obama:

We proved that this government still works for the people

Really?  By voting for a bill that most Americans oppose?  A bill that, at 2700 pages, no American is likely to ever read in its entirety, let alone comprehend?

Quoting President Obama:

Tonight’s vote is not a victory for any one party

Odd, considering that only one party voted for the bill...

Quoting President Obama:

It will reduce our deficit by more than $100 billion over the next decade, and more than $1 trillion in the decade after that

Noted for future reference.  And not in a good way.

Quoting President Obama:

This is what change looks like

Yeah, I guess this must be the change; it sure ain’t the hope...

Quoting President Obama:

On Tuesday the senate will take up revisions to this legislation ... revisions that removed provisions that had no place in it

You mean like the government takeover of the student loan industry that you quietly snuck into this totally unrelated bill?

Posted by Anthony on 1 reply

The White House Kindly Requests You Do Not Refer to Its Health Care Budget Gimmicks as "Gimmicks"

Peter Suderman at Reason:

The issue with backloading spending isn’t that it hides deficit spending; it’s that it hides the full cost of the bill, thus making it politically viable.  When early drafts of health care reform rang up at around $1.6 trillion, Washington underwent a massive freakout; it became clear that passing a bill with that kind of price tag was almost certainly impossible.  So Obama gave Congress a target of "around $900 billion" for the bill, and one of the ways the lower figure was achieved was by starting the taxes revenue mechanisms immediately but holding off on implementing the benefits.  That allowed for the Senate bill’s politically convenient $850 billion score while disguising the fact that the true cost of a full ten years of the bill’s programs is actually more like $1.8 trillion (and that’s not counting the trillion-plus in additional costs imposed by an individual mandate).

Ed Morrissey has more on these scumbag tactics:

This is why they’re delaying the start of the program, of course.  If it kicked in right away, the decade-long estimate would obviously be well into the trillions.  So they simply stalled it for four years, incurring just $17 billion in costs - or 1.8 percent of the total 10-year estimate - through 2013 so that wavering Democrats could go back to their districts and tell baldfaced lies to their constituents about the pricetag.  A perfect ending to this travesty.

To call these "gimmicks" is to be extremely generous.  They’ll start collecting the increased taxes right away, but the bulk of the benefits won’t kick in for years, just so they can lie and say it costs less than half of what it actually costs, since they’re only talking about the first 10 years.  Despicable.

Posted by Anthony on reply

Class War: How public servants became our masters

This Reason article about government corruption (redundancy noted), and specifically the public pension disaster, is just infuriating:

Quoting Reason:

These days, government workers fare better than private-sector workers in almost every area -- pay, benefits, time off, and job security. ... The average federal worker made $59,864 in 2005, compared with the average salary of $40,505 in the private sector.  [...]

The average federal salary (including benefits) is set to grow from $72,800 in 2008 to $75,419 in 2010, CBS reported.  But the real action isn’t in what government employees are being paid today; it’s in what they’re being promised for tomorrow.  Public pensions have swollen to unrecognizable proportions during the last decade. [...]

These huge pension increases have eaten away at public finances, most spectacularly in California, where a bipartisan bill that passed virtually without debate unleashed the odious "3 percent at 50" retirement plan in 1999.  Under this plan, at age 50 many categories of public employees are eligible for 3 percent of their final year’s pay multiplied by the number of years they’ve worked.  So if a police officer starts working at age 20, he can retire at 50 with 90 percent of his final salary until he dies, and then his spouse receives that money for the rest of her life.  [...]

Although Americans may have a vague sense that the nation has run up a great deal of debt, the public employee benefit problem is not well known.  Yet the wave of benefit promises is poised to wash away state and local government budgets and large portions of the incomes of most Americans.  Most of these benefits are vested, meaning that they have the standing of a legal contract.  They cannot be reduced.  [...]

In California unfunded pension and health care liabilities for state workers top $100 billion, and the annual pension contribution has shot up from $320 million to $7.3 billion in less than a decade.  In New York state, local governments may have to triple their annual pension contributions during the next six years, from $2.6 billion to $8 billion, according to the state comptroller.

That money will come from taxpayers.  The average private-sector worker, who enjoys a lower salary and far lower retirement benefits than New York or California government workers, will have to work longer, retire later, and pay more so that his public-employee neighbors can enjoy the lifestyle to which they have become accustomed.  The taxpayers will also have to deal with worsening public services, since there will be less money to pay for things that might actually benefit the public.  [...]

The United States had 2.3 state and local government employees per 100 citizens in 1946 and has 6.5 state and local government employees per 100 citizens now. ... 54 percent of the economy is private, 28 percent goes to the feds, and 18 percent goes to state and local governments.  The trend lines are ominous.

Bigger government means more government employees. Those employees then become a permanent lobby for continual government growth.  The nation may have reached critical mass; the number of government employees at every level may have gotten so high that it is politically impossible to roll back the bureaucracy, rein in the costs, and restore lost freedoms.  [...]

It’s a two-tier system in which the rulers are making steady gains at the expense of the ruled.  The predictable results: Higher taxes, eroded public services, unsustainable levels of debt, and massive roadblocks to reforming even the poorest performing agencies.

Read the whole thing -- it includes a few specific examples of scumbag officials gaming the system that will make your blood boil.  It’s enough to make you want to torch your house and dive-bomb your plane into a government building.

Posted by Anthony on reply

Proof That College is More Expensive Than it Should Be

Here’s an article about some university researchers working on a device to create hydrogen from just sunlight and water.  It’s been done before, but their process greatly improves on the efficiency of the conversion and the lifespan of the device.

But towards the end of the article, there’s this bit about the fact that some of the parts are made of gold and platinum:

He and colleagues now plan to refine the system, including lowering the cost by making it with less expensive materials.  "There is no major reason for using gold or platinum," he says: those materials were used simply because they are common in the laboratory.

Posted by Anthony on reply

Health Care, C-SPAN, and Obama: Government Corruption At Its Worst

During his presidential campaign, Barack Obama repeatedly and explicitly promised that the health care reform process would be broadcast on C-SPAN.  He lied, and now the White House refuses to even acknowledge the issue.

Perhaps worse than the lie itself, though, is what it means: the Democrats pushing this absurd health care bill absolutely do not want the public to know what’s in it.

These people are supposed to represent us.  Instead, they’re creating laws in secret, forcing through the largest and most expensive government program in history -- one which the majority of Americans oppose.

This is the opposite of democracy.  The only thing these people represent is the complete corruption and perversion of our system of government.

On top of the fact that the people don’t actually want this bill, there’s the fact that we can’t afford it, and we’ll be lucky if it doesn’t destroy the country.

That’s why federal spending above its revenues should be illegal, punishable by crucifixion (or perhaps something even more painful).

Crucifixion would be too kind a fate for these people.

Posted by Anthony on reply

Making criminals out of all Americans

More on the criminalization of everyone:

Quoting Gene Healy:

The Founders viewed the criminal sanction as a last resort, reserved for serious offenses, clearly defined, so ordinary citizens would know whether they were violating the law.

Yet over the last 40 years, an unholy alliance of big-business-hating liberals and tough-on-crime conservatives has made criminalization the first line of attack -- a way to demonstrate seriousness about the social problem of the month, whether it’s corporate scandals or e-mail spam. [...]

There are now more than 4,000 federal crimes, spread out through some 27,000 pages of the U.S. Code.  Some years ago, analysts at the Congressional Research Service tried to count the number of separate offenses on the books, and gave up, lacking the resources to get the job done.  If teams of legal researchers can’t make sense of the federal criminal code, obviously, ordinary citizens don’t stand a chance. [...]

A federal criminal code that covers everything delegates to prosecutors and the police the power to pick their targets at will, leaving everyone at risk.

Our federal apparatus is growing more unwieldy by the minute; the 2000-page $1 trillion "health care" boondoggle is only the latest example.

Posted by Anthony on reply

Pelosi rushes votes to catch plane to Copenhagen

Quoting Byron York:

The House is rushing to pass four major bills today -- a Defense Department appropriations bill, a debt-limit extension bill, a continuing resolution to keep the government going, and a new stimulus bill.  New versions of all the bills were only introduced last night -- one of them, the stimulus, is an entirely new measure -- which means lawmakers are scurrying to learn what is in the bills before the accelerated schedule of voting.  "They introduced a brand-new stimulus bill around 11-ish," says one House GOP source.  "And we’re voting on it today." There is little doubt that few lawmakers, Democrat or Republican, will have much of a chance to examine the bills before voting.

The reason for the rush is that Speaker Nancy Pelosi is scheduled to lead a House delegation to the climate change summit in Copenhagen, and the delegation plane is scheduled to leave after the last vote tonight.

Despicable.

Posted by Anthony on reply

passport application nightmare

I find it very difficult to believe that aliens, illegal or otherwise, are able to secure a passport when they must understand these insane instructions before even beginning to fill out the application.

Maria needs a passport to travel with us to St. Maarten so I think I’ll have her handle this application part.  We’ll just drive her to the "Acceptance Facility" and vouch for her authenticity.

Posted by theMom on 1 reply

I.O.U.S.A.: The Movie

This movie is downright terrifying.  It’s also a must-see.  It’s a free instant stream for Netflix subscribers; there’s also a condensed 30-minute version on the movie’s website.

The movie explains the federal deficit, but does so in an interesting way (or maybe I’m just a nerd).  Here are just a few of the many great graphs used in the movie:

Federal spending in 2008:

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Federal revenue in 2008:

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Federal deficit in 2008:

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The last 30 years of federal budget deficits (and a few "surpluses"):

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The last 30 years of federal budget deficits, corrected for the fact that we’ve really been taking surpluses from the Social Security fund to pay for ever-increasing federal spending:

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What the next 40 years of deficits will look like, given the policies currently in place, as Social Security goes from surplus to deficit in the next few years:

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Projected spending in 2030 based on current policies; notice that "military" and "everything else" are statistically insignificant (too small to show up on the graph) compared to the health-care and social security items:

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Total unfunded liabilities of $53 trillion as of 2008 (it’s now more than $100 trillion):

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Direct quote from the movie relating to this next item: "Some people think that we can solve our financial problems by stopping fraud, waste, and abuse; or by canceling the Bush tax cuts; or by ending the war in Iraq.  The truth is, we could do all 3 of these things and we would not come close to solving our nation’s fiscal challenges."

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All of which is just another reason (not that we needed another) that this is completely insane:

Quoting The WSJ:

Last year, Mr. Obama made fiscal restraint a constant theme of his presidential campaign. ... However, since taking office Mr. Obama pushed through a $787 billion stimulus, a $33 billion expansion of the child health program known as S-chip, a $410 billion omnibus appropriations spending bill, and an $80 billion car company bailout.  He also pushed a $821 billion cap-and-trade bill through the House and is now urging Congress to pass a nearly $1 trillion health-care bill. [...]

When Mr. Obama was sworn into office the federal deficit for this year stood at $422 billion.  At the end of October, it stood at $1.42 trillion.  The total national debt also soared to $7.5 trillion at the end of last month, up from $6.3 trillion shortly after Inauguration Day.


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Posted by Anthony on 2 replies
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