Nanny States emasculate the People and Screw and Frighten Retirees

Posted by PITHOCRATES - December 22nd, 2013

Week in Review

This world isn’t what it used to be.  Everywhere people are looking for others to pay their way.  Or are so emasculated that living frightens them so that they run to government to parent them.  Forever.  What happened to those rugged men that entered the wilderness and built civilizations?  Who asked not for help.  All they wanted was to be left the hell alone.  Because they were men.  Rugged and fiercely independent.  Who filled their speech with obscenities whenever they talked about any form of government or nobility.  Because the government and noble classes were nothing but freeloaders looking for the good life they could force others to give them.

Today people have been so brainwashed by their government that they are incapable of doing anything without government helping them.  It’s a wonder that they can wipe their bottoms after a poop these days.  The growth of the nanny state has brought advanced economies to their knees around the world as the costs of their nanny states push them to the brink of bankruptcy.  And still the privileged/frightened people ask for more (see Business groups oppose ‘made in Ontario’ pension plan by Dana Flavelle Economy and Madhavi Acharya-Tom Yew posted 12/17/2013 on The Star).

Ontario’s plans to introduce its own mandatory pension plan could put the province at a competitive disadvantage, business groups warn

“It will add a huge competitive disadvantage to the businesses in the provinces that opt to go down that road,” said Dan Kelly, president of Canadian Federation of Independent Business.

But labour groups and retirees are applauding the province’s move to fill the void left by Ottawa’s decision not to enhance the Canada Pension Plan at this time…

Federal finance minister Jim Flaherty and junior minister of state for finance Kevin Sorenson rejected growing calls to expand CPP [Canada Pension Plan]contributions and benefits, saying now is not the right time to hit employers with higher payroll taxes…

Business groups said they welcomed Ottawa’s decision, noting CPP contributions are one of the two biggest payroll taxes they pay. The other is employment insurance premiums…

Few dispute that Canada’s pension system is no longer adequate to meet the needs of an aging population. People are living longer and saving less, while fewer private-sector employers offer pension coverage at work, a trend that plagues many industrialized nations.

Why are people saving less?  Two reasons.  First, the more the government taxes away the less they can save.  Second, with the government making promises they can’t keep (we will take care of you in your retirement so instead of saving your money spend it) why should anyone save anything for their own retirement?

Of course labor groups (the privileged) and retirees (the frightened) applaud this.  Labor wants to give their members a better life than those outside their union.  And retirees are living so long into retirement they’re living beyond their contributions into the CPP.  And are all for a little generational theft to make up the shortfall.

The defined-benefit pension is a relic of another era.  It doesn’t work anymore.  If we would have kept having babies like we once did the Ponzi scheme may have kept working.  But we didn’t.  So the Ponzi scheme is collapsing.  As they all eventually do.  The rest of the private sector has gone to 401(k)s and other such retirement vehicles.  Where we put OUR money away for OUR retirement.  Where the government can’t get their dirty little fingers on it.  This is the future of retirement savings.  Because unlike defined-benefit pensions they are sustainable.

All government pension plans need to make such a change.  Because once they do the age of the population will not matter.  Because you are saving YOUR money for YOUR retirement.  Those retired and those within a decade or so of retirement need to be protected from the folly of government in their retirement.  But younger generations coming up need to provide for their own retirement.  Because we can’t keep raising taxes.  For all that does is send jobs from the First World to the Third World.  Good for the Third World.  But bad for the First World.  And retirees.

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Relying on Technology in lieu of Teaching our Kids to be Responsible Adults

Posted by PITHOCRATES - November 30th, 2013

Week in Review

There was an episode of Madmen showing Don Draper spending an afternoon drinking beer while working on a present for his daughter.  Then his wife said he had to go pick up the birthday cake.  He was not happy about this.  But poured himself a drink and left anyway.  Taking his glass of bourbon into the car.  And drinking from this glass while driving.

This is only a television show.  But a television show noted for its accurate portrayal of life in the 1960s.  People drank.  And drove.  With some crawling from their car to their front door because they were too drunk to walk.  And life went on.   Teenagers watched driver’s education films like Red Asphalt.  And still became Don Drapers.  Despite all that gore.  To this day we still drink and drive.  Well, for a little while more, at least (see Auto safety initiative seeks to reduce driver errors by Jerry Hirsch posted 11/29/2013 on the Los Angeles Times).

Auto safety regulators are pushing for new equipment to protect motorists from their biggest threat: themselves.

They’re aiming to keep drunk drivers off the road with the help of onboard technology that immobilizes their cars…

Now NHTSA and a coalition of 17 automakers are working on the so-called Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety. The DADDS system uses sensors in the cabin to measure blood-alcohol content by breath or touch to ensure a driver is below the legal 0.08% threshold for impairment…

But some have reservations about these high-tech minders. The restaurant lobby opposes what it sees as an encroaching nanny state. Some analysts predict the equipment could add hundreds of dollars to the cost of each vehicle. And even some car enthusiasts say that imperfect technology could alienate the public it’s supposed to protect.

Jack Nerad, an analyst with auto information company Kelley Blue Book, imagined a scenario in which sensors picked up alcohol on the breath of passengers, preventing the designated driver from getting them home.

“You are reliant on the technology to be 100% perfect or your car doesn’t start,” he said. “That makes people very, very angry…”

Mistaken alcohol readings or faulty seat-belt sensors could put motorists in harm’s way if they’re stranded during emergencies or in remote places.

Where the DADDS system will set the blood alcohol limit could also prove contentious.

NHTSA says it will be the .08% level at which a driver is legally considered impaired, a ceiling that is supported by Mothers Against Drunk Driving…

But a slightly higher limit might leave a margin of error that reduces false positives without greatly increasing the frequency of drunk-driving crashes, said Clarence Ditlow, executive director of the Center for Auto Safety.

The majority of people who were killed in drunk-driving crashes last year were in collisions in which a driver had double the legal limit, according to NHTSA data…

“We are opposed to mandating this technology on all cars as original equipment,” said Sarah Longwell, managing director of the American Beverage Institute, a restaurant trade association. “You are not going to solve the drunk-driving problem, which is a small, hard-core population of offenders, by treating everybody like a criminal.”

She said drinkers could find ways to evade the technology. For example, they could quickly throw down some shots and already be on the road by the time their blood-alcohol level crosses the .08% limit.

“And then what is going to happen?” Longwell asked. “If you crash your car and you are well above the legal limit, can you sue the manufacturer? Who has the liability?”

Good point.  Who do you sue?  The bartender for serving the shots?  But why should the bartender worry about a patron’s sobriety when his or her car won’t start if this person is too drunk?  Which would be great for the drinking industry.  No more worries about someone leaving too drunk to drive.  Because the car will determine that.  So while the bartender may have cut them off after 3-4 shots there is no reason to cut them off at all now.  Because their car won’t start if this person is too drunk to drive.  So you can’t really hold the drinking establishment responsible.  For the new technology takes on that responsibility.

So do you sue the car manufacturer?  They’ll blame the American Beverage Institute who lobbied against the 0.08% limit.  Saying that raising it to such a high level (something above 0.08%) that it didn’t detect the drunkenness of the driver until after they started their car and entered traffic.  Will they require a time lapse between the driver’s last drink and the time they can try starting the engine?  A link between the bar’s POS system and the car?  This would be ridiculous.  Add more costs to a car.  And add more technology that can be ‘not perfect’.

What happens if some rowdy men spill a drink on a woman in a bar.  Who then leaves the bar.  But cannot start her car because of the alcohol spilled on her?  And then the rowdy men follow her to the parking lot.  And proceed to smash her windows to get at her.  While she can’t do anything because her car won’t start.  And they rape her.  Who gets sued then?

They used to hang horse thieves in the old West.  Because if you stole a man’s horse you put his life in great danger.  A car is the modern day horse.  Something you depend on getting you home safely.  And it is so reliable that we never imagine it not getting us home.  But now your car may strand you.  Leaving you to the dangers surrounding you.  And it may cause you to abandon your drunken friends to find their own way home.  Because you don’t want to take any chances your car won’t start.  By having their drunken asses in the car with you preventing you from getting home.

Of course it begs the question.  What will they do to protect us from people texting and driving?  Which has surpassed drinking and driving as a greater danger?  Technology that shuts off your engine whenever it detects a cell phone in use?  Imagine someone turning on their cell phone when you’re in a center lane on a limited access expressway.   Shutting off your engine.  And your power steering.  While you desperately make your way to the shoulder during rush hour traffic.

Perhaps we need a little less technology and a little more Red Asphalt.  For many of our problems would go away if we would only teach people to be responsible.  Instead of relying on technology to protect us from the irresponsibility of others.

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The High Cost of Living in Toronto forces Both Parents to work and forces their Children into Daycare

Posted by PITHOCRATES - November 24th, 2013

Week in Review

Once upon a time we worked so we could raise our families.  Now we find someone to raise our children so we can work (see Daycare in Toronto: ‘Parent summit’ participants tell of vastly different experiences by Marco Chown Oved posted 11/22/2013 on the star).

Diana Tarango is worried. Her 4-year-old daughter is in all-day kindergarten, but because she can’t find before- and after-school care, she can’t go back to work.

Perry Wong and Nalini Nankoo are frustrated. They have been looking for a daycare space for their 2-year-old son and have put down non-refundable deposits to get on the waiting list at a half-dozen daycares. They can’t afford to keep wasting money, and their son still doesn’t have a space.

Cynthia Zhu and Kenny Ji couldn’t be happier. They’ve been in Canada for less than a year and they’ve got both their kids in subsidized daycare spots near their home.

These stories show how ineffective our patchwork daycare system is, said Councillor Shelley Carroll.

“Child care is an issue that affects us all in different ways,” she said. “That’s why we need these meetings and why we need to get people talking across generations, too.”

Parents, grandparents and even childless adults are all affected by the high cost of daycare, said Carroll, and a better system won’t just be better for families with young children, it will be good for the economy as well.

There are 57,000 daycare spaces in Toronto, only enough for 21 per cent of the city’s children under 12. The city subsidizes 24,264 of those spaces, which only covers about 28 per cent of children in low-income families.

Making matters worse, the wait-list for a subsidized spot is more than 18,500 people long…

Tarango, newly arrived from Hungary, looked into putting her younger son into daycare, but can’t believe how much it would cost.

“I was amazed when I asked the price: $1,500 per kid (per month)!” she said. “In Hungary, after one and a half years, everything is free. The daycare even provides food free, too.”

If 21% of the total number of children under 12 equals 57,000 then the total number of children under 12 in Toronto equals 271,429 (57,000/0.21).  The total number of children who need daycare is 75,500 (57,000+18,500).   Subtracting this number from the total number of children under 12 equals 195,929 (271,429-75,500).  So the percentage of children under 12 who are raised in Toronto without daycare equals 72.2% (195,929/271,429).  In other words, the vast majority of children of daycare age DON’T use daycare.  Which is a good thing.  And one would hope that’s because they have a stay-at-home parent raising their child in a loving household.  Instead of dumping these inconvenient pains in the ass at daycare so they can do something more rewarding than parenting.

There may be many reasons why parents need daycare for their children.  Single mothers may need daycare so they can work.  There could be a married parent that prizes a career over raising children and prefers to work instead of being a stay-at-home parent.  But perhaps the greatest reason is that parents can’t raise a family on a single income because of high taxes.  Some of which are going to subsidize daycare at $1,500 per child per month.  Which creates a death spiral for daycare.

Daycare isn’t cheap.  So it takes a lot of tax dollars to subsidize.  The high unmet demand for daycare spaces requires more tax dollars to subsidize.  Which require higher tax rates.  Leaving people with less take-home pay.  Making it more difficult for parents to raise a family on a single income.  Requiring more two-income households.  And a greater demand for daycare.  Requiring more tax dollars.  And higher tax rates.  Leaving families with less take-home pay.  And so on.

The best way to provide for these children?  Tax cuts.  Allowing families to keep more of their take-home pay.  So much that they can raise a family on a single income.  Like they used to do.  Before the welfare state.  That provided cradle-to–grave benefits.  Which, ironically, leaves working people with less.  And forces their children to spend more time growing up with strangers.  And less time with their parents.

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The French People have reached their Limit on Taxes and Protest their Government

Posted by PITHOCRATES - November 10th, 2013

Week in Review

The American left wants what Europe has a lot of.  Social democracies.  They want a great nanny state in the United States that provides cradle-to-the-grave welfare.  All funded with lots and lots of taxes.  Look to Europe, they say.  No one there complains about their high taxes.  And they enjoy wonderful cradle-to-the-grave welfare.  This is what the American people want, too.  So they can be as happy and content as Europeans (see French riot police use tear gas on anti-tax protesters by AFP posted 11/9/2013 on France24).

French riot police fired tear gas at hundreds of anti-tax demonstrators in northwest France on Saturday after protesters pelted them and tried to drive a tractor through a barricade, an AFP photographer said…

Demonstrators chanted slogans against France’s Socialist government, which earlier this month suspended the application of the so-called ecotax…

There were more anti-tax protesters elsewhere in Brittany and also around the country, including near the major cities of Lyon and Marseille, and in the capital Paris.

The ecotax, aimed at encouraging environmentally friendly commercial transport, imposes new levies on French and foreign vehicles transporting commercial goods weighing over 3.5 tonnes.

Well, apparently the French have reached their limit on taxes.  And this after they elected a socialist to office.

This is why there is such a sense of urgency on the left.  When Barack Obama became president what did the left do?  Address the horrible economy?  No.  They passed one of the largest welfare programs in history.  Obamacare.  While they held the House and Senate.  So instead of trying to make life better for all Americans by cutting taxes and regulations to stimulate economic activity they rammed Obamacare into law.  While they could.  For it isn’t often when the Democrats control the presidency and both houses of Congress.

And now there is even greater urgency.  For Europe’s social democracies are imploding.  And these nations are even turning away from their socialist pasts.  Turning back towards capitalism.  Which explains the urgency.  They want to hurry up and get a European-style social democracy in America before all of Europe abandons them.  Severely weakening the ‘look to Europe’ argument.  Especially if Europe embraces capitalism following the collapse of their social democracies.

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The Nanny State wants to know what we’re Doing in our Bathrooms

Posted by PITHOCRATES - November 2nd, 2013

Week in Review

The American left is hell-bent on forcing national health care onto the American people.  Just like the European social democracies have.  Why?  Power.  They want to micromanage people’s lives.  Just as the European socialists want to do.  Because they are so much smarter than we are.  And know what’s best for us.  But it’s a slippery slope.  Today it’s our health care.  Tomorrow it may be our poop (see The Euro-flush: European Union to standardize toilets’ flush, set maximum volume of six litres by Bruno Waterfield, The Telegraph, posted 10/30/2013 on the National Post).

The European Union will unveil rules next week to standardize the flush on toilets, despite the admission that there are “very significant variations” on flushing habits across Europe “including cultural aspects…”

The EU standard follows almost three years of work by civil servants and difficulties in the workability of a one-size-fits-all rule for drains that vary greatly across the continent.

Do we really want people running our health care system that spent almost three years studying the optimum amount of water needed to flush poop?  What’s next?  Regulations defining the maximum permissible amount of toilet paper squares for wiping per defecation?  It sounds silly.  But you know there is a liberal somewhere thinking about it.  Sheryl Crow thought about it enough to make a joke about it.

Crow has suggested using “only one square per restroom visit, except, of course, on those pesky occasions where two to three could be required”.

So it’s coming if we keep sliding down this slippery slope.  The potty police.  Once they dictate the amount of water we may use to flush with they’ll be mandating a new toilet paper dispenser that will issue only one square per poop.  Perhaps with an Internet connection to the IRS for enforcement.  A subdivision of the Obamacare taskforce.  Whose motto will be ‘one poop one square’.  And woe to anyone who dares use a second square.  For they will feel the full wrath of the IRS.

Low-flow toilets are a top priority for the nanny state.  To save the environment.  By reducing our use of water.  But the solution of one problem leads to a new problem.  One of the unintended consequences liberals are so well known for.  Low-flow toilets use more water.  Because of multiple flushes.  For sometimes one flush just isn’t enough.  So what then?  A new toilet.  Perhaps one that that only allows three flushes per person per home.  One flush not enough?  Too bad.  Unless you can get someone else to give up one of their flushes. Or you want to pee in the backyard to save your flushes to keep your house from smelling like a backed-up toilet in a filthy public restroom.  You know there is a liberal somewhere thinking about this.  For they are studying the optimum amount of water needed to flush poop in the European Union.  And everything the European socialists do American liberals want to do, too.

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A Nice Boss and an Easy Life will make you Soft and Fill you with Apathy

Posted by PITHOCRATES - September 14th, 2013

Week in Review

The movie Full Metal Jacket made R. Lee Ermey a star.  Who, you may ask?  Gunnery Sergeant Hartman.  Oh, that guy, you say.  Yes, he was a real ass.  A mean, callous, heartless bastard.  But he was good.  He trained his Marines so hard and so well that they would rather face the enemy on the field of battle than train with him.  That’s why the Marines are so good at what they do.  Their training is so intense and their DIs are so good that actual combat can be easier than training.  Which is how you want to train your Marines because combat is a stressful, exhausting, frightening, horrific hell on earth.  And you want to send people into combat who already have been to hell.  So they can take whatever the enemy throws at them.

Life is hard.  It’s not as hard as combat.  But it can overwhelm you at times.  And if you grew up in a pampered cocoon life will chew you up and spit you out.  America’s military is the best in the world.  But America has grown soft.  Because we pamper our kids today.  Give them participation trophies instead of letting them win and lose.  To know the thrill of victory.  And the agony of defeat.  To borrow the opening from the Wide World of Sports.  Could the current generation produce the citizen soldiers that took out Adolf Hitler’s Nazi Germany?  Could we even pry them away from their smartphones long enough to go through basic training?  Probably not.

Making life easy is not good.  For it makes us weak.  That’s why we have the expression ‘That which does not kill us makes us stronger’.  Courtesy of Friedrich Nietzsche.  The more arduous the journey the more we learn and stronger we grow.  That’s why Gunnery Sergeant Hartman was such a mean, callous, heartless bastard.  To give his Marines the best chance of survival.  Because that journey with him was so arduous.  If you want to bring the best out of someone you can’t make life easy for that person.  Whether it be going to combat.  Or building a career (see Your Nice Boss May Be Killing Your Career by Greg McKeown posted 9/4/2013 on the Harvard Business Review).

Over a twelve-month period I have gathered data from 1,000 managers about their experiences at over 100 companies including Apple, Cisco, HP, IBM, Intel, Microsoft, Novel, and Symantec. I wanted to understand the conditions under which people did the very best work of their careers. What I expected to find were examples of over managing, controlling, tyrannical managers. About half of the participants confirmed this assumption. The other half surprised me: what they described were managers who were nice but weak.

I once spent two days running a strategy session with just such an executive. He spoke with a soft, quiet voice. He never interrupted anyone when they were speaking. When he walked into the meeting he had a “nice” word for everyone. Every time the team became “positively frustrated” and ready to make the change necessary to get to the next level he would stand up and say sweetly, “Oh, I just wanted to remind you all of how far we have come.” And after a few more sentences the spark of aspiration was gone from the room. He unintentionally signaled the status quo was plenty good enough. There was no need to try harder or change how things were going. He reminded me of what Jim Hacker (the fictional politician in the English cult classic “Yes, Minister“) said to his bureaucratic colleague, “You really are a wet blanket, Humphrey, you just go around stirring up apathy.”

Apathy.  Yes, that’s what you get when work (and life) gets too easy.  When life gets too easy people get lethargic.  They get soft.  And become a less likely candidate for a high-stressed position that will help them up the corporate ladder.  And it is the same for the welfare state.

Everything that weakens an employee because work is too easy is true when we make a person’s life too easy with a generous welfare state.  They get lethargic.  Soft.  And fill with apathy.  Which is why when you make welfare too comfortable people are less willing to get off of welfare.  And when they do they parallel what a worker gets with a nice boss.  The worker gets a dead-end career.  While the person on welfare gets a dead-end life.

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A Diseased Lung on Cigarette Packaging is OK but Images of STDs or Aborted Fetuses on Birth Control Packaging are Not

Posted by PITHOCRATES - May 4th, 2013

Week in Review

A U.S. judge just decreed that girls as young as 15 can buy the morning-after pill without a doctor’s approval.  Or without the girl’s parents knowledge.  Why?  Because kids will be kids.  They will have sex no matter what we say.  And if they are sneaking around and having sex while hiding this from their parents then we should let these young girls secretly buy the morning-after pill?  Because if we don’t they will get pregnant and probably have an abortion later.  So in an effort to reduce the amount of abortions we must let girls use this drug secretly.  Despite it changing a girl’s physiology.  Perhaps causing great harm to them if they overuse this drug.  Which they may very well do.  For what better way to hide an active sex life from your parents than using the morning after pill?

Parents can find birth control pills hidden in her drawer while she’s at school.  Or some other birth control device.  But a pill you buy at a pharmacy after sex?  No parent will ever find that.  So a young 15-year old girl who wants to act like a grownup can without her parents ever being the wiser.  Using the morning-after pill as a secret birth control.  Probably ignoring all the warnings packaged with the drug.  If she even reads the warnings.  More likely she’ll just use the morning-after pill if she has a friend using it.  Feeling it’s safe if others are using it.  Instead of discussing it with a doctor.  Or her parents.

Worse, now that they can simply take a pill afterwards they will probably have even more unprotected sex.  Leading to an explosion in sexually transmitted diseases.  For if these kids are sexually active by the time they’re 15 they’ll be experimenting.  Especially the boys.  Who will be giving their buddies the old high-five when talking about all of their sexual conquests.  Who will be at greater risk of catching an STD.  And spreading it on to their unsuspecting girlfriend.  Who, unlike her parents, may believe she’s in a committed relationship at the age of 15.  And may be in what she believes to be a monogamous relationship.  Right until the day she is diagnosed with an STD she will carry with her for the rest of her life.

The greatest threat to our kids these days is their desire to act like grownups instead of kids.  And our schools and government exasperate this problem by making it easier for them to act like grownups instead of kids.  Providing free birth control.  And access to abortions without parental knowledge.  Virtually telling these kids to be sexually active.  Even though they are not mature enough to understand the dangers of their actions.  Or understanding the long-tem consequences.  But you can’t tell kids anything.  For they think they are grownup enough to make these decisions for themselves.  Which is why they smoke (see Plans for plain cigarette packs scrapped as ‘it’s not a Government priority’ by Jason Beattie posted 5/2/2013 on the Mirror).

David Cameron was accused of caving in to big business today after the Government scrapped plans to bring in plain cigarette packs…

In December, Australia became the first country in the world to put all tobacco products in uniform packs.

Cigarette packets and other products are all sold in a standardised colour, with only the brand name and graphic warnings visible.

British Government launched a consultation in April on whether it should introduce similar plans.

But Whitehall sources said the plan had now been ditched, sparking anger among health campaigners who said plain packaging would have stopped from children picking up the killer habit…

Dr Penny Woods, chief executive of the British Lung Foundation, added: “Given the public health minister herself has publicly acknowledged that cigarette packaging encourages young people to start smoking, it is bewildering that the Government are still allowing this by refusing to introduce standardised packaging.

No, they don’t.  Cigarette packaging does not encourage kids to smoke.  If that’s the case then we better start packaging condoms in plain packaging because it must be that attractive packaging that is encouraging these kids to have sex.

Packaging is about differentiating brands.  It is to entice SMOKERS to one brand over another.  It does NOT entice nonsmokers to become smokers.  No.  That honor goes to these kids’ heroes in music, movies and television.  Who look so cool and so grownup smoking.  Kids start smoking so they, too, can look cool and grownup.  Like their heroes.

Putting scary looking pictures on cigarette packages?  Interesting.  Should they put pictures of aborted fetuses on birth control packaging?  Or images of herpes or genital warts?  To show the possible consequence of increased sexual activity?  If they are okay showing a diseased lung to scare a kid they must be okay showing these other things to scare a kid.  To warn them of the consequences of having sex.  Of course, they’ll never do that.  Because the left doesn’t care about kids having sex.  They just don’t want them to smoke.

It is probably impossible for anyone alive today NOT to know smoking will kill you in a horrible death.  Yet these kids still smoke.  Because they want to look cool.  And grownup.  So they’re probably not going to be dissuaded by these gross pictures.  Besides, what’s to stop them from simply transferring these cigarettes to a fancy looking cigarette case?  Or slip the cigarette pack into something that hides the gross pictures?  Out of sight out of mind.

The left just needs to accept the fact that kids are going to smoke no matter what we say.  Just like they’re going to have sex no matter what we say.  Because kids will be kids.  Something the left understands when it comes to sex.  But something they will not accept when it comes to smoking.  Even though too much of either at a young age can destroy a life.

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Cyprus and the Eurozone Crisis shows why we’d be better off with a Gold Standard

Posted by PITHOCRATES - March 30th, 2013

Week in Review

Debtors love inflation.  They love to borrow cheap dollars.  And love even more to repay their loans with even cheaper dollars.  Creditors, on the other hand, hate inflation.  Because they are on the other side of that borrowing equation from the debtor.  And when a debtor repays a loan with depreciated dollars the creditor who loaned that money loses purchasing power.  Causing the creditor to lose money.  Just because they had the kindness to loan money to someone who needed it.  Which is a strong disincentive for making future loans.

This has long been at the heart of all banking wars.  And banking crises.  The fight between paper money and hard money.  Printed dollars versus specie (gold and silver).  People who want to borrow money love paper.  Because banks could make a lot of it to lend.  Something they can’t do with gold and silver.  Because it takes a lot more effort and costs to bring new gold into the economy.  Those who want to borrow money argue that hard money hinders economic activity.  Because there is a shortage of money.  And because governments are always interested in boosting economic activity they are always in favor of expanding the paper money supply.  This generous expansion of credit is currently miring the Eurozone in a sovereign debt crisis.  And launched a confiscation of wealth in Cyprus.  Greatly threatening the banking system there.  As few depositors trust their money will be safe in their bank.  Causing people to return to specie (see Cypriot bank crisis boosts demand for gold by Ian Cowie posted 3/27/2013 on The Telegraph).

The Cypriot banking crisis reminds even the most trusting savers that not all banks or jurisdictions are safe – and is boosting demand for gold, bullion dealers claim.

As if to prove the old adage that it’s an ill wind that blows no good, enthusiasts for the precious metal argue that financial shocks in the eurozone are reminding savers of gold’s attractions…

[Daniel Marburger, a director of Jewellers Trade Services Partners (JTS)] said: “The situation in Cyprus has reignited the wider Eurozone sovereign-debt crisis. At a time like this, people are attracted to gold because it is the ultimate crisis commodity.

“The proposed levy on deposits of Cyprus’s savers has not only shaken confidence in the single-currency Eurozone, it illustrates the fragility of savings held within the banking system. In our experience, clients are attracted to gold because it offers insurance against extreme movements in the value of other assets. Unlike paper currency, it will never lose its intrinsic value…”

“The events in Cyprus prove once again that bank customers do face risks as creditors who are owed money…”

When you deposit your money into a bank you become a creditor.  You are loaning your money to the bank.  Who pays you interest to loan your money to others.  If the inflation rate is greater than the interest you earn your money actually shrinks in value.  And the more they print money the more it shrinks in value.  That’s why as a creditor you won’t like the harmful effects of inflation.  Even if it makes the people happy who borrow your money from the bank.  Because they get a real cheap loan at your expense.

Which is why people are drawn to gold.  Because they can’t print gold.  So it holds value better than paper.  And the government can’t just confiscate a percentage of your savings if it isn’t in the bank.  Another reason why people are drawn to gold.  If the banking system collapses, or if the government seizes people’s retirement savings to ward off a banking system collapse, people can take their gold and move somewhere else that isn’t having a financial meltdown.  And not lose any of their wealth.

Which is, of course, the last thing you want to happen in a country.  For a sound banking system is essential for a prospering middle class (if it weren’t for banks only rich people would own homes, cars, go to college, etc.).  Which is why a responsible monetary policy, and responsible people in government, is a prerequisite for a sound banking system.  Which few nations in the Eurozone have.  As few nations throughout the world have.  For they all want to buy votes by giving away free stuff.  And having the power to print money allows them to give away a lot of free stuff.  Pensions.  Health care.  College educations.  Lots and lots of government jobs.  Etc.  But there comes a point when you give away too much.  And you have sovereign debt crises.  As well as confiscations of wealth.

This was the advantage of a gold standard.  Like when we coupled the value of our world’s currencies to the price of gold.  It did not allow any nation to inflate their currency.  For if they did people would exchange that devalued currency for the fully-valued gold.  A strong incentive not to devalue your currency.  Which was nothing more than a promise to pay in gold.  The gold standard kept governments responsible.  But because it made it so difficult to buy votes everyone cheered when President Nixon decoupled the dollar from gold.  Putting an end to the last vestiges of a gold standard.  Allowing governments everywhere to be irresponsible.  Bringing on financial crises.  And the confiscation of wealth.  As we see happening in Cyprus.  And will no doubt see elsewhere.

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Mayor Bloomberg says Unhidden Cigarettes in Retail Stores encourage People to Start Smoking

Posted by PITHOCRATES - March 24th, 2013

Week in Review

New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg knows what’s best for New Yorkers.  Lucky for New Yorkers that they have Mayor Bloomberg to be their parent.  For apparently, without him, New Yorkers would be just too stupid for their own good (see New York mayor wants to ban stores from displaying cigarettes by Jonathan Allen posted 3/18/2013 on Reuters).

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg on Monday proposed requiring that cigarettes be hidden from view in retail stores as a means to reduce smoking in what he said would be the first law of its kind in the United States…

Bloomberg, a former smoker, is accustomed to industry opposition from previous measures to improve the health of New Yorkers, including bans on smoking in most offices, restaurants, bars, parks and on beaches.

Bloomberg has also taken steps to curtail the use of trans fats and salt in the city’s restaurants. Last week a court unexpectedly struck down his attempt to limit the size of sugary drinks, in part because it did not go through the City Council. The city is appealing that ruling.

“These laws would protect New Yorkers, especially young and impressionable New Yorkers, from pricing, discounts and exposure to in-store displays that promote tobacco products,” Bloomberg told a news conference at a city hospital.

“Such displays suggest that smoking is a normal activity and they invite young people to experiment with tobacco. This is not a normal activity,” he said…

The proposal would also increase penalties on stores that illegally resell cigarettes smuggled in from states with lower tobacco taxes, which Bloomberg said cost the city $30 million in lost tax revenue every year.

Over the last 18 months, inspectors visiting 1,800 cigarette retailers found 46 percent were selling untaxed or unstamped tobacco products, city officials said. New York City cigarettes are the most expensive in the nation at around $12 or $13 a pack after federal, state and city taxes.

Cigarettes are a funny beast.  People like Mayor Bloomberg hate them and want to make it hard for people to smoke.  But he sure loves taxing them.  And when they find cheaper out-of-state cigarettes in stores what is his concern?  That these cheaper cigarettes will make it easier for poor people to smoke?  No.  It is the lost tax revenue to the city that these poor people aren’t paying.

People aren’t smoking because they see cigarettes for sale and say, “Hmmm, smoking looks irresistibly delightful.  I must try it.”  Kids smoke because their heroes in music, television and Hollywood smoke. They look cool smoking and these kids want to look cool like them.  And grown up.  For smoking is an acquired taste.  You have to work at it before you can stand the discomfort of smoking.  But kids do it.  Because they want to look older than they are.  And cool.  Like Jimmy Page, Eddie Van Halen, Slash, etc., look on stage with a cigarette hanging out of their mouth as they play a low-slung guitar.  That gets them the ladies.  Like the suave movie hero that gets the ladies and ends up in bed with them.  Who both enjoy a satisfying after-sex smoke.  To be cool like womanizing Don Draper.  Who starts his day with a bourbon and a smoke.  And the cool and liberated women who work with him in the Sixties that smoke.  This is why kids start smoking.  To be like the people they want to be like.  Not because they can see cigarettes for sale.

So smoking is not a ‘normal’ activity.  Well, we don’t need smoking to sustain the human race.  For it serves no necessary biological function.  So, yes, smoking is not normal.  But neither is recreational sex.  Or male-to-male sexual contact.  Which provides no biological function whatsoever.  So one would assume Mayor Bloomberg finds male-to-male sexual contact not a normal activity.  Which can result in AIDS.  According to the CDC there were approximately 16,694 adults and adolescent-men who contracted AIDS in 2011 from male-to-male sexual contact.  In the previous year AIDS claimed 15,529 lives.  Is the mayor going to place restrictions on these activities, too?  After all, he has gone after cigarettes, trans fats, salt, sugary drinks.  What’s to stop him from entering the bedroom.  After all, it’s for New Yorkers’ own good.

Now there are those on the Left who support regulating Americans in their personal life.  Because they think average Americans may not be smart enough to know better.  But where does it end?  Something to think about now that the government will be picking up the tab for our health care thanks to Obamacare.  And we will have to do pretty much whatever they tell us to do if we want some of their health care services.  And to cut costs they may try to ban certain unhealthy lifestyle choices.  From smoking.  To excessive sexual activity that can result in sexually transmitted diseases.  After all they’re banning assault rifles that claimed 323 lives in 2011.  Why wouldn’t they try to ban something that kills more people.  Like male-to-male sexual contact.

When you allow the state to ban lifestyle choices it can start with smoking and sugary drinks.  But it can end with activity behind the bedroom door.  Such as the Left is always accusing the Right of wanting to do.  But it isn’t the Right trying to micromanage our private life.  All the hostility to cigarettes and the foods we enjoy is primarily from the Left.  From those in the nanny state.  So it’s just a matter of time before the Left starts regulating our sexual lives.  Which they will claim they have the right to do.  As Obamacare gives them that right.  Because the state will now be paying for the consequences of our lifestyle choices.

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Britain wants Parents to choose Work over Raising their Children

Posted by PITHOCRATES - March 24th, 2013

Week in Review

Once upon a time children didn’t have much of a childhood.  In feudal Europe they were born on the land their parents worked.  And they worked the land, too, as soon as they were physically able.  There were no child-labor laws then.  The landowners’ children no doubt enjoyed their childhoods.  As they didn’t have to work.  The wealthy few enjoyed their lives.  While the masses labored away in physical labor.  With no chance of leaving the land they were born on.  For who your parents were determined your lot in life.  With no way to change that.

Until the British ushered in the modern world.  The rule of law.  Representative government.  The Industrial Revolution.  Laissez-faire capitalism.  Free trade.  The necessary things that allowed a middle class.  The chance of upward mobility.  And the nuclear family.  The working father.  The stay-at-home mother.  And children the parents dedicated their lives to raise.  Where children were wanted and loved.  And not just the pain in the ass they are today (see Parents ‘to be able reclaim up to £1,200 of childcare costs’ posted 3/19/2013 on BBC News UK Politics).

Britain has some of the highest childcare costs in the world, with many people with two or more children saying it does not make financial sense for both parents to work…

To be eligible for the new support both parents will have to work – or the one parent in the case of lone parent families – and each parent must be earning less than £150,000 a year.

In two-parent families where one parent does not work, families will not receive support – which is said to underline the government’s support for making work pay…

Mr Cameron said too many families were finding paying for childcare “tough” and were “often stopped from working the hours they’d like”…

Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg said he wanted to help “every family to get on in life”.

He said: “The rising cost of childcare is one of the biggest challenges parents face and it means many mums and dads simply can’t afford to work.

“This not only hurts them financially, but is bad for the economy too. This announcement of a £1bn investment in childcare will make sure it pays to work.”

Making work pay?  Working the hours they’d like?  Can’t afford to work?  What’s more important in Britain?  Family?  Or paying taxes?

Taxes are so out of hand that parents need childcare because they can’t get by on one income.  Like they did before.  But they can’t now.  Why?  What’s the big difference between now and then?  Taxes.  The government grows.  It gives away more stuff.  A college education.  Health care.  Pensions.  But that generosity costs money.  And with an aging population there is only one way to pay for this generosity.  Raising tax rates.  And adding new taxes.  Creating such a large tax burden it leaves people with less disposable income.

The tax bite grew so much that if you were middle class and wanted children it took two incomes.  Making children more of a nuisance than the pride and joy of parents they used to be.  So we become dumping children off at childcare.  Where they entered a cold, institutional childhood.  Instead of the warmth of a nurturing stay-at-home parent.  Is it any wonder why society has become more violent and crime ridden?  Children who see themselves as a burden.  Perhaps feeling unloved.  Or unable to feel empathy.  Perhaps even a little bit angry.  Put it all together and you get societal decay.  And a disincentive to having children.  Leading to an aging population.  Requiring further tax rate hikes.  And new taxes elsewhere.  Which makes it even more difficult to raise children.  So that additional government spending to address one problem only exasperated the problem they were trying to solve.  No.  To help families the state needs to reduce the tax burden.  Not increase it.  Which means they need to cut government spending.  Not increase it.

This would help families raise children.  Even allow a stay-at-home parent.  Which will allow children to grow up in a warm, nurturing family.  Not a cold, sterile, state childcare system.  Where parents will chose their children over having a second income.  Even if it means less tax revenue for the state.  However much that may displease the state.

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