Tuesday, June 30, 2009

U.N. General Assembly Demands Restoration of Honduras' Ousted President

U.N. General Assembly Demands Restoration of Honduras' Ousted President

Of course they do. Most world leaders, apparently Obama included, have dictatorial aspirations themselves. Therefore it is not their motivation to defend freedom and liberty and the rule of law, but to defend one of their own.

Monday, June 29, 2009

What happened to the days when the USA stood for freedom?

When thousands of protesters in Iran stand up for freedom and democracy and some get slaughtered in the streets, Obama won't pick sides lest he be seen as "meddling".

Yet when the democratically-elected government of Honduras acts in defense of their Constitution and ousts a dictator from the Presidency, Obama comes out in full support of the dictator and accuses the Honduran Congress and Supreme Court of staging an illegal coup.

How is the arrest of a dictator who attempted to violate the Constitution and usurp the authority of the citizens and Congress a "coup"? How is it "meddling" to support people who are fighting and dying for freedom?

Why does the United States support a leftist dictator - an enemy of freedom and friend of Hugo Chavez - in Honduras, but refuses to stand against another dictator - a sworn enemy of the United States, our allies, and freedom - in Iran?

Why is nobody asking these questions of President Obama?

Friday, June 26, 2009

Another climate theory debunked

Another climate change theory down the drain: Earth's 140 million-year climate cycle is not caused by the sun's passing through the spiral arms of the Milky Way. The reason for this long-term climate cycle remains a mystery.

Coincidentally, I was listening to Coast to Coast AM the other night and the guest was talking about this climate cycle and all the crazy things that will happen to us the next time the sun is aligned with the galactic center. I think he was promoting his new book. Talk about bad timing.

Frog deformities not caused by pollution or global warming after all

For years - heck, I was taught this in school - we have been led to believe that frogs are ultra-sensitive to environmental change, and that the prevalence of frogs around the world being born with deformities such as missing limbs is a sign of pending environmental catastrophe.

This claim has now been found to be totally bogus. From the BBC:

The deformed frogs are actually victims of the predatory habits of dragonfly nymphs, which eat the legs of tadpoles.

So, is there an environmental catastrophe looming around the corner? If you think so, you need evidence, and the list of evidence that conforms to this assertion is growing smaller by the day.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

A new phase of ice

From the physics arXiv blog: scientists have discovered "ice XV". Well, at least it's not "ice-nine"...

Statistics reveal high likelihood of fraud in Iran election

At New Scientist, an article on a statistical analysis of the Iranian presidential election. It turns out that initial reports of fraud -- i.e. that Ahmadinejad's numbers remained almost constant as the vote was counted -- don't stand up to statistical muster. In fact, such consistency is the statistically likely result given the way the votes were counted.

However, there is much more interesting and convincing statistical evidence of fraud in the election. Opposition candidate Karroubi's numbers violate Benford's Law, which states that for numbers in real-life data, the leading digit follows a specific pattern. For example, the leading digit is 1 about one third of the time. Numbers from three of the other candidates follow Benford's law, but Karroubi has an unexpectedly large number of vote counts beginning with 7. The likelihood of this happening in fair data is only 0.7%, indicating that Karroubi's numbers were tampered with.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

At the EPA, science takes a back seat to political agendas

Michelle Malkin points out the farce that is "climate change" research at the EPA:
The Competitive Enterprise Institute has obtained internal EPA e-mails that show the agency willfully and recklessly disregarded scientific data that undermined the bureaucracy’s global warming zealotry.
This information is especially relevant as Congress rushes to pass the cap-and-trade nightmare on Friday.
This is a common occurrence in the scientific community: research findings that could jeopardize future funding or objectives are suppressed, either passively or actively. For example, if the government is giving out billions in research grants to study the effects of global warming, it's a sure bet that researchers who want to receive those grants will not publish works contradicting current global warming theory. In this way certain research findings or scientific opinions are passively suppressed.

Even worse, if an agency has direct political interest in the outcome of research studies -- for example findings which could be used as justification to give EPA administrators additional regulatory powers -- contrary research findings may be actively suppressed. This is what's been going on at the EPA with regards to climate change, as these internal emails reveal.

Update: The story reaches the Washington Examiner.

Why is electronic record-keeping practiced everywhere except in health care?

At Technology Review (via Instapundit), Andy Kessler discusses the medical industry's vested interest in inefficiency. Kessler points out that just about every other industry has switched to electronic records without the need for government involvement, but the medical industry has not. The question is why?

Conservatives tend to drone on about patient privacy, but I don't think that's a real issue. For example, I don't wake up every day worrying that the mountains of private data credit card companies have on me will somehow lead to a violation of my privacy.

Kessler partially identifies the true reason we don't already have electronic medical records: such records would expose the massive number of medically unnecessary tests, procedures, treatments, and outright fraud that goes on every day at our nation's hospitals. As Kessler puts it:
In those medical records lie the ugly truth about the business of medicine: sickness is profitable. The greater the number of treatments, procedures, and hospital stays, the larger the profit. There is little incentive for doctors and hospitals to identify or reduce wasteful spending in medicine.
However, Kessler misses the underlying truth, the driving force that makes this fraud possible and sustainable. Every industry has a profit incentive to get its customers to pay for unnecessary things. The reason other industries can't sustain that practice is simple: basic free-market forces. In other industries, consumers make purchases with their own money, and therefore they make choices based on cost.

Here's an analogy:

If two contractors can do an equally-good job repairing my roof, but Contractor A can do it at half the cost, and Contractor B tells me I also need to repair my chimney but Contractor A says that's a bunch of hooey - I'll go with Contractor A because I'll save money and I won't pay for unnecessary work.

However, if somebody else - say, an insurance company, or the government - comes along and tells me that they'll pay for all the roof work a contractor says needs to be done, all of a sudden the reasons I had to choose Contractor A disappear. I'll go with Contractor B, because I don't care how much it costs anymore - the money's not coming out of my pocket - and who cares if the chimney really needs fixing, I might as well get it done anyway because someone else is paying for it.

The lack of free-market competition - consumers making individual choices about where to spend their own money - is the disease that has allowed the medical industry to grow out-of-control with bloat, inefficiency, and fraud. The lack of electronic records is just a symptom of that. Forcing electronic records upon the industry is probably a good thing overall, but it will do nothing to cure the disease, and our health care woes will continue.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Obama botches science, makes Bush look like a Ph.D.

Via Gateway Pundit, Obama talking about his cap-and-trade proposal:

PRES. OBAMA: “At a time of great fiscal challenges, this legislation is paid for by the polluters who currently emit the dangerous carbon emissions that contaminate the water we drink and pollute the air we breathe.” (President Obama, Press Conference, Washington, D.C., 6/23/09)
I suppose he's referring to all our carbonated beverages that are "contaminated" by this "dangerous" CO2, and that our own lungs are a grave health risk for exposing us to this CO2 "pollution" as we breathe.

If Bush had said this, the media would say he's distorting science for his own political agenda. It's far worse than "nucular", the simple mispronunciation interpreted by liberals as a sign that Bush was an idiot. What do you think are the odds that they'll make similar remarks about Obama for his blatant display of scientific ignorance?

Sunday, June 21, 2009

NASA Jupiter DIRECT vs. ARES: a no-brainer for the USA, but a no-go for USA politicians

NASA "rebels" Jupiter DIRECT system is safer, would cost $8b to develop, vs $35b for ARES, would lower cost-to-orbit from $32k/kg to $5k/kg, and can be built sooner, with existing technology. Also, the space station would have cost $1b to build with DIRECT, versus $100b with the Space Shuttle. Will we go with DIRECT? Probably not - it's less "politically viable". Thanks, Congress!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Health Care Reform: The Symptom

"Treat the disease, not the symptom" is good advice for solving any problem, but it's especially pertinent when applied to Health Care Reform. One of the first things I learned in engineering school was the art of problem solving. Step one of solving a problem is to identify the problem, and this is often more difficult than it sounds. What is the problem we face with health care in America? It's not the quality of the health care we receive: various surveys show that between 70-85% of Americans - including those without health insurance - are happy with the quality of their health care. The symptom is that we have millions of uninsured - but that's not the problem either, it's a symptom of the problem. I'll get to the problem in a following post, but first let's examine this symptom in more detail.

The US Census Bureau has a widely-cited statistic. There are 47 million uninsured or underinsured individuals in America. That number includes millions of illegal immigrants, but that's beside the point. 47 million is 15% of the population, so 85% of the population has full health coverage. To further define the symptom, let's examine that number - 47 million - in greater detail. The same US Census Bureau statistics found the following - and these statistics are never cited by proponents of health care reform:

- 38% of those 47 million people have income over $50,000.

- 20% have income over $75,000

- 75% of those 47 million people become fully insured within 1 year of becoming uninsured.

- 44% become fully insured within 4 months of being uninsured.

Those last two points are the most important. They signify the truth about the symptom: there are 47 million uninsured in America at any given moment in time, but it is a rotating group of people: 75% get insured a short time later. While it's not ideal to go without health insurance for several months, it is by no means a huge problem that requires a drastic solution. In truth, there are only 11 million people in America who fall through the gap between our current government programs (medicare and medicaid) and the private system to become "permanently uninsured". That is 3.6% of the U.S. population.

Let me reiterate, the symptom is this: 3.6% of the U.S. population falls through the gap between private insurance and our existing government programs. Three-point-six percent - and some fraction of those simply don't want health insurance.

People fall through the gap for a variety of reasons, but the most common is that their income is too high to qualify for medicare or medicaid, and private health insurance is too expensive for them or denied completely because they have pre-existing conditions that make them too great a risk to insure.

At the same time, a far less serious symptom is that 12% of the American population is temporarily uninsured at any given time. Again this can happen for a variety of reasons: getting laid off from the employer that was providing you with health coverage, falling on tough financial times and not being able to afford an individual plan, turning 25 and no longer being covered by your parents' insurance, or moving to a new state where your old insurance company doesn't operate (that happened to me) and taking some time to find a new one. While any of these is an unfortunate situation to be in, they are hardly catastrophic, because the odds of one requiring major medical care during the few months of being uninsured is very low - and the fact that all the people within this category become insured within a year implies that they made it through without ill effect.

Now we have identified the seriousness symptom. If we were to just treat the symptom (ignoring the underlying disease), what would be the logical course of action? Find a way to provide health insurance to the 3.6% of the population that is permanently uninsured, and if we want to go further, find a way to provide temporary - for a duration of less than 1 year - insurance for the 12% that is temporarily uninsured.

Do you think an appropriate treatment for this symptom would be the dismantling of the private insurance system that provides the highest-quality health care in the world to 96.4% of the American population, the creation of a multi-trillion-dollar government-run program, and the other various ideas proposed by Obama and the Democrats? Or do you think that is overkill and even totally off-target, like performing open-heart surgery (which might kill the patient) to fix a broken leg?

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Kill the Stimulus

Rasmussen: 45% of Americans favor canceling the rest of the Stimulus spending (36% oppose). Maybe they've seen this graph.

Sunday, June 7, 2009


For anyone who doesn't think the "Stimulus Bill" was a scam, look at this figure. The blue lines are from the graph Obama used to sell the Stimulus. The red dots are the actual numbers. (from Gateway Pundit)

Thursday, June 4, 2009

The Income Tax vs. The FairTax: Part 1

This post is Part 1 of a 2-part series on the FairTax. This part describes the terrible and unjust history of the income tax in America. Part 2 will describe one of the most popular political movements today: the moment to return power to the American people, to end the deceptive, economy-crushing and corruption-ridden income tax system and replace it with a single, simple, progressive, and fair tax: the FairTax.

I am writing this on a plane, from memory, so bear with me if I get some dates or facts wrong (I will welcome any corrections).

Let me begin by giving a brief history of the income tax in America, in order to demonstrate the unjust scam it has been since its inception. Our nation survived for 120 years without an income tax. In fact, the few times it had been proposed during those years, the idea was overwhelmingly shot down as unconstitutional. It wasn't until 1909 that the idea was given serious consideration. Congress needed to raise money for war spending, and rather than place an undue burden on the American people through its usual revenue streams, some in Congress preferred an alternative – a tax on income. As usual, the income tax was denounced as unconstitutional, and in order to quell the idea, Republicans in Congress demanded that the Constitution be amended before such a law could be considered. The Republicans assumed of course that the stronger consent required for a Constitutional Amendment would never be achieved, and the income tax proposal would die. Their error was underestimating the propensity of progressive politicians to unabashedly lie to the American public when presented with an opportunity to expand their own power.

Progressives in Congress launched a campaign for the income tax amendment. They promised, swore in fact, that the income tax would only be a temporary measure used for the sole purpose of raising war funds, that it would only be levied on the top 1% of income earners, and that the tax rate would be kept at 3%, so low as to have no perceivable effect on the economy. On the backs of these promises, the 16th Amendment to the Constitution was ratified, followed shortly by the income tax law, and the slow decline of our nation began.

Of course the income tax did not go away with the end of World War I. The tax rate increased year-by-year, and it was levied on an ever-increasing proportion of the American population. As Congress became accustomed to its newfound power of taxing income, it allowed other revenue streams to fall to the wayside, and soon the federal government became entirely dependent on the income tax for its operation. However, at least some of the spirit of Congress' initial promises was maintained. At least the income tax was only used for the constitutional purpose of raising revenue. It wasn't until the 1930's and FDR that the income tax was co-opted for another, unconstitutional purpose: to redistribute wealth from those who earned it to those who did not.

Despite the lies and deception that led to the income tax, and despite its steady descent into a realm of use that would have the Founding Fathers rolling in their graves (or raising arms for another Revolution), at least the income tax remained transparent. Individuals knew the exact quantity of money they were paying in taxes, because they were required to write a check to the federal government for the amount of taxes owed on a regular basis.

But this last vestige of freedom could not last forever. Congress decided to tax not only individuals, but businesses and corporations as well. This grand deception may require some explanation.

Despite what we learn in high-school economics classes (if we even take them) – that corporations are legal entities like individuals – corporations hold no wealth. It is a fact that all wealth in America is owned by individuals. Corporate bank accounts are simply place-holders, because corporations are owned by individuals – namely the shareholders. So if all wealth is owned by individuals, who pays the taxes that are levied on corporations? This is a complex question, but it boils down to three main possibilities. A corporation's taxes are paid by a combination of the consumers/customers, the employees, and the shareholders of the corporation. In the most basic sense, all the money corporations pay in taxes come from the American consumer – the people who buy that corporation's products. In this sense, the cost of the taxes paid by a corporation are rolled into the price of their products.

Given this new tool – the corporate income tax – Congress was now able to raise taxes on the American people without their knowledge. Instead of raising the tax rate on individuals, Congress can deceive the public by raising taxes on corporations, and the American people falsely believe that they are not the ones paying those taxes. In fact, a team of expert economists would find it nearly impossible to calculate the actual amount of federal taxes any individual is paying today.

There is one last major deception I must describe, and that is the scam of federal income tax withholding. First let me explain what the income tax withholding and tax refund system is. It is the power of the federal government to borrow money from every American individual, at a 0% interest rate, and then repay those loans – again with no interest – a year later. Every working American is forced under penalty of law to lend money to the government (usually in hundreds or thousands of dollars), and then accept repayment with no interest under the deceptive name of a “tax refund”. This of course has the desired effect: Americans no longer feel the punch in the wallet of the taxes they are paying, because the amount is automatically and seamlessly deducted from their paychecks. Under this system, most Americans have no idea how much income tax they are paying each week, because they no longer have to physically write the checks, and they are actually happy and grateful when the government gives them their “tax refund” every year! What a scam!

How did the American people ever agree to such a terrible deal? In typical fashion: they were blatantly deceived by Congress. Congress marketed the income tax withholding bill a “Tax Forgiveness” bill. The “Tax Forgiveness” bill did two things: it forgave income taxes for the year it was passed – meaning in 1943, Americans paid no income taxes for what they owed the previous year – and it implemented the income tax withholding system for that year. Congress bribed the American people, and it worked. But wait, what did Congress do the following year? They increased the tax rate, so everyone repaid their “forgiven” taxes and then some. In the end, Americans got nothing out of the deal, except screwed, as we continue to be screwed to this day.

In Part 2 I will describe the problems, complexity, corruption, and negative economic impact of our income tax system, and contrast it with the FairTax – a simplified and fair system that will include the largest transfer of power from the government to the people since the American Revolution, and will indeed revolutionize our modern economy and insure our future prosperity against the burden of our ever-growing government.

Monday, June 1, 2009

The fundamentals of conservatism

The difference between liberalism and conservatism is not one of specific policy choices. It's a difference in fundamental philosophy, and unfortunately, many people who in their hearts and minds should be on our side don't have any idea what conservatism really is.

Conservatism is logical and based on a core set of fundamental principles. These principles are individual liberty, personal responsibility, real human rights, and freedom from an overbearing government. These principles are the philosophy of the great political minds that founded our country, and they are enshrined in our founding documents. They are based on natural law, on human nature, and on a sound understanding of economics and history. These principles are universal and do not waver with the tide of public sentiment. This is where the term “conservative” comes from. In all our decisions, we strive to conserve a government and a society based on freedom and our founding principles.

Conservatives recognize that the problems we face today – health care, the economic crisis, education, poverty, immigration – these are not separate issues. They are all connected. Our solutions to each of these problems are derived from our core principles, and in every case, we will show how these problems were directly caused by, or made horribly worse by the abandonment of those principles.

Democrats accuse us of being “pro-corporate” because we are pro-free-market. Well I've got news for you: corporations hate the free market. Why would any corporation want more competition? Free markets are not pro-corporate; they are pro-consumer. Conservatives stand against laissez-faire capitalism, which is the destroyer of free markets and as much an opposite to freedom as Communism is.

Democrats accuse us of being “pro-deregulation”. Saying you're for or against regulation is like saying you're for or against laws. It's ridiculous. Regulations aren't inherently good or bad, they're just a tool. There are two kinds of regulations. There are regulations that prevent activities that would make the market less free, and these are good. Without these regulations, free markets descend into corporate monopolies that are “too big to fail” and the consumers become their slaves, and we are seeing this today. Then there are regulations that in themselves make the market less free, and these are bad. These regulations skew the market, force activities that consume rather than create wealth, and lead to single-sector bubbles that cause tremendous damage when they inevitably collapse, as we are seeing today as well.

Democrats accuse us of wanting to make the rich richer, at the expense of everyone else. This is insane. Nobody thinks the rich need more money. But how do you start a business and create jobs? You need money, in the form of investments. The wealthy invest their money, and it is investment that makes everything else possible. There's no chicken or the egg here: with the economy, everything begins with investment. Conservative policies aren't designed to make the rich richer, they're designed to get people to invest their money. And by the way, there's another term for investment. It's “voluntary wealth redistribution”.

In closing, our goal is to convince you not only that our policy decisions are right, but that our conservative principles are right. That's exactly what our founding fathers did when they created this great nation, and it's what we must do now to save it.