So Where’s the Inflation?

Reason looks at past predictions for the Qualitative Easing (QE) programs embarked upon by the Fed in 2009. Since then the Fed has flooded the world with dollars. So where is the inflation?

As Reason notes you can’t trust the CPI, so what can you trust?

How about your own senses. Remember the Subway ad jingle “Five…. Five… Five dollar foot long.” Subway used to sell several foot long sandwiches for $5. Then after awhile they limited their $5 special to certain months like February aka “Februany.” Now there aren’t any foot long subs on the menu for $5.

Or how about health insurance? Over the past five years the value of my house has declined yet it costs as much to cover just myself now as it did to cover my entire family 5 years ago.

While gas has declined recently thanks to the Saudi efforts to kill the US fracking industry, all other daily items have gone up. The government just doesn’t report it. Reason also notes that QE has exported US inflation to other countries, notably China and Philippines. QE is also feeding an asset bubble in the stock market and in high-end luxury goods and properties.

So the answer to where the inflation is is that it’s hidden for now, but the Fed can only defy gravity for so long before what it has built for the benefit of the wealthy comes crashing down. When it does, they won’t be able to hide Inflation any more.

The Council Has Spoken: Nov 29, 2014

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Sixth place t with 2/3 vote –

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Council Submissions: Nov 27, 2014

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As Ferguson Burns Again The Ironies Abound

 

Looters celebrating the burning of Juanita’s Fashion R Boutique, a black owned business. If the Klan did it there would be hell to pay but when a bunch of thugs do it it’s called “righteous outrage.”

Mike Brown doesn’t deserve to die because he robbed an immigrant, but conservative blogger Gateway Pundit does for being conservative?

 

There Must Be a Better Way

A few months back I came out strongly against the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson MO. Although I now question the events surrounding his death, and accept there was an altercation between Brown and Officer Wilson in which Brown was not blameless, I still am left to wonder if there is something fundamentally wrong with policing in America. On Saturday a 12 year old boy was shot on a playground in Cleveland for wielding what turns out to have been a replica gun. The boy, Tamir Rice, died of his wounds on Sunday. The 911 caller told the 911 dispatcher that the boy was wielding a “probably fake gun” and scaring everyone, but that information was not passed to the responding officers, and I’m not sure if it would have made any difference had it been.

As a legal gun owner I take my rights and my responsibilities seriously. Everything I have learned over the past 7 years since I took up my 2nd Amendment right has taught me that a gun is always a last resort, and that when I point the weapon I have to be prepared to accept the consequences for what happens to anything in front of my weapon. And I realize cops have a hard job. I know cops, and some of my friends are cops and I have a lot of respect for those who accept the calling to serve and protect, so this isn’t criticism coming from some Leftist who wants all “pigs to die” or wants anarchy in the streets. I don’t see why I have to choose between anarchy on one hand and living in a police state on the other. Both extremes aren’t pleasant for anyone, be they civilians or cops. There has to be some middle way.

Something is wrong, terribly wrong with how we police given the number of unarmed people shot by police in our country. I believe that the decline of neighborhood policing caused by budget cuts coupled with the militarization of police forces has changed the way the Police perceives the Public. The kind of attitude that cops are trained to have is they better control the situation before it controls them. This works in a war zone where everyone is a possible enemy but in civil society, even one as well-armed as ours, that attitude is going to lead to where we are today: hundreds of unarmed civilians dead every year.

Was Tamir Rice being stupid? Yes. Was Michael Brown stoned and aggressive after stealing from a quick shop? Perhaps. But isn’t there a better way to handle these situations, some way between ignoring the crime and shooting the suspects dead?

 

The Council Has Spoken: Nov 22, 2014

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The Left’s War Against Rural America Part 2

The first part of this series is here.

Is the Obama Administration and the Democratic Party conducting a war on rural America? It’s a question I’ve had in the back of my mind since I moved to rural North Carolina in 2009. At the time the government had just taken over GM. Many of the dealerships that were closed were in rural areas including two in nearby towns. Their repair shops helped keep the trucks and cars of all makes and models on the road, and since rural Americans drive much more than urban or even suburban people, the dealership losses were magnified. It’s one thing to lose a GM dealer if you drive a Toyota; it’s another thing to lose the closest repair shop for 25 miles around as happened in one of the towns mentioned above. It took several years before local mechanics were able to fill the gap caused by the dealership consolidation, but I have to wonder whether this was less a bug and more of a feature of the plan.

Leftists love bringing people together in large groups. It doesn’t matter if it’s Julius Nyerere’s Ujamaa policy of forcing Tanzanians at gunpoint to leave small villages and move to towns and cities, or Mao’s Collectivization policy that did the same thing in China. Forcing people to live in large groups does two things:  it makes them dependent on the State for their survival and it makes them easier to control. If society collapsed tomorrow, people would be starving in the cities within a few days, while people in rural areas would last for much longer – some indefinitely having given up living on the Grid in the first place. People here know how to hunt and grow food, and while everyone living out here isn’t a Doomsday Prepper, they tend to acquire the knowledge and skills one needs to survive independently. Rural people are known for being jacks of all trades  because it’s often impossible to get the repairman out to fix what’s broken, and you either fix it or you do without. That independence builds a sense of pride that makes it very difficult for others to exercise control over. That’s not to stop leftists from Stalin to Obama from trying.

Rural Americans tend to be conservative and religious, perhaps because too much risk taking out here and you end up dead. They are closer to the land than environmentalists are yet do not share their naive and condescending attitude towards the natural world. “They get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations,” Obama once said, providing us with a glimpse of how the man views rural Americans.

In the 6 1/2 years since making that remark his policies have reflected that thinking and rural America has suffered. Since the Obama Administration has failed to secure our borders rural America has been dealing with the issues caused by unrestricted illegal immigration. Each illegal family brings children who must be schooled and health care that must be dispensed paid for by taxes from a declining tax base. The social problems that come with the immigrants are ones that liberals like to charge one a racist for mentioning, but that doesn’t stop drug cartel violence from happening in rural America. The immigrants lack skills so they compete with the poor and middle class American citizens, not the highly educated elites that demand we import them. Wages in construction and carpentry are under pressure from the crews of illegals employed by large contractor firms who have nothing to fear from employing them.

There are probably more guns on a per capita basis in rural America than in some war zones, yet rural America remains comparatively free from violence and other crime. A suburbanite or city person may not be able to wrap their head around the idea of the need of a gun, especially when a call to 911 can bring a cop to your door in less than 10 minutes. In rural America that same call can take close to an hour, and that’s plenty of time for bad things to happen to good people. Suburbanites also don’t have to worry about coyotes, bears and in some parts of the country mountain lions, nor do they wake up one day and have a full-grown 1,500 lb bull munching away in their front yard as I did once. At the edge of civilization guns are a necessity, defining the line between order and chaos, and rural Americans understand this. Suburbanites and city people just don’t seem to get that. Worse, the Obama administration has not respected gun rights that are defined in the constitution, and it has only been the Supreme Court that has kept the right intact.

I’m amazed at how few “green” environmentalists I’ve met while living in rural America. My water comes from deep within the earth just as the spring water they drink in plastic bottles. At night the sky blazes with a carpet of stars and the constellations are bright and easily identifiable. The land is literally alive with all manner of plants and animals and there is more biodiversity on an acre of my land than there are in any city or suburban park. The farmers who live near me respect their land because it feeds their families, and Nature tends to teach respect out here. The bugs are big and plentiful. The winters are brutal enough to kill you but not enough to kill the pests that threaten crops. Hugging trees may be fine in a park, but in a wild wood you’re liable to get poison ivy or worse, hit by one of the many widow makers that await the slightest breeze to fall. There are plenty of environmentalists here: they are called “farmers” and “hunters”. They care about the land, but do so in a mature way instead of the naivete so prominent among green urbanites who freak out over garden spiders in their bathtubs.

I don’t mean to idealize rural life. That’s what the Left used to do before they began to demonize its residents as sexist and racist rednecks. Are there ignorant people here in the Sticks? Sure, but for every ignorant redneck there are likely a dozen more  in the suburbs and cities. The longer I live here the more I see a diversity that I hadn’t expected. I’ve met more lesbians in this area than I ever did in suburban Delaware, and I’m still puzzled by that. More importantly I’ve met all types of iconoclasts and free-thinkers, people with beliefs that are all over the political and religious spectrums, a diversity of thought and opinion that few suburbs or urban areas can match. If you want to move someplace where your beliefs won’t be challenged, then I’d avoid rural America or at least these parts of the rural South. Yet all are united by their desire to leave and be left alone, and by their second class “bitter clinger” status conferred upon them by Obama and his supporters.

Will rural America survive the next two years? Of course it will, but the hatred and disrespect expressed to its citizens will remain for generations to come, thanks to the efforts of President Obama and the Left.

 

Council Submissions: Nov 20, 2014

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The Left’s War Against Rural America

Is Obamacare’s Assault on Rural Health Care A Battle in the Larger War Against Rural America?

As I stared at blue sky above the pines on my property I knew my body was broken, and with a yelp slowly raised myself from the ground. I had taken my son’s dirt bike to get the mail, and on the way back to the house I decided to take a detour through the field to enjoy the beautiful Fall afternoon. As I rounded a turn in the corner of a grassy field I braked slightly, shifting my balance forward on the 125cc 4-stroke bike. At that moment the front tire hit a divot hidden by the grass, and I was sailing through the air, landing on the hard packed North Carolina clay on my shoulder. Amazingly my neck and head were pain-free, but I knew my shoulder was either dislocated or broken, and I worried that the pain in my side while breathing was symptomatic of a punctured lung. There was no dusting myself off from this one; I was going to need medical care and fast.

The two nearest hospitals were roughly 25 minutes away, and a 911 call to get an ambulance likely would bring it to an hour before I would reach either of them.

Both rural hospitals have issues. Their communities have been dying for decades, the textile industry that underpinned both having long ago left the area searching for cheaper labor in Latin American and Southeast Asia. One town resorted to tourism, playing up its ties as the site that inspired Andy Griffith’s fictional Mayberry in The Andy Griffith Show. The other town has been trying for years to become a small town known for its trendy restaurants and shops like nearby Blowing Rock, which itself was struggling to become more like trendy Asheville, a city that yearned to become North Carolina’s Sante Fe. But the popularity of the Andy Griffith Show has waned as its fan base aged and died along with Andy Griffith himself, and the City Fathers of the other town have ignored the new ideas that come with new residents, preferring to stick with the Old Boy Network for ideas, strangling growth. For example NASCAR was born only a few miles away from town, and hot rods, classic custom cars are still deeply revered here, yet the town banned cruising 10 years ago and killed the nightlife that had begun when teenagers and car enthusiasts had started hanging out in town.

The hospitals themselves have taken different paths. The one in Mayberry remains independent and small with a few dozen beds. It has a bad reputation based on several citations by the State for providing substandard care and its future is bleak. The other hospital built an entire new wing and emergency room in the expectation that the government would expand Medicare/Medicaid and that the hospital would be able to make money from higher reimbursements for providing care to the poor and elderly. It was a bad decision, and the hospital has been weighed down by the huge debt used to fund the expansion and the switch electronic medical records as Medicare/Medicaid reimbursements have been cut. It has since traded its independence for an “agreement” with one of the Mid-Atlantic’s largest for-profit hospital systems that is turning it into a referral hub for the hospital system. The system holds an option to buy the rural hospital but is in no hurry to exercise it. The hospital needs the health system more than the health system needs the hospital. While the local members of the hospital’s board may not understand that everyone else does.

I texted my son and he found me walking back to the house, holding my arm tightly against my body. I directed him to lock up the bike, put the dogs inside, and get my insurance card. One lesson I have been trying to teach him is the importance of keeping a cool head amidst trouble. As I’ve gotten older I’ve come to appreciate the value of this lesson. He then drove me about 35 miles to a large hospital  that happens to be owned by the same hospital system that has the agreement with the rural hospital mentioned above.

I discussed my thinking with one of the doctors who treated me. He doubted whether the hospital had the skills needed to treat my injuries on a Saturday evening. “They likely would have transferred you here anyway,” he said.  I would have wasted even more time as well as incurred the additional expense of 50 mile ambulance ride.

Most rural hospitals have staffing issues since they have to compete for the same medical professionals as suburban and urban areas. In the past this has meant rural hospitals paid more, and since Medicare/Medicaid reimbursed more for rural care they could afford it. Obamacare changed that; in order for the law to be budget neutral it built in cuts to medicare/medicaid that weren’t anticipated before the law’s adoption. The law has also increased penalties for re-admission, straining the budgets of rural hospitals even further. In the in-depth article “Rural Hospitals in Critical Condition“  USA Today reporters Jayne O’Donnell and Laura Ungar claim the Affordable Care Act aka Obamacare has damaged the survival of rural hospitals, pointing out that since 2010 over 40 rural hospitals have closed, forcing rural residents to drive long distances for medical care. O’Donnell and Ungar state the law’s requirements such as re-admission penalties and electronic health records added to the burden for rural hospitals.

“They set the whole rural system up for failure,” says Jimmy Lewis, CEO of Hometown Health, an association representing rural hospitals in Georgia and Alabama, believed to be the next state facing mass closures. “Through entitlements and a mandate to provide service without regard to condition, they got us to (the highest reimbursements), and now they’re pulling the rug out from under us.” (link)

Although painful and at least temporarily debilitating my injuries were not life threatening. But I’m reaching the age where my former life of a pack a day smoking, heavy drinking and bad eating habits are catching up with me, and a heart attack or stroke would not be considered unusual for a man of my age. In such an event every minute counts, and the USA Today article points out the importance of the Golden Hour where hearts and brains can be saved with medical intervention. Should the hospital in Mayberry disappear as seems distinctly possible, there will be people in its footprint who will have to travel for close to an hour to reach immediate medical care. Add in a 911 call to the volunteer fire department for  pick up by an ambulance and the loss of the hospital, even a poorly performing one, would be disastrous for the local community just as its been in the towns discussed in the USA Today article. Rural living is hard enough, but take away the safety net of a decent hospital close by and living here becomes downright dangerous for some.

Is this what the Obama Administration wants? It’s not as if the administration has embraced rural America. It disdains its values and laughs at its traditions. Worse it has implemented policies that go well beyond cutting funds to rural hospitals, policies that tear at the very fabric of rural life itself.

The Council Has Spoken: Nov 15, 2014

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Council Submissions: Nov 13, 2014

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The Council Has Spoken: Nov 8, 2014

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Council Submissions: Nov 6, 2014

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Midterm Election Results 2014 Summed Up

Gravity – Proved Yet Again

Experiment is the beating heart of Science. The story of Galileo dropping cannonballs off the Leaning Tower of Pisa to disprove Aristotle’s Theory of Gravity remains one of the great examples of the scientific method of all time. More importantly it proved how counter-intuitive Science can be and why Science without experimentation is a joyless and immobile creation.

Imagine a cannonball and a feather. Which will fall faster in a vacuum?

If you are like me your gut screams that the feather must fall slower than the cannonball in a vacuum. After all we’ve seen feathers and other light objects fall before, and they inevitably fall slower than more massive objects. But our perceptions are warped by our experience of not living in a vacuum.

Here is the experiment performed in the world’s largest vacuum chamber. It is simply brilliant.