Thursday, June 30, 2011

Quote of the Day II

The Economist, editorializing about who is unhappy in Greece:
It is also possible that many Greek citizens are disappointed with politicians not because they reject the old patronage system, but because it has run out of money and is now failing to provide for them.
My guess is most of the rioters are as described above; petulant dependents upon the state angry that the gravy train is over.

Political Humor Alert

Senator John Thune (R-S.D.) in response to complaints that the President won't meet with Senate Republicans on the deficit:
I think the best way to get an appointment with the president is to set up a tee time.
My source is The Hill, which got the wisecrack from something Thune said on Fox News.

Obama seems the most golf-obsessed president since Eisenhower.

Quote of the Day I

Sean Higgins, writing for Investor's Business Daily, about the impact of states being "right to work," meaning not permitting union contracts that require employees to join and pay dues:
Right-to-work states have generally lower unemployment, higher job growth, lower taxes and better business climates. They have growing populations and have been attracting businesses from other states.
Businesses move to where conditions are more favorable; in other words, they behave logically. Who knew?

About Greece

Angry Greeks continue to riot and demonstrate, protesting the austerity measures forced on their government by the IMF and the EU. Other than avoiding downtown Athens when demonstrations are underway, what else should concerned outsiders take away from the situation?

Demonstrations are inconvenient for Athenians and visitors, but mostly just provide extra work for the police. As outsiders, begin to take the situation seriously if the demonstrations morph into terrorism and civil war.

The DrsC were in Greece just over a month ago and, as persons who didn't speak or read Greek, could not visually determine anything was wrong. We saw no military deployed on the streets of Athens, no sandbagged doorways, no barricades, no armored vehicles, none of the usual signs of a government under siege. Everything looked as normal as a relatively modern foreign city ever looks - busy streets, modern airport, well-dressed people, graffiti.

As long as the Greeks continue to trust their electoral process to produce governments which reflect their feelings, things are okay. Once you see bombings and the like, the emergence of a credible armed force in opposition to the government, that is when things can spiral into chaos, then worry.

Indictments in Lebanon

The International Criminal Court's Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) in the Hague has issued four arrest warrants for suspects in the bomb assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. See this BBC News story for details and sidebar analysis.

The indicted are members of Hezbollah, a Shia militant group supported by Iran and deemed a terrorist organization by the U.S. and other nations. Hezbollah has denounced the STL as a U.S./Israeli plot, which it clearly is not.

These indictments, probably deserved, may also destabilize poor Lebanon.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

List of Shame

Bob Dane of Fox News has written an article you may want to read. He has listed the five places in the U.S. most congenial to undocumented (i.e., illegal) aliens.

The five are (1) California, (2) Montgomery County, Maryland, (3) Washington State, (4) Illinois, and (5) New Haven, Connecticut. If you have the bad fortune to live in any of these locations, you could consider asking your legislators to roll up the welcome mat.

Obama Loses Jewish Support

Politico reports Jewish Democrats are getting turned off with President Obama's lack of support of Israel, and overt support of the Palestinians. I've been wondering when, or rather if, this would happen. The article says the following:
Based on the conversations with POLITICO, it’s hard to resist the conclusion that some kind of tipping point has been reached.
Based on conversations with my Jewish friends, the most the GOP can hope for is their non-support of President Obama. Going all the way to voting for a Republican is probably more than they are able to do.

Evangelical Christians' support for the GOP seems to make voting Republican an impossible task for many Jews. Nevertheless, if in Florida a substantial fraction of Democrats stayed home or voted for third party candidates, that could swing the 2012 election.

Northern Ireland: New Troubles

Northern Ireland is an uneasy place that, like Beirut, could easily descend again into chaos. Small numbers of Northern Ireland militants, on both sides, have resumed causing violent disruptions. See this Reuters article on Yahoo News for details.

Renewed violence is bad news for an area that has been mostly peaceful for over ten years. The pattern of attacking the police is one copied from the dissidents in places like Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Higher Ed Bubble - Nothing New

Daniel Indiviglio, writing for The Atlantic, speculates about whether there is a bubble in the demand for higher education. Whether, in fact, many jobs for which employers demand a college degree couldn't be done properly by a bright high school graduate.

Of course he is correct, there is a bubble; it has existed for over 60 years. Being young, Indiviglio has no idea what started this bubble. It was started in the late 1940s by the post-World War II GI Bill.

At the end of World War II many hundreds of thousands of young men were released from military service within a period of a few months. The concern in Washington was that this flood of young men would create massive unemployment and social dislocation.

In order to keep returning GIs out of the job market for a few years, the GI Bill was created. By this means veterans could be gradually reintroduced into the workforce. Subsidizing higher education, for fellows who otherwise would not have gone beyond high school, worked as planned.

Like many good ideas, the GI Bill had unintended consequences. Employers given the opportunity to hire young men with newly minted baccalaureate degrees, for jobs for which a high school diploma once sufficed, did exactly that. This devalued the high school diploma.

The GI's non-veteran younger brothers looked at employment ads and found that many now required a B.A. or B.S. They decided, or were coerced, to go to college, to be competitive or even employable.

There is a bubble in higher education, but it is not at all new, dating back to roughly 1949.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The E Not U

The economic problems of the EU posed by Greece and the other PIIGS - Portugal, Ireland, Italy, and Spain - exist because the continent is not truly united. In an article for STRATFOR, author Marko Papic reaches some solid conclusions:
If the solution to the eurozone crisis is greater integration, then the interests of the integrating states have to be closely aligned on more than just economic matters. (snip) Control over budgets goes to the very heart of sovereignty, and European nations will not give up that control unless they know their security and political interests will be taken seriously by their neighbors.
Papic sees a strong possibility of the EU degenerating into several regional blocs with relatively aligned security interests: a Nordic regional bloc, a Germanic sphere of influence, a Central European group he calls "Visegrad plus," and Mediterranean Europe, which France may join, and indeed lead. This is insightful speculation about the fate of Europe.

Win/Loss Factors in COIN

The Rand Corporation has completed a study of counterinsurgency efforts in a variety of countries. The study generated a list of 15 factors which help the government win and 12 factors which, if present, work against it winning.

The authors of the study are Christopher Paul, Colin P. Clarke, and Beth Grill. It is entitled "Victory has a thousand fathers: sources of success in counterinsurgency." Go here to see the actual Rand study in pdf form, and here to see a much shorter popularization of the findings in the Washington Times.

The study casts doubt on the chances of success in Afghanistan. No surprises there.

Cartoon Alert 2.0

See this political cartoon by Michael Ramirez on the Power Line website. It's about the President's recent announcement about taking troops out of Afghanistan.

The cartoon alleges the same motivation for the troop movements as for the release of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve: politics. Who knew?

Monday, June 27, 2011

Permanent Caste System

Conservative columnist Mona Charen, writing for RealClearPolitics, makes some interesting points about the failure of heterosexual marriage, particularly among the less educated. I was struck by her two concluding paragraphs; it is rare but refreshing to find someone willing to talk about social class in the U.S.
Since income and education are so closely linked, the outlines of a permanent caste system become visible, with the educated raising children who have the tools to become successful themselves and the poor and lower middle class continuing to give birth under circumstances that virtually condemn their children to poverty.

Much has been made by Democrats of the increasing inequality of income distribution in America. That inequality is real. But it's not the result of tax cuts. It's an artifact of family structure. And unless we find a way to discourage unwed childbearing and revive marriage, the chasm between classes will continue to grow.
A part of this separation nobody talks about is that "the educated" are increasingly educating their own children outside the public K-12 school system.

Quote of the Day

Brian Calle, writing in the OC Register, doing a worthy comparison of California and Texas:
The parallels though between today's Lone Star State and the Golden State of the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s are apparent. So much so, in fact, Texas seemingly has become the new California – that is, the economic engine of the country, the innovation capital and perhaps, its political powerhouse, too.
The OC Register is published in Orange County, California, and is perhaps the leading conservative newspaper in the state.

Andy Breitbart

The New York Times has a relatively balanced (for them) story about Andrew Breitbart, conservative blogger extraodinaire. It points out some times he's dropped the ball, but also openly admires his energy and quasi-journalistic entrepreneurship.

In a couple of pages, learn his roots, his work history, and his current operating modus operandi. For example, did you know Ariana Huffington and Matt Drudge were among his early employers?

The article gives his email address in case you have some material you are willing to share gratis. Like Huffington, Breitbart doesn't pay for stories.

Bears, Bears

One thing everybody enjoys about the Rockies is sighting the very occasional bear, and grizzlies are the truly rare ones, the bears you want to see. This Associated Press article with accompanying cute photo from the SFGate website might leave you with the notion that everybody who comes here sees bears.

The opposite is true; in recent years most tourists in our mountains never see a bear. The National Park Service has done a relatively good job of driving bears away from people-frequented parts of the parks. They've closed some campgrounds, made other areas off-limits to hikers, and tightly control the garbage which once was a bear magnet.

Fifty or sixty years ago everybody saw bears, they hung around people and begged for food. As a kid I took a photo of a bear with its front paws on the windowsill of an auto. Unfortunately, bears also injured or killed people.
Living nearby, the DrsC visit the parks often, on our own and serving as tour guides for out-of-town friends. Most trips we don't see a bear. When we do we assure our guests we've been very fortunate.

Local lore says there are the "big five" that tourists in the Yellowstone/Grand Tetons park complex want to see: elk, moose, bison, bear, and wolf. Actually there are more than five, you might also see big horn sheep, pronghorn "antelope," deer, marmot, beaver, and coyote.

Bison are easy to see, they are North America's wild cattle and in Yellowstone's Hayden Valley they behave much like cattle. Deer and elk are relatively common, and coyote are often mistaken for wolves.

Moose, bear, and wolf are harder to see, and require some luck. Beaver are common but do most of their foraging and construction at night so aren't often seen, although their dams and lodges are easy to find.

Pronghorn are very common on the prairies of central Wyoming but are not common in the national parks. They are attractive animals, although local hunters call them "goats."

Foot Shooting or Bargaining?

In English we have a colloquial saying about "shooting yourself in the foot." Generally speaking, it describes doing something that is harmful to your own interests.

The International Criminal Court in the Hague has issued an arrest warrant for Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi and two of his top associates, one being his son. See this Reuters article on Yahoo News for details.

The international consensus has been to get Gaddafi to leave Libya so the Libyans can form a new government. This outstanding "crimes against humanity" warrant encourages Gaddafi to tough it out in Tripoli as his alternative is prison.

In other words, this action by the ICC seems ill-timed. Logically, waiting until Gaddafi left Libya before issuing the warrant would have made more sense, and would have greatly increased the odds of successfully bringing him to trial.

Another view is that the arrest warrant is a bargaining position, something to be dropped in return for Gaddafi leaving power. My sense is the ICC is unwilling to participate in horse-trading. We'll see what happens.

Greece on Greased Skids

The situation in Greece gets worse by the day; almost nobody pays their taxes and all expect the government to continue picking up the tab. See an excellent Newsweek article on the subject, which includes choice thoughts like this one about how the problem developed:
Consciously, among its pampered political elite—and subliminally in society at large—Greeks got the idea that being Europe’s backward, indulged delinquent was a highly profitable game.
Looking ahead, the article's author foresees this outcome:
To save the euro, the euro zone may have to shrink to a small core of financially sound members. That is not yet on the agenda. But its time will come.
That's a prediction the PIIGS will have their own currencies once again. Are you nostalgic for the lira or drachma?

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Friedman on Afghanistan

Tom Friedman, columnist for The New York Times, has an interesting piece about our options in Afghanistan. I was struck by this quote:
I still believe our options in Afghanistan are: lose early, lose late, lose big or lose small. I vote for early and small.
Those may have been our options when we kicked out the Taliban several years ago. Now it is several years and several billion dollars too late for "early and small." All that's left is "late and big."

Kotkin: Golden Gulf Coast

Demographer Joel Kotkin, who writes for Forbes, has a very interesting column on the emergence of the Gulf Coast as the U.S. economic powerhouse of the coming decades. He cites a number of issues of relevance but the one that makes the most sense is a difference in attitude.

'Tude, positive or negative, has a lot of influence in the receptivity a region shows toward economic development. The West Coast has gone green, plus the longshoremen's union is militant. The East Coast is sclerotic, corrupt, and heavily unionized as well.

Only the Gulf Coast has the pro-business, anti-labor attitudes companies seek. Then add in the widening of the Panama Canal, so many large container ships can transit directly from Asia to the Gulf.

You don't have to guess where business will move. Buying a quarter section of undeveloped land near Houston looks very attractive as a medium-term investment.

Wine Less Popular in France

According to this article in The Telegraph (U.K.), the French are drinking 40% less wine than formerly. The trend is likely to continue as younger French are drinking less than their parents.

The study by researchers Pascal Poutet and Thierry Lorey appeared in the International Journal of Entrepreneurship and Small Business. The Telegraph interviewed Dr. Poutet who said:
The younger generations may still take pride in French wine but have little awareness of its cultural place in French history.
France continues to experience cultural contagion from the Anglosphere. Lack of obsession with wine is simply another example.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Cartoon Alert

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. The folks at Power Line have posted an excellent cartoon that really describes the motive for the recent release of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve.

I won't spoil the punch line by repeating it here. You need to go see the cartoon for yourself.

Quote of the Day

Israeli President Shimon Peres, speaking in Jerusalem and quoted in The Wall Street Journal:
Do you know who are the greatest opponents of democracy in the Middle East? The husbands. As long as husbands discriminate against their wives the husbands will support the dictators.
Do you suppose he is correct?

Will: Perry an Intriguing Choice

The Washington Post's George Will writes about what Texas Governor Rick Perry would bring to the GOP nomination for president. While seeing problems, Will ends up seeing more pluses in the Perry candidacy, should it materialize.

Will is a canny analyst of national politics. His summary of factors for and against a Perry candidacy is largely on the mark.

If there is anything Will underemphasizes, it is the economic success of Texas during Perry's three terms as governor. In bleak economic times, a guy with an actual track record of leading economic growth should have a big edge.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Malcolm: Major Disconnect

Andrew Malcolm, writing for The Los Angeles Times, has catalogued the failures of the Obama administration, and they are many. Then, as the conclusion to the column, Malcolm quotes the President's proud boast from a fund raiser at the Broadway Theatre:
The track record of the last 21/2 years is one that I could not be prouder of.
The economy is a mess, millions are unemployed, the deficit is skyrocketing, we are in upwards of four inconclusive foreign wars of various sizes, and he could not be prouder?

This is either (a) baldfaced lying, or (b) being out of touch with reality. If you give him the benefit of the doubt you vote for (b).

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Free Speech Defended

Dutch politician Geert Wilders, who was being tried in the Netherlands for "hate speech," has been acquitted. He had said Muslim immigrants in the Netherlands were refusing to assimilate and become Dutch. See this Reuters article for details.

The party he leads has advocated limiting immigration of Muslim individuals, and banning of face veils and burqas. His party is third largest in parliament and part of the ruling coalition.

His acquittal is an important defense of free speech.

Not-So-Weird Science

Mental health is negatively affected by growing up in, or living in, cities. Scientific studies supporting this hypothesis have appeared in the journal Nature, and articles popularizing the study are here in the Globe and Mail and here in the Daily Mail (U.K.).

Since more than half of the world's population lives in cities, this is serious stuff. Logical response to the findings: live in rural areas, the DrsC have done so for more than three decades.

Rove: Obama in 2012 Trouble

As "the Architect," Karl Rove got weak candidate George W. Bush elected president twice. If you need more proof than that of Rove's political acumen, you are unwilling to face facts.

Writing in The Wall Street Journal, Rove lists four reasons why Obama is unlikely to be reelected. Here are the four as he summarizes them:
The economy is very weak and unlikely to experience a robust recovery by Election Day. Key voter groups have soured on him. He's defending unpopular policies. And he's made bad strategic decisions.
Go read his supporting rationale for each of the four reasons. Each is loaded with data, political insight, or both.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Weird Science 4.0

Overweight young women get less education and therefore make less subsequent career progress, according to research by Christy M. Glass, Steven A. Haas, and Eric N. Reither, published in the sociological journal Social Forces. Obesity doesn't seem to impact young men to the same extent. Caveat: the data examined were for individuals born around 1939, and may not hold for today's young people.

You can find the abstract of the Social Forces article here, and a popularization of the material in the Chicago Sun-Times here.

Unemployment Worse than You Think

The publisher of U.S. News & World Report, Mort Zuckerman, has written a very comprehensive look at just how bad underemployment and unemployment now are in the U.S. Much of what he says we already know: unemployment is high, many people have dropped out of the job market, many more are underemployed.

One indicator of which I was not aware is that there is nobody on strike in the U.S. In all of last year there were only eleven work stoppages - strikes. This is a clear signal that workers feel very insecure.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Overstating the Obvious

Texas Governor Rick Perry, in a speech to the Republican Leadership Conference in New Orleans, quoted in The Wall Street Journal:
It saddens me when sometimes my fellow Republicans duck and cover in the face of pressure from the left, our party cannot be all things to all people.
True, but for our party to have a chance of winning it needs to be several important things to a majority of those people who vote.

The Pakistani View

I just read an opinion piece by a Pakistani expatriate living in Qatar. It's a well-written attempt to answer the question "Why Pakistanis refuse to accept the truth and instead believe in wild conspiracy theories."

The article by Nzaar Ihsan is from the Christian Science Monitor and appears inYahoo News. Its substance is that Pakistanis were lied to for the entire period since 1948 and therefore believed a completely different version of their nation's history than is understood by the rest of the world.

Now the Internet and other sources of unfiltered information have them trying to grasp what really happened, and it isn't pretty. Conspiracy theories are easier to tolerate than the disappointing truth.

Happy Solstice

Today, June 21, is the longest day of the year and the first day of summer. For those of us who value sunshine, it is a happy day. Enjoy!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Fancy Cars a Lure

Research from the British Journal of Psychology shows women are more attracted to men who drive expensive cars, and by extension, display other symbols of wealth.

Men, on the other hand, paid no attention to the cars women drove. They looked at how attractive women were, regardless of what they drove.

Is anybody surprised at these results? The findings are reported in The Telegraph (U.K).

TV Watching Unhealthy

A scientific study finds that watching TV is unhealthy, and the more you do the unhealthier it is. The study is reported here on the CNN Health site, but originates in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

This causes me to wonder if time spent in front of my computer is equally unhealthy, like the time I am now spending? It is just as physically inactive, although more mentally active. I daresay mental activity is less important in physical health than is physical activity.

Flynn: 10 Reasons

Daniel Flynn, writing for Human Events, gives ten reasons why Barack Obama will be a one term president. Several of them are quite persuasive. For example:
10. The Declaration of Independents - The president entered office with the approval of 62 percent of independents. The latest Gallup poll shows support of just 42 percent of independents.
7. The Blank Canvas Isn't Anymore - Presidents can’t remain blank slates for long.
All ten are interesting and plausible, if not necessarily perfect, predictions of November, 2012.

More on High Tax Rates

Here at COTTonLINE we have repeatedly argued that higher personal income tax rates do not bring in increased government revenues. If you'd like to read a technical article which goes through the proof for this viewpoint, see Alan Reynolds' Wall Street Journal piece on the subject.

It is our view that Democrats' desire for higher tax rates is essentially punitive, a resentment of economic success. Experience shows high tax rates result in legal (mostly) tax avoidance behaviors; behaviors which cause the economy to grow more slowly than it otherwise would.

Rick Perry as GOP Choice?

Daniel Henninger of The Wall Street Journal does a column on the chances Texas Governor Rick Perry has of becoming Republican presidential nominee. Henninger does a reasonable job of making Perry's case.

If Perry runs, his platform will be the Texas recipe for economic success: low taxes, tort reform, job creation, and states' rights. In a year of economic dreariness, that platform just might sell. If you want an advance look at Perry, Henninger's column is a good choice.

More About China

Yesterday we wrote about China's difficulties with its dissatisfied workers. Today we draw your attention to a Wall Street Journal article by David Wessel, in which he argues that the Chinese economy faces contradictions.

Wessel's basic point is that on the one hand
China's leadership is determined to slow the pace of growth and thwart inflation.
Thwarting inflation is an important goal. On the other hand:
A repressive government has an easier time keeping its people happy when the economy grows 10% a year.
That is a sizable dilemma for a repressive government. You might want to read Wessel's column.

That Hurts

People in Europe who track world opinion cannot be happy about the title (and thesis) of this Washington Post article by Richard Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations. What is that offensive title? It is "Why Europe No Longer Matters."

Starting with the renaissance, Europe viewed itself as the center of the world. At the end of World War II that centrality was certainly in question, but its importance was still clear. Now in the twenty-first century it has become a backwater, it no longer matters according to Haass. You may want to read his analysis.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

The Worm Turns

Do you remember when conventional wisdom held Japan Inc. was going to own the world? It didn't happen.

More recently, many people believed China Inc. would own the world. We now see the beginning evidence that we won't all be owned by China either.

The Wall Street Journal reports on worker unrest - even riots - in southern China. It was to be expected. Now to explain why.

Abjectly poor people normally don't rebel; rebellion happens when expectations begin to rise, when the poor get slightly less poor and expect the upward trend to continue. That is an exact description of where China is today.

China believed it could avoid the troubles Russia has experienced by permitting economic liberalization without allowing political freedom. It is likely that China's leadership was wrong; time will tell.

Quote of the Day

Mihail Sebastian in his novel The Accident, as quoted in a Wall Street Journal review:
He who has been in the mountains is a free man.
Maybe that is why the DrsC can't stay away from mountains.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Brooks: Housing Scandal

New York Times columnist David Brooks writes about the causes of the Great Recession, out of the depths of which we are still trying to climb. As those of us who paid attention know, it was triggered by government pressing lending agencies to issue unwise home mortgages to people who couldn't afford them.

This pressure was applied in order to extend the "benefits" of home ownership to individuals who otherwise would never be able to qualify. The stimulus this gave to the home building industry was enormous.

Both political parties were guilty of this pressure. Republicans believed home ownership would help people become more conservative, by giving them "something to lose."

Democrats wanted to help individuals who are normally shut out of the mortgage market by virtue of their poor credit histories and lower incomes. Such individuals come from segments of society which often vote Democratic.

As is often the case, Brooks has written a good column.

Texas vs. California, Part 3

This time the author is Jay Ambrose, writing for RealClearPolitics, comparing Texas and California. He does a nice job.

I've lived in both states, which gives me a basis of comparison. While I find California more scenic and I prefer its weather, Texas is more friendly, homes are much less expensive and the weather isn't bad - it has mild winters.

California doesn't have enough of an edge over Texas to compensate for California's lack of jobs and high taxes, as the numbers quoted by Ambrose amply demonstrate.

WRM: Blue Social Model Meltdown

Walter Russell Mead, writing in The American Interest, has a very thoughtful and balanced look at whether the presidency of Barack Obama can be saved. In the process of discussing this issue, he identifies two crucial issues. The President hasn't spoken to the first:
He has said nothing memorable about the crisis that is shaking the global economy and undermining the American middle class. The meltdown of the blue social model is the great and inescapable fact of our time.
Mead's idea of the breakdown of the blue social model is important. He points out that it is happening in Europe as well as in the U.S.

Secondly, Mead sees that Obama's responses have been inappropriately short-sighted:
The White House has responded to strategic challenges at home and abroad with tactical maneuvers. Voters sense that we live in historic times that demand leadership of a different kind.
This article is worth your time and energies.

The Canadian Model

I didn't know Canada had cleaned up their government spending, I'll bet you didn't know it either. Go see this RealClearPolitics article by John Stossel which lays out the details about good happenings in Canada and Puerto Rico too. Government spending can be curbed elsewhere, if not here.

Third Failed Governor

It is easy to write despairingly of the situation in California, and difficult to find anything there about which to be optimistic. A Los Angeles Times article does the former with some grace:
Brown risks becoming the third failed governor in a row, unable either to win concessions from the opposing party or effectively lead his own.
I believe there is some daylight showing in the positions reflected in this article, if only CA's pols had the courage to discern it. First there is this:
The governor repeatedly has warned that, if he can't win Republican consent for a special election on tax extensions, he will submit a budget balanced through cuts alone, a prospect he calls "disastrous."
Then there is a clear signal from the electorate:
The statewide Field Poll continues to show declining public support for any tax extensions, even the moderate ones Brown is proposing.
The article's author, Tim Rutten, draws this conclusion:
Like the citizens of other financially failed states, such as Greece, Portugal and Ireland, Californians continue to be gripped by the fantasy that they can have public services and meet public obligations without paying for them.
I draw another conclusion, namely that Californians are willing to live with fewer public services in order to not pay higher taxes. Brown's major constituencies - state employees and teachers - fear I am right. Jerry Brown should submit his threatened cuts-only budget and see how the CA public responds.

Trouble in South Africa

Expropriation of white-owned land and businesses was what ruined Zimbabwe, one of the worst economic performers on the African continent. Now a youth leader of the African National Congress is proposing the same policy for South Africa. See this Los Angeles Times article for details.

Over time, expropriation is likely what will happen in South Africa. Post-Mandela, the country has been on a steady downward path.

Sadly, economic and political disaster has been the experience of almost all third world post-colonial countries. Mandela gave South Africa a chance to dodge that outcome, a chance it appears willing to squander.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Harry Potter News

Author J. K. Rowling, who wrote the best-selling Harry Potter books, has an "official" site going on You Tube here where she is teasing some supposedly important announcement. As of the time of this blog entry, the announcement will go public in just over five days.

The tease is expensively and elaborately produced, including animation. This suggests Rowling will be announcing something important to Potter fans. When the new site appears it will be at

Many speculations have been aired about the new site. A summary of these appears here on Yahoo News courtesy of The Week.

My own speculation is the following: many best selling authors (e.g., Tom Clancy, W.E.B.Griffin, James Patterson) have taken on co-authors to expand their franchise. Rowling may be planning to do this, which would allow further elaboration of the wizarding world of Potter. Next week we will know.