Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Putting a Finger on It

The bedrock issue here is that the federal government owns more than 80% of the state of Nevada. This is true across the western states. To an astonishing degree, those states lack sovereignty over their own territory. Most of the land is federal. And the federal agencies that rule over federal lands have agendas. At every opportunity, it seems, they restrict not only what can be done on federal lands, but on privately-owned property. They are hostile to traditional industries like logging, mining and ranching, and if you have a puddle in your back yard, the EPA will try to regulate it as a navigable waterway.
That is only a slight exaggeration.
bundy.ranch_.nevOne could say that Cliven Bundy is just one more victim of progress and changing mores. The federal government has gotten more environmentally-conscious, and now we really, really care about desert tortoises. (It was the designation of desert tortoises as an endangered species that gave BLM the opportunity to squeeze Bundy in the early 1990s.) But here’s the thing: the Bureau of Land Management–the federal government–is not necessarily anti-development. Rather, its attitude depends entirely on what sort of development is in question.
Thus, BLM has developed a grandiose plan to develop vast solar energy installations on federal land across the Southwest. Wind power projects are favored, too. In fact, the same BLM that has driven Nevada’s ranchers out of business has welcomed solar projects with open arms. Some have claimed that Harry Reid is behind the BLM’s war against Cliven Bundy, on the theory that he wants the land for a solar project in which his son Rory is involved, along with the Chinese. I don’t believe this is correct. The solar projects are located north of Las Vegas, 30 miles or so from the area where Bundy ranches.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Uncle Sam Wants You - To Pay for Their Mistakes

Now, Social Security claims it overpaid someone in the Grice family — it’s not sure who — in 1977. After 37 years of silence, four years after Sadie Grice died, the government is coming after her daughter. Why the feds chose to take Mary’s money, rather than her surviving siblings’, is a mystery.
Across the nation, hundreds of thousands of taxpayers who are expecting refunds this month are instead getting letters like the one Grice got, informing them that because of a debt they never knew about — often a debt incurred by their parents — the government has confiscated their check.
The Treasury Department has intercepted $1.9 billion in tax refunds already this year — $75 million of that on debts delinquent for more than 10 years, said Jeffrey Schramek, assistant commissioner of the department’s debt management service. The aggressive effort to collect old debts started three years ago — the result of a single sentence tucked into the farm bill lifting the 10-year statute of limitations on old debts to Uncle Sam.
http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/social-security-treasury-target-hundreds-of-thousands-of-taxpayers-for-parents-old-debts/2014/04/10/74ac8eae-bf4d-11e3-bcec-b71ee10e9bc3_story.html Arbitrary and capricious is the word that comes to mind.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

He's Hell on Straw Men

Coded in that statement is the disclaimer Obama has affixed to almost every major speech he has ever given on the economy, that he inherited a train wreck (or a car was driven into a ditch, among other metaphors) and that his efforts to turn things around have been stymied at every turn by those who couldn't see their way clear to support him. As National Journal noted earlier this week, Obama was more explicitly critical of the forces buffeting him in his extended interview with The New Yorker, complaining that Johnson, for all of his legislative success, didn't have the problems with Republicans that he does.
Thursday, Obama fully embraced Johnson's vision of the Great Society as his own, placing both their presidencies on a continuum of change and suggesting that it may take years, if not decades, for the current chief executive to be fully appreciated, even as a critical reassessment of LBJ's work continues.
"Today we remain locked in this same great debate about equality and opportunity, and the role of government in ensuring each. As was true 50 years ago, there are those who dismiss the Great Society as a failed experiment and an encroachment on liberty; who argue that government has become the true source of all that ails us, and that poverty is due to the moral failings of those who suffer from it," Obama said. "There are also those who argue ... that nothing has changed; that racism is so embedded in our DNA that there is no use trying politics—the game is rigged. But such theories ignore history."

Thursday, April 10, 2014

McArdle - Most of the Gap Is Not Real

But we can, pretty confidently, answer a related question: How much of the pay gap is driven by those choices, and how much is driven by sexism in the workplace? The answer seems to be that almost all of the gap is driven by choice of occupation, and working hours, with an emphasis on working hours. Childless women who work the same hours as men make very close to what men do.
Does that mean there is no discrimination against women? No. The residual gap that’s left after you control for age, experience, work hours, choice of profession and so forth, is small. But it’s not zero. That residual most likely represents sexism. As a woman, I kind of take exception to that.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Obamacare: What We Know and What We Don't - Bloomberg View

"You want the truth?  You can't handle the truth!"

All HHS Secretary Sebelius has to do is write each of the 400 insurance companies selling in the exchanges and ask them for the total number of people enrolled and paid for on the insurance exchanges as of a certain date. She could email each of them on April 1 and ask for their hard enrollment numbers, for example, as of the end of the month of March. Either the feds or the state exchanges communicate with the carriers daily. The carriers would be able to respond in a matter of hours with the data.http://www.bloombergview.com/articles/2014-03-31/obamacare-what-we-know-and-what-we-don-t


Yet it’s not just evil men and right-wingers raising questions about the Democrats’ Equal Pay Day theater. Reporters bombarded Carney about a new American Enterprise Institute study that found that the salary for the median female White House staffer is 12 percent lower than for a male staffer. Carney meekly replied that at least the White House pay gap isn’t as bad as the national average.
Both the left-wing Daily Beast and the free-market Wall Street Journal opinion pages debunked the “77 cents on a dollar” myth, which inflates the gender gap by failing to account for education, occupation and marital status. Challenged on the White House promotion of junk science, Carney sneered at a Reuters reporter that he “would expect something a little more precise.”
Ah yes, unicorns and the gender pay gap.