Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Big Evil Oil Company Generous With Retirement Bennies. Facebook Not So Much

So, we all know that rapacious evil corporations are always and everywhere screwing over the worker and denying the working people their due.  But which companies are relatively more rapacious and skinflint than others?

I'm guessing big evil oil companies are the worst, they have to be, right?  And enlightened, progressive Silicon Valley icons are shining counter examples, amiright?

A first-of-its-kind ranking of 401(k) plans at the 250 biggest companies in the U.S. found that ConocoPhillips and Abbott Laboratories are among those that provide the most lucrative retirement benefits. Among the least generous are Facebook Inc., Inc. and Whole Foods Market Inc.
ConocoPhillips, a Houston oil and natural gas producer, topped the Bloomberg News rankings of the largest public companies’ 401(k) plans, largely due to a matching formula that contributes 9 percent of annual salaries for employees who save as little as 1 percent of their pay.
Facebook finished last in the Bloomberg rankings, which were based on 2012 data, the latest available for all companies. The Menlo Park, California-based social media company didn’t offer any match at the time. It started making contributions in April to its 401(k) plan.  
Time to rethink the narrative?  Nope.  It's NEVER time to rethink the narrative.  The narrative is all.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

BREAKING NEWS: Hallbig Case Goes Against ObamaCare

Will be appealed but, for now, no ObamaCare subsidies for non-state run exchanges, which means a lot of them.

Bad blow for ObamaCare.  Good for liberty and correcting this historic mistake.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Obama Was Always Destined To Be A Liability for Dems

John Fund writes of the Obama Albatross as we get into the early innings of the 2014 mid-term election season.

Just so you know, I was talking about this years ago.  The re-election win put a temporary lid on the underlying tension, but it was bound to be...well...temporary.  Dems may have been hoping the Potemkin Happy Happy would last past November 2014, but dense-pack scandalapalooza and incompetence-a-gogo have thrown the lid off early.

It is a credit to Dear Leader's political skills that he got through six years without this inevitability coming to the fore.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

World Cup Or Not, Argentina Is Still a Dedabeat Nation

Argentinians are feeling their oats a little bit after their semi-final win in the World Cup...
In the aftermath of Argentina’s semifinal World Cup win last night, crowds broke into the usual victory chants, praising the homeland and poking fun at the British, their longtime nemesis in the Falkland Islands.
But a less traditional song could also be heard in the streets of Rosario, Argentina’s third-biggest city and the birthplace of team captain Lionel Messi: a profanity-laced taunt of the hedge funds that have battled the government over defaulted debt since 2001.
“Vulture funds,” a group chanted amid celebrations at the city’s National Flag Memorial. “Stop messing around and agree to the swap.”
Even if Argentina wins the World Cup (which they won't), they'll still be a bunch of deadbeats.  Pay your damn debts you deadbeat losers!

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Lefty Hypocrisy/Logical Fail of the Day

Here is your lefty cognitive dissonance of the day via TTAG.
Gun control advocates talk about “easy access to guns.” They don’t want to deny guns to law-abiding Americans. Just certain types of guns. And ammunition magazines. I mean, just “bad guys.” And mentally ill people. How do you make the distinction? Background checks! If everyone who wanted to purchase a gun had to go through a background check, only the good guys would get the guns. Wrong. But anyway . . .
What document do you suppose Uncle Sam requires for these federal background checks? The same document the courts (via Uncle Sam) are forcing Arizona to make available to illegal immigrants shielded from deportation by Executive Order: a driver’s license.
Hello? A driver’s license in the hands of a non-American citizen allows them to purchase a firearm. Which means the federal push to give so-called dreamers and “undocumented Americans” opens the floodgates for illegal sales/straw purchases. Here’s the AP story . . .
Yup.  More vehicular deaths over gun deaths in America, but let's give anybody who crosses the border a driver's license and subject law-abiding citizens to intrusive background checks in order to deny them their rights. 

I mean if it saves just one life, right?

Friday, June 27, 2014

Let Me Leave You With This Thought

Thought of the day is a simple, yet insightful, demolishing of an annoying trope of Obama's.  From Prof. Instapundit...with paratheticals provided by yours truly.
Government, we are sometimes told, is just another word for things we choose to do together.
Like a lot of things politicians say, this sounds good. And, also like a lot of things politicians say, it isn't the least bit true.
Many of the things government does, we don't choose (just one off the top of my head...funds Hamas). Many of the things we choose, government doesn't do (i.e. enforce border security). And whatever gets done, we're not the ones doing it. And those who are doing it often interpret their mandates selfishly (IRS targeting).
Might I also add that things we choose to do together are often done together via things like churches, civic organizations (Tea Parties?), and corporations.

Have a nice weekend.

Pure Genius: From the Grave, Texas Billionaire Keeps Government's Grubby Paws Off Billions

Here is an amazing story.  It's about a billionaire whose billions are arranged just so, and things seem to be happening just so, that his heirs are going to save a boatload on estate taxes. 

I love it, it's pure genius.  The author thinks it is amazing too, but I am sure he disapproves big time.  You gotta read the whole thing, because it's a tad complicated, but here is a gist...
Here are two facts about the federal estate tax:
  • The estate tax rate for 2013 and 2014 is 40 percent of the value of the estate.4
  • The executor can choose to determine the value of the estate either on the date of death, or on the "alternate valuation date," which is the date six months after the date of death.5
For Harold Simmons's estate, that alternate valuation date is tomorrow -- six months from his death. Today is the last trading day before that valuation. How's Valhi done in the last six months?
Source: Bloomberg
Oh.6 The stock closed yesterday at $6.01, reducing the value of the estate's holdings by $2.8 billion -- and its estate-tax liability by $1.1 billion -- since Simmons's death.
Of course, this brings up the tired old debate about the estate tax...yadayadayada.  For my part, I love this.  The money is theirs and not the government's and I applaud Simmons for keeping as much of it as possible from the government to waste on its silly utopian schemes and/or its lazy, sclerotic and contemptuous bureaucratic hordes.  (For another pro-inherited wealth argument go here.)

But that is not the point I want to make today.  The point is that Simmons's setup was cooked up in response to the last "strengthening" of the estate tax laws, which were designed, no doubt, to combat the previous tax avoidance schemes, and on back through history ad infinitum

Those that are outraged and inclined to design newer and better regulations and laws to combat this example of tax avoidance, well, you'll only be launching the next wave of estate-tax planning and tax avoidance artistry that will outrage you all over again years hence.  So, stop trying to build the perfect estate-taxing mousetrap.  Give it up and live with a simple, low and reasonable estate-tax regime and you'll never have to read an article like Levine's again.

ADDENDUM:  If you catch the drift of what is going on here, it is not hard to conclude that the stock will most likely go back up.  I don't promote stock tips on this website, so that's not a tip, just a capital markets curiosity for all to ponder.  Chalk it up to the intellectual debate over Efficient Market Hypothesis.

Economics Is Not Hard, Although We've Made It Hard

The shale boom was made possible by a few key things, not least of which is secure property rights, in this case mineral rights.
A wide variety of factors—from favorable geology to deep capital markets to mineral rights for property owners—helped the shale boom take off in the U.S., and have made this energy revolution devilishly tricky to replicate abroad.
This will come as no surprise to anyone who has read one of the most important economics books that no one has ever heard of.

We have the answers, we just don't like them.

Lefty Logical Disconnect of the Day

Hot on heels of the latest lefty crusade - college sexual assault, where the logic goes something like this: college, which we've been encouraging and subsidizing for decades, is actually a villainous hive of violent sexual predation - we have a new charming disconnect.

We all know that America is irredeemably racist.  Even the notion of a half-assedly policed southern border is obviously horribly racist toward Hispanics.  Yes, we are so racist that parents feel the need to send their children hundred of miles unaccompanied to this land of hatred.  And, to do so by dint and at the hands of cutthroat, mercenary, and violent traffickers of their self same race.

As AmmoGirl at Powerline notes, can't have it both ways:  America is racist or these Honduran or Guatemalan or whatnot parents are some damn shitty parents.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

"We Didn't See This Coming At All"

Of course, you didn't.

Alternate headline:  "After Marinating the Culture in Sex and Violence, Hollywood Is Shocked That One of Its Own, Murders Out Of Sexual Frustration."

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Lib: Yes, We Lied, But Righties Are Still Wrong, Because They're Mean

Jonathan Chait has discovered why conservatives don't like ObamaCare…and it is refreshingly not the fact that the Lightworker is black.  James Taranto reveals the big reveal…
Chait imagines that he's found out his ideological adversaries. His big reveal:
But at least conservatives are now representing their true bedrock position on Obamacare. It is largely a transfer program benefitting people who either don't have enough money, or pose too high a health risk, to bear the cost of their own medical care. Conservatives don't like transfer programs because they require helping the less fortunate with other peoples' money.
Wait, ObamaCare is just a big wealth redistribution scheme!  Who knew?  I didn't, after all, it wasn't proposed as such.  It was a way to improve healthcare, to lower costs, and to fix a "broken" system.  If I had known it was just to take money from some people and give it to others in the form of healthcare services, then I could have pointed to Medicare and Medicaid and said, "Wait, we already have such programs, one for the elderly and one for the poor, why do we need another?"

Which, of course, would have led to uncomfortable debates about Medicare and Medicaid's inferior health outcomes and on top of their cratering fiscal outlooks.  And the Obamacrats weren't out to have that discussion, they were simply out to sell a shiny new thing to a citizenry ready to buy whatever because of that nice seeming (and black) salesman.

Bottom line, we were right in analyzing ObamaCare for what it really was, but wrong for having done so; and, lefties weren't wrong for lying because what they lied for was right, in their view?  Sounds about right.

#NarrativeFail: College Kids Actually Want Wall Street Jobs

90,000 college undergraduates applied for 1,000 internship slots at MorganStanley.

First they were telling use those crazy college kids were shunning Wall St. for Washington (i.e. "public service" on the heels of the Obama wave.  Maybe they don't want to be associated with all that anymore given how the IRS, HHS, VA et al. haven't quite covered themselves in glory as of late.)

Then it was start-ups...

Doesn't seem to be actually playing out that way.

Shocking: Person Who Maintained Her Innocence, Declared Innocent

Here is a very curious headline...
Brooks Acquitted After Weeks of Evading Blame
Here's a thought...she was evading blame because she was innocent of blame, which is why she was...acquitted.

Funny that, people who believe in their own innocence (vindicated by the legal system) actually evading blame.

But for the Murdoch-hating MSM, there is just no believing there nothing evil deep down at work.  Note, Bloomberg is a competitor to the Murdoch-owned Wall Street Journal.

Green Losers Get Shock When They Go To Sell Their Homes

Here is another example of the "Rubes Don't Get It/What's the Matter with Kansas" mentality from the elitist media clerisy.  Solar panels on the roof of your home drive down the value of your home...because, well, people are stupid and they can't recognize a good thing when they see it...
“Homeowners don’t understand what they’re signing when they get into this,” said Sandy Adomatis, a home appraiser in Punta Gorda,Florida, who created the industry’s standard tool for valuing the systems. “You’ve got another layer to add on top of finding a buyer for the house. It’s not a plus.”
and in case you didn't get the point...
“They’re essentially moving into a home with a lower cost of ownership, a lower cost of energy,” so a solar lease shouldn’t make it harder to sell a house, said Jonathan Bass, a spokesman for SolarCity in San Mateo, California. “It becomes a selling point instead of a point of misunderstanding.”
Stupid homebuyers, it's a selling point, despite what you might think...
Scott Vineberg, a SolarCity customer, received multiple offers for the Scottsdale, Arizona, home he sold in January. The lease made the deal more complicated because the buyers were reluctant to take over the contract and asked him to pay off the balance in advance, about 10 years of payments.
“I don’t think they understood it,” said Vineberg. He refused to pay off the lease, and instead provided years of documentation to verify the monthly energy savings. After the sale closed, the buyers opted to pay off the lease, and Vineberg installed another SolarCity system at his new home.

Monday, June 23, 2014

How Do You Say, "Do Me A Solid?" In German?

New York ObamaCare-Compliant Premiums Going Up 25%?

File under "ObamaCare is working".

Remember how I've chronicled how health insurance costs for my small business in New York state has ballooned over the years even pre-ObamaCare?  Well, post ObamaCare is actually worse, and the hits just keep on coming.  I just got my Notice of Proposed Rate Change for 2015 for my OA EPO HSA Comp 5000 100 PY plan from Aetna.

25.3%.  Yup. After tripling from 2008 to now, I can expect another massive increase in healthcare insurance premiums.  Of course, I don't qualify for subsidies, so that is why ever-increasing amounts are being extracted from me.  Subsidy-qualifiers, I'm sure will not see even near that increase if they see any.

I have to run the numbers, but I am pretty sure I am going to self-insure in 2015.  I have to weigh the penalty versus being involved in this ridiculous wealth distribution scheme.

ASIDE:  Speaking of life at my small business, I am required, by the SEC, to archive my emails, so that every incoming and outgoing email is archived for a period of five years.  The cost for this service (actually, this service plus more in the bundle) is $100/month.  Now, obviously it wouldn't be $100/month for the IRS but given economies of scale, the per user rate for email archiving should be vanishingly small for an organization the size of the IRS if it weren't for legendary government procurement prowess and, ahem, other concerns.


At PJ Media, Don Sucher has a list of excuses cultural explanation in list form as to why the Baby Boomers are the way that they are.  In the John Lennon section there is this gem:
“Imagine no possessions, I wonder if you can / No need for greed or hunger, a brotherhood of man.”
Again, nice words, whether sincerely sung at Lennon’s 72 acre Surrey Estate with its splendid gardens and manmade lake, or in any of the five apartments he and his second wife, Yoko Ono, kept at one time in New York City’s fabulously exclusive Dakota apartment building.
Exactly how I feel about the Boomers, at least our elites of that ilk.  Sting and The Police captured this essence in their song "Born in the 50s" although my sense is that Sting was writing of his cohorts with pride rather than derision.

Topical this subject is, as we learn that Hillary "bristled" at Obama's lame Benghazi deception, alas, not because it was a deception, but because it was not a plausable decpetion, i.e. not a deception worthy of the famed political genius of Clintonism.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Drug Development News

Not surprising

Viagara was, after all, originally developed to treat angina.  But when study participants started getting spontaneous erections...well, the rest is history.

El-Erian Is So Incredibly Wrong on Argentina

In addressing the Argentinian debt crisis, global elitist conventional thinker Mohamed El-Erian placed a flawed notion at the foundation of his argument.
When a sovereign faces severe payment difficulties, the best option for the collective good is to find an orderly way to reduce debt and put the country on the path to economic recovery. 
No, no, and no.  This may be the best option if you believe in all manner of Keynesian nonsense, which El-Erian surely does, but it's a terrible way to approach sovereign defaults.

First, whether the process is orderly or not does not necessarily effect the views of the creditors involved.  The screwing of Chrysler's bondholders in the early days of Lightworkerism was indeed orderly, but I am sure that creditors learned valuable lessons that increased their caution.  Raw expropriation of property rights is damn orderly.  Likewise, a messy fight such that Argentina and the holdouts are now waging may ultimately vindicate the rule of law and hold borrowers accountable.  So orderly is meaningless.  Orderly is a nice to have, but it does not equate to just, fair or proper.

Second, why is the priority to reduce debt?  Debt can be restructured and most of the time, that's what happens because it is in the best interests of all that debtors have burdens eased without creditors having capital destroyed.  That El-Erian's stated priority from the outset is the destruction of creditors' assets is profoundly dangerous and reflects a special sensitivity to the sovereign's position vis-a-vis investors.  He thinks governments are more important and should have sway.  That's bad for too many reasons to list.

Finally, El-Erian assumes that wiping the credit card clean sets a country on a path to economic growth.  This is just daft and not worthy of an intelligent and experienced man such as El-Erian, thus my reference to Keynesian nonsense.  Wiping the fiscal burden clean and resetting a country's borrowing power simply sets up the next cycle of borrow and spend economics, perpetuating the disastrous, Keynesian treadmill that keeps these serially defaulting countries poor.  Is Argentina just unlucky, did they just happen into a one-time mess?  No.  They are irredeemably profligate.  They are, as El-Erian's colleagues at Bloomberg note, "persistently uncooperative and undeserving of sympathy."  Does anybody think that giving Argentina a pass won't start them on their next irresponsible credit-fueled binge?

There are many complex and wrenching issues involved in a potential sovereign default, and El-Erian pretends to address this, but his position is merely a deceptive pro-sovereign absolutism, which is dangerous in general and especially misguided in the case of Argentina.

Warsh and Druckenmiller Echo NBfPB

Long-time readers know that I have mentioned several times the current economy, the economy delivered to us by the Obamacrats, is great for owners and crappy for workers.
So as the world beyond our borders recovered, having indulged in less over the top business bashing, US manufacturers have been able to secure alot of business exporting our great products to the world, but have little incentive to hire (ObamaCare) and expand here at home (card-check, EPA, NLRB, etc). Ergo the profits but not too much hiring. So that's how we got an economy that stinks for "workers" but is OK for "owners". (I use quotations marks because these terms are the false dichotomies of our political discourse as if "workers" don't own and "owners" don't work.)
Well, today the WSJ has an op-ed by Stan Druckenmiller and Kevin Warsh, saying the same thing.
The aggregate wealth of U.S. households, including stocks and real-estate holdings, just hit a new high of $81.8 trillion. That's more than $26 trillion in wealth added since 2009. No wonder most on Wall Street applaud the Fed's unrelenting balance-sheet recovery strategy. It's great news for those households and businesses with large asset holdings, high risk tolerances and easy access to credit. 
Yet it provides little solace for families and small businesses that must rely on their income statements to pay the bills. About half of American households do not own any stocks and more than one-third don't own a residence. Never mind the retirees who are straining to make the most of their golden years on bond returns.
Warsh and Druckenmiller place the onus, it seems, squarely on the Fed's monetary policy, and undoubtedly that is a contributor, but I think they miss the significant role of fiscal and, especially, regulatory policy.  Also, not helping is the political rhetoric and the dubious legal assaults on business coming from this administration.