Daily Archives: August 12, 2009

This is your government on drugs

stabenowU.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow (she really is a U.S. Senator – I looked her up. Until this quote, she was mostly known for a husband who frequents prostitutes and her own stated desire to bring back the Fairness Doctrine and shut down talk radio) is a nobody from Michigan who is on our country’s Senate Energy Committee.   She happens also to be an expert on global warming.

Detroit, Mich. – Michigan just experienced its coldest July on record; global temperatures haven’t risen in more than a decade; Great Lakes water levels have resumed their 30-year cyclical rise (contrary to a decade of media scare stories that they were drying up due to global warming), and polls show that climate change doesn’t even make a list of Michigan voters’ top-ten concerns.

Yet in an interview with the Detroit News Monday, Senator Debbie Stabenow (D., Mich.) – recently appointed to the Senate Energy Committee – made clear that fighting the climate crisis is her top priority.

“Climate change is very real,” she confessed as she embraced cap and trade’s massive tax increase on Michigan industry – at the same time claiming, against all the evidence, that it would not lead to an increase in manufacturing costs or energy prices. “Global warming creates volatility. I feel it when I’m flying. The storms are more volatile. We are paying the price in more hurricanes and tornadoes.”

And there are sea monsters in Lake Michigan. I can feel them when I’m boating.

The debate is over.

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Mark Steyn being brilliant, as usual

Reader Karen sent me this link to Mark Steyn’s “Untangling the Spaghetti”.

What’s the end-game here? I suppose it’s conceivable that there are a few remaining suckers out there who still believe Barack Obama is the great post-partisan, fiscally responsible, pragmatic centrist he played so beguilingly just a year ago. The New York Times’ David Brooks stuck it out longer than most: Only a few backs, he was giddy with excitement over the President’s “education” “reforms” (whatever they were). But now he says we’re in “the early stages of the liberal suicide march”. For a famously moderate moderate, Mr Brooks seems to have gone from irrational optimism over the Democrats’ victory to irrational optimism over the Democrats’ impending downfall without the intervening stage of rational pessimism.

The end-game is very obvious. If you expand the bureaucratic class and you expand the dependent class, you can put together a permanent electoral majority. By “dependent”, I don’t mean merely welfare, although that’s a good illustration of the general principle. In political terms, a welfare check is a twofer: you’re assuring the votes both of the welfare recipient and of the vast bureaucracy required to process his welfare. But extend that principle further, to the point where government intrudes into everything: a vast population is receiving more from government (in the form of health care or education subventions) than it thinks it contributes, while another vast population is managing the ever expanding regulatory regime (a federal energy-efficiency code, a government health bureaucracy) and another vast population remains, nominally, in the private sector but, de facto, dependent on government patronage of one form or another – say, the privately owned franchisee of a government automobile company, or the designated “community assistance” organization for helping poor families understand what programs they’re eligible for.  Either way, what you get from government – whether in the form of a government paycheck, a government benefit or a government contract – is a central fact of your life.

A lot of the developed world has already gone quite a long way down this road. If you want to know what Obama’s pledge to “save or create” four million jobs  would look like if the stimulus weren’t a total bust, consider what “good news” means in an Obama-sized state: A couple of years back, I happened to catch an intriguing headline up north. “The Canadian economy is picking up steam,” reported the CBC. Statistics Canada had just announced that “the economy added 56,100 new jobs, two-thirds of them full time.” That’s great news, isn’t it? Why, the old economy’s going gangbusters, stand well back.

But I was interested to know just what sectors these jobs had been created in. And, upon investigation, it emerged that, of those 56,100 new jobs, 4,200 were self-employed, 8,900 were in private businesses, and the remaining 43,000 were on the public payroll. “The economy” hadn’t added those jobs; the government had: that’s why they call it “creating” jobs. Seventy-seven per cent of the new jobs were government jobs, or “jobs”, paid for by the poor schlubs working away in the remaining 23 per cent. So the “good news” was just more bad news, just a further transfer from the vital dynamic sector to the state.

In Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales, government spending accounts for between 72 and 78 per cent of the economy, and, as I wrote here earlier this year, that’s “about the best a ‘free’ society can hope to attain this side of complete Sovietization.” But, if you’re not on welfare, working in the welfare office or working for a “green solutions” company that’s landed the government contract for printing the recycled envelopes in which the welfare checks are mailed out, it’s not an attractive society to be in. It’s not a place to run a small business – a feed store or a plumbing company or anything innovative, all of which will be taxed and regulated into supporting that seventysomething per cent. After all, what does it matter if your business goes under? Either you’ll join the government workforce, or you’ll go on the dole. So you too will become part of the dependent class, or the class that’s dependent upon the dependent class.  Either way, Big Government wins (as we already see in California).

In the normal course of events, the process takes a while. But Obama believes in “the fierce urgency of now”, and fierce it is. That’s where all the poor befuddled sober centrists who can’t understand why the Democrats keep passing incoherent 1,200-page bills every week are missing the point. If “health care” were about health care, the devil would be in the details. But it’s not about health or costs or coverage; it’s about getting over the river and burning the bridge. It doesn’t matter what form of governmentalized health care gets passed as long as it passes. Once it’s in place, it will be “reformed”, endlessly, but it will never be undone. Same with a lot of the other stuff: Keep throwing the spaghetti at the wall. The Republicans may pick off the odd strand but, if you keep it coming fast enough, by the end of Obama’s first year the wall will be a great writhing mass of pasta entwined like copulating anacondas in some jungle simulacrum of Hef’s grotto. And that’s a good image of how government will slither into every corner of your life: You can try and pull one of those spaghetti strings out but it’ll be all tied up with a hundred others and you’ll never untangle them.

The New York Times rather neatly illustrated Steyn’s remarks by printing this chart last Sunday. Note where the growth in jobs is: public sector.

NYT

NYT

 

 

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“I didn’t steal nuttin’ – I jist seen my opportunities and I took ’em.”

Tammany Hall’s George Plunkett must be beaming up from Hell at the antics of New York State Democrats, who have just awarded Pedro Espada’s son a $120,000 no-show job as a reward for Dad’s coming back to the fold and restoring Democrat hegemony in Albany.

ALBANY — Weeks after Senator Pedro Espada Jr. helped resolve a standoff in the State Senate by ending his alliance with Republicans and rejoining the Democratic caucus, his son was hired to a senior position on the Democrats’ central staff, Senate aides confirmed on Tuesday.

His son, Pedro G. Espada, is a former state assemblyman and New York city councilman who currently works for Soundview HealthCare Network, a nonprofit group founded by Senator Espada. On Aug. 6 — less than a month after Senator Espada returned to the Democrats — Pedro G. Espada, 35, joined the Senate payroll as deputy director of intergovernmental relations, a job that pays $120,000 a year. The position had been vacant.

Senate officials denied that the younger Mr. Espada was hired as part of deal with Senator Espada, who became Senate majority leader after rejoining the caucus. But they declined to answer detailed questions about the circumstances of Pedro G. Espada’s hiring, such as whether he was a candidate for the job before Senator Espada returned to the Democratic caucus.

The hiring was reported this week by New York magazine.

Politicians and pundits can’t seem to understand the anger of voters this summer and most of them blame outside agitators for stirring things up. Shades of the southern racists who couldn’t believe “their” nigras would get uppity unless it was because some northern Jewish types were interfering with how things were. I have another suggestion: the people have reached a boiling point because of incidents like this Espada crook, all normal in politics, and all accepted as the status quo.

Pedro Espada never worked a real job in his life;like our president, he was a “community organizer’ and parlayed that into various jobs at so-called non-profits and ended up in politics. he claims to represent the Bronx but actually lives in a nice house in Mamaroneck. When, earlier this year, that bit of illegality was finally revealed (notice that the NYT didn’t even report this story first – New York Magazine dug it out), and when his theft of campaign funds was beginning to be investigated, Espada jumped ship to the Republicans and demanded a ransom to come back. He got it; he was appointed Majority leader of the state senate, his son, another one who never worked for a living, was made the “deputy governmental liaison”, a position sitting vacant in case an emergency like Espada arose.

The fact that politicians will lie so blithely, deny that there was any sort of pay off involved, and know they can get away with it,says all that needs to be said about the cynicism of politicians and may explain why the voters are finally fed up. Pols don’t cut no-show jobs, pay-offs to their union friends or anything that might threaten their survival. Instead they go after the weak and helpless and raise taxes on the few workers still employed in the private sector, whining about their love for their constituents as they do it. Screw them, I say, and I think others finally agree. Should be an interesting next two years.

 

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Greenwich Time still likes the grandfather angle

“Pemberwick grandfather found competent to stand trial” its headline reads and again I ask, what could possibly be relevant about this murderer’s spawning history? He shot and stabbed his former daughter-in-law to death – that would seem to be useful information. His age: 78, is of interest, I suppose, if only because people his age usually don’t do such things. But that he sired children who in turn sired their own at some point? As useful and relevant as the type of car he drives (a Buick Roadmaster, if you care, or so Edgar Martins reports).

This attempt to “humanize” a vicious killer is the product of the same idiot editor who yesterday used the opposite approach to report on the tragic death of a sweet 23-year-old girl in a traffic accident. Do you suppose that the flaks Hearst has assigned to cover Greenwich hate our town and applaud when bad things happen?

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Another dedicated educator

Hamilton Avenue School principaltakes better job elsewhere, effective September 4th. I don’t know her personal circumstances but this seems cheesy to me.

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Any day now

But not quite yet. House prices continue to fall.

The Case-Shiller has been signalling an improvement in the second derivative of housing prices for a few months, and in the latest report it even showed a sequential increase. But check out the NAR’s numbers for all of Q2. The year-over-year drop in the median sales price of single family homes showed its worst decline ever. They didn’t even have a second derivative gain improvement.

chart of the day

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Slow week

Three days in, we’ve seen 2 contracts, both under $1.6, 4 “pending” (many a slip between pending and contract) all under $1 0, 37 price reductions and 31 new listings. I wouldn’t expect much to happen in the next few weeks except for some already-under-contract houses going to closing. Come September, if history is a guide, we’ll lots of new listings. Will we see more buyer activity? Sellers obviously hope so but frankly, if your house wasn’t attractive at its current price, it will look worse when compared to fresh listings. Ponder that.

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Nifty trick for getting bank owned (REO) properties list

Hi Chris,

I really enjoy MOST of your blog.  You probably have already tried this trick – I just stumbled upon it today.

Zillow
Greenwich, CT
Select – Recently Sold
Under Maximum price – put $100

Voila – a detailed list of homes that are REO

You can sort your list by “Sold On” date to get the most recent foreclosures to the top.  I knew if I kept looking I’d find away to get this info free without being pimped by Realty Trac.

I’m about to go try this but I’m sure it works – any reader smart enough to read this blog and disagree with my politics (I assume it’s my politics she doesn’t like – maybe she’s from Cos Cob, though) is bound to have the right stuff here. If you try it first, let us know.

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Was denying DiPascali bail a dumb move?

John Carney thinks so – if Frank’s cooped up in jail he can’t cooperate very well with the investigation into the Madoff matter and, worse, other conspirators will realize that they have nothing to gain by speaking up. Carney makes some good points – follow the link and read them – but I’m not so sure he’s right. True, if DiPascali is held in jail until his sentencing next May 10, he’ll be of little use to the prosecution and judging from their arguments in favor of bail, there is still much that DiPascali can tell them. But if, as the judge hinted, he can get sprung when something better than a $2.5 million bond, secured by $750,000 in real estate is offered, then maybe a few weeks contemplating what the rest of his life could look like will serve as a further incentive. Guess we’ll find out.

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Power to the people

Concerned Democrat Rep takes a cellphone call while “listening” to a constituent. Arrogance of power, anyone?

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One man with a briefcase can steal more than ten men with guns

Another victory for class action lawyers, who yesterday announced a settlement of their client/shareholder’s suit against Wachovia and Wells Fargo Bank. The suit alleged that the price paid by Wells Fargo for Wachovia was unfair to shareholders so that class must have breathed a sigh of relief when they heard relief was at hand. As anyone familiar with class action suits will have already guessed, the terms of the settlement call for the lawyers to get $2 million and the shareholders will get a lifetime supply of 2009 Wachovia Bank calendars. I never should have quit practicing law.

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Broken deal

60 meadowNo sales, no contracts no nothing the past two days, but 60 Meadow Road, that beautiful house in Riverside that was reported as under contract just a few days after being listed, is back on – deal fell through. Failed inspection? Financing didn’t work? Change of plans? It could be anything, but it’s not good news for the seller. The same thing happened to 65 Meadow, across the street, a year ago or so. Took forever and a lot of price cuts to find another buyer. I’ll hope that’s not the case for this one because, while I thought the whole 1930s master bedroom situation needed reworking, is a very nice house.

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A liberal’s take on ObamaCare – it’s a friggin’ disaster

Here’s an Obama supporter who can’t believe the hash her hero has made of health care.

But who would have thought that the sober, deliberative Barack Obama would have nothing to propose but vague and slippery promises — or that he would so easily cede the leadership clout of the executive branch to a chaotic, rapacious, solipsistic Congress? House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, whom I used to admire for her smooth aplomb under pressure, has clearly gone off the deep end with her bizarre rants about legitimate town-hall protests by American citizens. She is doing grievous damage to the party and should immediately step down.

There is plenty of blame to go around. Obama’s aggressive endorsement of a healthcare plan that does not even exist yet, except in five competing, fluctuating drafts, makes Washington seem like Cloud Cuckoo Land. The president is promoting the most colossal, brazen bait-and-switch operation since the Bush administration snookered the country into invading Iraq with apocalyptic visions of mushroom clouds over American cities.

You can keep your doctor; you can keep your insurance, if you’re happy with it, Obama keeps assuring us in soothing, lullaby tones. Oh, really? And what if my doctor is not the one appointed by the new government medical boards for ruling on my access to tests and specialists? And what if my insurance company goes belly up because of undercutting by its government-bankrolled competitor? Face it: Virtually all nationalized health systems, neither nourished nor updated by profit-driven private investment, eventually lead to rationing.

I just don’t get it. Why the insane rush to pass a bill, any bill, in three weeks? And why such an abject failure by the Obama administration to present the issues to the public in a rational, detailed, informational way? The U.S. is gigantic; many of our states are bigger than whole European nations. The bureaucracy required to institute and manage a nationalized health system here would be Byzantine beyond belief and would vampirically absorb whatever savings Obama thinks could be made. And the transition period would be a nightmare of red tape and mammoth screw-ups, which we can ill afford with a faltering economy.

As with the massive boondoggle of the stimulus package, which Obama foolishly let Congress turn into a pork rut, too much has been attempted all at once; focused, targeted initiatives would, instead, have won wide public support. How is it possible that Democrats, through their own clumsiness and arrogance, have sabotaged healthcare reform yet again? Blaming obstructionist Republicans is nonsensical because Democrats control all three branches of government. It isn’t conservative rumors or lies that are stopping healthcare legislation; it’s the justifiable alarm of an electorate that has been cut out of the loop and is watching its representatives construct a tangled labyrinth for others but not for themselves. No, the airheads of Congress will keep their own plush healthcare plan — it’s the rest of us guinea pigs who will be thrown to the wolves.

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Walter, maybe you should scratch Brazil from your list of hidey-holes

Brazilian TV host accused of committing murders to boost ratings of his true-crime show. I mean, Walt, if this guy wants ratings, how better to get them than to knock off a Greenwich fugitive financier? Better to ask Andres about secluded caves in Basque country.

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Timberdoodle bought Mel Gibson’s place

That’s what a reader reports and readers on this blog seem never to be wrong when it comes to real estate rumors. Haven’t confirmed it yet but it makes sense – big spread (75 acres?) on Old Mill , definitely for sale and with Mel and his wife heading for divorce, probably available at a good price. Originally listed at $39 million, marked down to $35 or even $30, I bet he got it in the low twenties or high teens.

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