Saturday, June 25, 2005

Ceiling Fans - Counterclockwise in Summer

Fans in Summer - Counterclockwise Posted by Hello

Fans in Winter - Clockwise Posted by Hello

"Ceiling fans cool people (not rooms). In hot weather, operate the fan in the normal [counter-clockwise] direction. This creates a cooling 'wind chill' effect to make you feel up to 9 degrees cooler. Research has shown that you can then raise the thermostat setting, resutling in reduced air conditioning energy consumption of 40% or more. Remember: operating fan in empty rooms just waste energy , so turn it off when you leave the room.

In cold weather, operate the fan in the slow speed, Reverse direction (clockwise). This creates a gentle updraft which recirculates the hot air trapped at the ceiling to provide even, comfortable heat throughout your room. The re-circulation of warm air allows you to lower the room's thermostat setting, resulting in energy savings of 10% or more."
OK, so I had some fans going one way and some another, and I had to look it up. I can still explain FX hedges without research. So there.

NYTimes Loves Kelo-Proof of A Bad Decision

The Limits of Property Rights - New York Times: "The Supreme Court's ruling yesterday that the economically troubled city of New London, Conn., can use its power of eminent domain to spur development was a welcome vindication of cities' ability to act in the public interest. It also is a setback to the 'property rights' movement, which is trying to block government from imposing reasonable zoning and environmental regulations.

Connecticut is a rich state with poor cities, which must do everything they can to attract business and industry. New London's development plan may hurt a few small property owners, who will, in any case, be fully compensated. But many more residents are likely to benefit if the city can shore up its tax base and attract badly needed jobs."
This is not from Scott Ott this is a real editorial.

Future Windows Will Include RSS Support

New York Times: "Microsoft Corp. said Friday that the next version of its Windows operating system will have built-in support for Internet data feeds, an increasingly popular way to get news and other information channeled straight to a computer. RSS, short for Really Simple Syndication, hasn't broken into widespread use yet, but the world's largest software maker believes it will become a mainstay. 'We really believe that RSS is key to how people will be using the Internet in the future,' said Megan Kidd, a Windows product manager."

Black History Now Required

Philadelphia Mandates Black History for Graduation : "Starting in September, students entering city high schools as ninth graders will be required to take a course in African-American history, making Philadelphia the first major city to require such a course for high school graduation.

"You cannot understand American history without understanding the African-American experience; I don't care what anybody says," said Paul G. Vallas, the school system's chief executive, who is white. "It benefits African-American children who need a more comprehensive understanding of their own culture, and it also benefits non-African-Americans to understand the full totality of the American experience."

The Philadelphia School District includes 185,000 students, two-thirds of whom are African-American, and only two in seven are white or Hispanic. The School Reform Commission, a panel that sets policy and is now composed of three whites and two blacks, voted 5 to 0 in February to make the course mandatory in all 53 high schools after some in recent years had offered African-American history as an elective."

Christian Life in Islamic Sudan

The Word From Rome : "Sudan... is home to the largest Arabic-speaking Christian population in the world. [From] a Sudanese priest who recently finished his doctoral work in Rome, 'Christians are not allowed to build churches. In Khartoum, they have a series of "centers," which are legally classified as schools but are also used for communal worship. That worship, by the way, has to take place on Friday, because it is the only day people have off from work. Sunday Mass is celebrated, but very few are able to come. Police will sometimes disrupt the services, or bar the gates to keep people away; the vicar general of the Khartoum archdiocese recently spent a week in jail after showing up to celebrate Mass on Friday.

When John Paul II visited Khartoum in 1993, the priest said, the government brought food and drink into Christian-dominated refugee camps, telling them the pope would visit them and there was no need to go to his Mass, in an attempt to keep turnout low. On the day of the event, they shut down bus service and minimized television broadcasts, worried that the event might give a political boost to the Christian minority.

When young Christians want to enter the university, this priest said, they generally convert to Islam and take Muslim names, because otherwise the most prestigious programs are denied to them. Most, he said, remain Christians "in their hearts." This has created a debate within the Christian community, he said, between those who believe Christians shouldn't engage in this kind of subterfuge, and those who see it as a practical necessity. Many Christians in the north, he said, hide their religious affiliation on the job or even among friends.

This priest said things are to some extent getting better, in part because of pressure from the American government. (For that reason, he said, many Sudanese Christians rejoiced when George W. Bush was reelected, counting on him to keep it up). At least officially, the Sudanese government no longer insists on applying shariah, or Islamic law, to Christians.'

There are an estimated 3.8 million Catholics in Sudan, and a roughly equivalent number of other Christians, especially Anglicans. "

Bishop Lobo on Christians in Pakistan

The Word From Rome : "Bishop Anthony Lobo of Islamabad, Pakistan...said there is a case for optimism in what he sees as a growing openness, at least in official circles in Pakistan, to the Christian minority.

As examples, he pointed to the fact that Gen. Pervez Musharraf, the country's president, has reformed the system of national elections to give Christians a greater voice, and has patronized Christian schools. In a small but telling move, Lobo said that Musharraf every year hosts a Christmas dinner, officially billed as such, and on the menu lists "Christmas turkey" and "Christmas pudding" -- seemingly trivial but telling gestures from the head of state in an overwhelmingly Muslim nation.

Lobo also said he was encouraged when a group of female Muslim students, fully veiled, recently came to him for information on a research project on the Catholic charismatic renewal. That suggests, he said, a new level of interest among Muslims in understanding Christianity. At the same time, Lobo conceded, there is much work yet to be done.

For one thing, he said, most young Muslims recruited by terrorist groups come not from the national university, but from the madras system, where, he said, young Muslims are taught that "all Christians are infidels."

Most Christians in Pakistan converted 150 years ago, Lobo noted, and were drawn largely from the oppressed outcast classes. There remains a strong current of social discrimination based on these class origins, he said. For example, if a Christian buys a cup of tea at a roadside shop, and the Muslim owner intuits that he's a Christian, he might smash his cup against the wall, saying that the Christian must pay for it because it's now polluted and no one will drink from it. In fact, Lobo noted, this is not really religious discrimination so much as the lingering effects of the caste system, but it does shape the quality of life of Pakistani Christians."

Cardinal Scola of Venice on Post-Modernism, Freedom, Liberty

The Word From Rome: "Cardinal Angelo Scola of Venice ranks as one of the most intellectually interesting members of the College of Cardinals....Scola issued a plea to 'stay anchored to the reality...We are the sons and daughters of an incarnate God, who entered into all the events of human history,' Scola said. 'The Incarnation is a logic, a method for dealing with life.'

'Social processes don't ask our permission to happen, and they don't leave us time to work out theories at the table,' he said. 'We have to go out to meet them, to correct them where necessary, to give them direction.'

In that sense, Scola said, it is important that as the church tries to think its way through the challenges posed by cultural diversity, it 'depart[s] from reality,' not from the abstraction that often is second nature for European intellectuals. Having said that, Scola launched into an excursus on philosophical anthropology, which, if one didn't know better, would have sounded curiously like abstraction.

In essence, he argued that the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 marked the 'closure of the modern epoch,' and that the 'physiognomy of contemporary man' is different as a result. Today, he said, the 'utopian biases' of the old ideological systems are bankrupt, and for the post-modern person 'all the basic questions are open.'
In that sense, he argued, the church has a better shot at evangelizing post-modernity, since the characteristic post-modern person is a seeker rather than an ideologue.

'Christianity can respond to the questions of the contemporary person, in a way that it could not do in modernity,' he said. 'We can respond to the basic questions about happiness and liberty, which are the two key words in the gospel of Christ.'

The trick, he believes, is to demonstrate that truth is not in conflict with freedom -- that it is not a surrender of liberty to terminate one's search when faced with the truth
. For that, he said, Christianity needs the witness of committed individuals who live what the church teaches."

William F. Buckley Jr. on Milton Friedman

William F. Buckley Jr. on Milton Friedman on National Review Online: "Milton Friedman says some things that require faith. He compares the performance of Catholic schools and public schools in New York City. The Catholic schools (only one-half of whose students are Catholic) cost half as much per student as the public schools and send almost twice as many graduates on to college.

Moreover - a point very dear to Milton's heart - the very act of submitting to pubic schooling tames young spirits to associate public enterprises with correct social enterprise. It is a contaminating experience, he holds - a breeding ground of budget allocations by political bodies, submission to cartels of union-bound teachers, and a spiritual acclimation to a norm which, far from being competitive, encourages the kind of mediocrity that is associated with corporate goals set by remote agencies.

On nothing are the Friedmans more emphatic than that school choice would help poorer students. Competition inevitably encourages quality, and students who are free to opt for alternative schooling would flock to do so, as they have done in experiments in Chicago and Milwaukee and, are expected to do in Arizona and Utah. Non-Catholic blacks fight to get their children accepted in Catholic schools in Chicago, where a premium is placed on work and on reading and writing. The principal opponents of change are the same unions that Governor Schwarzenegger is fighting with in California, seeking to maintain their hold on the teachers' victims - the students. "

Consequences of Educational "Diversity" and "Tolerance"

The Intolerant Tolerants by Fred Bills: "How can I get kicked out of a college party by discussing the War in Iraq; a war that involves the people of our generation, a war involving our friends, brothers, and sisters, and be shown the door because I have a different opinion? And from the party of 'tolerance,' the banner bearers of 'diversity'? Apparently diversity of opinion is not so well tolerated if it comes from someone with the same tone of skin and an Anglo-Saxon name. "
Part of an first person essay / editorial from a former undergraduate discussing his experience holding a unpopular opinion - supporting the Iraq War. Worth a read...

Mark Steyn: "Action Stations"

The "The tsunami may have been unprecedented, but what followed was business as usual - the sloth and corruption of government, the feebleness of the brand-name NGOs, the compassion-exhibitionism of the transnational jet set. If we lived in a world where 'it's what you do that defines you', we'd be heaping praise on the US and Australian militaries who in the immediate hours after the tsunami struck dispatched their forces to save lives, distribute food, restore water and power and communications.

Whether or not it has ‘moral’ authority, the UN certainly can’t do the job. It becomes clearer every week that Western telly viewers threw far more money at tsunami relief than was required and that much of it has been siphoned off by wily customs inspectors and their ilk. If you really wanted to make an effective donation to a humanitarian organisation, you’d send your cheque to the Pentagon or the Royal Australian Navy.

Getting things done requires ships and transport planes and the like, and most Western countries lack the will to maintain armed forces capable of long-range projection. So, when disaster strikes, they can mail a cheque and hold a press conference and form a post-modern ‘Task Force’ which doesn’t have any forces and doesn’t perform any tasks. In extreme circumstances, they can stage an all-star pop concert. And, because this is all most of the Western world is now capable of, ‘taking action’ means little more than taking the approved forms of inaction.

Any large gathering of world leaders is a waste of time, especially if there’s any kind of permanent secretariat or bureaucracy involved. Mr Bush will be polite at Gleneagles, but it’s no coincidence that his closest relationship is with a man he hardly ever meets in person, and never at the big talking-shops — John Howard of Australia, who doesn’t get to go to the G8 or Nato or the EU and yet works more effectively with America than Canada or any of the so-called ‘major European allies’ like France and Germany. Summits are, so to speak, one huge bluff.

According to my favourite foreign minister these days, Australia’s Alexander Downer, ‘Iraq was a clear example about how outcomes are more important than blind faith in the principles of non-intervention, sovereignty and multilateralism.... Increasingly multilateralism is a synonym for an ineffective and unfocused policy involving internationalism of the lowest common denominator. Multilateral institutions need to become more results-oriented.’ "
Since it's Steyn, read it all and see how a good writer writes.

Friday, June 24, 2005

WSJ: "The Supreme Court's Reverse Robin Hoods"

OpinionJournal : "So, in just two weeks, the Supreme Court has rendered two major decisions on the limits of government. In Raich v. Gonzales the Court said there are effectively no limits on what the federal government can do using the Commerce Clause as a justification. In Kelo, it's now ruled that there are effectively no limits on the predations of local governments against private property.

These kinds of judicial encroachments on liberty are precisely why Supreme Court nominations have become such high-stakes battles. If President Bush is truly the 'strict constructionist' he professes to be, he will take note of the need to check this disturbing trend should he be presented with a High Court vacancy. "

Kelo According to Scott Ott

ScrappleFace: Bush May Condemn and Seize Supreme Court: "The 5-4 court decision broadens the reasons for which properties can be taken under the Fifth Amendment beyond the traditional 'public use' (such as schools and highways) to include 'public purposes' such as...

-- increasing tax income to a municipality,

--returning a favor to a wealthy developer who supported your city council campaign,

--improving the view of the waterfront from the Mayor's house,

--or getting rid of grumpy old people who have lived in their homes long enough.

'In the spirit of the new government takeover of American homes and businesses,' said President George Bush, 'We may have to seize the moment to condemn some aging, faded and blighted elements of the Supreme Court. Then we can replace them with something that will serve public purposes.'"

Foreign Exchange News

Euro Dips Briefly Below $1.20: "The euro fell briefly below $1.20 for the first time in 10 months on Friday...The euro has come under pressure from growing expectations of lower rates in the currency bloc this week after Sweden's aggressive rate cut and dovish Bank of England minutes.

Political pressure has mounted on the euro zone's central bank to do something about the region's struggling economy. The spectre of a break-up of European economic and monetary union has also raised its head in recent weeks after the French and Dutch ``no'' votes on the European Union constitution and the failure of EU leaders to settle on a long-term budget.

Analysts said the euro was also under pressure after U.S. drugmaker Pfizer said on Thursday it planned to repatriate $36.9 billion in overseas earnings, $8.6 billion more than previously announced, under the American Jobs Creation Act of 2004, which allows it to do so at a sharply reduced tax rate. Chinese oil firm CNOOC Ltd's $1.85 billion bid for Unocal Corp. could also be underpinning dollar strength.

China's yuan policy is set to be an ongoing topic in the next few weeks, with Group of Eight leaders meeting in Scotland on July 6-8. The euro fell sharply against the yen on Thursday after China's state-run Xinhua news agency reported that China's foreign exchange regime would likely be discussed when President Hu Jintao participates in the summit.

``The China story ebbs and flows but it will be a major theme in the second half and could undermine dollar strength,'' said Neil Mellor, currency strategist at Bank of New York."

Krauthammer on CAFTA

A Party Without Ideas: "The Democratic Party has always seen itself as the tribune of the oppressed of the Third World and as deeply distressed by the fact that 'the United States by far is the stingiest nation in the world for development assistance or foreign aid,' to quote Jimmy Carter, former Democratic president, current Democratic saint.

You would think, therefore, that Democrats would be for CAFTA. Not so. CAFTA is in great jeopardy because Democrats have turned against it. Whereas a decade ago under President Bill Clinton, 102 House Democrats supported the North American Free Trade Agreement, that number for CAFTA is down to 10 or less. In a closed-door meeting this month, reports Jonathan Weisman of The Post, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi put heavy-handed pressure on all congressional Democrats to observe party discipline in killing the treaty.

Arguing free trade is particularly tiresome because it is the only proposition in politics that is mathematically provable. It was proved by British economist David Ricardo in 1817 that even if one country is more efficient in producing two items, trade between two countries based on the relative efficiency of production is always beneficial to both countries.

Mathematics does not change, but calculations of political expediency do. "
Nice reference to the "Theory of Comparative Advantage." I guess Pelosi and her minions skipped Economics 101.

Krauthammer on Democrats' "Intellectual Bankruptcy"

A Party Without Ideas: "What has happened to the Democrats over the past few decades is best captured by the phrase (coined by Kevin Phillips) 'reactionary liberalism.' Spent of new ideas, they have but one remaining idea: to hang on to the status quo at all costs.

This is true across the board. On Social Security, which is facing an impending demographic and fiscal crisis, they have put absolutely nothing on the table. On presidential appointments -- first, judges and now ambassador to the United Nations -- they resort to the classic weapon of southern obstructionism: the filibuster. And on foreign policy, they have nothing to say on the war on terrorism, the war in Iraq or the burgeoning Arab Spring (except the refrain: 'Guantanamo').

A quarter-century ago, Daniel Patrick Moynihan noted how it was the Republicans who had become a party of ideas, while the Democrats' philosophical foundation was 'deeply eroded.' But even Moynihan would be surprised by the bankruptcy in the Democrats' current intellectual account."

George Will on Kelo

Damaging 'Deference': "The question answered yesterday was: Can government profit by seizing the property of people of modest means and giving it to wealthy people who can pay more taxes than can be extracted from the original owners? The court answered yes.

The Fifth Amendment says, among other things, 'nor shall private property be taken for public use , without just compensation' (emphasis added). All state constitutions echo the Constitution's Framers by stipulating that takings must be for 'public use.' The Framers, who weighed their words, clearly intended the adjective 'public' to circumscribe government's power: Government should take private property only to create things -- roads, bridges, parks, public buildings -- directly owned or primarily used by the general public.

Those on the receiving end of the life-shattering power that the court has validated will almost always be individuals of modest means. So this liberal decision -- it augments government power to aggrandize itself by bulldozing individuals' interests -- favors muscular economic battalions at the expense of society's little platoons, such as homeowners and the neighborhoods they comprise.

Liberalism triumphed yesterday. Government became radically unlimited in seizing the very kinds of private property that should guarantee individuals a sphere of autonomy against government

Friedman on CAFTA

We Are All French Now? : "Yes, we are all Frenchmen now.

Well, not quite. But that is where we are heading in the U.S. if we let the combination of the sugar lobby, which wants to block more imports from Central America; the A.F.L.-C.I.O., which doesn't like any free trade agreements; and Democrats who just want to defeat Cafta so they can make President Bush a lame duck have their way and block Cafta ratification. I understand Democrats want to stick it to Mr. Bush, but could they please defeat him on a policy he is wrong about (there are plenty) and not on expanding free trade in this hemisphere, which he is right about.

The French economic instinct is not one we want to start emulating now, just as the global playing field is being flattened, bringing in more competitors from Poland to China to India. This is a time to play to our strengths of openness, flexibility and willingness to embrace creative destruction, and lead on free trade."

Thursday, June 23, 2005

80% of Americans Do Not Believe Prisoners at Guantanamo Bay Treated Unfairly

War on Terror: "June 22, 2005--A Rasmussen Reports survey found that 20% of Americans believe prisoners at Guantanamo Bay have been treated unfairly. Seven-out-of-ten adults believe the prisoners are being treated 'better than they deserve' (36%) or 'about right' (34%).

Partisan differences concerning prisoner treatment are huge. Only 7% of Republicans believe Guantanamo prisoners are treated unfairly. Thirty percent (30%) of Democrats hold that view along with 22% of those not affiliated with either major party.

Forty-five percent (45%) of Republicans say the prisoners are treated better than they deserve. That view is shared by 28% of Democrats.

Seventeen percent (17%) of men say that the prisoners are treated unfairly along with 22% of women. Eighteen percent (18%) of married Americans hold that view along with 22% of those who are not married.

Among white Americans, 18% believe the prisoners are treated unfairly, a view shared by 23% of other Americans."
(HT: InstaPundit)

WSJ Endorses DeMint-Ryan

OpinionJournal: "Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan and South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint are calling for legislation to bring an immediate halt to the ongoing political raid on the surplus payroll taxes collected by Social Security.

DeMint-Ryan would allow workers to create individual personal retirement accounts and place marketable government bonds worth their portion of the Social Security surplus into these accounts. Think of this as creating 140 million "lock box" accounts, one for every American worker. After three years, workers could trade these Treasury bonds and invest instead in higher-return mutual funds containing a combination of corporate stocks and bonds.

We're talking big dollars for most families. The federal government will continue to run surpluses of about $1.2 trillion through 2016 on a cash basis, and some $3 trillion through 2026 if interest on that cash is also counted...A worker with a $40,000 salary would get an average of 3% of his paycheck deposited in a personal account, or roughly $1,200 a year. A 25-year-old making a median wage, and earning 4% interest, would have an account worth nearly $100,000 by age 67.

The virtues of this proposal are both economic and political. By investing the surplus, rather than letting Congress spend it, the money would be put to better economic use and add to net national saving. The latter ought to please the deficit scolds in particular...As for the politics, this calls the bluff of Democrats who claim to be the sole protectors of the Social Security trust fund but have done nothing to stop depleting it. Do they want to protect it or not?...The DeMint-Ryan plan enhances solvency by preventing raids on the trust fund, which is a practice that has long infuriated senior citizens.

Republicans are under no obligation to commit suicide by voting for benefit cuts in the House and Senate if reform has no chance of succeeding. The invest-the-surplus idea gives Democrats one more chance to join the reform party, while putting reformers in a stronger position going into 2006 if Democrats refuse."
I indeed endorse DeMint-Ryan. Without some type of private retirement accounts I will be disheartened as to whither or not our country will go the way of European entitlements and the loss of our American spirit.

Kelo Decision: US Supreme Court Takes Away Property Rights, Ignores Amendment V

Justices, 5-4, Back Seizure of Property for Development: "The Supreme Court ruled today, in a deeply emotional case weighing the rights of property owners and the good of the community, that local governments can sometimes seize homes and businesses and turn them over to private developers.

In a case with nationwide implications, the court ruled, 5 to 4, against a group of homeowners in New London, Conn., who have resisted the city's plans to demolish their working-class homes near the Thames River to make way for an office building, riverfront hotel and other commercial activities.

The majority held that, just as government has the constitutional power of eminent domain to acquire private property to clear slums or to build roads, bridges, airports and other facilities to benefit the public, it can sometimes do so for private developers if the latters' projects also serve a public good.

In a bitter dissent, Justice Sandra Day O'Connor said the majority had created an ominous precedent. "The specter of condemnation hangs over all property," she wrote. "Nothing is to prevent the state from replacing any Motel 6 with a Ritz-Carlton, any home with a shopping mall, or any farm with a factory."

"Any property may now be taken for the benefit of another private property, but the fallout from this decision will not be random," she wrote. "The beneficiaries are likely to be those citizens with disproportionate influence and power in the political process, including large corporations and development firms.

"As for the victims," Justice O'Connor went on, "the government now has license to transfer property from those with fewer resources to those with more. The Founders cannot have intended this perverse result."

Justice Stevens was joined in the majority by Justices Anthony M. Kennedy, David H. Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen G. Breyer.

Justice O'Connor's fellow dissenters were Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist and Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas.

The case is Kelo v. City of New London, No. 04-108. Susette Kelo is one of the property owners who petitioned the courts to block the condemnation of their homes in the Fort Trumbull area of New London. "
Find Law link for the opinion here.
I deplore this decision. This is an issue worthy of a constitutional amendment if necessary. The right to private property is to me one of this country's core principles as established by our founders and as stated in our constitution. I will have more remarks after I read the opinion and the dissents. Please note the dissent is from the "conservative" Justices.

Foreign Auto Companies Thrive in Southern USA

Mercedes-Benz, Tucaloosa, Ala. Plant Posted by Hello

Foreign Makers, Settled in South, Pace Car Industry : "By most accounts, the United States auto industry is in deep trouble. But don't tell that to the newest workers here in Alabama, where foreign carmakers are redefining the auto industry in America.

"...a quarter of all cars and trucks built in the United States are now made in factories owned by foreign automakers producing foreign brands, up from 18 percent in 2000. The assembly plants alone employ nearly 60,000 people, and that number continues to grow.

"The employment at the American companies still dwarfs that of the newcomers. Automakers in Detroit employ four times the hourly workers - 250,000 - but that number is continuing to fall. Already, G.M. has announced that it plans to cut 25,000 of those workers by 2008.

Union jobs at the Big Three plants pay a dollar or two more an hour - about $26 an hour compared with $24 or $25 an hour for the nonunion jobs at the foreign plants. But compensation at the American automakers swells to an average of $55 an hour when health care, cost of living and other benefits are counted, compared with $48 an hour, on average, at Toyota.

Toyota gets more out of its workers. Its plants operate at about 107 percent of the manufacturing capacity, meaning that they are constantly running on overtime, according to Harbour & Associates, a consulting firm that tracks manufacturing. By contrast, G.M.'s plants are operating at only 75 percent of their capacity, Harbour found.

Among the companies adding jobs, no company is courted more than Toyota, the world's richest car company, which is gaining strength even as G.M. falters.

Toyota's impact on the nation's economy has been powerful. A study by the Center for Automotive Research, which has yet to be published, estimates that Toyota's investments in the United States had led to 386,600 American jobs as of last year - including jobs at suppliers and in surrounding communities.

That includes the 29,000 assembly workers at Toyota's plants, plus another 74,000 people employed by the automaker in its California headquarters, design and engineering centers and at its dealerships. And those figures do not include Toyota's expansion plans. In Texas alone, the study estimates, Toyota will help create another 9,000 jobs.

The impact helps explain why "states are falling all over themselves to land a car company," said James T. Bolte, a Toyota vice president in charge of the Alabama plant.

In a state where the average wage is $31,000 a year, according to the Commerce Department, Toyota's workers earn $45,000 on average, with overtime, plus a benefits package valued by the company at $10,000. Workers receive medical, dental and life insurance coverage; a traditional pension plan and a 401(k) plan; an allowance for child care; and an annual cash bonus, which was $3,850 a worker last year.

Unlike plants run by Detroit automakers, where a worker can spend 30 years screwing on the same parts, everyone on the Toyota line is taught to do every type of assembly job, so they can switch positions when needed to keep production flowing.

"It was hard," Mr. Herring said, "but it all had a purpose."

To many, the purpose is the stability of a job at Toyota, which earned $4.8 billion in 2004, as the Detroit companies struggled. "

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Google Payment Corporation

Here is a bit more information concerning the earlier post.
Google Denies Attempt to Match PayPal Service: "Google Inc.'s chief executive Tuesday denied reports that the online search engine leader was gearing up to compete directly with EBay Inc.'s pioneering PayPal service, but acknowledged some kind of electronic payment product was in the works. Eric Schmidt did not give details about the project but said it wouldn't trespass on PayPal's turf. 'We do not intend to offer a person-to-person, stored-value payments system,' Schmidt said.

"That description fits PayPal, a service that creates "digital cash" by accepting credit card payments from its users and then delivering the payments to a designated recipient.

"As e-commerce thrived so did PayPal, growing from 24 test users in 1999 to 72 million account holders through March. Looking to profit from the fees that PayPal collects from completing online transactions, San Jose-based EBay bought the service for $1.3 billion in 2002... Google consistently declined to comment until Schmidt tried to set the record straight Tuesday.

"The Mountain View, Calif.-based company's recent incorporation of a subsidiary called Google Payment Corp. fed the perception that a battle with PayPal loomed. But Schmidt indicated that the project wouldn't stray far from its search engine. 'The payment services we are working on are a natural evolution of Google's existing online products and advertising,' he said without further elaboration..."

"Google E-Pay Could Target Content"

From Frank Barnako, MarketWatch email- Internet Daily Jun 22, 2005 :
"WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) -- A Forrester Research Inc. analyst thinks Google's plan to facilitate payments on the Internet may go much further than helping people sell stuff at virtual yard sales. Charlene Li wrote on her Web log that since Google Inc.'s AdSense service already puts links on Web pages, why not add micropayment processing?

"Google could offer a subscription 'pass' that grants users access to premium content on multiple sites, with each site getting a share of the payment based on usage," she wrote. Such an idea for bundled Web subscriptions was suggested several weeks ago by Martin Nisenholtz, senior vice president for Digital Operations at The New York Times.

The Forrester principal analyst reasons that with millions of producers of Web logs and podcasts wondering how to make some money, Google's payment services venture might be a solution. In remarks Tuesday, Google's CEO, Eric Schmidt, confirmed the company is working on payment services which are 'a natural evolution of Google's existing online products and advertising programs,' according to a report by the Los Angeles Times."
For this daily report and much more sign up free at MarketWatch. I love wonderful, free, professional information sources.

UPDATE: See above post "Google Payment Corporation" for excerpts of the LA Times article and read further topic obfuscation from Google's CEO.

Ford Reacts to Markets

William Clay Ford, Jr. Posted by Hello

Ford Plans to Cut 5% of Salaried Work Force: "While the challenges facing Ford are severe, it is still in a better position than General Motors, which has stopped giving earnings guidance for the year. This month, G.M. said it would eliminate more than 20 percent of its blue-collar work force over the next three years.

Though Ford is better off than G.M., the news Tuesday that it expects weaker earnings this year underscores the two largest automakers' struggles to remain profitable.

"The same thing has hit G.M., but a lot harder," said David Healy, an analyst with Burnham Securities. "But they're essentially in the same situation as G.M. They're producing a lot less gas-thirsty S.U.V.'s than they used to."

Mr. Healy said the elimination of 401(k) matching contributions and the planned job reductions were signals to Ford's largest union, the United Automobile Workers, that it should accept reductions in union employees' health care benefits, which cost the automaker billions each year. "This is firing a shot over the bow of Solidarity House," he said, referring to the U.A.W. headquarters in downtown Detroit."


The Stanly News & Press: "...John Locke Foundation's ...Center for Local Innovation director Chad Adams outlined Tax Payers Bill of Rights (TABOR), and the modified version some Republican legislators are proposing for North Carolina...

According to Adams, TABOR seeks to halt unessecary tax hikes and government spending without mandated cuts in core services. TABOR is based on using the equation “population plus inflation” as the only basis in budget increases. Any spending increases beyond “population plus inflation” would have to be passed by a vote.

In a pure TABOR system, (i.e. Colorado) any budget increase requires voter approval in a referendum. The TABOR system proposed in North Carolina requires a three-fifths majority in a government vote. The TABOR system mandates that any extra tax money left over is refunded to taxpayers. According to Adams, TABOR is “no spending without taxpayer approval. If North Carolina would have put TABOR in place in 1995, taxpayers would have received $1.4 billion in refunds in the past 10 years,” Adams said. “If you have spending beyond population plus inflation, you have a broken system. If you want a new program, you can cut programs that are inefficient and not doing anything, or you can have a referendum. Special interest groups don’t like it, and education lobbyists don’t like it.”

According to Adams, North Carolina’s tax system was put in place in the 1930s and needs reforms because it is designed for an agricultural instead of a service/technology-based economy. “North Carolina is one of the highest personal income tax states, property tax states and corporate income tax states in the nation because we have been fiscally irresponsible,” Adams said.

Supporters of the North Carolina TABOR proposal include Rep. David Almond, Sen. Smith, and Reps. Galley, Kiser and Brubaker, according to Adams. There are no Democratic supporters of NC TABOR at present.“This shouldn’t be a Democrat and Republican issue, this is a fiscal issue,” Adams said. "

Schwarzenegger Leads

From Peter du Pont in OpinionJournal - Outside the Box: "...California's Arnold Schwarzenegger, whose 19-month career[,] is easily the most visionary and strongest gubernatorial leadership performance in modern American history.

A week ago the governor called a special election for Nov. 8 to vote on three policy changes that the Democrat-controlled legislature has refused to consider: stronger state spending restraints, higher standards for public school teachers, and retired judges rather than legislators drawing legislative district boundaries.

Gov. Schwarzenegger has no illusion that California's ├╝ber-liberal Democratic Party will support of his individualistic vision; it has always advocated higher taxes, greater spending, and more expansive government regulation. So his strategy is a straight-up challenge. As he said in February, Democratic legislators "can do whatever they want, but this train has left the station. They can jump on the train, they can stand behind and wave goodbye, or they can stand in front of the train . . . and you know what happens then."

Democratic state treasurer (and a likely Schwarzenegger 2006 opponent) Phil Angelides says, "This special election will be Arnold Schwarzenegger's Iraq." Most likely that means the Democratic Party will end up in the Saddam Hussein role, for when a man of strength and vision goes to war for propositions that will increase individual opportunity, he usually wins big. "

Secretary of State Speaking "Soft and Stark"

OpinionJournal - Featured Article: "'The Egyptian Government must fulfill the promise it has made to its people--and to the entire world--by giving its citizens the freedom to choose. Egypt's elections, including the Parliamentary elections, must meet objective standards that define every free election.'--Condoleezza Rice, speaking Monday at the American University, Cairo"

On Monday, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice traveled to Cairo and then Riyadh and, in soft tones, delivered a stark message: America would no longer pursue "stability at the expense of democracy." The U.S. will now notice when peaceful Egyptian protestors are brutalized by government security goons, or when Saudi citizens are imprisoned for "peacefully petitioning the government"; and the future of both countries as American allies rests on the seriousness of their commitment to democratic reform.

"It is time to abandon the excuses that are made to avoid the hard work of democracy," said Ms. Rice.

Ms. Rice's speech strikes us as among the most important delivered by any recent Secretary of State, and for proof look no further than the reaction from the countries she was visiting. Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit, who shared the stage with her, dismissed her call for free and transparent elections as if it were a non-issue, as did Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal at a press conference in Riyadh later that day. "The row [over political reform] is really meaningless," he said.

It's hard to tell whether the nonchalance of Messrs. Gheit and Faisal is contrived, or whether they just don't get it. Whatever the case, both would do well to understand the Bush Administration's seriousness."

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Conservatives Still Winning

From the authors of "The Right Nation: Conservative Power in America", John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge, both writers for The Economist, in OpinionJournal :

"Indeed, the left has reached the same level of fury that the right reached in the 1960s--but with none of the intellectual inventiveness. On everything from Social Security to foreign policy to economic policy, it is reduced merely to opposing conservative ideas. This strategy may have punctured the Bush reforms on Social Security, but it has also bared a deeper weakness for the left. In the 1960s, the conservative movement coalesced around several simple propositions--lower taxes, more religion, an America-first foreign policy--that eventually revolutionized politics. The modern left is split on all these issues, between New Democrats and back-to-basics liberals.

The biggest advantage of all for conservatives is that they have a lock on the American dream. America is famously an idea more than a geographical expression, and that idea seems to be the province of the right. A recent Pew Research Center Survey, "Beyond Red Versus Blue," shows that the Republicans are more optimistic, convinced that the future will be better than the past and that they can determine their own futures. Democrats, on the other hand, have a European belief that "fate," or, in modern parlance, social circumstances, determines people's lot in life. (And judging by some recent series in newspapers on the subject, the party appears to have staunch allies in American newsrooms at least.)

If the American dream means anything, it means finding a plot of land where you can shape your destiny and raise your children. Those pragmatic dreamers look ever more Republican. Mr. Bush walloped Mr. Kerry among people who were married with children. He also carried 25 of the top 26 cities in terms of white fertility. Mr. Kerry carried the bottom 16. San Francisco, the citadel of liberalism, has the lowest proportion of people under 18 in the country (14.5%).

So cheer up conservatives. You have the country's most powerful political party on your side. You have control of the market for political ideas. You have the American dream. And, despite your bout of triste post coitum, you are still outbreeding your rivals. That counts for more than the odd setback in the Senate."

New Saturday Wall Street Journal

Wall Street Journal Plans Softer Edition for Saturdays: "Starting Sept. 17, The Journal will add a Saturday issue named Weekend Edition, with a new emphasis on softer features - entertainment, travel, sports, arts, books, real estate and, yes, recipes. The goal is to attract a more diverse base of advertising to pull The Journal out of its prolonged slump.

The Saturday paper, which will be delivered at no extra charge - at least initially - to subscribers, will have a more airy, more casual feel than its daily counterpart, but will still be instantly recognizable as The Wall Street Journal.

The Saturday issue, which was developed under the code name "Project Propel," inside The Journal's offices in Lower Manhattan, represents one of the biggest gambles in the paper's 116-year history. The Journal is betting that it can fluff up its editorial mix, capture the attention of its well-heeled readers and their families and attract consumer advertisers - all without cannibalizing its weekday editions and, more important, without diluting one of the most recognized and sharply defined franchises in all of journalism. "

Monday, June 20, 2005

US Deficit Shrinks

A vindication for tax cuts?: "...a surge in tax receipts has offered some encouragement. For the first eight months of this fiscal year, the government ran a deficit of $272 billion. That's down from the $346 billion deficit for the same months in fiscal 2004. Receipts were up 15 percent from last year.

While that revenue surprise won't cure the nation's overspending problem, it has set off a flurry of budget speculation. A number of economists are lowering substantially their estimates for this year's deficit. Ed McKelvey, an economist with Goldman Sachs, for example, revised his forecast of the fiscal 2005 deficit to $350 billion, down from $412 billion.

...Is this spring's revenue surprise the start of a supply-side surge? Supply-side economists certainly think so. They point out that, under Bush, top tax rates on dividends have been slashed from 30.6 to 15 percent and on capital gains from 20 to 15 percent. That should encourage more people to invest, they argue.

But others are skeptical that the Bush tax cuts do much besides giving a short-term boost to the economy."

Pubic Funding of Pro Sports

John Hood's Daily Journal: "...cities from San Diego to New York are putting up new sports venues for their professional football, baseball, or basketball teams.

...Charlotte has (in)famously begun work on a brand-new arena for its Bobcats NBA franchise, even though voters said 'no' to the idea in a previous referendum.

The new Bobcats arena in uptown Charlotte will reportedly cost $265 million. Taxpayers are slated to cover $170 million of that, while Bobcats owner Robert Johnson will chip in just $23 million. The team is supposed to absorb any cost overruns. Sure it will.

Let’s sum up, then: Charlotte has a higher-than-average tax burden, its high schools are disastrously ineffective, and it’s now officially more wasteful with sports subsidies than New York City."

FNC's Shepard Smith

Shepard Smith Posted by Hello

An Anchor Who Is Never Heavy: "They call him the anti-anchor here in the Fox News building, the sometimes smirking man from Holly Springs, Miss., whom nobody would confuse with Bob Schieffer or Brian Williams. Smith presides over a breathless, mile-a-minute, graphics-laden, video-saturated program that careens from war to missing women to what Smith calls 'goofy things.'

The 41-year-old college dropout not only hogs the airtime, he uses slang-filled, stripped-down language that he likens to storytelling on Mississippi front porches. Smith's "smart-aleck" style helps to "puncture the pomposity" of news, says media analyst Andrew Tyndall. As for the pace of the program, Tyndall says, "The only place I've seen an equivalent velocity would be on the tabloid entertainment shows."

This has brought box office success. The show is drawing nearly 1.4 million viewers, up 62 percent from 2001 and beating CNN and MSNBC combined.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Google v. eBay's PayPal

Plan Rival to PayPal : "Google is preparing an online-payment system that would compete with PayPal, according to an online retailer who has been approached by Google to take part in the effort.
In addition to representing a direct challenge to eBay, which owns PayPal, the largest Internet payment system, the move signals Google's intention to become much more deeply involved in online commerce.

Google's flagship search engine and its Froogle shopping service are significant sources of customers for Internet stores. But so far, Google's only way to profit from its presence in online shopping is by selling advertisements that appear next to its search results and on Froogle pages.

Google has long been rumored to be developing a classified advertising service, one that would compete with eBay and with the popular free site Craigslist. A payment system would help Google bring into its marketplace individuals and small businesses who are not authorized to accept credit cards online."

Biden Running

Sen. Biden Says Intends to Seek Presidency: "``My intention now is to seek the nomination,'' Biden, of Delaware, said on CBS television's ``Face the Nation.'' He said he would explore his support and decide by the end of this year -- a sign the race may get off to an early and competitive start.

``If in fact I think I have a clear shot at winning the nomination, by this November or December, then I'm going to seek the nomination,'' he said."
Might make dinner more interesting at the households of Senators Clinton, Kerry, Edwards, Gov. Richardson, President Clinton, and Howard Dean. Who am I forgetting and offending?

David Brooks on the Passionate Bill Frist

What Makes Bill Frist Run? - New York Times: "Many who've known him say it's hard to square the current on-message leader with the honest young man of [his memoir] 'Transplant,' the stiff, ideological politician with the beloved community leader who made such a mark on Nashville.

Sometimes in their quests to perform greater acts of service, people lose contact with their animating passion. And the irony is that the earlier Frist, the Tennessee Republican, the brilliant and passionate health care expert, is exactly the person the country could use. "

Michelle Wie in 2006 Masters?

U.S. Golf Association Tries to Play Through the Rough: "Michelle Wie became the first female player to qualify for an adult male U.S. Golf Association championship Tuesday, tying for first place in a 36-hole U.S. Amateur Public Links sectional qualifying tournament.
The 15-year-old star from Hawaii, second Sunday in the LPGA Championship at Bulle Rock in Maryland, matched Artie Fink Jr. of Altoona at 1-over 145 on the Cedarbrook Golf Course. Wie opened with a 1-under 71 and shot a 74 in the rain-delayed second round.
The Public Links winner has traditionally received a spot in the Masters."
A personal note: I have been posting less recently as 1) I have been very busy with a number of business and personal issues the last couple of weeks all of which are good things, and 2) perhaps its just summer vacation time but so many things particularly national politics and the stock market seem to stuck on hold for now, I hope more is going on behind the scenes than I am seeing.