Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

Nancy Pelosi’s brother-in-law gets $737M of taxpayers’ money to build solar plant

From the UK Daily Mail.

Excerpt:

Nancy Pelosi is facing accusations of cronyism after a solar energy project, which her brother-in-law has a stake in, landed a $737 million loan guarantee from the Department of Energy, despite the growing Solyndra scandal.

The massive loan agreement is raising new concerns about the use of taxpayers’ money as vast sums are invested in technology similar to that of the doomed energy project.

The investment has intensified the debate over the effectiveness of solar energy as a major power source.

The SolarReserve project is backed by an energy investment fund where the Minority Leader’s brother-in-law Ronald Pelosi is second in command.

PCG Clean Energy & Technology Fund (East) LLC is listed as one of the investors in the project that has been given the staggering loan, which even dwarfs that given to failed company Solyndra.

Other investors include one of the major investors in Solyndra, which is run by one of the directors of Solyndra.

Steve Mitchell, who served on the board of directors at the bankrupt energy company, is also managing director of Argonaut Private Equity, which has invested in the latest project.

Since Solyndra has filed for bankruptcy has been asked to testify about the goings on at the firm by two members of the House and ‘asked to provide documents to Congress’.

[...]The project approval came as part of $1 billion in new loans to green energy companies yesterday.

Did they learn anything from Solyndra? No:

‘The administration’s flagship project Solyndra is bankrupt and being investigated by the FBI, the promised jobs never materialised, and now the Department of Energy is preparing to rush out nearly $5 billion in loans in the final 48 hours before stimulus funds expire — that’s nearly $105 million every hour that must be finalised until the deadline,’ said Florida representative Cliff Stearns, who is chairman of the investigations subcommittee of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce.

Since Nancy Pelosi took over federal spending in January 2007, the national debt has increased from $8.5 trillion to about $17.5 trillion. That’s NINE TRILLION dollars in new spending. And much of it just handed off to the people and groups who got the Democrats elected 2008 and 2012.

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American corporations are expanding outside the United States to avoid high taxes

From Investors Business Daily.

Excerpt:

Walgreen, America’s venerable drug-store chain, is thinking the unthinkable: relocating to Europe. Not because it sees growth and opportunity there, but because of onerous taxes here in the U.S. It’s an ominous trend.

The Financial Times of London calls it “one of the largest tax inversions ever.” That is, a company seeking to avoid punitive taxes in one market by moving to another.

No doubt the FT is right. And after its recent $16 billion takeover of Swiss-based Alliance Boots, it would be easy for Walgreen to remake itself as a Swiss company.

If it did, the Democratic Party’s liberals would no doubt call Walgreen unpatriotic for wanting to lessen its tax burden. In fact, they are responsible for an economic environment so hostile to capital and investment that companies now find it intolerable.

[...]According to an analysis by UBS, Walgreen’s U.S. tax rate is 37.5% — compared with Alliance Boots’ rate in Europe of about 20%. That’s a huge gap, worth billions of dollars a year.

But it’s even worse than that. A recent OECD study says the “integrated tax rate” — taxes on capital and income — for U.S. companies is a nightmarish 67.8% vs. 43.7% for the OECD.

Many companies facing steep tax rates and insane regulations in the U.S. have had enough. They’re keeping their profits overseas. Last week, Senate Finance Committee chief Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat, reported U.S. corporations now hold $2.1 trillion in earnings in overseas accounts — a massive amount, roughly equal to 12% of U.S. gross domestic product.

A total of 547 companies — including Apple, GE, Microsoft and Pfizer — have dramatically expanded their so-called foreign indefinitely reinvested earnings overseas, which let them avoid the punishing rates here at home.

[...]Not only are taxes too high, but also new laws such as Dodd-Frank and ObamaCare, a vast expansion of regulation, debt and the size of government, the federal takeover of entire industries, the bullying of Wall Street and demonization of CEOs, and forced CO2 cuts that will hammer manufacturers have made this the least pro-free market U.S. government in generations.

If you make it harder for businesses here to do business (higher taxes and burdensome regulations), then they will expand abroad instead, and in some cases, they will just move completely. How does that help create jobs here? It doesn’t.

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Obama administration report: 65% of small firms face Obamacare premium hikes

From Investors Business Daily.

Excerpt:

Released into a news black hole last Friday, an official Obama administration report finds that ObamaCare will push premiums up for two-thirds of small businesses. Cross off another ObamaCare promise.

The report came from the actuary for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services — which means it’s from the administration’s official ObamaCare number cruncher.

What it found was that 65% of small businesses that offer insurance will likely see their premiums rise thanks to ObamaCare. That translates into higher insurance costs for 11 million workers.

The reason? These companies generally employ younger, healthier workers and so had been paying lower-than-average rates.

But since ObamaCare bans insurance companies from considering health when setting premiums, these companies will get hit with higher costs.

“We are estimating that 65% of small firms are expected to experience increases in their premium rates,” the report said, “while the remaining 35% are anticipated to have rate reductions.”

The report doesn’t say how big these hikes will be, but we have good reason to believe the extra costs will be significant.

One study, for example, found that 63% of small employers in Wisconsin will see premiums jump 15% because of ObamaCare. A separate study found that 89% of small companies in Maine would see rate hikes of 12% on average.

Another, by consulting firm Oliver Wyman, concluded that ObamaCare would push up small group premiums nationwide 20%.

Is this how the bill was sold to us by the Obama administration and their supporters in the mainstream media?

No:

In 2009, Obama promised small businesses that his plan would “make the coverage that you’re currently providing more affordable.” Later he said it would drive small-business premiums down by 4% in its first year, and as much as 25% by 2016.

As recently as last summer, Pelosi was proclaiming that “if you’re a small business … it lowers costs,” while Waxman said the law would make “high-quality healthy insurance more affordable and more widely available for small businesses.”

Notice that nowhere — either before or after ObamaCare passed — did any Democrat say anything about two-thirds of small businesses paying more for health coverage so the lucky one-third could get rate cuts.

Next time you hear a big government liberal promising you goodies at no cost, keep in mind their record. They are making policy from emotions, not from mathematics. They believe that they are lying to you for your own good. Their goal is not to tell the truth at all. And don’t rely on the left-wing journalism crowd to hold them accountable, they flunked math too.

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Are liberals or conservatives more likely to believe in weird things?

From the leftist Washington Post, of all places. (H/T ECM)

Excerpt:

A belief in astrology is surprisingly widespread in modern America. The National Science Foundation recently released a report reviewing scientific knowledge and attitudes. As noted by Chris Mooney at Mother Jones, perhaps NSF’s most striking finding was an increase in the belief in astrology from 32 percent in 2006 and 35 percent in 2010 to 45 percent in 2012.

At the Demography of Diversity Project at Northwestern University, we took the same astrology data from the General Social Survey that NSF used and broke it down further by political party and liberal-conservative orientation. The results can be found in a brief report that I put up at the Social Science Research Network: “Who Believes That Astrology is Scientific?”

Here are the top 3 groups:

1. Conservative Democrats

In the 2012 General Social Survey, 56.9 percent of conservative Democrats believe that astrology is very or sort of scientific, while only 43.1 percent believe that it is not scientific at all. This support for astrology is the highest among 15 overlapping political groups.

2. Moderate Democrats

The political group that is second most likely to believe in astrology is moderate Democrats. A majority of them — 52.0 percent — think that astrology is at least sort of scientific.

3. Democrats (overall)

Although liberal Democrats are insignificantly less likely than average to believe in astrology (43.5 percent), the difference is not enough to offset the beliefs of moderate and conservative Democrats. Thus, Democrats overall are in the third position, with nearly half (49.1 percent) believing in astrology.

The surprising thing is that no Republicans appear in the top 7 groups.

Pew Research

I blogged a Pew Research survey before.

Excerpt:

Among both evangelical and mainline Protestants, those who attend church weekly express much lower levels of belief in reincarnation, yoga, the existence of spiritual energy in physical things and astrology compared with those who attend religious services less often.

[...]Older people (those over age 65) consistently express lower levels of acceptance of these kinds of beliefs compared with younger people. These beliefs are more common among Democrats and independents than Republicans and are more widely held by liberals and moderates than conservatives.

[...]Evangelical Protestants are the group least likely to say they have felt in touch with a dead person (20%).

[...]Compared with those with a college degree, more Americans with a high school education or less report having felt in touch with a dead person (32% vs. 24%) and having seen a ghost (21% vs. 13%). However, Americans with less education are no more inclined to have consulted a fortuneteller than are Americans with a college education (13% vs. 17%). Conservatives and Republicans report fewer experiences than liberals or Democrats communicating with the dead, seeing ghosts and consulting fortunetellers or psychics.

It’s not just Pew, it’s Gallup, too.

Gallup survey

And here is a Wall Street Journal article about the Gallup survey entitled “Look Who’s Irrational Now“.

Excerpt:

“What Americans Really Believe,” a comprehensive new study released by Baylor University yesterday, shows that traditional Christian religion greatly decreases belief in everything from the efficacy of palm readers to the usefulness of astrology. It also shows that the irreligious and the members of more liberal Protestant denominations, far from being resistant to superstition, tend to be much more likely to believe in the paranormal and in pseudoscience than evangelical Christians.

The Gallup Organization, under contract to Baylor’s Institute for Studies of Religion, asked American adults a series of questions to gauge credulity.

[...]The answers were added up to create an index of belief in occult and the paranormal. While 31% of people who never worship expressed strong belief in these things, only 8% of people who attend a house of worship more than once a week did.

And it’s not just spiritual superstition, it’s economics, too.

Zogby survey

And of course, Republicans are more informed on economic issues than Democrats, and even Independents. The Wall Street Journal explains.

Excerpt:

Who is better informed about the policy choices facing the country—liberals, conservatives or libertarians? According to a Zogby International survey that I write about in the May issue of Econ Journal Watch, the answer is unequivocal: The left flunks Econ 101.

Zogby researcher Zeljka Buturovic and I considered the 4,835 respondents’ (all American adults) answers to eight survey questions about basic economics.

The first question was “Restrictions on housing development make housing less affordable.” The right answer there is agree, because any time you restrict supply while demand is high, you create a shortage, causing prices to go up.

Here are the others:

The other questions were: 1) Mandatory licensing of professional services increases the prices of those services (unenlightened answer: disagree). 2) Overall, the standard of living is higher today than it was 30 years ago (unenlightened answer: disagree). 3) Rent control leads to housing shortages (unenlightened answer: disagree). 4) A company with the largest market share is a monopoly (unenlightened answer: agree). 5) Third World workers working for American companies overseas are being exploited (unenlightened answer: agree). 6) Free trade leads to unemployment (unenlightened answer: agree). 7) Minimum wage laws raise unemployment (unenlightened answer: disagree).

And the results:

How did the six ideological groups do overall? Here they are, best to worst, with an average number of incorrect responses from 0 to 8: Very conservative, 1.30; Libertarian, 1.38; Conservative, 1.67; Moderate, 3.67; Liberal, 4.69; Progressive/very liberal, 5.26.

To be conservative means to understand the world as it is, and how it really works. We don’t believe in superstitious nonsense like astrology and socialism.

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American Spectator praises Australia’s bold new conservative leader

Tony Abbott, Prime Minister of Australia

Tony Abbott, Prime Minister of Australia

Well, I think we can get some encouragement from this article from the American Spectator.

Let’s take a look at his policies and appointments:

On economic policy, his government has moved in the opposite direction of those who favor Dodd-Frank-like behemoth approaches to the financial industry. Instead it’s opted to simplify regulation. As the minister responsible for the reform bluntly pointed out, “no amount of legislation will ever be a guarantee against another Storm Financial.” Indeed it’s often excessive regulation that creates opportunities for financial shenanigans by industry insiders.

Regarding the welfare state, Abbott’s minister for Social Security, Kevin Andrews (another conservative politician-thinker), has announced a major overhaul of a welfare system that was starting to drift in a distinctly European-direction. Predictably the left are up in arms. But so too are those rent-seeking Australian businesses who now find themselves dealing with a government uninterested in subsidizing them. That’s nothing, however, to the fury that greeted Abbott’s disbanding of the climate-change bureaucracy established by the preceding Labor government.

[...]The first sign of Abbott’s seriousness about obstructing the left’s long march through the institutions was his government’s appointment of the policy-director of the center-right Institute of Public Affairs to the nation’s Human Rights Commission. This was widely seen as the beginning of an effort to re-balance an organization long criticized as monolithically left-wing. Since then Abbott has indicated that major changes are coming to the ABC: Australia’s government-funded institutional — and ideological — equivalent of the BBC.

[...]Along the same lines, Abbott’s education minister, Christopher Pyne, has initiated a review of the national curriculum implemented by the previous government. A moment’s glance at the curriculum’s treatment of history soon illustrates the extent to which it seeks to downplay Australia’s indisputably Western heritage. In the words of Sydney’s Cardinal George Pell, “Europe, Britain and the United States are mentioned 76 times, while Asia is referred to on more than 200 occasions.” This disparity is odd because although Australia is certainly in Asia, no objective observer could say that Australia is “of” Asia. Moreover, while Australian students learn about “Gaia” and other deep-green fantasies in grade 9, many Australian universities find they need to put the same students through remedial English classes once they begin college.

Then there are Abbott’s initial steps on the international stage. Take, for instance, his recent remarks at Davos. Much of the address was devoted to pushing a strong free trade agenda and insisting that governments should let business do what it does best: promote lasting economic growth. “After all,” Abbott said, “government doesn’t create wealth; people do, when they run profitable businesses.”

In the same speech, however, Abbott made the conservative point that economic prosperity and freedom can’t be sustained in a value-neutral world. Nor did Abbott shy away from relentlessly pressing one of the most important moral arguments for free trade articulated long ago by Adam Smith: that economic freedom, combined with the right institutions, radically reduces poverty faster than any other approach. “No country,” Abbott added, “has ever taxed or subsidized its way to prosperity.”

All in all, the address added up to a solid integration of sound economics with conservative principles. That’s what makes Abbott different from, say, Canada’s Stephen Harper or Spain’s Mariano Rajoy. Abbott happily engages in the indispensable task of moral suasion in favor of conservative positions. What’s more, he’s quite good at it. With his rare combination of plain-speaking and intellectual substance, Abbott makes conservative ideas sound, well, reasonable to the average voter.

Now, I personally thought that prime minister Stephen Harper of Canada was the best leader of any nation out there, but I had not been following Australian politics as much as I should be, and now I think I’ll give the crown to Abbott. He seems to have a good fusionist view that integrates economic policy and social policy, and that makes him better than Harper, in my view. I would like to see Abbott flex his muscles on foreign policy, as well. Something to look forward to.

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