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People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it. Welcome to From On High.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Tea Party Update I

Rumor has it the Tax Day Tea Party scheduled in Abingdon on April 15 has run into a problem obtaining the necessary permit. The city has turned down the organizers?

I need to confirm this, but it's my understanding that a secondary site is being sought - in haste.

As soon as I get word, I'll pass it along.

Tea Party Update II

Here's a poster done up for the Tax Day Tea Party being held on April 15 up in Roanoke. It appears there's going to be a hefty turnout.

Make your voice heard!

Click on the image to enlarge it.

Joke Of The Day

How many government bureaucrats does it take to invent a light bulb?

George Will, writing in the Washington Post, says - way too many. Taking off on a recent New York Times article, "The Bulb That Saved the Planet May Be a Little Less Than Billed," the columnist has this to say about those curlicue bulbs that are going to "save the planet," whether they will or not:

The story recounted some Americans' misadventures with the new light bulbs that almost all Americans -- all but those who are filling their closets with supplies of today's incandescent bulbs -- will have to use after the phaseout of today's bulbs in 2014. (You missed that provision of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007?)

A San Francisco -- naturally -- couple emerged from Al Gore's movie "An Inconvenient Truth" incandescent with desire to think globally and act locally, in their home. So they replaced their incandescent bulbs with the compact fluorescents that Congress says must soon be ubiquitous. "Instead of having a satisfying green moment, however," the Times reported, "they wound up coping with a mess."

Although supposed to last 10,000 hours and save, the Times says, "as much as" $5.40 a year in electricity costs, some bulbs died within a few hours. Some experts, reports the Times, "blame the government for the quality problems," saying its push to cut the bulbs' prices prompted manufacturers to use inferior components.

Furthermore, some experts have written a guide saying the new bulbs require "a little insight and planning." The Times says that "may be an understatement."

The bulbs, says the Times, "do not do well in hot places with little airflow, like recessed ceiling fixtures," and some do not work "with dimmers or three-way sockets." And: "Be aware that compact fluorescents can take one to three minutes to reach full brightness. This is not a defect." Well, if you say so. Because all fluorescents contain mercury, a toxic metal, they must never be put in the trash, so Home Depot and other chains offer bins for disposing of dangerous bulbs. Driving to one of these disposal points might not entirely nullify the bulbs' environmental benefits. Besides, the Times summarizes the Environmental Protection Agency's helpful suggestions for coping with the environmental dangers caused when one of these environment-saving bulbs breaks:

"Clear people and pets from the room and open a window for at least 15 minutes if possible. Avoid vacuuming. Scoop up larger pieces with stiff paper or cardboard, pick up smaller residue with sticky tape, and wipe the area with a damp cloth. Put everything into a sealed plastic bag or sealed glass jar. In most cases, this can be put in the trash, but the EPA recommends checking local rules."

One reads stories like this - and the stories are legion - and one wonders how so many Americans can put their faith in government in any way. But unwavering faith they do have.

Me? I'm waiting to see what the team that invented the curlicue light bulb does to the Chevy Malibu. Someone else's Chevy Malibu.

A Man of His Word

And his word is his bond.

From Breitbart:

"I can make a firm pledge," [Barack Obama] said in Dover, N.H., on Sept. 12. "Under my plan, no family making less than $250,000 a year will see any form of tax increase. Not your income tax, not your payroll tax, not your capital gains taxes, not any of your taxes."

He repeatedly vowed "you will not see any of your taxes increase one single dime."

Now in office, Obama, who stopped smoking but has admitted he slips now and then, signed a law raising the tobacco tax nearly 62 cents on a pack of cigarettes, to $1.01. Other tobacco products saw similarly steep increases.

"Now in office" being the key words.

If this were Bill Clinton, I'd imagine him making the excuse that, just as he had pledged, he didn't raise the cigarette tax "one single dime," being the guy who knew how to massage words and phrases to suit himself. He would say, with that school boy grin, "I raised the tax a whole buncha dimes."

But what will Obama's excuse be?

You Should Be Very Proud

It seems rather telling in these bizarre times that the first of many tax increases to go into effect that was signed into law by Barack Obama falls on the poorest among us:
National cigarette tax takes effect
By Greg Jordan, Bluefield Daily Telegraph

April Fools Day 2009 started with a bit of news that was no joke: The federal tax on smoking tobacco had gone up by 62 cents to approximately $1.01.

Local prices are reflecting this increase. Cigarette prices at a Cumberland Road store in Bluefield had jumped by 70 cents a pack and $7 a carton since March, and a Bluefield, Va., store was seeing the price for a pack of cigarettes jump by 50 to 60 cents. [link]
We, of course, don't like the idea that poor people smoke cigarettes. The dumb bastards should be spending their precious dollars on more enlightened things - like curlicue light bulbs.

So, despite the fact that Obama promised to not raise taxes even "one single dime," and despite the fact that this crushing tax will fall disproportionately on the poor, we're happy with it.

Let 'em eat cake, as someone once said.

As If It Didn't Have Enough Problems ...

I suppose we should have seen this coming. Pundits are starting to refer to the once-great GM as "Government Motors."

If perception intermingles with reality, GM just had another nail hammered into its coffin.

Just can't win for losing.

Wow

This hurts:
U.S. private sector axes 742,000 jobs in March
By Richard Leong and Nick Olivari, Reuters

New York (Reuters) - Job losses in the U.S. private sector accelerated in March, more than economists' expectations, according to a report by ADP Employer Services on Wednesday.

Private employers cut jobs by a record 742,000 in March versus a 706,000 revised cut in February that was originally reported at 697,000 jobs, said ADP, which has been carrying out the survey since 2001.

The big drop foreshadows a huge decline in the non-farm payroll reading in the government's employment report that will be released on Friday, some analysts said.

"It's a terrible number. It is almost a loss of three quarters of a million jobs which is possibly the highest we have seen so far over the length of this crisis," said Matt Esteve, foreign exchange trader with Tempus Consulting in Washington. [link]

So how did the Dow react to this awful news? UP 152.68 points (though the DJIA futures index was off a bit).

Just goes to show - well, it actually shows nothing. Other than the fact that Wall Street is driven generally by tea leaf prognostications and frantic mood swings.

Still, the loss of three quarters of a million jobs in a month should give everyone pause.

I Guess It Depends On Your Perspective

And on whether you desperately want Obama's takeover of the auto industry to work.

The New York Times this morning:

Auto Sales for March Offer Hope

The Associated Press:

Auto Sales Plunge Again in March

One of these headlines is probably accurate.

Hmmm

This is not intended to be snarky; I'm simply curious. Have you ever seen an official photo of one of those obligatory "summit" meetings in which all the heads of state are shown and the President of the United States is not front and center?

Yesterday:

Where's Waldo?

Click on the image to enlarge it.

Here's The Problem

I pause when I read about the recession turning around anytime soon. Not that I don't want it to. But I worry when I think that there were forces at work long before the downturn began that were exacerbated by all the plant closings and layoffs in recent months.

In the realm of manufacturing, we were losing our edge to the Chinese even then. What makes us think that it will rebound at all anytime in the future?

Something to ponder:
China Vies to Be World’s Leader in Electric Cars
By Keith Bradsher, New York Times

Tianjin, China — Chinese leaders have adopted a plan aimed at turning the country into one of the leading producers of hybrid and all-electric vehicles within three years, and making it the world leader in electric cars and buses after that.

The goal, which radiates from the very top of the Chinese government, suggests that Detroit’s Big Three, already struggling to stay alive, will face even stiffer foreign competition on the next field of automotive technology than they do today.

“China is well positioned to lead in this,” said David Tulauskas, director of China government policy at General Motors. [link]
So Obama is going to pour billions of dollars into an industry that is already on the decline (in rapid free fall, to be honest) here in the USA in hopes that America's car manufacturers can get the upper hand in a technological battle that may have already been lost. Perhaps lost for decades.

It's stories like this that make me think the recession may be a long drawn-out affair.

So Typical

A funny thing happened on the way to electric car nirvana.

Someone forgot to work out the details on how we were going to get there:
Obama's Clean Car Chimera
Battery technology is still not good enough to jumpstart an electric car revolution
By Ronald Bailey, Reason

"I am absolutely committed to working with Congress and the auto companies to meet one goal: the United States of America will lead the world in building the next generation of clean cars," declared President Barack Obama this week when he announced his administration's plan to nationalize the American automobile industry. What does he mean by "clean cars"? During the presidential campaign, candidate Obama promised to enact $7,500 tax credit for new plug-in electric hybrid (PHEV) cars, vowing to "put 1 million Plug-In Hybrid cars—cars that can get up to 150 miles per gallon—on the road by 2015, cars that we will work to make sure are built here in America."

Will our freeways soon be clogged with high-tech cars propelled mostly by electricity? The floundering automaker, General Motors, has promised to bring its Chevy Volt PHEV to market by 2010. Not to be left out, Ford and Chrysler have also announced plans to sell PHEVs in the next couple of years. Big automakers around the world are also promising that consumers will be able to drive their plug-in hybrids and electric vehicles in the next 2 to 3 years. Among them are Nissan-Renault, Daimler-Benz, BMW, Mitsubishi, Toyota, and the Chinese manufacturer, BYD. In addition, numerous startups—including Tesla Motors, Think, Fisker, Aptera, Zenn, and Phoenix Motors—are hoping to do an end-run around the stodgy majors.

However, without a plentiful supply of reliable long-range batteries, all such promises of a glorious electrically driven future are just so much hot air. Conventional NiMH batteries are OK for the quick charge and discharge of today's gas-electric hybrids, but they can't hold enough charge to take a car very far on its own. For more distance, carmakers are looking to the same battery technology that animates our laptops and cell phones: lithium-ion batteries, which hold a much greater charge and weigh much less than NiMH or conventional lead-acid batteries.

Worldwide, this manufacturing optimistically adds up to—at most—enough to produce 1 to 2 million PHEVs per year by 2015. The global fleet currently numbers 810 million vehicles, of which 240 million travel on American roads. Clearly, cars powered mostly by electricity will constitute a tiny proportion of the world's vehicles for some time to come. [link]

So Democrats are scheming to push the price of gasoline over that four dollar threshold so as to force American consumers to dump their gasoline-powered cars and switch to ... what?

Bicycles, as it turns out.

We'll call it the curlicue light bulb approach to governance.

Government. Is it any wonder we've become so frightened of it?