Saturday, May 31, 2008

No Pun Intended



Maybe they should rename it the Ciesta.
...and now...the rest of the story.

V-eautiful.


Before I was married, my primary means of transportation for nine months of the year was a 1983 Honda V-65 Magna. In 1983, at around 118 HP, the Magna was both the fastest production motorcycle available and the most deadly. I miss that bike still, and Honda doesn't make anything close to it today. It's chief competitor in my mind was the Yamaha V-Max, which is making a comeback in 2009 (Yamaha's been selling virtually the same model for close to twenty years, are skipping the 2008 model year and are upgrading the bike for 2009).

The V-Max doesn't have 118 HP though. It has 210. That's more horsepower than the first eight cars I've owned, and this thing probably weighs 700 lbs without a rider.

This bike will put a smile on your face and then wipe it clean off. Where's the waiting list?

Friday, May 30, 2008

Guess What I'm Watching



Classic.

180 Degrees on Universal Healthcare


Read how when government moves itself out of the way, good things happen. Open up the market, let consumers educate themselves, give them choices and uninsureds will go down with costs while options, coverage and service will improve. It's called capitalism and its still the best system...even for health care.


The Sunshine State has about 3.8 million people without insurance, or about 21% of the population, the fourth-highest rate in the country. The "Cover Florida" plan hopes to improve those numbers by offering access to more affordable policies. As even Barack Obama says, the main reason people are uninsured isn't because they don't want to be; it's because coverage is too expensive.

But the Florida reform, which both houses of the legislature approved unanimously, renounces Mr. Obama's favored remedy: It nudges the government out of the health-care marketplace. Insurance companies will be permitted to sell stripped-down, no-frills policies exempted from the more than 50 mandates that Florida otherwise imposes, including for acupuncture and chiropractics. The new plans will be designed to cost as little as $150 a month, or less.

Mr. Crist observed that state regulations increase the cost of health coverage, and thus rightly decided to do away with at least some of them. It's hard to believe, but this qualifies as a revelation in the policy world of health insurance. The new benefit packages will be introduced sometime next year and include minimum coverage for primary care and catastrophic expenses for major illness.

These government rules are imposed without regard for how much they will cost and who will bear the burden.

Governor Crist is to be credited for removing this artificial, regressive floor on plans. It's a simple matter of equity.

Mitt Romney should have taken this route in Massachusetts, but fell instead for the siren song of "universal coverage," even if provided by the government.

Some 13 states currently offer bare-bones policies on a full or trial-run basis. While not a cure-all, they're movement in the right direction – especially as the states can't do anything about the continuing tax bias for employer-provided health insurance. That kind of much-needed change can only come from Washington, as John McCain is proposing.

The Florida success also shows the political benefits when Republicans talk seriously about health care. Mr. Crist has made increasing consumer choice a signature issue. When Mr. McCain talked up his health-care reforms earlier this spring, he did so in Tampa. He chose the right state.

New Jersey is about the last place one might think to look for free-market policy reform. But this week Jay Webber, a Republican Assemblyman in Trenton, will introduce legislation to let Garden State residents buy low-cost health insurance from any registered policy in any of the 50 states.

Mr. Webber's proposal is a state version of Arizona Congressman John Shadegg's federal legislation to let individuals buy insurance across state lines, and John McCain has also endorsed the idea. But New Jersey would be a perfect test case, because its multiple mandates have made insurance too expensive for hundreds of thousands of families.

The average national cost for a family health plan is $5,799, according to America's Health Insurance Plans, but in New Jersey that same plan costs $10,398 on average. The state's politicians have driven up these costs by forcing insurers to provide gold-plated coverage – even for such voluntary medical services as in vitro fertilization. New Jersey also follows New York and Massachusetts – two other high-cost states – in requiring so-called "guaranteed issue." That allows New Jersey residents to avoid buying health insurance until they get sick, which means they can avoid paying premiums until they need someone to pick up the bill.

This one-policy-fits-all system tends to cause the young and healthy to drop insurance, which only raises the cost of insurance for the sick, which in turn makes coverage unaffordable for ever more families. It's no accident that about 1.2 million people – one of every eight residents – is uninsured in the state.

Under Mr. Webber's choice proposal, New Jersey residents could buy policies chartered in more enlightened states. For example, a healthy 25-year-old male could buy a basic health plan in Kentucky that now sells for $960 a year, about one-sixth of the $5,880 it would cost him in New Jersey. Residents of Pennsylvania pay health premiums that are one-half to one-third as high as do Garden State policy-holders. A new study by the National Center for Policy Analysis estimates that the availability of lower cost plans would reduce by 25% the number of uninsured.

M. Ward Chinese Translation

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Top 11 Revelations in Scott McClellan’s New Book


Teach Your Children Well



...remember the Crosby Stills Nash & Young Song?


I remember the time that Kathryn, one of my daughter's little friends, told me that she wanted to be President one day.

Both of her parents are liberal Democrats and were standing there with us - and I asked Kathryn, 'If you were President what would be the first thing you would do?'Kathryn replied, 'I would give houses to all the homeless people.''Wow, what a worthy goal you have there, Kathryn.' I told her, 'You don't have to wait until you are President to do that… you can come over to my house and clean up all the dog poop in the back yard and I will pay you $5.00.

Then we can go over to the grocery store where the homeless guy hangs out, and you can give him the $5.00 to use for a new house.'

Kathryn, who was about 4, thought that over for a second while her mom looked at me, and then she replied, 'Why doesn't the homeless guy come over and clean up the dog poop and you can pay him the $5.00?'

Bingo! Welcome to the Republican Party, Kathryn.

I'm Reed Fish


Browsing the "Instant Play" options for Romantic Comedies on Netflix, we came across this little-known film with mixed reviews and decided to give it a shot.

Not unlike The Rage in Placid Lake, I'm Reed Fish is a solid romantic comedy with an eclectic bundle of interesting characters and set in Anytown, USA. Any little town that is. Without giving too much away, the film is set within a film, which adds an interesting twist to the plot while also nicely leaving the outcome not as predictable as you might be lead to think. Plus, you get to find out what a "Zorse" is.

Reed Fish, at age 24 has inherited his little town's radio station and it's loyal following from his father, the town's legendary radio personality, who along with his mother died in a car accident, leaving Reed with an empty home and big shoes to fill.

He has everyone's ear every morning at 8 AM...or 8:03 or whenever he happens to show up for his popular show. He also has the heart of the town's sweetheart, daughter of the area's richest man, who he will soon marry.

Reed loses his grove however when an old flame returns home from college for the summer. Will Reed go through with his perfectly laid plans?

I recommend you check it out and find out.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

You First


Decades ago, the Japanese stormed our shores offering more for less. More quality, features, innovation and value. Now they dominate the automotive industry and Toyota is soon to be the world's largest automaker.

The transition was not instant however and for years Japanese product was considered cheap, unpatriotic or both. Once Honda, Nissan (then Datsun) and Toyota established beachheads here, consumers discovered that the Big Three weren't responding with adequate product.

The tipping point was reached and the Big Three were left scrambling.

Meanwhile, Toyota, Honda, Nissan and Mazda readied bold plans to move decidedly upmarket with their respective Lexus, Acura, Infiniti and Amati brands. Acura had a hit with the Legend, Lexus was close behind with the ES and LS while Infiniti almost completely failed with an ill-fated zen-influenced ad campaign and the wrong designs. Mazda's effort was stillborn leaving dealers miffed, but also leaving them with a pretty good car, the Millenia.

Now Hyundai, quietly working in the background has been making better and better cars and making claims along the lines of "7-Series space at a 3-series price" but failing to deliver the cachet to reach their own tipping point. Reviews are generally good but Hyundai's just aren't cool yet.
Autoblog recently spent time in Korea driving pre-production versions of the new Hyundai Genesis. This is the car that, according to Hyundai, will usher in a new era of luxury. Them's big words, and we only got a limited amount of time to figure out how true -- or not -- they were. But the main thing you need to know about the Genesis is this: unless they pull a bait and switch on the price range they mentioned, the car will be worth every penny Hyundai charges.


The current Hyundai lineup offers nice-enough looking designs, especially at the top end with compelling offerings coming soon in the 300-plus HP Genesis sedan and coupe. Hyundai offers a ten-year, 100K power train warranty and a five-year, 60K vehicle warranty - both on par not with Honda and Toyota but rather with Acura and Lexus.

Hondas and Toyota's weren't cool at first either but their respective luxury brands gained traction immediately. What made the difference? Novelty? Did it have something to do with the mindset of baby boomers in the late 80's?

In any case, I am intrigued with Hyundai's efforts and yet have no desire to own one. They are all very nice looking cars - save the Hyundai nameplate. It's simple. They're not cool yet. Time will tell whether they can elbow their way into the marketplace. In the mean time...

...you first.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Splat! A Claymation

The Roosh Three (Number One, Jujubee and JBird) were busy today producing another film...

Monday, May 26, 2008

Memorial Day Rounds


The Five of us loaded up our bikes and made our usual Memorial Day rounds although this year instead of visiting Fort Snelling National Cemetery we substituted the I-35W Bridge site.

It is truly remarkable to see how much fabrication has taken place in such a short time. There were workers on site even today. I can tell you that seeing this structure in person confirms that this is a very different type of structure, both in design and scale, than the previous bridge.

On our last stop we toured the Minnehaha Falls area including a quick pass of Lock and Dam No. 1.

(Click on the pictures for larger versions)





I was trained by a family that taught me to love our country, not blame it.




Memorial Day isn't until Monday. But for Rich Davis, a 20-year veteran of the Navy, it seems to come every Saturday. That's when he pulls out a handmade sign and heads for a street corner near the Chester County Court House in this suburban Philadelphia community.

Mr. Davis, 54, is a pro-military protester who makes a public stand each week in support of the troops and their mission.

"We're not silent anymore," Mr. Davis told me. "We refuse to let antiwar protesters have the stage to themselves."

Not that he wants to stifle dissent. He just doesn't want to go unanswered the signs and protests that he believes encourage the enemy and demoralize U.S. troops. So, sign in hand in September, he walked to the corner praying he would have the strength to stand there, to be seen and heard.

"Every time we go out, I remind the guys that we represent more than ourselves," he told me. "The troops and their families look at us. So I hope we present ourselves with the same type of dignity, courage and honor that our own sons and daughters are showing in Iraq and Afghanistan."

Mr. Davis notes that he has been accused of being part of a vast right-wing conspiracy that trains and pays pro-troop advocates. Asked about that, he offers an answer that may inspire others to join his efforts.

"In a way they're right," he told me. "I was trained by a family that taught me to love our country, not blame it. And I am paid by troops and their families who say thanks for doing this, thanks for being here."

Who Cares What They Think




[crickets chirping]

Moscow Communist lawmaker Andrei Andreyev said Saturday "it is very disturbing if talented directors want to provoke a new Cold War."

While we're on the topic, I wonder if the Communists -er Socialists -er I mean Democrats here in Minnesota...


...have an opinion on the besmirching of their body politik

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Rendition


Rendition is the story of an Egyptian-born legal US resident, a chemical engineer with a nice home, two new cars in the garage, and a lovely wife (Reese Witherspoon, always a pleasure) who while travelling abroad receives a wrong number call from a known terrorist. This unlikely event coupled with his knowledge of explosives and his Egyptian heritage are enough to implicate him in a recent terrorist bombing. He is picked up by CIA operatives, detained and tortured.

One of the CIA team members, played by Jake Gyllenhaal, starts to realize that their subject really is innocent. But what can he do? He's the only one. Alan Arkin (who was awesome as the paranoid psychiatrist in one of my all-time favorites Grosse Pointe Blank) plays a Senator whose office is appealed upon to help, to no avail.

Rendition is a solid film for the first sixty minutes, then it loses momentum, dragging on for a full and unnecessary additional sixty-plus minutes.

Meryl Streep (sometimes a pleasure) is the head of the unit that oversees these covert tortures, authorized after 9/11. Her gravitas however, is wasted here.

I'd give it a C+: pass on it.

Jay Leno: Quality and Design are the Key to America's Automotive Survival



Jay Leno, one of the worlds most notorious Motorheads, wrote a piece for MSNBC.com, and tells Detroit how to fix itself. I think Mr. Leno makes a couple really good points, a couple of which I have posted on.

That is to say, Americans want to buy American but they've been let down so many times by shortcuts in quality, design and engineering by the Big Three (in an effort to offset costs inflicted by the unions) that they have stopped coming back. Now, the next generation of car-buyers have no loyalty to the American auto maker whatsoever.


The type of vehicles America makes best are, unfortunately, not the type of vehicles that people really want anymore.

Where we seem to lose it is in the low-bucks econocar.

...the one thing we used to do better than anybody else was build cheap, extremely high-quality cars.


When you get into a high-priced, well-made American car today and the key is in the ignition, you hear a melodic bong, bong. But when you get in a cheap American car, like a rental, and the key is left in, it goes plink, plink, plink. It’s just horrible. Every time you use the turn signal, it’s like breaking a chicken leg.

In order to make the more expensive car more appealing, U.S. companies feel as though they have to dumb down the cheaper car.

I believe that, all things being equal, Americans will buy American. It just has to be as good as the competition; it doesn’t have to be better. The classic example is Harley-Davidson.

The automakers are starting to think like Harley and understand that when you get into an automobile, everything should be appealing to you. If you see stitching that’s out of line on the dashboard, you’re going to get madder and madder every time you see it. That’s one place where the American car companies dropped the ball.

Related:

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Pew Litter Winner



Weezer - Pork and Beans

Rugged Entrepreneurialism


The entire world seems to be heading toward points of inflection. The developing world is embarking on the digital age. The developed world is entering the Internet era. And the United States, once again at the vanguard, is on the verge of becoming the world's first Entrepreneurial Nation.

Technology and the ever-present desire on the part of Americans to improve their standard of living will in my opinion generate a whole new generation of conservatives. Young Americans, having at their disposal an unprecedented level of tools and technology while at the same time wishing to circumvent corporate America will act on a dream/vision of a lifestyle where the boundaries between work and recreation will dissolve.

The concept of the rogue serial entrepreneur will give way to an entire generation of entrepreneurs.

A new wave of check-writing taxpayers will birth a new wave of fiscal conservatives.

What are check-writing taxpayers you ask? Well if you have to ask, you are probably a liberal.

A check-writing taxpayer is

  1. Someone who actually pays taxes
  2. Someone who actually has to write a check to the "US Treasury" or "Minnesota Revenue" (vs. having it withheld thus never really having even temporary control of those dollars)
That is to say, a self-employed individual. After writing a few five-figure checks to the above payees leads the payor to start wondering just exactly where that money (which theretofore was sitting happily in the business checking account) went.

I don't think there are very many check-writing liberals out there.

So this article...


...has me hoping that a generation of entrepreneurs will breed a new wave of check-writing fiscal conservatives.
The most compelling statistic of all? Half of all new college graduates now believe that self-employment is more secure than a full-time job. Today, 80% of the colleges and universities in the U.S. now offer courses on entrepreneurship; 60% of Gen Y business owners consider themselves to be serial entrepreneurs, according to Inc. magazine. Tellingly, 18 to 24-year-olds are starting companies at a faster rate than 35 to 44-year-olds. And 70% of today's high schoolers intend to start their own companies, according to a Gallup poll.

An upcoming wave of new workers in our society will never work for an established company if they can help it. To them, having a traditional job is one of the biggest career failures they can imagine.

Much of childhood today is spent, not in organized sports or organizations, but in ad hoc teams playing online games such as Half Life, or competing in robotics tournaments, or in constructing and decorating MySpace pages. Without knowing it, we have been training a whole generation of young entrepreneurs.

And who is going to dissuade them? Mom, who is a self-employed consultant working out of the spare bedroom? Or Dad, who is at Starbuck's working on the spreadsheet of his new business plan?

Being good entrepreneurs, it's time to look ahead, develop a good plan, and then bet everything on ourselves.

In the past there have been trading states like Venice, commercial regions like the Hanseatic League, and even so-called nations of shopkeepers. But there has never been a nation in which the dominant paradigm is entrepreneurship. Not just self-employment or sole proprietorship, but serial company-building, entire careers built on perpetual change, independence and the endless pursuit of the next opportunity.

For all of our fears about privacy and security, for all the added pressures that will be created by heightened competition and clashing ambitions, America as an entrepreneurial nation will reward each of us with greater independence – and perhaps even greater happiness – than ever before. It waits out there for each of us. Being good entrepreneurs, it's time to look ahead, develop a good plan, and then bet everything on ourselves.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Michael Clayton


Michael Clayton is the story of a seventeen-year utility player, a bagman, a clean up artist, a closer for a prestigious law firm in the verge of orchestrating a three billion dollar settlement between a agribusiness leviathan, their client, and plaintiffs who claimed their chemicals, leaching into groundwater, caused dire health issues.

When the firms lead attorney goes off his medication and strips naked in a video-taped deposition, Clayton, played by George Clooney is sent in to clean up the mess.

When he finds that his partner wasn't so crazy after all and had actually grown a conscience, Clayton is torn between his allegiance to the firm and his own sensibilities.

Michael Clayton is an engrossing murder/counter-intelligence legal thriller as well as an entertaining character study. Written by Tony Gilroy who is also responsible for The Bourne Identity trilogy, it is a little Changing Lanes, a little Jerry Maguire, The Rainmaker and A Civil Action.

Sydney Pollack is at home in his role as the patriarch of the firm, not unlike Changing Lanes where he essentially plays the very same character.

State of the Race





Thursday, May 22, 2008

Love at First Sight

2009 Audi A4; coming this fall.

Five inches longer, two inches wider.

265 HP 3.2 Liter Direct-Injection V6 connected to all four wheels via a Six-Speed Tiptronic Transmission.

I'll take a white one please.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Dear Lord, Please Take Me Now


I'm sort of live-blogging here...Mrs. Roosh is making me watch 27 Dresses.

There'll be no review. I can't keep dinner down as it is right now.

Here is a partial list of actors whose careers may now be over:





Edward Burns (Edward, you of all of these, should have known better)

Pure drivel.

Rolling Stone: ...so flimsy it gives froth a bad name.

Variety.com: ...a romantic comedy in which nothing the least bit surprising occurs, no disagreement or estrangement seems sufficiently serious to persist, and no one behaves in a manner that cannot be predicted by anyone who has seen more than two or three other romantic comedies.

Universal Healthcare: A Bad Idea Whose Time has Come


So those of you that think it would be a good idea for our government to

  1. Determine the appropriate level of treatment for whatever ails you
  2. Manage the resources and professionals that provide that care
  3. Replace what could be an open market for health insurance with a government monopoly
  4. Manage the finances of our nation's entire health care system
Read this (and remember, this is your money; taxpayer means [some] of you):


Every politician moans that entitlement spending is out of control, so it ought to be easy at least to stop blatant fraud and abuse. Evidently not: Congress is currently resisting an attempt to rein in even a Big Con that everyone acknowledges.

The scene of this crime is Medicaid, the open-ended program that provides health coverage for about 59 million low-income people, with the rolls expanding every year. States determine eligibility and what services to cover, and the feds pick up at least half the tab, though the effective "matching rate" is as high as 83%. Now it turns out that states have been goosing their financing arrangements to maximize their federal payouts and dump more of their costs onto taxpayers nationwide.

The swindle works like this: A state overpays state-run health-care providers, such as county hospitals or nursing homes, for Medicaid benefits far in excess of its typical rates. Then the federal government reimburses the state for "half" of the inflated bills. Once the state bags the extra matching funds, the hospital is required to rebate the extra money it received at the scam's outset. Cash thus makes a round trip from states to providers and back to the states – all to dupe Washington.

American Gangster


American Gangster is the typical Gangster film with the requisite rags to riches story rife with "mafia honor and ethics". Set in the seventies, it is the true story of the rise of presumably, America's first African-American gangster. Juxtaposed is Russell Crowe, who plays a flawed but honest cop who is tapped to head the areas federal drug enforcement gang.


The movie comes to its logical end (which is to say either the bad guy or the good guy loses - I'll not give it away) and then there is another chapter. A welcome chapter in fact as if the movie ended where you think it is about to end, it wouldn't quite feel right.


...and then there's even a prologue which puts an artful cap on an otherwise decent but not particularly ground-breaking film.


Russell Crowe does not disappoint although he's played this role before. Denzel Washington more of the same, which isn't bad, its just not substantially unlike any other character he has played.


If you are a Crowe fan, I recommend it.


Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Empower workers and make them small capitalists, freed from the government foot upon their necks


Almost 100% of my clients ask not to have Social Security depicted in the assumptions that govern their financial planning. If polled for a reason, the response is that it is not expected to be there for anyone under about fifty eight years of age, best as I can tell from my experience.

If perception is reality, our social security system is in peril, or will be soon enough for us to be concerned. To blame are changing demographics coupled with mismanagement and waste.

For the system to survive, and provide benefits to those who are resigned to the fact that they are contributing but will never collect, two things will have to happen.

It will have to be managed differently.

And liberals will have to agree that our federal government can no longer be continuously morphed into a socialist state under the guise of "progress."

The math doesn't work any more.

Liberals do not want to empower you. They want to enroll you. To homogenize you. To make you dependent upon the motherland. To transfer power from the rugged individual to the permissive pacifist.

As such, if the solution below were to be posed to our current congress we would hear "Oh, the risks!" and "This is a step backward," this is not "progressive." And they would be correct in that when one is approaching the abyss, and keeps "progressing" in the same direction, one would be wise to step back.

...and then change course.

ACHIEVING REAL SOCIAL SECURITY

Written by Richard Rahn
Thursday, 15 May 2008

Berlin, Germany. If you were asked to name one person who has enabled more people to gain wealth and security than any other person on the globe, who would you name?

In 1881, here in Berlin, Otto von Bismarck started the world's first modern pay-as-you-go social security system which served as the model for the U.S. Social Security system and that of many other countries, including setting the retirement age at 65. No, Bismarck is not the answer to the opening question.

The answer is a fellow named José Piñera. Here is why.

Bismarck's social security system was basically a Ponzi scheme whereby young workers pay taxes to support the retirees. It only works over the long run where the population is growing and where most retirees do not live very long.

These conditions no longer exist in the high-income countries. And even in low- and middle-income countries, population growth has slowed, and lifespans increase rapidly. As a result, many of the world's social security systems have become retirement insecurity systems as they head toward bankruptcy.

Thirty years ago, a young José Piñera, who had earned a Ph.D. at Harvard, was Chile's labor minister. He saw the coming disaster in the government old-age pension system.

Inspired by an idea from the late Nobel Prize winning economist, Milton Friedman, he developed a solution that empowers workers and gives them real financial security. Pinera-type social security systems have now been adopted by more than 30 countries and cover several hundred million people - for a very simple reason - it works!

Under the Piñera-type social security systems, workers are required to invest in highly diversified, qualified funds. Because they actually own their pension funds (like 401(k) funds in the United States), workers can choose their age of retirement, whether it is age 50 or 80. The longer they work, the more money they will have - but again each individual determines his or her own retirement age. (The very poor and those unable to work are still covered by a government system.)

Mr. Piñera is here in Berlin, selling his concept to German opinion leaders, as part of a multi-country "Free Market Road Show" sponsored by the European Center for Economic Growth and the Hayek Institute of Vienna, Austria.

The Chilean privatized system began in 1981, exactly 100 years after Bismarck instituted his system in Germany. It has been 29 years since the system went into effect in Chile so Mr. Piñera now can answer his critics, not only with theoretical arguments, but with hard data. The results are remarkable. Chile's citizens have on average experienced a 10 percent per year, above inflation, compounded growth rate in their pension funds for the last 29 years.

The result is most Chileans are no longer poor, but are, in fact, "small capitalists."

The Chilean government, increasingly freed from paying pensions out of tax funds (almost all Chileans have moved into the private accounts, though they could have stayed in the old government system), is now running a budget surplus of 10 percent of gross domestic product (GDP), which could pave the way for the abolition of the income tax.

The new Chilean system has provided so much investment capital that Chile moved from being a poor country to being a solid middle-income country with the highest per capita income in South America.

Critics in the U.S. and elsewhere claim investing pension funds in stocks and bonds is risky, but the real risk to the elderly is being trapped in government social security schemes headed toward insolvency.

In 1981, the Dow Jones stock average stood at about 800. Despite all the ups and downs over the years, and the turmoil of this last year, the Dow Jones average stands about 12,800 or about 16 times where it was in 1981. Those Americans now retiring on Social Security will unfortunately receive only very modest payments in relation to what they could have received if their political leaders had not kept them locked into a fiscally unsustainable government system.

Some critics of privatized social security claim that even though the returns are better under a privatized system, the "transition costs" are too great. In fact, there are no economic costs to the country of the transition, as Chile and other countries which have adopted the privatized system have shown.

We now know that both in theory and practice privatized social security works far better than pay-as-you-go government systems. Opponents can only keep their citizens from adopting Piñera-type systems by keeping them ignorant of the benefits, and making false statements about the privatized social security system's successes.

Fortunately, the world still has a very vigorous José Piñera, who for three decades has made it his life's work to empower workers and make them small capitalists, freed from the government foot upon their necks. Mr. Piñera has already made life more secure and prosperous for millions, and with luck it will soon be billions of people.

John McCain and Barack Obama, are you listening? (notice Hillary isn't in the dialog any more)

Richard W. Rahn is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute and chairman of the Institute for Global Economic Growth.

HT Chris F

State of The Race


Monday, May 19, 2008

31,072 American scientists have signed this petition, including 9,021 with PhDs

All things being equal in safety, bigger and heavier is always better


Gas prices have certainly impacted our monthly budget as much as anyone but that doesn't mean I regret driving two large vehicles and I will tell you why.

Fuel efficiency is always a concern when choosing a vehicle but what a lot of critics don't understand is that it can't nor should it always be the number one concern, especially if safety is number one.

When you have three kids, their stuff, and often times another friend or two to haul around, a small wagon isn't going to make the cut...for space or for safety. A minivan can't pull my boat.

My strategy is to find the most fuel efficient option in the class of vehicles that will suit my needs for safety and utility. In fact, our old Suburban would have been just fine but one of the reasons we upgraded is that the new one is more efficient and employs a cylinder-deactivation technology that the old one did not.

Fuel prices are probably high to stay in America, but to a certain extent, so are large (at least relatively speaking) American cars. A friend of mine in the office a while back found a note on her Suburban from a cowardly passerby that said something to the effect "Thank you for driving this so that our son's can die in Iraq." My friend will tell you however that the reason she drives the Suburban is so that her three sons don't have to die in America.

Now that is a dramatization on my part no doubt, but it makes the point.

Size is still the best factor for safety and utility and I tire of ignorant commentary about how SUV's are ruining our roads, sending our sons abroad and should be banned.

On the other end of the automotive spectrum, we have the Smart car, examples of which have started to pop up around town of late. You have to look really close, sometimes the yellow ones blend in with road markings and red ones blend in with fire hydrants.

The Smart car people could not have timed their introduction of the 2008 fortwo if their goal is to offer an alternative to the scooter for the urban crowd. The fortwo employs all the latest safety technology...

The 1,800-pound car has a steel safety cage and four standard air bags, including two in front and two on the sides to protect the head and abdomen. It also has standard electronic stability control, which is designed to stop vehicles from swerving off the road.

...but is it's size a safety disadvantage?

The answer is a qualified "Yes."

Small car environmentalists and global warming enthusiasts (I'm being charitable there) will tout small car solutions while disparaging SUV-driving soccer mom's by plastering headlines like this one...


...but make sure you read the fine print. (emphasis mine)

Unlike most cars on the road, the pint-sized 2008 Smart fortwo evokes a simple question at first glance: “How safe is it?”

The 8-foot, 8-inch vehicle received the highest rating of good in front-end and side-impact testing by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, helping address some concerns that consumers may be more vulnerable in the tiny two-seater.The tests, released Wednesday, show how well vehicles stack up against others of similar size and weight.

The institute noted that the front-end test scores can’t be compared across weight classes, meaning a small car that earns a good rating isn’t considered safer than a large car that did not earn the highest rating.

Adrian Lund, the institute’s president, said a small car may be more practical in congested urban areas where serious, high-speed crashes are less likely. The institute conducted the crash test to help guide consumers who want a small car that can give them good protection.

“All things being equal in safety, bigger and heavier is always better. But among the smallest cars, the engineers of the Smart did their homework and designed a high level of safety into a very small package,”

Lund said.The institute’s frontal crash test simulates a 40 mile per hour crash with a similar vehicle.

So if you run into one of your Smart car brethren, you'll be fine. Hit a stationary object or a bus, maybe not so much.

Some perspective...

The fortwo is more than 3 feet shorter and nearly 700 pounds lighter than a Mini Cooper.

and some irony from Smart themselves...

“America has never seen a car this size before and their first question usually isn’t about (fuel) economy, it’s about safety,” said Dave Schembri, president of Smart USA. “And that’s why we think these results are so very important.”

So let's make a deal. You stop flipping off our wives as they drive their families and their stuff around town in our gas-guzzling, pavement-pounding Suburbans and we'll stop laughing at how stupid you look in your ugly enviroweenie fashion-statements.

Spring Sunset

taken with a Canon PowerShot S5IS

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Fight amongst yourselves



Fight amongst yourselves, originally uploaded by jroosh.

McCain on SNL tonight. Brilliant!





Situation: Normal



WASHINGTON - Source says Sen. Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts hospitalized with apparent stroke-like symptoms.

From the American Stroke Association:


Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding

More healthcare dollars wasted. That's normal for him folks. Send him home.

Too Hot for You?


Starbucks changed their logo. Now the mythical siren that is the "Starbucks Girl" is a wee bit more exposed.

...but not quite as exposed as she used to be. Check out the old one; those are nipples!!!


Wow. That's really hot! Keep that away from the kids! I'm outraged!

Here is the logo as it has appeared since 1992...pretty tame.





Seems that one person's smut is another person's morning latte.

A Christian group based in San Diego found grounds for outrage over the new retro-style logo for Starbucks Coffee.

The Resistance says the new image "has a naked woman on it with her legs spread like a prostitute," Mark Dice, founder of the group, said in a news release. "Need I say more? It's extremely poor taste, and the company might as well call themselves Slutbucks."

Outrage? Yikes. Get a life. Those aren't legs. She's a mermaid!


"So you've been spending time down at Slutbucks, have you?"