Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Wall St attempts to re open the Mortgaged Backed Security Casino

From the Wall St Journal, print version, Tuesday March 30, Page B1. "Securities Debate is All About Trust". Mortgage backed securities are paper IOU's issued by banks. The banks claim the IOU's are "backed" by home mortgages, implying that the buyer of the IOU is buying something as sound as a home mortgage. In 2007 the marks discovered that the mortgages "backing" their IOU's were in default. They wised up and few to no mortgaged backed securities have been sold since.
The banks obtained the mortgages used for "backing" by purchasing them from the likes of Country Wide (home of Angelo) and other mortgage dealers. The mortgage dealers started to give mortgages to anyone who walked (or was dragged) in the door. "Ninja, No Income,No Job or Assets" mortgages became common. The dealer's sold these fraudulent mortgages to the banks for real cash. The banks "backed" their IOU's and sold them to "investors" or in ordinary language, suckers. The vast number of Ninja mortgages caused the crash in housing prices that triggered off Great Depression II.
Currently, the Administration and Congress want to require banks playing the IOU game, tohold onto 5% of the IOU's created, skin in the game, to give a small incentive for the banks to deal honestly. The banks are whining that 5% is too much and will ruin the market.
What ought to be done is to prevent the sale and trading of mortgages at any level. Banks issuing mortgages retain 100% of the mortgage on their books. None of this wimpy 5% stuff. This way the loan officer granting the mortgage, the only individual who actually understands the risks, who has interviewed the borrowers, checked with their employer[s], and inspected the property, has some incentive to do it right. If the bank owns the mortgage for it's full life, then it will be diligent and grant mortgages only to those who will pay them back.
Decent home mortgages are very sound investments. The homeowners are strongly motivated to keep up on their payments. Assuming a proper evaluation of the property, the mortgage is secured by valuable real estate. "Safe as houses" is the old cliche. Ninja mortgages are a scam.
The mortgaged backed security business caused Great Depression II and we need regulations to prevent it from happening again. Nearly two years have gone by and nothing has been done, AND the things proposed to be done are too wimpy to do any good.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Judge reforms patent law

Story here. A New York federal judge has ruled that patents on genes are invalid. Up until now, discoverers of genes could patent the gene and deny other scientists or companies the right to use it. The genes in the suit are natually occurring human genes, not artificial ones. The judge ruled that naturally occuring genes are not patentable, because they are not invented or created, they are merely discovered.

Hallelujah. This might be the beginning of the end of ridiculous patents. This will be appealed of course, but there is a chance the Supremes will see the light when this gets up to them.

Monday, March 29, 2010

National vehicle of the People's Republic of Cambridge

The Volvo. The height of Cambridge coolness, a muddy 240 Volvo wagon, with about ten Cambridge parking permits in the rear window. In 1999 Ford bought Volvo for $6.4 billion. Today Ford announced the sale of Volvo to the Chinese for $1.8 billion.
Credit Ford's new CEO, Mulally, for having the smarts to recognize a loser and dump it. Taking a $4.6 billion dollar loss, was better than taking the day-to-day losses of operating Volvo.
And boos to previous Ford management for wasting so much money on a doomed acquisition. Volvo was loosing money when Ford bought them. They didn't have enough volume to get the cost of production down far enough to make money. The only way to lower Volvo's production cost is/was to use a lot of high volume Ford parts or, simply put the Volvo badge on a Ford.
Doing this kills the sales. Volvo buyers buy the car 'cause it isn't Detroit iron. They want to own something different. Once they find the Volvo is just a Ford with a new grill and a Volvo badge, they leave the showroom, in droves. Volvo was asking BMW money. Nobody is going pay BMW money for a gussied up Ford, they will buy a real BMW instead. This was obvious to everybody in the car business in 1999, but the old Ford management went right ahead and wasted $6.4 billion buying Volvo.
They had company. GM bought up a number of European loser mobiles and they still haven't sold any of them.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Electronic Medical Records follow up

Cato institute has concerns about the security of electronic medical records too.
Come to think of it, Uncle Sam can check your electronic medical record in disputed cases of disability.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Corporate America, Profiles in Courage

After Obamacare is signed into law, we have Caterpillar, AT&T, and some other corporations complaining about the amount of money it's gonna cost them.
Where were all these corporations BEFORE Obamacare was passed? Could it be that they feared Obama administration retaliation if they spoke out against Obamacare?
Where were Harry and Loise when we needed them?

Friday, March 26, 2010

Electronic Medical Records

I'm listening to a long discussion on TV about the downsides to electronic medical records. Only at the very end of the discussion do the debaters touch on the real problem. Hackers.
Seems like every week I hear another case of credit card records getting hacked and card holders getting ripped off with phony charges. The credit card people are mostly banks with a good tradition of data security, and yet they get hacked on a regular basis. Don't expect hospitals to be any better.
Once your medical records are on a computer, they might as well be posted on a bulletin board in the center of town. They will become public, especially for a snooper willing to spend a little money.
Imagine a hiring manager who, after the job interview, downloads the candidate's medical history to see if he will burden the company medical plan. Or, how would you like your spouse or potential spouse checking up on your health? And God help people with mental health problems or drug and alcohol treatment on their records.
This didn't happen in "1984"

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Let's hear a real threat

The democrats are complaining of "threats" conveyed by phone, mail, and email. How real is this? There is a difference between chewing out a congressman and threatening one. The only "threat" that has made it to the media was ambiguous. "There are lots of people who wish you harm".

Do any of these bold congressman have anything worse than this? Or is this just a smear the tea party tactic?

Words of the Weasel Part XV

"Closing tax loopholes" is liberal speak for "raising taxes". NH Public Radio was calling for closing loopholes just this morning.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Things are not all bad when....

When there are more milk bottles than whiskey bottles in the recycling?

Two inches of fresh global warming on the porch

And it's still falling, lightly. On the 24th of March. Brr.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Dark Ages were not so dark

The middle ages, often called the dark ages, started with the fall of Rome and ended with the voyages of Columbus. During this time great technological progress was made. Important inventions include the magnetic compass, stirrups, gunpowder and the firearms to use it, horse collars, the stern rudder, printing, the wheelbarrow, the trebuchet (a weight powered war machine), the art of distilling and hard liquor, three field crop rotation, mechanical clocks, eyeglasses, a whole new architectural style (gothic cathedrals), water mills, wind mills, crossbows and the making of cast iron. Plus others that escape my memory.
The last notable invention of the preceding classic era was the discovery of iron working by the Hittites, around 1500 BC. For the next 2000 years, no improvement in the arts and sciences came forth. The last Roman emperor (478 AD) used the same weapons, ships, agriculture, metallurgy, chemistry, and building techniques as were available to the Hittites two thousand years before.
Any general theory of history needs to explain the technical stasis of the classical era and the great progress made in the "dark ages".

Monday, March 22, 2010

What can I say?

The punch line from "The Gang that couldn't Shoot Straight". Obamacare passed the house late last night. Everything that can be said has been said.
November is coming.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Tankers for USAF Part IV

Perhaps Airbus will submit a bid after all. They just asked for another 90 day extension of the bid deadline to get their act together. I dare say a lot of USAF officers begged and pleaded with Airbus to submit a bid. With two bidders USAF gets a better price, AND all they have to do is pick the lowest bidder. Anyone can do that. And you don't have to justify your choice to angry losers, the Congressmen from angry losers district, SecDef, and MSM.
Money Quote from Airbus: the Pentagon's overture "does not address EADS' underlying concerns that the request for proposal clearly favors a smaller less capable aircraft, and that the additional combat capability offered by our system may not be fully valued".

Translation. Airbus has proposed as significantly bigger plane than Boeing. Bigger planes are more expensive than smaller planes. In a straight lowest bidder competition the smaller cheaper plane wins.

Note to Airbus. Take a hint, propose a plane the same size as Boeing's plane. You will have to redo a humongous stack of paperwork, but that's what computers are for.

Note to USAF. If you want a plane about the size of the existing KC-135, say so up front. Bigger planes carry more fuel, smaller planes can operate out of smaller shorter runways. Figure out what you want, and tell the bidders. Boeing apparently had an ear close to Pentagon walls and proposed a KC-135 sized airplane.

Note to protectionists. It doesn't really matter whether Boeing or Airbus builds the plane. Both planes have American built engines, and engines are like one third of the cost of the plane. Even if Airbus gets the job, American companies get a lot of business selling expensive parts to Airbus.

Damn rollies

Rule. Small tools like screwdrivers and chisels and scribes shall NOT have round handles. It lets them roll off the workbench onto the floor too damn easily. Always make the handle hexagonal or square so the damn thing stays put when you put it down.
Thank you.

Friday, March 19, 2010

The Wall St Journal finally catches on.

Canada has a much more sane banking scene than the US does. The Wall St Journal had a favorable op ed today. I blogged about it here, some weeks ago. Key point, home ownership in Canada is as good as in the US, with a whole bunch fewer mortgages in default, and a lot less loss of home value.

The end of the World as we know it.

Wired has a long article on a new strain of wheat rust. Should it keep spreading it could wipe out the world's wheat crop. No more bread.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

The Nanny State moves on

According to the Boston Globe, a Malden man just won $1.5 million against Ryobi after he ran his fingers thru a Ryobi table saw. Grounds? The Ryobi table saw did not have an electronic safety device that would stop the blade as soon as it encountered flesh. This from a US district court in Boston.
Such a table saw does exist, trade named "Saw Stop" and according to the various hobby magazines, it actually does work. It's expensive, and rare. I have never seen such a saw, even in stores. It is pretty new, probably had just come on the market at the time the Malden man got clumsy.
As things stand, after this amazing bit of judge made law, all makers of power tools are liable for every accident that happens.
Unless overturned on appeal, this decision will raise the price of power tools by a factor of two. I'm glad I already have all the power tools I'm likely to need.
I'm so glad I live in a representative democracy where laws are made by the legislature.

Why "deem and pass"?

The Democrats are talking about, close to, about to, who knows, pass Obamacare by a parliamentary trick. Rather than voting on the senate bill, which many Democrats are queasy about, they want to pass the fix up Obamacare bill with a paragraph at the end that says "We deem the senate bill as passed".
Does anyone think the voters will be less outraged by "deem and pass" than by a vote on the senate bill?
Nobody in the country really thinks this is kosher, although Democrats are ready to do what ever it takes. A court challenge to the "passed" Obamacare is a sure bet if they go with the "deem & pass" trick. Was it me, I'd rather pass the thing the old fashioned way, queasy stomachs or no, to avoid the endless headlines about the court challenge. The court won't act before November, keeping the Obamacare issue before the voters thru the election. That ought to guarantee Republican control of Congress.
There comes a time to wrap it up. Obamacare is at that point. If Nancy doesn't have the votes to pass the senate bill she ought to give it up.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Kucinich "Health Care is a right, not a privilege"

Not sure where they find Congressmen out there in Illinois. Dennis is plain wrong. Health care is not a right and not a privilege. It's a service that must be paid for by someone. Mostly in the US health care is paid for by the company you work for.
TV snippet on Kucinich has him deciding to vote for Obamacare. Apparently he voted against it last time because the house version of Obamacare wasn't generous enough for his tastes. Obama or someone was able to get Kucincich unstuck from stupid by pointing out that the senate bill is the only game in town.

ERic Holder dodges a question on TV

They asked Eric Holder what kind of trial he would give Osama Bin Ladin when we catch him. Holder evaded by saying we would never take Osama alive. Perhaps. But all we need is intelligence and security to catch bin Ladin. With air-to-air refueling, the helicopters can take a company of infantry nearly anywhere in the world. That's enough men in surround any clandestine HQ and throw tear gas inside. Osama is no longer a young man. Young, strong, and in shape US infantrymen should have no trouble wrassling him to the ground and cuffing him.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Chris Dodd thinks we need consumer protection

Well, we do, but the protection we need is protection against losing our jobs rather than protection for credit card fees. Senator Chris Dodd, chairman of the Senate banking committee, recipient of sweetheart mortages, and a man who bears great responsibility for Great Depression 2.0, was on the radio this morning pushing a "consumer protection agency". He spoke as if this was the holy grail and we would all get to heaven as soon as it was passed.
I disagree. We truly need regulation of the banking practices that caused Great Depression 2.0 and threw enormous numbers of us out of work. These practices are the buying and selling of mortgages, creation and sale of "securities" backed by nothing, credit default swaps, and calling worthless paper "capital". Plus a horde of accounting industry scams. These practices brought down the economy. Not credit card fees and balloon note mortgages.
Dodd must be hoping we voters will forgive his many sins if he beats up on credit card and home mortgage issuers.
I want someone to beat up on the Wall St gamblers who wrecked the economy.

Monday, March 15, 2010

2300 page add on to 2700 page Obamacare

The Hill reports that the fixup bill for Obamacare has grown to 2300 and some pages. Add that to the 2700 page Senate bill and we have 5000 pages of obscure gobbledegook. Permanent employment for zillions of lawyers and bureaucrats who will be able to find paragraphs supporting any damn thing they please. Give me 5000 pages to search thru and I can find anything I need.
A five thousand page bill is so vague that administrators will have a completely free hand, and plenty of tax money to spend as they see fit.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Some Questions about Obamacare

1. How can we pay for health care by taxing health care? Surely the health care providers will raise their rates to pay the taxes?
2. What great sin are the insurance companies guilty of? There are all state regulated. The rate increases they are asking for have to be approved by state regulators. If the companies can convince the regulators that they need the money, then it's a good bet they really do need the money.
3. What's wrong with a race to the bottom? Obama's objection to interstate sale of insurance is that people will flock to cheaper insurance from states with fewer mandated coverages. What's wrong with that?

Mud Season starts with confused weather

The sun is out, but it's raining medium hard. Keep it up and that will be the end of the snow. We still have snow on the ground, but the rain is eating into it. Round here, the season after ski season is known as mud season. Lasts about a month. The ground get so soft that heavy trucks are banned from most roads. The truckers call it road ban season.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Repo man.

Wall St is supposed to be about financing economic growth. Lending money for construction projects, inventory purchase, plant and equipment. All of which are long term investments.
Why then the existence of the "repo" market. According to the Wall St Journal, a repo is a short term loan, from one bank to another. The borrower posts collateral, in the form of securities (stocks and bonds) in return for cash. The borrower promises to repay the loan in a few days, the lender returns the securities when the loan is paid off. The Journal's financial reporters describe the repo market as "the life blood of Wall St."
Oh really.
Why does anyone need money for only a few days? None of the investments in economic growth will pay off in a few days. Surely any deal could be postponed for a few days while the buyer raises the money? Or the seller could be willing to accept a short delay in payment? Certainly in the ordinary business world, we will do damn near anything to make a sale, we certainly would not be stuffy about a few days delay in payment. Hell, most deals are done with purchase orders, not cash, and you have 30 days to make good on a purchase order.
So why are short term loans "the life blood of Wall St"? What economically useful activity can be completed in a few days?
Other tidbits from the article. Apparently Lehman crashed after it ran out of securities to borrow upon. And, Lehman tried to use worthless securities to borrow against. J.P. Morgan demanded Lehman come up with better collateral or repay the loan. This happened just days before Lehman went under for good.
Lehman also did the old "treat a loan as a sale" trick to make their books look better at the end of each quarter. If you call a repo deal a sale, then the money is income and an asset. If you treat it as a loan , then the money is a liability which you owe. Your balance sheet looks better with assents than liabilities. Apparently no US law firm would OK this scam, and Lehman used a letter from a British law firm as justification.
So what was Lehman doing, banking or gambling? I say gambling. In which case flushing Lehman was a good idea.

Great Depression 2.0 caused by glandular disorder

The PBS Newshour had a guy on last night pushing this idea. Reckless banking is caused by endocrines or dopamine or something medical sounding. Don't blame me, my glands made me do it. Great Depression 2.0, caused by foolish Wall Streeters gambling in sub prime mortgages and credit default swaps, is actually a medical problem. Right.
Is this why Obamacare is claimed to fix the economy?
The Newshour used to be better than this.

Friday, March 12, 2010

US Dept of Education buying shotguns?

Right here is the request for bids. Are these for use on students? parents? tea partiers? Republicans?

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Tankers for USAF Part III

It's official. Airbus has pulled out. Was in the Wall St Journal the other day.
The urge to jazz up the aircraft is still running strong in the heart of Boeing. They plan to warp the newer 787 instrument panel into the older 767 they are proposing.
Cost enhancement is hard at work.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Franconia Town Meeting

We still do it the old fashioned way in Franconia. None of this new fangled SB-2 stuff for us. After the overflow crowd at town hall last year, town meeting moved to the larger Lafayette school gym. Turnout was decent, better than 150 people. The standard town warrent articles, budget, purchase of new vehicles, library appropriation, and such all passed on voice vote with little discussion. The first controversial article was a proposal to relocate the town police department from the big tin building they currently share with the fire department and the life squad into the cellar of the town hall. The town's infrastructure committee recommended this plan. A citizen asked the police chief to comment on the plan. Turns out the chief was against it for a number of good reasons, and then the cost was $480,000 and that plan got tabled.
Then the greenies got a tax break for "alternate energy" (wind, solar, and wood heat). That was a close vote.
Then we got to really controversial, a resolution approving the naming of rt 18 up three mile hill after police corporal Bruce McKay who was murdered in the line of duty right in the center of town a few years ago. A secret ballot was adopted after a show of hand vote defeated a motion to table the matter. Surprisingly, after voting to keep the issue before the meeting, the town voted down the proposal 92 to 70.
Then a plan to have the town cough up $40K to fix the clock tower on the Dow Academy building was tabled after a good deal of discussion. The clock town is nice and scenic and all that, but it isn't town property.
The last controversial article was a resolution to support a state wide referendum on gay marriage. It was voted down. After that vote a large number of people got up and left. Things wrapped up at 11 PM, a couple of hours later than last year's town meeting which approved the massive water project.

Poor Groveton

I spent yesterday poll watching in Groveton NH. It's a smallish town about 30 miles north of Littleton. The reason for Groveton's existence was the big Groveton paper mill. Well, the mill closed recently and it's been a disaster for Groveton. The mill used to provide 700 jobs, just everyone in town used to work at the mill. It used to pay serious taxes and a serious water bill. No longer.
The Groveton natives at the polls talked of little else than economic disaster, closing of local businesses, sky rocketing taxes, declining school enrollment. It's too bad, Groveton has wonderful scenery and everyone in town seemed to know everyone else.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Do potatoes possess a biological clock?

If not, how come they know to sprout in the spring? Sitting in the bottom of my veggie drawer, hob nobbing with the onions, kept at room temperature, in the dark, no contact with the soil, my super market potatoes know it's spring and sprout furiously.
If yes, how does it work? I mean these are potatoes. I can slice 'em and dice 'em and never does the knife disclose anything other than potato.

I am not "addicted" to oil.

And it irritates me every time NHPR accuses me of "addiction". I just buy enough gasoline to drive to work, and enough furnace oil to keep the pipes from freezing. This is not "addiction", its frugal purchasing of essential fuel. Trading my $9K used Detroit car for a $35K Prius is beyond my means. Plus the Detroit iron gets 27 mpg highway. My house is heavily insulated, I keep the heat way down, I have a lot of solar gain from south facing Anderson windows. There ain't much more fuel economy to be squeezed out of either the car or the house.
I'm tired of having my modest fuel use described as "addiction". Let's explore for more oil and gas so my children won't have to freeze in the dark.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Tankers for USAF Part II

Pentagon paper shufflers are about to release the new Request for Proposal (RFP in mil jargon) on a replacement tanker. USAF is currently still flying the KC135's bought in the Eisenhower administration. Good planes and all, but they have been flying for 50 years and its time to buy new ones.
USAF would like to get a bid from Boeing and a competing bid from Airbus. They figure two bidders will get the government a better price than a sole source buy. Plus the Air Force doesn't like Boeing much, and would be happy to give the job to Airbus. They tried just that two years ago but Boeing had good lawyers and got the contract award overturned.
Technically the job is straight forward. Buy 179 jet airliners, take out the seats and install tanks. This is not rocket science.
For some reason, Airbus is balking. They say it will cost them $100 million to do the bidding paperwork and the RFP is slanted toward Boeing. Presumable Airbus figures they won't win this time, and in that case, why go to all the trouble?
One thing is clear, the Air Force thinks its doing a design and development of a brand new aircraft. They have a list of 372 requirements that the design must meet, 93 more optional requirements, and a fancy computer program (Ifara) that will "evaluate" performance on a variety of missions. This attitude is a guaranteed cost enhancer.
An air liner is an airliner. Airbus and Boeing will propose existing airliners. Either plane would work just fine, both of them have been flying paying passengers for years. Both planes performance (speed, take off weight, range, engine power, instrumentation) is well known and well documented. Both aircraft compete successfully in the international air liner market, which means one is about as good as the other.
The Air Force should procure the standard run-of-the-production-line aircraft. They should not ask for modifications of any kind. These planes don't need modifications, they work fine just as they are. Modifications are expensive, and the expense lasts the live of the aircraft. Standard aircraft can use standard spare parts, widely available and in stock to support the civilian fleet. Modified aircraft need special spare parts which are not stocked commercially. Uncle Sam will have to buy, store, and maintain these special spare parts at taxpayer expense.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Z1485 Kodak Easyshare Digital Camera gotcha

If you take pictures with the memory card removed, be sure to copy the pix off the camera into your computer BEFORE reinserting the memory card. Any pix taken while the memory card is out are stored in the camera's limited internal RAM. Re inserting the memory card wipes the RAM and the pictures go the the great bit bucket in the sky.
How do I know this? I pulled the memory card out of the camera and stuck it into the computer to copy new pictures off the camera. I had an attack of the stupids and forgot to put the memory card back into the camera. Took the camera in my pocket and snapped a few pictures.
Being of a suspicious turn of mind, I copied the pix off the camera using the USB cable first. Then I put the memory card back in the camera. Sure enough, the new pix disappeared from the camera.
I don't believe the manual talks about this gotcha.

Another spending cut

This article suggests shutting down the National Endowment for the Arts, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the National Endowment for the Humanities and the National Endowment for Democracy.
In a day of multi trillion dollar deficits, the money is only a billion or so, but you know what Dirksen said, "A billion here, a billion there and pretty soon we are talking real money".
NPR's programming is now so strong it doesn't need public subsidy any more. They can sell ads just like real networks do.
Any art that needs a government subsidy is bad art. Good art supports itself by sales. If people won't buy it, it's bad art. By definition.
The Humanities (English lit, history, art, music and such) do not need subsidy. Not with college tuitions as high as they are. Most college student major in the humanities anyway, science and engineering are too hard for them. That much tuition money is plenty.
I'd never heard of the National Endowment for Democracy before, so it obviously isn't doing anything worth while.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Gambling hearing in Concord

I got on the road to Concord at 8 AM, too early really. I was in Concord by 9:10 and the hearing didn't start until 10:30. By 10 AM there was a huge semitrailer truck, all painted up for the United Auto Workers parked in from the the State House. On the curb side of the truck was a platform, a mike, and a huge crowd of people wearing bright international orange T-shirts marked "Gaming Now. We need jobs". I took photos and then slipped inside the State House.
The hearing was scheduled for room 100, which has maybe 100 seats. The room was jammed, and the corridor was filled with people wanting in. By 11 AM the hearing had been moved up into the legislative chamber, which was big enough.
A bunch of senators and reps spoke in favor of more gambling. The state attorney general (forget his name) spoke against it. Couple of people from gambling think tanks estimated the gross take from gambling would be $800 million with the state getting $250 million in taxes. Then an amendment to the gambling bill was publicized. Instead of using gambling revenue to close the state deficit, the new revenues would be turned over to Health and Human Services and spent on a vast collection of welfare programs. In short, lets spend it as fast as it comes in.
Executives from Rockingham and the Nashua Golf & Gamble casino spoke about their plans. Rockingham was talking about $450 million capital investment, the Nashua deal didn't mention money but they promised a 300 room luxury hotel, convention space, big casino and a first class golf course.
A representative of the State Police spoke in favor of gambling, but he didn't really explain why. I assume he was hoping for some money to flow to the Staties from the gambling revenue. A rep from the League of Women Voters spoke against.
All in all, the pro grambling people out numbered the anti gamblers. By 2:30 they got down to me, and I gave a three minute talk against.
As I walked back to the car, I passed a couple of the gambling think tank guys on the sidewalk with a TV camera doing a man on the street interview. They were coaching the man on the street as to what to say.
I got home just at 4 PM. The cat was over joyed to see her human come back. Lotta time to deliver a three minute talk.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Speech before the NH Gambling Committee

State sponsored gambling is Reverse Robin Hood, steal from the poor, and give to the rich.
Gamblers are our poorer, disadvantaged and less educated citizens. We call them losers, and upon entering a casino, they lose again. Dunno about you, but I am squeamish about fleecing losers.
The losers will be New Hampshire citizens. People won’t fly in from the west coast, or even drive up from Boston to play slots at Indian Head. Gambling takes money from the poor of New Hampshire. Gambling doesn’t create wealth, it merely redistributes it.
The casino management will be experienced out of state people, from Vegas and Atlantic City, mostly with Mob connections. The Mob started Vegas and still controls it, politely of course. Same goes for Atlantic City. You can’t find an experienced casino manager who isn’t tied to the Mob.
Jobs promised by the gambling “industry” are bottom level, waiting tables, making beds, sweeping floors, no health benefits, no career path. The only winners are casino operators. They get their cut before any taxes are paid. They also do the books. Want to bet they show humongous expenses, no profit and hence owe no taxes?
SB 490 sets up a gambling commission with juicy jobs. The commissioners get $50 million license fees with no obligation to put the money into the state treasury. They get the power to revoke casino licenses. The casinos will go out of their way to treat the commissioners right. Free meals, free drinks, free this and that, walking around money, a split on the take. What other under the table kickbacks can they invent?
The commissioners can do criminal record checks on casino employees but don’t have to divulge the results to anyone without a court order. Prevents the citizens from getting upset about the Mob connections of people in the gambling business.

Tourists contribute a lot to the New Hampshire economy. We get incredible numbers of tourists from out of state and over seas. They come to experience the New Hampshire advantage, natural beauty, mountains, woods, lakes, rivers. They climb, hike, camp, ride the tramway, hunt, fish, ski, leaf watch. Many of them love New Hampshire so much they build taxable vacation homes and ski chalets. Casinos are tacky, casino people are tacky, and casino customers (gamblers) are unattractive. Garish neon signs on the Indian Head on the way into Franconia Notch are a turn off. Let’s not drive off the paying tourists by turning upstate New Hampshire into Las Vegas with pine trees.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Bank regulation works in Canada

Canada avoided the 2006 housing bubble and avoided the 2008 housing crash. Could this be due to more conservative banking policies? Good article here.

Canadian hockey wins American Beer

First, congratulations to Team USA. They played a good game, made it to the finals and almost won. Better luck next time.
I heard on the radio that Obama had wagered a case of beer with the Canadians on the match. Bad choice. Canadians consider American beer to be weak and flavorless. They have a point there, personally I buy Canadian beer cause it tastes better. If Obama sends a case of Bud Light to Ottawa, the Canadians will get a good laugh out of it.
It would have been better to bet a case of whiskey, something both countries do well. A case of Jack Daniels is a fair wager against a case of Canadian Club.