My Favorite #ObamaPseudonyms

I'm With Her LogoOn Friday we found out that President Obama not only knew that Hillary Clinton was using a private email server, he actually communicated with her on it using a fake e-mail address. This is too funny to pass up. Everyone is taking turns guessing which pseudonym he used. Greg Gutfeld chipped in with IamReallyAKenyan on The Five.  Jim Treacher volunteered BarryAwesomePresident and Carlos Danger in his post, Let’s Play: Guess Obama’s Email Pseudonym! My favorite e-mail pseudonyms are:

  • TheRealBo@whitehouse.gov This pays homage to Lois Lerner naming her private email after her dog. What can I say? Great minds think alike.
  • MichellesBFF@whitehouse.gov Who besides the President would find this funny?
  • hillaryclinton@state.gov Unlike most of the people in the country the President knew that this e-mail address was not being used.

Is Measles A Better Analogy Than #SkittlesWelcome For Our Syrian Refugee Problem?

Donald Trump skittles tweet

Donald Trump skittles tweet

Although I like the creativity of Mr. Trump’s skittle analogy I think how we respond to the threat of measles gives a better grasp of common sense solutions to vetting Syrian refugees. Mr. Nowrasteh over at Cato makes a good point in discussing this analogy that of the approximately 3.25 million refugees from 1975 to the end of 2015 only 20 of the refugees intended to do harm and only three of those 20 were actually fatal. He goes on to conclude that based on these statistics he would accept the refugees. The problem I have with his conclusion is that if he has a child, he is probably responding to the measles threat completely differently. Despite the recent notoriety over a measles outbreak associated with Disneyland, we are averaging about 1 death every 12 years. Despite measles being a lesser threat than terrorism most people in the United States are following Benjamin Franklin’s advice of “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” and immunizing their children from measles. Based on the CDC statistics the immunization policy seems to be working. So I wonder why we have such a problem with an ounce of prevention in vetting Syrian refugees.

Importing The 2016 Presidential Debate Schedule

Today I did not find a fast and easy way to import the 2016 Presidential debate schedule into my calendar. So I spent a couple extra minutes and created one. To add the schedule to your calendar:

  1. Download this CSV file, 2016-presidential-debates.
  2. Go to your calendar and import it. Google Calendar imports this file without problems so I suspect other calendars should import it without too much of a hassle, too. Click this link for further information about Importing Events Into Google Calendar.

Did Wages Detach from Productivity in 1973?

When I saw the nice graph Curtis Miller created showing that productivity detached from wages in 1973, I was curious if I could duplicate it in FRED. Nothing against R but creating a graph in FRED is fast and easy since much of the Bureau of Labor Statistics data is available. After a little searching I found both series and indexed them to 1947.(Oops! I used the wrong series. I should have used the Business Sector: Real Output Per Hour of All Persons (OPHPBS) and Real Compensation Per Hour [RCPHBS].) The graph is similar to the one Curtis created except it pushes the date when productivity detached from wages back to the first quarter of 1970.

Although David Stockman argued in his book, The Great Deformation, that the era of sound money ended around this time, I am not comfortable with the idea that dumb spending policies should have an impact on real wages and productivity. I am not surprised but it does make me wonder. Is the adoption of fiat currencies and the expansion of the welfare state the reason we are seeing reduced real wages despite improving productivity?

Source
  1. US. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Nonfarm Business Sector: Real Output Per Hour of All Persons [OPHNFB], retrieved from FRED, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis; https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/OPHNFB, September 13, 2016.
  2. US. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Nonfarm Business Sector: Real Compensation Per Hour [COMPRNFB], retrieved from FRED, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis; https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/COMPRNFB, September 13, 2016.

Obamacare Sinking The Middle Class

Healthcare LunchboxAfter listening to Episode 49 Obamacare Sinking? Why, It’s Just a Flesh Wound, Says Krugman! I felt compelled to add my two cents.  Although I have not written about the Affordable Care Act in a long time I have not given up hope for meaningful health care reform. Just last week after a little prodding from Ross Kohler of ZaneBenefits I sent emails to my senators asking for their support for The Small Business Healthcare Relief Act [H.R.5447/S.3060].  The odds of it passing are up to 39% on govtrack.us! I remain optimistic for healthcare reform in the same sense as Jonathan Tepperman is optimistic in his TED talk, The Risky Politics Of Progress. He lays out a framework that worked for several previously intractable issues. I am afraid that with this issue we will have to wait for the collapse of the health exchanges before we will find the political motivation to make meaningful bipartisan changes. Think of it as the first step in a Twelve-step program for health care reform.

My comment to Episode 49.

As a middle class person who was hurt by the Affordable Care Act I was disappointed that Mr. Krugman did not reach out to the middle class with some better ideas. My annual health insurance premium went from $3,732 in 2011 to $6,564 in 2016. The lowest cost bronze plan for 2016 was going to cost me $12,300. I do not need a Nobel prize in economics to figure out that I am much worse off in 2016 than I was in 2011. For a person who has not filed a health insurance claim in this century, I lay the blame on the Affordable Care Act.
Since it is highly likely that my grandfathered health insurance plan will not be available to me in 2017, next year I am confronted with an interesting dilemma. The IRS says I should spending no more than 8.05% of my income on health insurance. That means the lowest cost bronze plan will be affordable for when I start earning $152,795. Sadly I am not earning anywhere close to that number. In an ironic twist since there are no health insurance plans available from the exchange that are affordable to me, it appears that the Affordable Care Act is recommending that I should be uninsured and enjoy my exemption from the individual mandate. I am not sure which universe Mr. Krugman is living in but the lack of affordable health insurance in the exchange is more than a bump in the road to the average middle class person. For the first time in my forty year career I will not have affordable health insurance available to me. Is this the Affordable Care Act good news Mr. Krugman was referring to?

Cliff Notes To Please Stop Helping Us By Jason Riley

After writing the post about the backlash over Virginia Tech’s disinvitation of Jason Riley, I thought I should probably read the book and see what the fuss was about. I found it at the public library. It was an easy read with lots of footnotes. Much of what he wrote confirms the impressions I have from interacting with black people while volunteering at Habitat for Humanity. I thought that what Mr. Riley had to say was important enough that I should write some cliff notes of the book for my personal reference. Here are the parts of the book that I found most significant.

Introduction

  1. What if there are limits to what government can do beyond removing barriers to freedom? What if the best that we can hope for from our elected officials are policies that promote equal opportunity? What if public-policy makers risk creating more barriers to progress when the goal is the ever-elusive “equality as a result”? At what point does helping start hurting?
  2. Black social and economic problems are less about politics than they are are about culture.
  3. Upward mobility depends on work ethic and family.
  4. Frederick Douglass: “And if the Negro cannot stand on his own legs, let him fall also. All I ask is, give him a chance to stand on his own legs!”

Chapter 1 – Black Man In The White House

  1. The data is going to indicate, sadly, that when the Obama administration is over, black people will have lost ground in every single leading economic category. — Tavis Smiley
  2. The political left, which has long embraced identity politics, encourages racial and ethnic loyalty.
  3. The black left continues to view Booker T. Washington not as a pragmatist, but as someone who naively accommodated white racism.
  4. The 1965 Voter Rights Act morphs into quota system.
  5. The black underclass continues to face many challenges, but they have to do with values and habits.

Chapter 2 – Culture Matters

  1. Though income is the primary indicator, the lack of live-in fathers also is overwhelming a black problem. — Washington Time 2012
  2. The reality was that if you were a bookish black kid who placed shared sensibilities above share skin color, you probably had a lot of white friends.
  3. The achievement gap begins in elementary school and widens in higher grades. By the end of high school the typical black student is several years behind his white peers in reading and math.
  4. Ogbu and his team of researchers concluded that black culture, more than anything else, explained the academic achievement gap. Black kids readily admitted that they did not work as hard as white students.
  5. Another nonwhite group that has thrived academically despite supposedly biased teaching methods is Asians.

Chapter 3 –  The Enemy Within

  1. The New Jim Crow thesis, the drug war was created with the express purpose of re-segregating society.
  2. In 1980 blacks comprised about one-eighth of the population but were half of all those arrested for murder, rape, and robbery, according to FBI data. It has not changed much since then.
  3. “High rates of black violence in the late twentieth century are a matter of historical fact, not bigoted imagination”, wrote William Stuntz. “The trends reached their peak not in the land of Jim Crow but in the more civilized North, and not in the age of segregation but in the decades that saw the rise of civil rights for African Americans — and of African American control of city governments.

Chapter 4 –  Mandating Unemployment

  1. “There is no evil that has inflicted more pain and more suffering than racism”, continues Trumka. “And it’s something that we in the labor movement have a very, very special responsibility to challenge.”
  2. In 2008 economists David Neumark and William Wascher published a book that said, “Our overall sense of the literature is that the preponderance of evidence supports the view that minimum wages reduce the employment of low-wage workers… Moreover, when researchers focus on the least-skilled groups that are most likely to be directly affected by minimum wage increases, the evidence of dis-employment effects seems especially strong.”

Chapter 5 –  Educational Freedom

  1. On average, black fourth and eighth graders perform two full grade levels behind of their white peers.
  2. Since 1970 the public school workforce has roughly doubled and has far outpaced student enrollment.
  3. Charter Schools — Geoffrey Canada — Within a few years the students— almost all black and Hispanic kids from low-income families—were outperforming not only their peers in traditional schools but also white students in posh suburbs.
  4. Of these, 11 find that choice improves student outcomes—six that all students benefit and five that some benefit and some are not affected(1). No empirical study found a negative impact.

Chapter 6 –  Affirmative Discrimination

  1. “The net affect of the preferential treatment, which is preferential in intention more so than in results, is that those blacks who are disadvantaged have fallen further behind under these policies,” Sowell declared. “Affirmative action has typically benefited people who were already well off and made them better off.”
  2. SOWELL: It’s fascinating… I see this happening on all sorts of issues, from Federal Reserve policies on across the board. You’ll say, “Here’s this wonderful program and it will do wonderful things, and the burden of proof is on others to show that it will not do those things.” And no matter how long it’s been going on,it’s never been long enough. It if failed, there just wasn’t enough commitment, the budget wasn’t big enough. It should have a larger staff, wider powers. But there is never any sense of a burden of proof on you to say—when you’ve made this change that has caused such furor in this country, and has gotten people at each other’s throats, including people who have been allies in the past, such as blacks and Jews—there is never any sense of a need for you to advance the empirical evidence to support what you’ve been doing.
  3. Blacks as a group, and poor blacks in particular, have performed better in the absence of government schemes like affirmative action.

Chapter 7 –  Conclusion

  1. “My sadness is that we are probably today more race- and difference-conscious than I was in the 1960s when I went to school.” — Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas

When Will The IRS Revoke The Tax Exemption Status Of The Clinton Foundation?

Last year I took a look at the Clinton Foundation Form 990 when the allegations of corruption first started to swirl. As a former treasurer for a Habitat for Humanity affiliate I know my way around the Form 990. At that time I thought when you compare the Clinton Foundation to the standards set by Samaritan’s Purse, Salvation Army, or Habit for Humanity, the foundation looked more incompetent than corrupt. Considering how incompetent they appeared you had to wonder why anyone would give money to this charity.

This year we heard allegations of “pay for play” so I am not surprised that the FBI and the IRS are investigating the Foundation.  “Pay for play” is an insidious political practice which has no place in charities. Although this practice may not be criminal there is bipartisan support do designate that “pay for play” as a political activity that should not be allowed by any 501(c)(3)  organizations. Considering the public perception that the IRS is corrupt and political, this is probably a good time for them to get out in front of this issue and yank the 501(c)(3) designation for the Clinton Foundation. This action would not be as severe as indicting the Democratic Presidential candidate in an election year but it would be a grim reminder to charities considering this practice that we are still a nation of laws. Every moment they waste reminds the public that there is one standard for the Clinton family and another one for the rest of America.

Strong Concealed Carry Growth In Ohio In The Second Quarter

Ohio continued to show strong concealed carry growth in 2016 with 32,259 new licences in the second quarter. Even though the number of new licenses dropped from the first quarter of 2016, it is still 58% higher than the fourth quarter of 2015. By my calculations the renewal rate increased to 73% while the year over year growth of total licenses increased to 19%. Here is my updated table and graph. To see my last report and the explanation of how I calculate the total number of licenses, click here.

Date Licenses Issued Licenses Renewed Total Licenses Renewal Rate License YoY Growth Rate
1/1/2014 16,205 15,832 429,393 75% 17%
4/1/2014 16,004 15,058 437,709 66% 12%
7/1/2014 11,945 11,159 445,453 73% 9%
10/1/2014 13,912 10,097 455,663 73% 9%
1/1/2015 15,593 12,071 467,167 75% 9%
4/1/2015 19,608 12,042 480,297 65% 10%
7/1/2015 16,000 10,129 493,924 81% 11%
10/1/2015 20,388 10,309 510,850 75% 12%
1/1/2016 36,118 11,242 542,082 70% 16%
3/1/2016 32,259 11,276 570,274 73% 19%

Concealed Carry Statistics For Ohio

#TooBigToJail and #TooCarelessToBePresident

It was a week after Director Comey blasted Ms. Clinton for her carelessness I found myself chuckling at the documentary, Apocalypse: Stalin. In the late 1930s with over 5 million people and most of the Politburo dead, the narrator says that Stalin’s closest friends had begun to think that they were careless in the way they handled Stalin’s rise to power. I could not help but wonder whether there was something that Stalin’s closest friends could have been done differently? That is when I started to wonder whether someday Ms. Clinton’s closest friends will feel the same remorse. Did Ms. Clinton and her advisers learn anything from Director Comey’s tongue lashing?

I was willing to give her the benefit of the doubt until she opened her mouth and removed all doubt. In an interview with Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday she said:

WALLACE:  After a long investigation, FBI Director James Comey said none of those things that you told the American public were true.

CLINTON:  Chris, that’s not what I heard Director Comey say, and I thank you for giving me the opportunity, in my view, clarify.

Director Comey said my answers were truthful, and what I’ve said is consistent with what I have told the American people, that there were decisions discussed and made to classify retroactively certain of the emails.

I was communicating with over 300 people in my e-mailing.  They certainly did not believe and had no reason to believe that what they were sending was classified.

Now, in retrospect, different agencies come in and say, well, it should have been, but that’s not what was happening in real time.

It came as no surprise that this claim received four Pinocchios from the Washington Post. She had to know every journalist wanted to ask her this question so there is no excuse for her not being prepared. This would have been the perfect time for her to explain that she made a mistake and assure the American people that this will never happen again. This was the time for her to hit this issue out of the ball park. Instead she reinforced the commonly held perception that as one Clinton supporter said recently, she is a stone cold liar. At some point you have to wonder whether her friends and allies who were careless in letting her use a private email server for confidential emails have learned anything. Ms. Clinton acts like national security policies are a farce so how would she improve them? If the only thing Ms. Clinton and her advisers have learned from the email server debacle is that they got away with it, what does that say about her qualifications to be President? Is she too careless to be President?