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Dale’s Latest on Transit, Energy, and the Rest by maliab
August 30, 2011, 6:11 pm
Filed under: Economy, World | Tags: , , , ,

Dale of Charley’s Taxi is back with the latest headlines on transit, funding, energy, zoning, and highways.  Highlights for this week include yet more eye-opening material on what I’m going to have to start calling “the Honolulu Rail Debacle.”  (One tiny bright spot in the whole mess–we’re bringing back the word “debacle”, which is just plain darned fun to say.)  And then there’s the not particularly surprising news that most legislators have no background knowledge of business.  I don’t know whether I should be relieved that the incompetence and obstructionism comes from ignorance and lack of experience or not, but it sometimes seems like our elected officials would have to know a lot about business to be able to muck things up so thoroughly.

QUOTES

PBN has long been in favor of mass transit, and we continue to be. We’re not saying, “Don’t build something.” We’re saying, “Don’t build an elevated rail project, and don’t build anything as it’s currently proposed.” This project cannot be fixed, and we are extremely concerned that its enduring legacy — should construction ever start — will be as our “rail to nowhere” effort. — Pacific Business News Editorial

I guarantee you this – I’m going to do my damndest to see that money [$1.5 billion from feds] comes in. It should be okay. But to predict an absolute outcome, only a fool would do that.” — Sen. Daniel Inouye to HART board

“Performance.gov tracks out progress on the administration’s efforts to create a government that is more effective, efficient, innovative and responsive. Importantly, the site is also a valuable tool for sharing best practices across the government – supporting learning and coordination across agencies.” — Jeff Zients, OMB

TOP HEADLINES
Green Scissors: Cutting Wasteful and Environmentally Harmful Spending 2011, Heartland Institute, 8/24/11

Study shows traffic accidents in Michigan costs the state US $4.4 billion more than crime, Traffic Technology Today, 8/25/11

The Henry Ford of Our Time, John Steele Gordon, American Enterprise Institute, 8/26/11

Is the Country on Empty?, American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), Special Issue, Inside ALEC, July/August 2011

U.S. has 200-year supply of coal, and 100-year supply of natural gas.

Impacts of Potential Oil Shale Development on Water Resources, Anu K. Mittal, GAO 11-929T, Testimony to House Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources, Committee on Natural Resources, 8/24/11

US Geological Survey estimates that Green River Formation contains about 3 trillion barrels of oil, about half of it recoverable, depending on available technology and economic conditions. Equals entire world’s proven oil reserves.

News in Hawaii

Elevated rail project leads Oahu in wrong direction, Pacific Business News Editorial, 8/26/11

Inouye to HART: “I’ll do my best.”, Hawaii News Now, 8/25/11

How the city misled the public, Walter Heen, Benjamin Cayetano, Cliff Slater, Randall Roth, Honolulu Star Advertiser, 8/21/11

TAXES & ECONOMIES

Harkins: Upgrading U.S. infrastructure more important than cutting deficit, Jennifer Jacobs, DesMoies Register, 8/26/11

Nation’s economic growth slides down to 1 percent, Peter Schroeder, The Hill, 8/26/11

What’s Better for the Environment: Raising the Gas Tax or Fuel-Efficiency Standards?, Infrastructurist, 8/25/11

Labor chief: Obama needs to focus on job growth, not cutting the deficit, Kevin Bogardus, The Hill, 8/25/11

Green Scissors 2011: Cutting Wasteful and Environmentally Harmful Spending, Eli Lehrer, Autumn Hanna, Benjamin Schreiber, Tyson Slocum, Heartland Institute, 8/24/11

Office of Management and Budget puts accountability online, Joe Davidson,Washington Post, 8/24/11

CBO estimates show Congress faces huge test on debt, unemployment, The Hill, 8/24/11

Wall Street Aristocracy Got $1.2 Trillion in Secret Loans at Lowest Rates, Bradley Keoun, Phil Kurtz, Bloomberg, 8/22/11

U.S. Travel: Overseas visitor spending driving growth, Danny King, Travel Weekly, 8/20/11

Forget Corporate Jets. Government Limousines Show They’re Stealing You Blind, Iain Murray, Competitive Enterprise Institute, 8/19/11

HIGHWAYS & BRIDGES, PPP & TOLLING, DRIVING ISSUES

DUI, Uninsured Motorists, Tolling, PPPs, Variable Pricing, RUCS and Sustainable Transportation

Study shows traffic accidents in Michigan costs the state US $4.4 billion more than crime, Traffic Technology Today, 8/25/11

Drivers not happy about toll hike, Steve Metsch, Casey Toner, Chicago Sun-Times, 8/25/11

Big Brother Bloomberg, Charles C.W. Cooke, National Review, 8/25/11

Interview with Donald Shoup: Los Angeles Making Strides with ExpressPark, Damien Newton, LA.StreetsBlog, 8/24/11

HNTB survey shows Americans top concerns are poor road conditions and congestion, Traffic Technology Today, 8/23/11

The Wrong Road to Transportation Solutions, Benita Dodd, Georgia Public Policy Foundation, 8/19/11

TRANSIT
Watchdogs seek cost information on Dulles Metro line, Dana Hedgpeth, WashingtonPost, 8/27/11

Should a ‘Walker’s Paradise’ Save Plenty of Room for Parking?, Saqib Rahim, NYTimes, 8/25/11

TTC may ban criminals who assaulted transit workers, Metro Mag, 8/25/11

California’s Goofy Train Fixation Could Bankrupt the Country, Roger Hedgecock, Human Events, 8/26/11

No tram line for city centre and 4m-a-year loss, Brian Ferguson, The Scotsman, 8/26/11

What Does Opposition to Government Rail Projects Have to Do with Individual Liberty?, Matt Welch, Reason, 8/25/11

San Francisco High Speed Rail on Varney & Co., FoxNews, 8/24/11

Traveling back to the future on intercity buses, Michael Barone, Washington Examiner, 8/23/11

Dulles Metrorail Silver Line vs Bus Rapid Transit, Steve Lafleur, New Geography, 8/19/11

ZONING, HOUSING & LAND USE

TODs, Eminent Domain, Property Rights

How To Save The Housing Market: Destroy Houses, Massimo Calabresi, Stephen Gandel, Time, 9/05/11

The Evolving Urban Form: Beijing, Wendell Cox, New Geography, 8/29/11

America’s Gambling Craze: Playing with Fire, Neal Peirce, Citiwire, 8/25/11

Suburbanized Core Cities, Wendell Cox, New Geography, 8/26/11

Universal Principles for Creating a Sustainable City, Sven Eberlein, Planetizen, 8/11/11

ENERGY & ENVIRONMENT

Rigged For Failure, Investors Business Daily, 8/24/11

Last year, 3 oil rigs moved out of Gulf of Mexico. Now, it’s 10.

Is the Country on Empty?, American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), Special Issue, Inside ALEC, July/August 2011

U.S. has 200-year supply of coal, and 100-year supply of natural gas.

Impacts of Potential Oil Shale Development on Water Resources, Anu K. Mittal, GAO 11-929T, Testimony to House Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources, Committee on Natural Resources, 8/24/11

Not Free to Choose: The Reality behind Clean Energy Standards, Kenneth P. Green, American Enterprise Institute, 8/23/11

Cities Mean Coal, Energy Facts, 8/23/11

What New Emissions Standards Will Mean to Automakers, Mike Orcutt, MIT Technology Review, 8/22/11

The EPA’s giant green jobs-killer, Michael A. Walsh, NYPost, 8/21/11

Ozone Standards Not Scientific Either, Adam Peshek, Reason, 8/19/11

Number of Green Jobs Fails to Live Up to Promises, NYTimnes, 8/18/11

Where to put spent U.S. nuclear fuel, Robert Bryce, Politico, 8/18/11

Climatology Professor Rebuts Smear on Skeptical ScientistJames M. Taylor, Heartland Institute, 8/15/11

The Wind-Energy Myth, Robert Bryce, National Review, 8/12/11

New Study Touts Benefits of Expanded Oil Trade with Canada, Christine Hall, Competitive Enterprise Institute, 8/09/11

The Economic Opportunities of Shale Energy Development, Timothy J. Considine, Robert W. Watson, Nicholas B. Consodine, Manhattan Institute, Energy Policy & the Environment Report No. 9, June 2011

Global Carbon Markets Dirty Secret, Will Evans, Center for Investigative Reporting, 5/21/11

Lawsuit by low-income groups may delay climate law, Sarah Terry-Cobo, CaliforniaWatch, 2/09/11

MISCELLANEOUS

Perry: Gates Gave China Fighter-Jet Superiority, William chedsey, Newsmax, 8/27/11

49% of Newborns on Food Assistance Programs, Newsmax, 8/27/11

How to Keep Your Cell Phone going as Long as Possible, Christopher Mims, MIT Technology Review, 8/27/11

Crime and the Great Recession, James Q. Wilson, City Journal Summer 2011 vol. 21. No. 3.

The minister of magic steps down, The Economist, 8/27/11

The Henry Ford of Our Time, John Steele Gordon, American Enterprise Institute, 8/26/11

Cheeky: Rick Perry Bills the Feds for Illegal Immigrant Imprisonment Costs, Erika Johnsen, Townhall, 8/26/11

Arming the Cartels, Geoprge H. Wittman, American Spectator, 8/26/11

Astronomers discover planet made of diamond, Ben Hirschler, Reuters, 8/25/11

Study: 80 Percent of Lawmakers Lack Academic Background in Business, Economics, FoxNews, 8/25/11

Employment Policies Institute found that 55.5 percent of lawmakers majored in a government-related field or “humanities. Only about 8 percent majored in economics, 14 percent studied business or accounting in college. These numbers raise questions about legislators’ ability to tacke otuch economic challenges.

Let’s Put a Stop to the War On Salt, Luke Pelican, Jacqueline Otto, Fox News, 8/15/11

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Fact Check: Criticizing the “Texas Economic Miracle” by maliab
August 24, 2011, 5:58 pm
Filed under: Economy | Tags: , , , ,

There is an interesting game that goes on when the political conversation turns to unemployment.  Despite the rather depressing unemployment numbers, there are still plenty of arguments to be found about the kinds of jobs available.  Some of these criticisms are well-founded, as when it is pointed out that creating temporary government jobs via state-funded spending sprees is not a path to long-term economic recovery.  Others, such as the spats over the relative “quality” of new jobs available are a bit more complex.  As Dr. Steve Pejovich, a Professor Emeritus from Texas A&M University writing for the Institute for Policy Innovation, explains, there’s a lot more to economic recovery than the wage rate:

Challenging the supposed “Texas economic miracle” under Governor Rick Perry, CBS recently reported, “Critics also note that many of the jobs created on Perry’s watch are low-paying and lack benefits.” This statement is wrong at best and stupid at worst. Here is an economist’s explanation for non-economists.

The demand for labor, like the demand for all scarce goods, is a function of price. The lower the wage the more people are hired.

What’s known as the “market-clearing wage” (i.e., price) is the wage at which all people who want to work at that wage have jobs. At any wage above the market-clearing wage not all people who want to work at that wage have jobs.

Government can’t determine the market-clearing level, only markets can. But government can distort it by imposing regulations on business, minimum wage laws, and unions (think of the Boeing case), which force wage rates above the market–clearing level.

Perry’s critics are confusing the wage rate with income. The higher the wage rate (above the market-clearing level) the more who are unemployed. That is, high wage rates mean zero income for many. The market-clearing wage rate means positive income for all.

Governments can choose to make labor markets less or more competitive. Perry has chosen the latter for Texas. Yes, the average wage rate in Dallas might be lower than in Detroit, but more people are earning money from work in Dallas than in Detroit. This raises an important question upon which a free society depends: the freedom of choice.

Any person in a right–to-work environment can choose between zero income and the wage he or she could get in the labor market. No person in a union-controlled or government-regulated environment can choose between zero income and the wage at which he or she is willing to work.

No one has to work for a lower wage, but at least in Texas more people can choose that option over being unemployed.



Paul Jacob & the Human Face of Corporations by maliab
August 23, 2011, 4:56 pm
Filed under: Economy, Limited Government | Tags: , ,

It’s a little tiring, listening to the tired trope that makes corporations the ultimate bad guy of modern culture.  Look at Hollywood.  Any time they can’t work a Nazi (or at least a neo-Nazi) into the plot of their latest action thriller, they turn to the same cliche . . . the evil corporate fat cat.  So is it any wonder that Mitt Romney earned heaps of undeserved scorn for commenting that “corporations are people”?  As Paul Jacob, President of Citizens in Charge, points out, Romney biggest offense was pointing out the ugliness of the Left’s anti-business prejudice:

On the video page featuring Mitt Romney’s notorious “corporations are people” comment — the one I clicked to, anyway — every comment was negative, with jokes like “Did you hear that S&P downgraded the Tea Party credit grade to KK+?” and economically illiterate whoppers like “Corporations do not help anyone except those who own them or do what they say.” It’s saddening to see ignorance and bigotry so self-righteously maintained by everyday Americans.

Yes, bigotry.

For Romney was right: Corporations are made of people. Those who roil with hatred for corporations, singling them out for more regulation or greater taxation, are attacking actual living, breathing people, who, as Milton Friedman pointed out, are made up of three classes of just plain folks: the owners, the, who are people; the corporation’s hired managers, who are people; and served  that is, people who have chosen,  duress, to buy stuff from the corporations.

Economist Steven Horwitz, writing in the , cited one study that estimated that “45 percent to 75 percent of the burden of a corporate tax increase is borne by workers,” and noted that, if profits fall, fewer dividends would go to stockholders.

And “stockholders” are often nothing other than workers’ retirement funds.

Yeah, soak the older people. That should make corporation-haters feel good.

Setting aside “some other people” to hate is exactly what anti-corporatists are doing. It’s bigotry. And it’s ugly . . . and de-humanizing.

This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.



Benko on Monetary Policy by grassroothawaii
August 15, 2011, 8:31 pm
Filed under: Economy | Tags: ,

It’s interesting how, when economic worries abound, so few people actually talk about actual monetary policy.  It’s almost as if they worry about the effect of looking to closely at it–like sausage, perhaps we prefer not to know too much about our monetary system and how the value of the dollar is determined.  Unfortunately, it’s also one of those factors that affects every aspect of our lives–and in Hawaii, where the state of the Asian markets is almost as important to us as what’s happening on Wall Street, it bears special consideration.  And, as Ralph Benko points out in a recent Forbes column, perhaps a change is called for:

Is it possible that the ghastly unemployment, stagnant growth (and possible double-dip recession), and financial market convulsions all can traced back to one single decision?  Perhaps.

Monetary policy is the most recondite yet most pervasive and powerful of economic forces.  Keynes, in The Economic Consequences of the Peace, wrote, “There is no subtler, no surer means of overturning the existing basis of society than to debauch the currency. The process engages all the hidden forces of economic law on the side of destruction, and does it in a manner which not one man in a million is able to diagnose.”

The converse also is true.  Restoring real monetary integrity engages all the hidden forces of economic law on the side of prosperity.  And forces for monetary reform are very much in motion.

The dollar has fallen in value by more than 80% from the day when Richard Nixon took the world off the tattered remnants of the gold standard.  Aug. 15 marks the 40th anniversary of the avowedly “temporary” abandonment of the gold standard by President Richard Nixon.

“Closing the gold window” was part of a series of dramatic but shocking and destructive tactics by Washington, including wage-price controls, a tariff barrier, and other measures, all leading to economic and financial markets hell.  All such measures save one stand discredited.  The only piece of the Nixon Shock still in force was the piece most ostentatiously designated as temporary.  Nixon: “I have directed Secretary Connally to suspend temporarily the convertibility of the dollar into gold….”

Suspending convertibility was no trivial matter.  Nixon speechwriter William Safire recalled: “On the helicopter headed for Camp David, I was seated between [Herb] Stein and a Treasury official.  When the Treasury man asked me what was up, I said it struck me as no big deal, that we would probably close the gold window.  He leaned forward, put his face in his hands, and whispered, ‘My God!’  Watching this reaction, it occurred to me that this could be a bigger deal than I thought….”

It proved to be a very big deal.  How ironic that the most staunch defenders of a pure paper standard, the sole remnant of Nixonomics, are a few influential “progressives” such as Paul Krugman, Joseph Stiglitz and Thomas Frank.  Call them “the Nixonians.”  The poor jobs growth and stagnation of today’s “world dollar standard” are not, unsurprisingly, dissimilar to the results of the Nixon Shock.

There is ample evidence that restoring gold convertibility would put the world back on the path of jobs, growth, and a balanced federal budget.  Politicians do not like messing around with monetary policy. But gold, recently rediscovered by the Tea Party, has an impressive technical, economic, and political pedigree of gold convertibility and a very well established track record of job-creation, properly applied, during many eras.

The silver lining to the whipsawing Dow is … that it makes politicians open to new ideas, even new old ideas.  Monetary statesmen from Alexander Hamilton forward have faced circumstances far more dire than those of today and turned things around.  Modern example? The German economic miracle, the Wirtschaftswunder.

That miracle was founded in currency reform.  On the very day when Ludwig Erhard’s currency reform was put into place the economic paralysis ended.  The “rightest” economist of the 20th century, Jacques Rueff, wrote (with André Piettre) about the turnaround beginning on the very day of the reform:

Shop windows were full of goods; factory chimneys were smoking and the streets swarmed with lorries.  Everywhere the noise of new buildings going up replaced the deathly silence of the ruins.  If the state of recovery was a surprise, its swiftness was even more so.  In all sectors of economic life it began as the clocks struck on the day of currency reform.  Only an eye-witness can give an account of the sudden effect which currency reform had on the size of stocks and the wealth of goods on display.  Shops filled with goods from one day to the next; the factories began to work.  On the eve of currency reform the Germans were aimlessly wandering about their towns in search of a few additional items of food.  A day later they thought of nothing but producing them.  One day apathy was mirrored in their faces while on the next a whole nation looked hopefully into the future.

Rueff took a similar approach, including a dramatic currency reform, to reviving the French economy.  As economist and Lehrman Institute senior advisor John Mueller summarizes:

Despite the unanimous opposition of his cabinet, de Gaulle adopted the entire Rueff plan, which required sweeping measures to balance the budget and make the franc convertible after 17.5% devaluation – though not without qualms. ‘All your recommendations are excellent,’ de Gaulle told Rueff. ‘But if I apply them all and nothing happens, have you considered how much real pain it will cause across this country?’ Rueff replied, “I give you my word, mon General, that the plan, if completely adopted, will re-establish equilibrium in our balance of payments within a few weeks. Of this I am absolutely sure; I accept that your opinion of me will depend entirely on the result.’ (It did: ten years later, de Gaulle awarded Rueff the medal of the Legion of Honor.)

Today on this the 40th anniversary of the closing of the gold window a group of Americans issued a statement stating, in its conclusion:

[W]e support a 21st century international gold standard.  America should lead by unilateral resumption of the gold standard.  The U.S. dollar should be defined by law as convertible into a weight unit of gold, and Americans should be free to use gold itself as money without restriction or taxation.  The U.S. should make an official proposal at an international monetary conference that major nations should use gold rather than the dollar or other national currencies to settle payments imbalances between one another.  A new international monetary system, based on gold, without official reserve currencies, should emerge from the deliberations of the conference.

Many of the signers are associated with the American Principles Project, chaired by Sean Fieler, and the Lehrman Institute (with both of which this writer is professionally associated), chaired by Lewis E. Lehrman.  Signers also include such important thought leaders as Atlas Foundation’s Dr. Judy Shelton and Forbes Opinions editor John Tamny.

Politicians may have forgotten the power that real money, money of integrity such as currency convertible into gold, has to reverse an economic crisis.  But the people have not.  Earlier this year, the government of Utahrestored, to international attention, the recognition of gold and silver coins as legal money.  Now news emerges that the largest and most respected political party in Switzerland is supporting the work of the Goldfranc Association, led by citizen Thomas Jacob, to introduce a gold-convertible Swiss franc as a parallel currency.

To read more, click here:  http://www.forbes.com/sites/ralphbenko/2011/08/15/fiat-money-the-root-cause-of-our-financial-disaster/



Dale’s Energy, Transit, Taxes (and More) Update by grassroothawaii
August 12, 2011, 7:53 pm
Filed under: Economy, Hawaii Sunshine, World | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Today, we have another update for you from Dale of Charley’s Taxi on the latest headlines in transit, taxes, energy, zoning, and more.  Some highlights (or lowlights, depending on how you look at it) from this edition include the questionable relationship between the rail project and the unions, the probability of a “double-dip” recession, an analysis of what causes cities to grow or shrink, and the effort to empirically demonstrate the existence of media bias.  Enjoy:

QUOTES

The bulk of [budget cuts] will have to be found by cutting real military capability and as a result, accepting real additional risk to the country’s security. — Michael E. O’Hanlon, Brookings Institution

“I drank so much vodka I could barely stand up. But I had to get home somehow and decided to do something I had never done before. 

I took a bus.     And here’s the good news. I arrived home safe and sound, cozy and warm, and able to go to work the next morning.  

All of which is remarkable because I had never driven a bus before.” — Henry at AA meeting

The effect of the people’s agreeing that there must be central planning, without agreeing on the ends, will be rather as if a group of people were to commit themselves to take a journey together without agreeing where they want to go; with the result that they may all have to make a journey which most of them do not want at all. — F.A. Hayek

The al-Qaeda network is fully prepared to continue the jihad against the American infidels by launching deadly attacks, but your outdated and rusting transportation infrastructure needs to be completely overhauled for those strikes even to be noticed.— Ayman al-Zawahiri

TOP HEADLINES
The Debt-Limit Debate: Addressing Key Concerns, Veronique de Rugy, Jason J. Fichtner, Mercatus Center, George Mason University, 5/26/11

The Debt Ceiling: What is at Stake? Vernoique de Rugy, Jason J. Fichtner, MercatusCenter, GMU, 4/28/11

Glimpse into daily life in North KoreaJean H. Lee, David Guttenfelder, MSNBC, 7/23/11

Journey into North Korea, MSNBC PHOTOGRAPHS

The Official 1984 Reagan ScorecardJonathan Rowe, Paul Glastris,Washington Monthly,

How Government Regulation Affects the Price of a New Home, Paul Emrath, National Association of Home Builders, July 2011

Obama Undercuts Case for HSR and Rail Transit, The Antiplanner, 8/04/11

What the Budget Control Act Means for U.S. Defense, Michael E. O’Hanlon, Brookings Institute, 8/02/11

Why Did America Destroy Its Great Cities?, Frank Gruber, Huffington Post, 8/02/11

CBO: Federal Loan Guarantees for the Construction of Nuclear Power Plants, August 2011

Intoxicated on Independence: Is Domestically Produced Ethanol Worth the Cost?,Scientific American, 7/28/11

The U.S. May Need More Lawyers!, Clifford Winston, Robert W. Crandall, Huffington Post, 7/29/11

The Obama EPA’s Brave New Future, Heritage Foundry, 7/28/11

Higher fuel standards mean higher death toll, Washington Examiner EDITORIAL, 7/28/11


When it comes to population growth, Houston is No. 1, Rice University, 7/06/11 

News in Hawaii

CEO of troubled rail car company that won Honolulu bid steps down, Gene Park, Honolulu Star Advertiser, 8/05/11

Inouye, Akaka, Cantwell and Johnson Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Help Facilitate Business Travel, Trade with Asia-Pacific Region, Hawaii Reporter, 8/04/11

‘Sinkhole State:’ Hawaii is in the 47th Worst Financial Position of All 50 States,Hawaii Reporter, 8/03/11

Trains Helped Kill the Greek Economy – They’ll Kill Hawaii’s too, Panos Prevedouros, Fix Oahu, 8/01/11

The New Airline & Air Service Strategy Metrics, Boyd Group International, 8/01/11

American Airlines is dropping SFO-Honolulu this fall.

Honolulu Rail in Illegal Pact with Local Unions, Panos Prevedouros, FixOahu, 7/29/11

Ansaldo Honolulu’s parent firm rethinking rail car business, Gene Park, Honolulu Star Advertiser, 7/29/11

Rail Bid Judges Ignored Ansaldo’s Past Problems, Michael Levine, Honolulu Civil Beat, 7/28/11

New vehicle charging station powers up at Capitol garage, Honolulu Star Advertiser, 7/28/11

Solar Power Plant on Oahu Does not Pass Muster, Panos Prevedouros, Fix Oahu!, 7/27/11

Traffic Accident Investigation on Oahu: Stuck in the 1980s, Panos Prevedouros, FixOahu!, 7/28/11

TAXES & ECONOMIES

Brutal: Dow Plunges Amid ‘Double-Dip’ Recession Jitters, Guy Benson, Townhall, 8/04/11

Editorial: An Unwelcome Debt Milestone, Investors Business Daily, 8/04/11

US debt exceeds entire economy GDP, markets alarmed

Academic Panel Sees 50% Chance US to Plunge Into Recession, MoneyNews, 8/03/11

Political DerivativesNicole Gelinas, National Review, 8/03/11

Moody’s, Fitch: US Must Do More to Avoid Rating Downgrades, MoneyNews, 8/03/11

Where’s Your Budget, Mr. President?, Paul Ryan, Wall Street Journal, 8/03/11

Meredith Whitney: US Headed for Double-Dip Recession, Forrest Jones, MoneyNews, 8/02/11

What the Budget Control Act Means for U.S. Defense, Michael E. O’Hanlon, Brookings Institute, 8/02/11

Military Spending and the Budget Deal, Christopher Preble, Cato @ Liberty, 8/01/11

When a cut is not a cutRep. Ron Paul, The Hill, 8/01/11

Europe Declares War on American Ratings Agencies, Soeren Kern, Pajamas Media, 7/30/11

Finish the 710 Freeway, James E. Moore II, LA Times, 7/29/11

Crumbling transportation infrastructure could cost US $3.1 trillion, Metro Magazine, 7/28/11

African American Middle Class Eroding As Unemployment Rate Soars, John Roberts, FOX News, 7/28/11

Motorists’ Group Endorses “Trip Bonds” Legislation, American Highway UsersAlliance, 7/28/11

Solving the Long-Term Jobs Problem, Arnold King, Nick Schultz, The AmericanEnterprise Institute, 7/27/11

Greenspan: Fed Should Have Let Banks Fail, Greg Brown, MoneyNews, 7/27/11

Herman Cain Interview on Creating Jobs, Dick Morris, 7/27/11

Behind economic hard times, fear of the new, Robert J. Samuelson, Washington Post, 7/22/11

HIGHWAYS & BRIDGES, PPP & TOLLING, DRIVING ISSUES

DUI, Uninsured Motorists, Tolling, PPPs, Variable Pricing, RUCS and Sustainable Transportation

China falls in love with SUVs, Malcolm Moore, Telegraph UK, 8/04/11

Busting Congestion in Chicago (or Any other City), Reason TV, 8/03/11

Top 10 New-Car Deals for August, Jim Gorzelany, Forbes, 8/03/11

Taking transit – a testimonial at AA meeting, TollRoadsNews,  7/28/11

Golf cart drivers aim to be legal in small town, The Tennessean, 7/28/11

INRIX launches its Traffic app on Windows Phone 7 and BlackBerry cell phone platformsTraffic Technology Today, 7/25/11

New traffic camera website aiming to drive down congestion across the UK, Trarffic Technology Today, 7/25/11

6 Reasons Driving Has Peaked in U.S. CitiesEric Jaffe, Infrastructurist, 7/14/11

Replacing the Tappan Zee BridgeManhattan Institute, 6/22/11

INRIX TRAFFIC! App Now Available on App Store

TRANSIT
Frustrating, dangerous Metro problems for the disabled, Dana Hedgpeth, Washington Post, 8/06/11

Driving services help senior mobility without spending public money, Pamela M. Prah, Stateline, 8/04/11

Antonio Villaraigosa pushes bus-only lanes as MTA chairman, Ari Bloomekatz, Cornelius Pollmer, Los Angeles Times, 8/04/11

Low-Fare, Curbside Bus Operators Picking Up Amtrak Market Share, Don Stacom,Hartford Courant, 8/01/11

Chinese rail crash scandal: ‘official steals $2.8 billion’, Malcolm Moore, Telegraph UK, 8/01/11

China Imposes Blackout on Train Wreck Coverage, Sharon LaFraniere, NY Times,  8/01/11

With 210 injured, 35 fatalities, more concerns that government sacrifices people’s lives and safety for world’s largest public works project and cloaks failures in secrecy or propaganda.

A new third rail, The Economist, 7/30/11

Japan has operated bullet trains for 47 years without a fatal accident.

Report casts doubt on forecasts for California high speed rail, Dan Weikel, LA Times, 7/29/11

Cambridge used a now-obsolete survey method, made unrealistic assumptions, failed to properly analyze what would happen to ridership for varying levels of train service, and did not consider the impact of airline competition…But the bigger take away from all this is that there are now two independent reviews that show things are lacking here.

Al-Qaeda Claims U.S. Mass Transportation Infrastructure Must Drastically Improve Before Any Terrorist Attacks, The Onion,  7/28/11

Significant repairs and upgrades are needed for the militant group to consider destroying any roads, bridges or railways with terrorist attacks.

Using Market Processes to Reform Government Transportation Programs, Report No. 2: Improving Transit with Competitive Contracting, Wendell Cox and Ronald Utt, Heritage Webmemo #3312, 7/07/11

Public transportation has to change to remain viable, according to a new Heritage Foundation analysis. For decades, transit’s principal problem has been insufficient cost control rather than insufficient revenues. Over the past 25 years, transit’s operating cosdts have been approximately $15 billion (on a passenger mile basis). Had transit agencies kept costs within inflation – as most businesses do – transit would have been able to provide 40 percent more service in 2009. Without government unable to provide more subsidies, a much better solution is for transit systems to use competitive contracting to reduce costs and improve quality of service.  — Wendell Cox and Ron Utt

John Charles responds to Portland Mayor Sam Adams, John Charles, Cascade Policy Institute, 7/25/11

Los Angeles Metro Bus System Compares Favorably With Its Peer Group, Tom Rubin, New Geography, 7/28/11

KRM dead, Racine County to get back $300,000 in past rental car fees, Stephanie Jones, TheJournalTimes, 7/25/11

MetroAccess Knowingly Places Hundreds of Disabled Paratransit Passengers at Risk, Bus riders Union of Austin, TX, 4/02/11

ZONING, HOUSING & LAND USE

TODs, Eminent Domain, Property Rights

Plant a Garden, Go to Jail for 93-Days?! Nanny of the Month, Korchula Productions, July 2011

Growth controls = Housing Collapse, Sterling Burnett, National Review Online, 8/05/11

How Government Regulation Affects the Price of a New Home, Paul Emrath,k National Association of Home Builders, July 2011

Rural US disappearing? Population share hits low, Hope Yen, Associated Press, 7/28/11

Moving From The Coast, Wendell Cox, New Geography, 7/28/11

Program Offers Cash Incentives To Live Downtown, CBS Detroit, 7/25/11

In the five-year, $4 million “Live Downtown” program, first-time home buyers will get a $20,000 forgivable loan. Renters will get a $2,500 first year allowance, and $1,000 the following year. Employees who already own a home in the city will be given up to a $5,000 grant for exterior improvements.

Why Amnerica’s Young and Restless Will Abandon Cities for Suburbs, Joel Kotkin, Forbes, 7/20/11

When it comes to population growth, Houston is No. 1, Rice University, 7/06/11

Why Some Cities Are Growing And Others Shrinking, Dean Stansel, Cato Journal, Summer 2011

ENERGY & ENVIRONMENT

Beaver Fever Fanaticism: EPA Eco-Radicals Are Hurting Families at the Tap, Christopher Coffey, Pajamas Media, 8/07/11

Blame the Washington Bureaucracy for High Gas Prices, Rob Bluey, Heritage Foundry, 8/04/11

New Process Could Make Canadian Oil Cheaper, Cleaner, Kevin Bullis, MIT Technology Review, 8/03/11

GM Confirms Slow Chevy Volt Sales, Mark Modica, National Legal and Policy Center, 8/02/11

CBO: Federal Loan Guarantees for the Construction of Nuclear Power Plants, August 2011

Higher fuel standards mean higher death toll, Washington Examiner EDITORIAL, 7/28/11

Issa launches investigation into Obama’s new fuel economy standards, Andrew REstuccia, The Hill, 7/29/11

Grow Our Way Out, IBD, 7/29/11

President Obama Announces Historic 54.5 mpg Fuel Efficiency Standard, US DOT, 7/29/11

New NASA Data Blow Gaping Hole in Global Warming Alarmism, James Taylor, Forbes, 7/27/11

America’s power grid too vulnerable to cyberattack, US report warns, Mark Clayton, Jewish World Review, 7/28/11

The Obama EPA’s Brave New Future, Heritage Foundry, 7/28/11

Intoxicated on Independence: Is Domestically Produced Ethanol Worth the Cost?,Scientific American, 7/28/11

MISCELLANEOUS

Obama’s War on the Welf-Made Man, Lurita Doan, Townhall, 8/08/11

2011 Hall of Fame Shannon Shane speech, 8/07/11

Parents: Hone Your Kid’s BS Detector!, Doug Giles, Townhall, 8/07/11

DEA Letting Cartels Bring Drugs Over the Border, Helen Whalen Cohen, Townhall, 8/06/11

USPS Bailout on the Horizon, Trey Kovacs, Open Market, 8/04/11

Anti-terror plan allies White House with Muslim groups, Neil Munro, Daily Caller, 8/04/11

Documents: Feds allegedly allowed Sinaloa cartel to move cocaine into U.S. for information, Diana Washington Valdez, El Paso Times, 8/04/11

Communist Party USA Officially Endorses Barack Obama, Vision to America, 8/04/11

Policing Beltway Lobbyists, Jonathan H. Adler, National Review Online, 8/02/11

UCLA professor’s new book empirically demonstrates liberal media bias {VIDEO],Jamie Weinstein, 8/01/11

Plug-and-Play Batteries: Trying Out a Quick-Swap Station for E.V.’s, Bradley Berman, NYTimes, 7/31/11

The U.S. May Need More Lawyers!, Clifford Winston, Robert W. Crandall, Huffington Post, 7/29/11

Gunwalker: William Newell Circles the Wagons, Patrick Richardson, PM, 7/28/11

NHS delays operations ‘as it waits for patients to die or go private’, Martin Beckford, Telegraph UK, 7/28/11

3D printing: the technology that could re-shape the world, Shane Richmond, TelegraphUK, 7/28/11

Obama to Banks: We’re Not Defaulting, Charlie Gasparino, Fox Business, 7/25/11

Germany’s Choice – Part 2, Stratfor Global Intelligence, 7/26/11



Sam Slom on our Economic Crisis by grassroothawaii
August 10, 2011, 5:07 pm
Filed under: Economy | Tags: , , , ,

So Senator Slom is right.  Again.  It’s getting to be a habit with him.  In Hawaii Reporter you can read his take on the debt ceiling crisis and fallout.  (My favorite part–where he mentions that Senator Inouye is Hawaii’s second biggest industry, right after tourism.  And that building your economic hopes on pork from Congress is building on shifting sand.)  Here’s a sample:

 A month ago, I wrote an editorial in Hawaii Reporter in opposition to raising the debt ceiling and conducting government business as usual.

Several professional people, including some friends, argued that I was wrong.  if we didn’t take action, we would face a lowered credit rating, a plunging stock market and higher interest rates, they said.

It was the same argument that was used to force passage of the failed TARP bailout in the last days of the Bush Administration and TARP 2 and stimulus subsidies and grants subsequently.

So, at the last minute, a bi-partisan political agreement on our debt was cobbled together. It pleased neither the right nor the left. In my humble opinion, it was a phony agreement with more promises and no meaningful reform. A “super” Congressional Committee? Really?

The ink wasn’t even dry on the new law when the President, true to his beliefs, authorized billions in new spending and more debt. I said publicly that our credit rating would decrease and there would be huge losses in the markets because we did not address the causeof our fiscal problems: excessive government taxation, spending and debt.

In spite of that “grand” debt agreement, or because of it, Standard & Poor’s downgraded the U.S. credit rating last Friday, from AAA to AA+, the stock market plummeted (again), and interest rates will increase.

Billionaire Warren Buffet responded to S&P’s action, saying  the US credit rating should be UPgraded to “AAAA.”

Over the weekend, the President’s men were quick to blame S&P, the Tea Party, Republicans in Congress and yes, President Bush. Today, President Obama added to the criticism of the messenger, S&P, quoted Buffet, and again called for raising taxes.

The gist of the attacks was that S&P didn’t know what they were doing, their accounting procedures are wrong, and besides, neither Moody’s nor Fitch downgraded the US credit.

I agree that ratings services are just that: ratings services. They don’t know everything.  They do make mistakes. Why didn’t all of them downgrade Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac years ago? Their comments are subject to debate. Kind of like consumer magazine ratings and movie reviews.

But S&P happens to be right at this time. They see no willingness to change government fiscal policies or to improve the investment climate.

(Now go here to read the rest.)



Hawaiian Electric by the Numbers by grassroothawaii
July 29, 2011, 6:19 pm
Filed under: Hawaii Sunshine | Tags: , ,

By Jim Wagoner

In recent days there has been many comments made about our electricity costs; I’ll add my two cents. Hawaiian Electric Industries (HE) owns Hawaii Electric (HEI), Maui Electric (MECO), Big Island Electric (HELCO), and American Savings Bank, Hawaii’s third largest banking institution. Earnings are the lifeblood of every business and they have been meager for Hawaii Electric for several years. I have researched their past ten quarters and find they have not made enough money to pay their promised 5.1% dividend. This is an unhealthy scenario that will be corrected by the Public Utilities Commission with ever higher rate increases.

Disturbing Numbers: The State of Nebraska has published a chart listing all 50 states showing the average cost per kilowatt hour (KWH) of electricity (updated March 2011). Hawaii was dead last with a cost of 21.21 cents for each KWH. The average cost was 9.83 cents. It is worth noting that 35 of the 50 states were able to develop electricity for less than 10 cents per hour. With the elaborate cost we are paying for their juice, it is reasonable to think that Hawaii Electric would be rolling in money, which is not the case.

My personal electrical bill for June reveals that we used 1,003 KWH with a cost of $348.88, or 38.3 cents per KWH. It is a mystery to me as to where the actual link of 38.3 cents per KWH I’m charged and the 21.21 cents shown on the Nebraska chart. The statement does reveal the following: Customer Charge $7.50, Non Fuel Energy $103.92, Base Fuel Energy $180.53, Interim Increase $7.12, PBF Surcharge $5.96, and Energy Cost Adjustment $79.90. I think this is an elixir devised to confuse customers.

How can Hawaii be so out of step with our sister states in this cost of such a basic necessity? I believe they have bloated the numbers of their staff personnel. It is unionized featherbedding at its sumptuous best – with no real oversight. HE management has bought into the State’s endeavor to have a 20% “renewable energy plan” for Hawaii a few years down the line. One can just imagine the tens of millions HE has already spent on studies, grants, and commissions to achieve that 20% level.

I believe that President Obama has an agenda to crush the economy of the United States utilizing the elevated cost of energy as his principal operating tool. On July 14th President Obama appointed Constance Lau, President and Chief Executive Officer of Hawaiian Electric Industries to serve as a member of the National Infrastructure Council – another frivolous body of bureaucrats operating out of the White House. This appointment is documentation that Ms. Lau is on board for the full propaganda program of global warming, the toxicity of CO2, and their manufactured necessity of renewable green energy.

Unfortunately you haven’t seen anything yet. I suspect that the cost of electricity in Hawaii will be 25% higher within two years. Further, if the proposed Lanai and Molokai wind programs are initiated we are talking 80 to 90 cents per KWH (in today’s prices). Nothing will absorb and reduce the prosperity of mankind with more certainty than exorbitant costs for electricity.




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