Gérard Goes Galt

One French actor has had enough:

The French actor whose eccentric personality has come to symbolise a certain, old fashioned form of Gallic love for good food and the pleasures in life, also known as a "bon vivant," said he is finished with the country, in a letter published in the Journal du Dimanche.

Take a look at these staggering numbers:

He said he paid 85 per cent of his income in taxes in 2012, and over 45 years, has paid 145 million Euros – or £118 million – in taxes.

Still, the socialist politicians scold this burdened fellow:

However the minister of culture, Aurelie Filippetti, joined her Socialist colleagues who criticised the actor's decision on Sunday. She said he was "deserting the field in the middle of a war against the [economic] crisis," and that "French citizenship is an honour, and includes rights and also duties, which include the ability to pay taxes."

Ability! He paid 85% tax this year. He's practically a slave of the French state. There's no "honour" in that.

The locust class

Mark Steyn:

Republicans think they're importing hardworking immigrants who want a shot at the American Dream; the Democrats think they're importing clients for Big Government. The Left is right: Just under 60 percent of immigrants receive some form of welfare. I see the recent Republican proposals for some form of amnesty contain all sorts of supposed safeguards against gaming the system, including a $525 application fee for each stage of the legalization process. On my own recent visit to a U.S. Immigration office, I was interested to be told that, as a matter of policy, the Obama administration is now rubber-stamping all "fee waiver" requests for "exceptional hardship" filed by members of approved identity groups. And so it will go for all those GOP safeguards. While Canada and Australia compete for high-skilled immigrants, America fast-tracks an unskilled welfare class of such economic benefit to their new homeland they can't even afford a couple of hundred bucks for the necessary paperwork.

That's just lovely.

The decay continues

A three-year-old post about California's decline. Victor Davis Hanson has also written about the deterioration of society in his own part of California. The noxious combination of illegal immigration, an overloaded and thus broken melting pot, and white liberal guilt is causing havoc in the once golden state.

What can be done? It seems it's too late. The financial and cultural price has to be paid for decades-long dumb policies.

Abnormal Americans

Tom Scocca:

There is a real, airtight bubble in this election, but it's not Obama's. As a middle-aged white man, in fact, I'm breaching it. White people—white men in particular—are for Mitt Romney. White men are supporting Mitt Romney to the exclusion of logic or common sense, in defiance of normal Americans. Without this narrow, tribal appeal, Romney's candidacy would simply not be viable. Most kinds of Americans see no reason to vote for him.

I find this quite amusing: Without that tribal appeal, Romney couldn't win. A spectacular number of blacks (90%+) voted for Obama four years ago and yet the "tribal" tag is being put on Romeny for appealing to 60% of whites.

Of course, if you support Romney, then you're a racist. For example, here's what Scocca has to say about Romney's "47%":

In white people's political English, "personal responsibility" is the opposite of "handouts," "food stamps," and particularly "welfare," all of which are synonyms for "niggers." This was Ronald Reagan's rallying cry, and it was the defining issue for traumatized post-Reagan white Democrats.

Wow. At least when Scocca was writing about most whites voting for Romney, he could use the racist angle. But now, when the issue is largely economics, it's also because those whites hate niggers!

It seems Obama is winning the majority of the asshole vote.

Leave the economy alone

Nick Gillespie via Instapundit:

Having sunk most of his savings into the venture, it went belly up, he said, partly because of a bad economy but also due to “federal, state and local rules that were all passed with the objective of helping employees, protecting the environment, raising tax dollars for schools, protecting our customers from fire hazards, etc.”

Lamenting his lack of business experience while he was a legislator and presidential contender, McGovern concluded that “ ‘one-size-fits-all’ rules for business ignored the reality of the marketplace.”

As he explained, “setting thresholds for regulatory guidelines at artificial levels -- for example, 50 employees or more, $500,000 in sales -- takes no account of other realities, such as profit margins, labor intensive vs. capital intensive businesses, and local market economics.”

Too many people don't understand the stress businessmen deal with. Most businesses, like the above example, lose money. McGovern's policies were in the abstract, theoretical realm but once he saw the ugly reality he realized just how out of touch and idiotic politicians are. 

So many contradictions

The Telegraph:

The core values of women’s education, emancipation and entitlement to respect must endure: but some of the wilder shores of Western feminism are ridiculous.

[Emphasis mine.]

Entitlement to respect? Why would anyone, man or woman, be entitled to respect? The author writes that in the context of female babies who get aborted before birth because of their gender.

But don't we then have a conflict? A pregnant woman only has a right to abort her unborn child if she's completely unaware of the sex of the baby. However, as soon as that knowledge becomes available, then the baby ought to be respected if the baby is a she.

Some "value" that.


Great that women’s earnings have risen: but it’s a little worrying that, in the United States, the family wage has simultaneously fallen, and sometimes more than a little worrying that it now usually takes two salaries to raise a family. Where is the “choice” in that? No easy answers!

One of the reasons that the average wage is falling is that women are entering the labor force in large numbers. So much so that today in the US most of the workers are women! When supply of something increases, it's price decreases. More workers, lower wages. It's surprising that the author isn't aware of such a simple fact.

I guess women's education doesn't include basic economics.

Debt is not your friend

Katie Brotherton:

There is great irony in pursuing freedom through education only to be shackled by crushing debt.

What good is an education which doesn't illuminate the reality of modern life in the US? Simple knowledge of history and economics should be enough to show that tuition fees have seen an insane increase while salaries have been either stagnant or dropping thanks to inflation.

Link via Instapundit.

Gimme gimme gimme!

America in only 50 years:

The growth of entitlement payments over the past half-century has been breathtaking. In 1960, U.S. government transfers to individuals totaled about $24 billion in current dollars, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis. By 2010 that total was almost 100 times as large. Even after adjusting for inflation and population growth, entitlement transfers to individuals have grown 727% over the past half-century, rising at an average rate of about 4% a year.


The Republicans have been worse than Democrats:

Notwithstanding the criticisms of "big government" that emanated from their Oval Offices from time to time, the administrations of Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford and George W. Bush presided over especially lavish expansions of the American entitlement state. Irrespective of the reputations and the rhetoric of the Democratic and Republican parties today, the empirical correspondence between Republican presidencies and turbocharged entitlement expenditures should underscore the unsettling truth that both political parties have, on the whole, been working together in an often unspoken consensus to fuel the explosion of entitlement spending.

The Greatest Ponzi Scheme of All Time will end. The only question is when.

Link via Instapundit.

Debt will soon implode

Vox Popoli:

Household has been deleveraging since Q3-2008 and is presently down $1 trillion. Financial has been deleveraging since Q4-2008 and is presently down $3.4 trillion. The only reason this private deleveraging hasn't shown up as general deflation is due to the $5.6 trillion increase in Federal leveraging; the Federal government has literally doubled its outstanding debt in four years.

That's the main reason the full force of this Second Great Depression has been on pause. The MSM is slowly coming to this view; they'll fully realize that we're in a depression right after Romney beats Obama in November.

The fruits of grade inflation

Vox links to this interesting piece:

[...] the weak student who believes in his high grades has also had a disservice done him. He has been misled about his abilities, falsely persuaded that career paths and goals are open that may be out of reach. Eventually, the fraud will be revealed: by an employer who finds him inadequate, by his own dawning recognition that he cannot achieve what he hoped. The reckoning will likely be bitter; evidence exists that the pedagogy of false esteem can even cause psychological harm. When students who have always been praised must confront the reality of their low achievement, their tendency is, as researchers James Coté and Anton Allahar report, not to confront the problem directly but to hit back at its perceived source — the teacher who has given them the bad news, the employer who does not renew a contract.

Assuming that one has a job. 

Frugality helps

Life in Canada today and 30 years earlier:

Today, financial self-sufficiency is impossible without taking breaks from school to work. The Bank of Canada’s handy inflation calculator tells us that my $1,000 tuition back in 1984 would cost $2,028 today if it increased just by the inflation rate annually. But according to Statistics Canada, the latest read on average tuition fees is $5,366.

In Ontario, the minimum wage is $10.25. A student who puts in a 40-hour work week for 12 weeks would stand to make about $4,900. That’s a sizable shortfall on tuition, never mind the cost of student fees, books and living expenses. As a parent of an 18-year-old heading to university out of town next year, I can tell you that budgeting $18,000 to $20,000 per year is prudent.

It's quite depressing to be a graduate from university in the last few years. The tuition fees have outstripped inflation by a huge margin and wages have been stagnant. So, young people are paying more and more money to get a degree which, as time passes, results in a lower and lower wage.

In addition, the price of housing, utilities, food and oil has been increasing. So, whatever litttle money new graduates do make goes to the necessary bills. There's little left over for savings.

Many young adults can avoid a lot of headache if they choose their major(s) wisely and don't spend their money frivolously. There's no question that life is tough but it's tougher if you're stupid.

Bad Economics

Vox Popoli:

In a free and well-governed society, exile is a punishment. In an unfree and misgoverned one, exile is impermissible. There is no stronger indication that America is no longer free than the fact that its leadership is seriously contemplating the idea of attempting to imprison its citizens within its borders.

That's one reason why increasing numbers of Americans are renouncing their citizenship. It's difficult to appreciate freedom when you feel like a slave.

Budgeting Ignored

Ed Driscoll:

A couple of interesting financial stats popped up today, and we’ll see if we can tie them together in our usual tendentious fashion in just a moment. But first, found via blogger/financial author Christopher Fountain, Henry Blodget of Business Insider.com notes that “Households Earning Less Than $13,000 A Year Spend 9% Of Their Income On Lottery Tickets.” Having worked for a time during school vacations selling them, that stat doesn’t surprise me at all.

On the other end of the spectrum, we find athletes who were once rich. One would think that earning millions, sometimes hundreds of millions, of dollars would provide a person with superb financial security. Unfortunately, their self-control is non-existant; their spending outstrips their earnings.

Really, how difficult is it to spend less than one makes?

Hypergamy + Economics

EconLog via Instapundit:

Lots of interesting discussion in the comments, including this: “I’m a stay-at-home mom with three small kids. My husband’s income is quite good, but not amazing (especially since we live in an expensive state and have three children.) My MTR is about 45%. Between that and day care I would have to make about $70,000 a year before I would take home $1. Not worth it. So I’m home with the kids. BTW, I’ve had this conversation with many many SAHMs around here and almost all of them are home because of this. Now it turns out I like being home and probably wouldn’t go back anyway now, but that’s not true of many people I’ve talked to. Ironically, with the rise of assortative mating, its often the highly educated, accomplished women who marry men with high enough incomes to put them in this predicament, so we’re probably selecting for the drop out of some of our most productive workers.”

Women who are interested in having a family will definitely face this situation. Often, the logical and economical choice is for the mother to stay at home. The extra, net income could be negative if the wife works while the child or children are in daycare.

This is the type of conversation forward-thinking men have with women when they are on a date. Do you understand the perverse effects of such a tax system? Are you willing to stay at home and raise the children while I bring home the bacon? Unfortunately, the cancer of feminism results in women calling such men SEXISSS!

Most impressive

Nikons makes their premium cameras in Japan. So, of course, their production was damaged because of one of the most powerful earthquake ever to hit that weird place. Later, in the same year, their low-end camera production went under because of the floods in Thailand.

Yet some people in the comments here are upset because of the product delays and high prices of Nikon DSLRs. Thom Hogan provides perspective:

Everyone needs to think about this in a different fashion: in LESS THAN A YEAR, Nikon will have completely replaced ALL of its DSLR manufacturing with completely rebuilt facilities, all while manufacturing a record number of DSLRs. If that doesn’t impress you, nothing will.

Prices for their cameras are not high when compared in Yen. The stronger Yen has pushed Nikon to increase prices in non-Japanese markets. Again, this is something out of their control.

Anyway, moment of truth coming up next week. The long-rumored Nikon D800 is supposed to be announced. Will it be 36 megapixels of goodness? Or will it be a let down in either quality or less megapixels?

No sexy time in Japan

A staggering number of young people in Japan are not interested in sex.

Combine an economic downturn with the increasing excellence of porn and video games, then throw in female economic independence and this is the result. For all that they are decried as soshoku danshi, the position of the "herbivores" is a perfectly reasonable one.

It's likely that the modern Japanese teenage girl is ultra-materialistic. Japan has lost 'two' decades to poor economic growth. Therefore, a majority of guys in her age group are utterly unappealing.

Moocher lifestyle

Zero Hedge:

Tonight's stunning financial piece de resistance comes from Wyatt Emerich of The Cleveland Current. In what is sure to inspire some serious ire among all those who once believed Ronald Reagan that it was the USSR that was the "Evil Empire", Emmerich analyzes disposable income and economic benefits among several key income classes and comes to the stunning (and verifiable) conclusion that "a one-parent family of three making $14,500 a year (minimum wage) has more disposable income than a family making $60,000 a year." And that excludes benefits from Supplemental Security Income disability checks. America is now a country which punishes those middle-class people who not only try to work hard, but avoid scamming the system. Not surprisingly, it is not only the richest and most audacious thieves that prosper - it is also the penny scammers at the very bottom of the economic ladder that rip off the middle class each and every day, courtesy of the world's most generous entitlement system.

There really are Two Americas. One is where people work hard and don't scam the system. The second is filled with entitled parasites.

Understanding economics

Richard Epstein writes about the effects of the "living" wage and the minimum wage laws in the United States:

When the minimum wage law was equal to $5.15, about 6.6 million individuals earned less than the $7.25 wage level. By 2010, after the wage level was increased, unemployment rates did move sharply upward. Some of today’s workers will be lucky enough to ride the living-wage tide upward, but others are likely to be cast aside. The empirics on matters of degree are always up to debate, given the huge set of other regulations that hit labor markets. In principle, the law of demand says that as the wage demanded increases, the jobs offered will decline. Unless demand curves are flat, there must be unemployment effects. The only question is their magnitude. The imposition of a high minimum living wage will reduce, all other things being equal, the demand for labor.

No question about it. There will be some who will have their wage cut down to $0 because of such laws.

Americans getting poorer

PJ Media:

The essay below is excerpted from the December 2011 issue of Stansberry’s Investment Advisory. Its author, Porter Stansberry, examines the question of whether America is growing richer or poorer based on an analysis of its per-capita gross domestic product (GDP). Said simply, is our economy growing faster than our population? As individuals, are we becoming more affluent? Or is the economic pie, measured on a per-person basis, growing smaller? It’s a hard question to answer, and this article provides Porter Stansberry’s insight.

I was stunned by the level of credit card debt of older Americans.

The Euro Empire

Vox Day:

In the Eurozone, the state of democracy is even worse, thanks to the latest version of what is improbably described as the "Greek rescue deal." The "stability union," which was announced in Brussels last week, removes the power of national governments to make decisions concerning issues of taxing and public spending. This means that the two central economic functions of national government, monetary and fiscal policy, are now completely out of government control.

This is scary. The Euro took away monetary control out of the hands of smaller European governments and concentrated the power mainly in Germany and France. But soon taxation and spending will no longer be decided upon by national governments in Europe! No wonder the peoples in many nations are angry. Their voice has become meaningless.

New inflation

Vox Popoli in the comments:

It appears I should start publishing the monthly Day report to track hooker prices in European capitals the way Case-Schiller tracks US home prices.

Hmm, perhaps someone can come up with The Whores Index. It'll likely perform better than the sham consumer price index.

The same old deal

James Pethokoukis via Instapundit:

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act was Barack Obama’s signature achievement in dealing with the most worrisome set of economic conditions since the Great Depression. It was how Obama, to use a pair of his now seemingly abandoned metaphors, sought to drag the economy out of the ditch while the Republicans were standing around sipping Slurpees.

As Obama said on the first anniversary of signing the bill, “It is largely thanks to the Recovery Act that a second Depression is no longer a possibility.”

No, it's partly thanks to the epic and wasteful government spending that we'll see the Great Depression 2.0.

The New Deal had the same effect in the 1930s. FDR tried many different policies which were puzzling and economically destructive but it gave the appearance that he was doing SOMETHING instead of doing nothing like those heartless republicans.

A small sample of what went on in the 1930s:

1. Farmers, who were a decent chunk of the voting bloc, hated low prices for food. So, the US government gave handouts to farmers to not grow food! That's right. Millions are without jobs. Many have lost their savings when hundreds of banks failed. They don't have money for utilities or food. Yet, the government is taking money out of the private sector and handing it to a special group ... so that food prices stay high.

2. The government enforces a minimum wage. If a person wants to buy a service, let's say a haircut for $0.50, then that's illegal because the minimum charge ought to be $0.60. Some "criminals" ignore the law and offer a haircut for $0.50 anyway. When the cops find out, they go to jail. This actually happened -- a person spent time behind bars because they took a lower than mandated wage for a haircut!

3. Promotion of labor unions. They increase the wages of workers in the union but overall decrease the number of employed workers in the economy. Not something you would want in the middle of a depression.

Respek the equilibrium


MILLIONS of school-leavers in the rich world are about to bid a tearful goodbye to their parents and start a new life at university. Some are inspired by a pure love of learning. But most also believe that spending three or four years at university—and accumulating huge debts in the process—will boost their chances of landing a well-paid and secure job.

Not in the Great Depression 2.0.

Vox Day:

It's not rocket science. If supply is increasing faster than demand, then wages for university graduates are going down even as tuitions rise.

In other words, a degree is worth less and less with each passing year. One only needs a simple understanding of basic economics to understand this issue. This can be learned in a Grade 11 course but too many are ignorant.

Take another issue: medicine. Specifically, cancer drugs.

Last week in the New York Times, veteran health correspondent Gardiner Harris wrote of the recent sharp and puzzling shortages of critical drugs used for treating a wide range of life-threatening cancers and bacterial infections. The total number of shortages has increased from 58 vital drugs in 2004 to 211 in 2010. These shortages have prompted some wholesalers to hoard certain scarce drugs, which has only aggravated the problem.

But how could a shortage arise? Couldn't firms simply increase their price? Nope.

The Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement and Modernization Act of 2003 introduced a set of complex price controls as part and parcel of the new prescription drug benefit contained in Medicare Part D. These are not garden-variety price controls, like those on gasoline or rents, which interfere with solely private transactions. They are controls that the government introduced as an effort to prevent overpayments under the Medicare program.

Because the government is your friend! Again, as Vox wrote, this isn't rocket science. The price controls in this case are meant to act as a price ceiling which logically lead to shortages. This was and is predictable. Yet, the US government keeps on using the same policy which results in serious consequences.

I'm sure Obamacare will fix all such issues. To think otherwise would be raciss!

Who decides how much is allowed?

Sam Harris: How Rich is Too Rich?

even in the ideal case, where obvious value has been created, how much wealth can one person be allowed to keep? A trillion dollars? Ten trillion? (Fifty trillion is the current GDP of Earth.) Granted, there will be some limit to how fully wealth can concentrate in any society, for the richest possible person must still spend money on something, thereby spreading wealth to others.

[Emphasis mine.]

Vox Popoli:

And the inevitable atheist tendency towards totalitarianism finally shows through. Rich people aren't "allowed to keep money". They have it. It's theirs. As in, not yours, Sam. This is called the principle of private property, and upon it all the wealth of the Western world is founded. Or rather, was founded before it was turned into collateral in a ponzi scheme.

G Powered Recovery Bummer

Karl Denninger provides a summary of the recent past:

First, we build a Ponzi in the tech industry. Companies with no profit (and no reasonable expectation of ever having one) sell for hundreds of dollars a share, get 100% (or more) first-day price ramps and then, when the bubble bursts, crashes.

Not content to accept that we built a Ponzi Bubble in tech during a Democrat Presidency, and that the fluff had to come out of the economy, we do it again under a Republican one, this time in houses. This culminates in giving people $500,000 loans with no income, no job and no assets, creating price ramps of 100% or more in significant parts of the economy. At the same time we accelerate the offshoring of our job base to an insane degree, decimating the tax base.

The situation has been made worse in the last three years. The inevitable crash will come -- the great depression of our time. The only question is: When?


Meredith F. Small:

How competent are 4-year-olds? They are competent enough to work. By “work,” I don’t mean on the factory line, or forced labor of any kind. Instead, I mean tasks that are, by any cultural standard, age-appropriate.

Look outside Western culture and watch children, even very small children, as they gather firewood, weed gardens, haul water, tend livestock, care for younger children and run errands. And no one complains because they are mostly outside and usually with other children.

Furthermore, child labour laws in the US set the minimum working age at 16. What exactly is wrong about a 13-year-old working at Walmart for a few hours during the weekend? I think too many conjure up an image of an oppressed, miserable child slaving away for 12 hours a day making not a penny more than minimum wage when "child labour" is mentioned.

I would have not mind working a little when I was young -- around 10-14 years of age. The problem was that I lived in Saudi Arabia. Only my dad could work in that foreign land. After hearing my complaints, my father offered me a small deal: wash the car, wax the car, then wipe off the wax; all under the blazing sun in the brutal Arabian heat.

My wage? $1.33. It would take me two hours to complete the work. I sure did understand the value of money a lot more after that.


The Thinking Housewife:

THE EUROPEAN UNION’S executive body urged Germany last week to discourage women from being full-time mothers. With Europe’s demographic crisis, more women should work, a report on the German economy stated.

Ignore your nature and strength; be an office drone! How exactly this will reverse the demographic decline is a mystery.

Us Poor Canadians!

Financial Post:

Of the 24.5 million returns filed, 18 million Canadians reported total income of $50,000 or less. That’s not a typo. In other words, ignoring individuals who don’t file returns such as children, nearly 75% of tax-filing Canadians earned under $50,000 in total income in 2009.

Add another 5 million Canadians who reported total income of between $50,000 and $100,000 and you conclude that about 95% of individuals have income below $100,000 annually.

A prudent person can live comfortably on $50,000 in Canada. Too often it's the debt-powered spending that's the problem; not the income.

Lot of Pain

Greg Mankiw writes the bitter truth.

We have to cut Social Security immediately, especially for higher-income beneficiaries. Social Security will still keep the elderly out of poverty, but just barely.

We have to limit Medicare and Medicaid. These programs will still provide basic health care, but they will no longer cover many expensive treatments. Individuals will have to pay for these treatments on their own or, sadly, do without.

The reason most politicians don't cut these programs is because most of the voters, the elderly, benefit from such schemes.

We will increase the gasoline tax by $2 a gallon. This will not only increase revenue, but will also address various social ills, from global climate change to local traffic congestion.

Good luck.

Stay in the West

Some jobs aren't worth it:

When it held jobs fairs in cities like Miami and Houston, only about 50 people showed up, "compared to a global average of about 150 and as many as 1,000 at some events in Europe and Asia." The jobs don't require much in the way of education, and they come with benefits, free accommodations, and a starting salary of $30,000. But you'd have to move halfway around the world, to Dubai—an alien and expensive place. Would you uproot yourself and your family for $30,000 a year?

The average annual salary for an American is above $30,000. So, it's surprising that Emirates Airlines is offering Americans a below-average salary to work in Dubai -- a land with a demented culture, a different language and a dastardly hot atmosphere.


Vox Popoli skewers the Keynesians:

the U.S. military should set off a series of nuclear explosions in the Atlantic, the Gulf of Mexico and off the California coast to trigger a series of tidal waves that will trigger instant economic growth all along the coasts.

Who knew that all the building codes hinder future economic growth.

Is It Inevitable?

Vox Popoli:

Most Americans recognize that having the federal government pay 100 percent of the nation's wages and salaries is not possible. At this rate, it will have to pay 50 percent or more by 2020, which I note tends to correspond nicely with my long-standing prediction that by 2033, the U.S.A. will no longer be an independent, sovereign nation.

That's a bold prediction. I wonder if there is anything that can be done by the American people that would halt this vicious decline ... that is if most even recognize the problem.

Most Want A Free Lunch

What else is new?

Americans overwhelmingly say that in general they prefer cutting government spending to paying higher taxes ...

Of course, but ...

Yet their preference for spending cuts, even in programs that benefit them, dissolves when they are presented with specific options related to Medicare and Social Security, the programs that directly touch the most people and also are the biggest drivers of the government’s projected long-term debt.

So, who's going to pay for it all?

If Medicare benefits have to be reduced, the most popular option is raising premiums on affluent beneficiaries. Similarly, if Social Security benefits must be changed to make the program more financially sound, a broad majority prefers the burden fall on the wealthy.

But, of course.

Link via Calculated Risk.