Model Railroading - The Difference Between Men and Boys

“There is no known cure for an obsession with trains.” —Anonymous, 1989

H/T: xkcd via Coyote Blog

Turn Out The Lights?

The widespread practice of misguided eco-Luddites turning off their lights for Earth Hour and burning candles as a source of light is grossly misguided and actually contributes to increased carbon dioxide emissions.
The Aussies invented the cause of Earth Hour several years ago to draw attention to Anthropogenic (man-made) Global Warming and the 20 Tons of carbon dioxide generated by every man, woman and child alive on our planet each year. We should all just kill ourselves and get on with the dying.

Never mind that the Earth is not warming. Eco-Luddites will not be deterred. So we look to climate skeptic extraordinaire, Ross McKitrick for the final words toward restoring sanity.
The whole mentality around Earth Hour demonizes electricity. I cannot do that, instead I celebrate it and all that it has provided for humanity. Earth Hour celebrates ignorance, poverty and backwardness. By repudiating the greatest engine of liberation it becomes an hour devoted to anti-humanism. It encourages the sanctimonious gesture of turning off trivial appliances for a trivial amount of time, in deference to some ill-defined abstraction called “the Earth,” all the while hypocritically retaining the real benefits of continuous, reliable electricity. People who see virtue in doing without electricity should shut off their fridge, stove, microwave, computer, water heater, lights, TV and all other appliances for a month, not an hour. And pop down to the cardiac unit at the hospital and shut the power off there too.

I don’t want to go back to nature. Travel to a zone hit by earthquakes, floods and hurricanes to see what it’s like to go back to nature. For humans, living in “nature” meant a short life span marked by violence, disease and ignorance. People who work for the end of poverty and relief from disease are fighting against nature. I hope they leave their lights on.
So turn on the lights -- the party is just beginning . . . and don't listen to Willie.

Another Obama Hypocrisy

The President does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation.

As Commander-in-Chief, the President does have a duty to protect and defend the United States. In instances of self-defense, the President would be within his constitutional authority to act before advising Congress or seeking its consent. History has shown us time and again, however, that military action is most successful when it is authorized and supported by the Legislative branch. It is always preferable to have the informed consent of Congress prior to any military action.  ~Presidential Candidate Barack Hussein Obama, December 20, 2007
Maybe when Prez Zero directed the launch of Tomahawk missiles into Libya he just forgot about the U.S. Constitution, Article I, § 8, cl. 11, "The Congress shall have Power . . . to declare War . . ." and even his own thoughtful interpretation of the document.  Fat chance!

In 1789, Thomas Jefferson wrote to James Madison that the Constitution's war powers clause was "one effectual check to the Dog of war by transferring the power of letting him loose from the Executive to the Legislative body."

Originalists will find themselves agreeing with Candidate Obama's written stance on war declaration authority and opposed to President Bush's contention that the Constitutional authority granted to the President as Commander in Chief of the military under Article II Section 2, required executive action to defend the nation by all means in his control.

The real question here must be directed to what dangers, if any, to our nation's security did the Libyan government pose while engaged in a civil war.  The answer, of course, is none.  The European Union, which relies heavily on Libyan oil and natural gas, certainly could have and did gin up economic reasons to prosecute war, but that is NATO's problem not ours.  Secretary of State Hillary's call to protect the people seeking democracy is entirely nonsensical, since the Libyans do not know what that is, particularly if the uprising is being driven by the Muslim Brotherhood.

My conspiratorial mind says that Teh One just wants to keep government spending at an extremely high level -- either that or he a NeoCon at heart.  Pick one.

Flat-Earth Republicans

Andrew Leonard, Salon's  "techno-cultural hack" is gleefully smug in announcing that "the House GOP is on record, now and for all time: The earth isn't warming." From his safe-house in Berkley, this Salon  "hack" (his word -- not mine) has, not surprisingly, come down on the side of the rent-seeking "global-warming-junk-scientists" and the government agencies that enable them.

In this week's most obvious serving of dog-bites-man news, the House Energy and Commerce Committee voted on Tuesday to approve a measure designed to stop the EPA from regulating greenhouse gas emissions. This was not unexpected: House Republicans declared their crusade against the EPA on Day One of the new Congress.
Leonard could not believe that the majority party members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee would disagree with Henry "Nostrilitis" Waxman (D-CA), Diana DeGette (D-Co) and Jay Inslee (D-WA) that global warming is "incontrovertible", that CO2 levels are "elevated," and "public health ... is endangered" as a result of man-made emissions.  I guess that Andrew and the House committee Dems  have not seriously examined the "hide the decline" emails from "Climategate" that were exchanged among so-called "climate scientists" who make up their own facts for their own enrichment.

Close-minded liberals will spend us into the poorhouse without empirical evidence to support their inexplicable approach to a solving a non-problem that is beyond the control of mankind. Conservatives have now come to realize that selling disaster is the leftist politician's way of controlling the masses, but why are liberal  journalists (are there any other kind?) such as Andrew Leonard buying into the scam?

The Deadly Squeeze

H/T: From Investors Business Daily via Power Line.

Scott Walker's Real "Real Agenda" In Wisconsin

Sometimes it is instructive to read the views of the hard leftists, so when the attack on Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker by unions and their media and Democrat allies intensified, I visited Stephen Diamond's blog, who has been described as: ". . . a dyed-in-the wool leftist, albeit one who’s grounded in the view that the American labor union movement can be the savior of American democracy.”  To my surprise, Dr. Diamond is pimping an article called "Scott Walker's real agenda in Wisconsin", which appeared on the very liberal Guardian UK  website.  Diamond described Walker as "implementing the Greek solution -- the looting of public goods to fend off bond markets." Dr. Diamond may soon be surprised to find that there was not a Greek Solution but sadly instead, a Greek Tragedy.

So I read the British fish-wrap article to soon discover that the American-based authors, Michael Hudson and Jeffrey Sommers  were unfair in their assessment and biased in implying that they understood the governor's real intentions in Wisconsin.  The article is basically another (ho hum) leftist attack against Koch Industries, although no proof  was offered that Koch has had anything at all to do with the state budget proceedings. Let's start at the beginning.

On Wednesday evening, in a veritable Night of the Long Knives, Wisconsin's integrity was brutally murdered on the floor of the state Capitol in Madison.
So out of the gate, Wisconsin Republicans are histrionically compared to Nazis assassinating Nazis for the good of the Third Reich.  I guess this gets the leftist's attention, but Conservatives cannot even utter "cross-hairs" without being accused of fomenting violence.  Next we hear that Republican Senators broke the Open Meetings law.
Financial items require a quorum, thus, collective bargaining was split off from the budget repair bill and voted on separately so as to permit its being voted on now. Even so, this still broke the state's open meeting law requiring 24 hours' notice to ensure transparency. Instead, the Wisconsin senate Republicans pulled out this new legislation without advance notice and began voting,
As it turns out, the Senate action had been planned to be done quickly because of the union demonstration inside the statehouse, so the crowd was allowed into the meeting room an hour before the vote. The vote had previously been cleared with the Legislature's attorneys, the Fiscal Bureau, the bill drafters and the Senate-Assembly Conference Committee. If this had not happened, the lone Democrat Assemblyman would not have been present to object to the vote (even though he had no right to a voice in the Senate chamber). With that invalid point out of the way, the authors moved on to their piece de resistance.
Governor Scott Walker emerges from Wisconsin, a state that invented Progressive Era Republican rule in the 19th and early 20th centuries under such exemplars as Robert LaFollette. Under their tenure, rent-seeking from the public domain and similar insider corruption were checked by a strong public sector anchored in integrity. The state's long history of reforms nurtured a prosperous middle class and made it a model of clean government, solid infrastructure, trade unionism and high value-added industry managed by socialists and the LaFollette Progressives.

By 1900 America was a tinderbox. Cities were crowded with millions of poor laborers, working conditions were appalling. From the local level to the highest institutions in the land corruption darkened politics. Something had to be done, and the progressive movement was the nation’s response. Although the progressive reformers did not fix everything, little escaped their attention. Since the political powers were unwilling or unable to address the rapid economic and social changes brought about by the industrial revolution in America, the progressive movement grew outside government and eventually forced government to take stands and deal with the growing problems.
So much hogwash! The Progressive Movement began with the Populist Party in the plains states in the 1880s and was replaced by the Progressive Party led by Teddy Roosevelt, not "Fighting Bob" LaFollette. The whole movement was dead by 1920.  The niche' that leftists occupied in the Republican Party was short lived indeed.  So according to the article, the Democrats never do anything wrong except possibly making the strategic error of hauling-ass to Illinois instead of voting on a budget bill.  Now the conservative Republican administration is attending (as promised to the voters) to the huge deficits left in the laps of taxpayers by prior Democrat administrations but that cannot be allowed to stand.

The comment that Bob LaFollette crushed rent-seekers feeding at the public trough prompts me to point out that it is the unions who are now the rent-seekers. Armand Thieblot at the Cato Institute identified the real elephant-in-the-room in his piece on "Political Rent Seeking":
By the 1980s and 1990s, however, when unorganized capitalists had become thin on the ground and those already organized had mostly been rendered uncompetitive by past concession to union demands, unions’ new guiding trope became “More government.” To achieve it, unions became mordantly political. In economic terms, after unions had absorbed all of the readily available economic rents from their capitalist opponents, they have turned to seeking rents from new sources beyond the system—from the polity at large (from taxpayers), using government as the intermediary. For want of a better term, I call this political rent seeking. It should be of general concern that, not being bridled by most of the competitive restraints posited by Gordon Tullock (1967) in his classic exposition of rent seeking, unions engaging in political rent seeking may be nearing the point of dominance over the auction of government rents to the point that they can, or may soon be able to, write their own labor laws, and thus their own rewards, free from any normal economic or competitive restraints. This should be of general concern.
Up next: The new Republican majority is criticized for emulating Democrats:
Fast-forward to Scott Walker today. Representing a new breed apart from Wisconsin's earlier Republicans, he is seeking to re-open the asset-grabbing Gilded Age style. A plague of rent-seekers is seeking quick gains by privatising the public sector and erecting tollbooths to charge access fees to roads, power plants and other basic infrastructure.
Here is what the liberal Wisconsin State Journal  had this to say on the subject of tollways:
Money for major Wisconsin roads has to come from somewhere. And charging heavy users such as truckers and Illinois tourists a few dollars every visit makes sense, especially when so many other states are doing the same thing.
I could not believe their next point that was literally dragged from the dried-up pen of an early 19th century playwright, Honoré Balzac, to somehow have meaning today.
Economics textbooks, along with Fox News and shout radio commentators, spread the myth that fortunes are gained productively by investing in capital equipment and employing labour to produce goods and services that people want to buy. This may be how economies prosper, but it is not how fortunes are most easily made. One need only to turn to the 19th-century novelists such as Balzac to be reminded that behind every family fortune lies a great theft, often long-forgotten or even undiscovered.
So ourGuardian  writers have been sniffing the glue while working with the art pages for far too long.  An old dead Frenchman, who consistently failed in one business after another is somehow now a better Economics teacher than the very textbooks used in the classroom? And on what basis is there reason to believe that the new Republican majority is somehow intent on rent seeking, as defined by Balzac?  Reading on, the article becomes even more bizarre.
Nowhere is this more disturbingly on display than in Wisconsin. Today, Milwaukee ,Wisconsin’s largest city and once the richest in America , is ranked among the four poorest large cities in the United States. Wisconsin is just the most recent case in this great heist. The US government itself and its regulatory agencies effectively are being privatised as the "final stage" of neoliberal economic doctrine.
Where to begin the breaking of this clay pigeon? There has not been a conservative Republican mayor in a long, long time in the City of Milwaukee. According to Marc Levine, director of the Center for Economic Development at UW-Milwaukee: "Our analysis of employment data shows that Milwaukee has had among the worst job creation records of any big city in the U.S. for over a decade, so it is not surprising that poverty numbers have worsened, especially during the worst recession since the Great Depression." So how is it that Scott Walker created this problem?  As for our neoliberalism economics doctrine, the authors obviously haven't paid attention to Obama's disastrous shift to Keynesianism, Whew, all this liberal nonsense is becoming tedious -- but onward we go to more imaginings.
A peek into Governor Walker's so-called "budget repair bill" reveals a shop of horrors that is just the opposite of actually repairing the budget. Among the items listed in the bill until Wednesday night were selloffs of state power generation facilities – in no-bid contracts notoriously prone to insider dealing. The 37 facilities he wants to sell off that produce heating and cooling at low cost to the state's universities and prisons. Walker's budget repair bill would have unloaded them at a low price, presumably to campaign contributors such as Koch Industries – and then stick the bill for producing this power at higher rates to Wisconsin taxpayers in perpetuity. (And this is all being sold as a "taxpayer relief" plan!) Invariably, this will make its way into new legislation once attention is diverted from the current controversy.
Since the provision is no longer a part of the budget, the point made about the sell-offs is void anyway, but some background is necessary the help the reader. Liberal blogs, which have been attacking the Koch brothers for weeks, insist without proof that the small power generating facilities owned by the state would be sold for less-than-market to Koch Industries. These power generating plants are not likely to be commercially viable except to the local utility, Madison Gas & Electric which services the area surrounding the government complexes -- thus the no-bid proviso in the budget proposal.  It is patently obvious in today's economy that  a government agency cannot operate power facilities as efficiently as a public utility.  Funny, how it is OK for Democrats to privatize the Chicago Skyway, Illinois Toll Road and Chicago's parking meters but those Republicans in  Wisconsin are not to be trusted.
The budget bill also plans to tear down the Wisconsin Retirement System (WRS). This is not New Jersey, where a succession of corrupt governments have underfunded (read: stolen) the state pension system in order to shift resources to pay for budget shortfalls in general revenues caused by tax breaks for the rich. The WRS is one of the nation's most stable, well-funded and best-managed pension systems. Although Wisconsin is not a big state, the WRS has amassed $75bn in reserves, and pays out handsome pensions to its public retirees, without needing new public subsidy. The Walker bill has language providing for tearing down this system, raiding its assets to pay for further tax cuts for the rich (especially property owners), and then throwing Wall Street a meaty bone as public employees would be shifted to 401k plans handled by money managers on commission.
You guys are too easy!  I certainly will not disagree that corrupt Democrats in New Jersey were stealing from the taxpayers by failing to fund defined-benefit pension plans that were so easy to give away during. "collusion" sessions between public union reps and the state politicians that the union campaigned for and elected.  But according to a study by  the Manhattan Institute,  the WRS "could be as much as $10.9 billion short in meeting obligations just to teachers."  The difference between the numbers is caused by the overgenerous returns expected from fund assets by the state.  At the time of the study in 2009, only 72% of the total funding required had been paid-in.  Now maybe the  liberals will see and understand why Wisconsin is broke.

So Wisconsin is broke and action is required to bail out the taxpayers of the state who are already burdened with some of the highest tax rates in the entire United States.  Governor Walker's plan is to put the government house in order and provide the mechanism to keep it that way. Whether he succeeds or not is unknown, but states cannot print money, so some real economic action is required. Union bargaining rights had to go as did the free ride on their benefits. There are now no layoffs, none, and nobody lost pension or health benefits or had their salary reduced.  Public workers in Wisconsin remain higher paid as a group than their private counterparts. The nutcases in the unions need to back off. After all, most protesters suffered very little or not-at-all at the hands of the Governor in this required budget balancing.  In the end, the size of government in Wisconsin and in America has to shrink, but Badger State citizens have never fully understood the extra tax burden that they have had to bear in order to keep the label of "progressive".

Public Teachers Overpaid By 34 Percent