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|Tuesday, December 31st, 2013|
|another rail accident shipping oil
A train full of oil from North Dakota derailed and is burning. What most people don't realize is that a spur of the keystone pipeline was to allow North Dakota oil to be shipped south via pipeline. No pipeline, more train shipment. This is, of course, great for Warren Buffet who owns Union Pacific (and is an Obama supporter - why not, the delay of the pipeline is making him millions). This is the second major accident that could have been prevented if the keystone had been built. Shipping oil by pipeline is much safer than rail. I was reading a Canadian study and it said that the ratio of trucking to rail to pipeline on billions tons/annually was 20:2:.06. In other words pipelines had one third the incidents as compared to rail. In terms of fatalities, it was about a 30:1 ratio of rail to pipeline.
So, if you want spills and to kill workers, stop Keystone from being built.
|Thursday, December 26th, 2013|
|Ten year treasuries hit 3%
Now, why is this important? Currently, we finance the federal debt at under 2%, or at a cost of about $350 billion/year. The ten year treasury hit 3% today. If the cost goes to 3%, then our debt will cost about $500 billion/year. If Obama goes to $20 trillion in debt as his plans are to do, than the cost of that cost to $600 billion/year. So, where does this new extra cost of $250 billion come from?
|Sunday, December 22nd, 2013|
|Obamacare is medicaid
I was looking through Washington state's Obamacare data. Washington has one of the most developed state exchanges. So far, 90% of everybody who has signed up has gone on to medicaid. Of course, this assumes that the 10% who are not in medicaid actually pay their bill and get insurance. The insurance companies estimate that half will. If they are correct, than 95% of Obamacare is medicaid.
This, then, is the single payer system. Is this a problem for Washington? Well, yes it is. The federal government will (if you believe them) pick up 100% of the cost of any new Medicaid enrollees IF THEY WERE NOT PREVIOUSLY ELIGIBLE. Ah, but there is the bug. About 40% of those enrolled were always eligible. Thus, the fed will only pick up 60% of the cost. Thus, the great increase in medicaid enrollees will be 40% picked up by the state of Washington. This is really going to hurt the state.
So far, it looks like the red states made the right choice by not expanding their medicaid program.
|Wednesday, December 4th, 2013|
|Is our future past?
I was in the Smithsonian Annex looking at the air & space exhibits. My grandson, my son, and daughter were there all day and, Gunnar, wanted to see an Imax movie called The Dream is Alive. It was about the space program, narrated by Walter Cronkite, and was loosely based on the first flight of Discovery (a space shuttle).
The film was very poignant. It had sections with Sally Ride and Susan Resnick. Sally has since died of cancer and Susan died in the Challenger disaster. And, of course, Cronkite is long dead.
But, in a larger sense, what was most disturbing was the whole affair had the feel of a wake, a eulogy for a successful program but one which no longer did. My son put the name to it, he said it made one feel that, as a society, we had reached our peak and were now in decay. I think he might be right.
When I was a child I don't remember all these massive fights over entitlements, what the government could do for us. My dad was a truck driver, my mother was a waitress. I worked as a 14 year old distributing hand bills and running a newspaper route. I am sure that we would have qualified for some government program today, but we never even thought of that then. And, maybe that is it. As a society we look inward. We argue over freebies from the government, about allocating society's wealth. We don't seem to think of increasing that wealth. And, the space program is part of that. If your political dynamic is about buying votes, how does the space program do that?
|Tuesday, November 12th, 2013|
|Why people don't believe in government programs
As I watched the hidden cameras showing how the "navigators" (obviously rebranded Acorn reps) were showing applicants how to fake data to maximize their Obamacare subsidies, it made me wonder just how much fraud is going on. The government admits that medicare has about 10% fraud. Many thing it is closer to 30%. Food stamps is estimated about the some. And, now, we have navigators helping applicants "game" the system.
I already know several people who are contemplating getting divorces to optimize their "take" for their wife and children.
And people wonder why people have no faith in the government to manage anything.
|Wednesday, October 30th, 2013|
I have been biking in Denver. I enjoy it, but the hills are killer. They have gotten a little better as I have gotten in better shape but they still suck. As an alternative I have been renting a Pedeco electric bike. I got to say, this is really awesome. It has a pedal assist mode (from 1 to 5). I use 1 on the flats and 3 on the hills. It makes climbing the hill for an old, fat man like me possible. I am seriously thinking of spending 2 grand and buying this bike.
The bike has a 40 mile rang with pedal assist. Last weekend I rode down to the reservoir from my house. About 19 miles to the reservoir. It was really fun. Because of the hills I could not have done that on my normal bike.
|Sunday, October 27th, 2013|
|More info on Obamacare
On those states we have data on, over 80% of those enrolled in Obamacare insurance are now enrolled on Medicaid. Great! So, where does this money come from?
|Saturday, October 26th, 2013|
|Obamacare is done, stick a fork in it
Many are complaining about the Obamacare website. Sure, it sucks. But, it is really a sideshow. The real problem is two fold. First, think of those who don't have insurance. They consist mostly of two groups. The poor (who can't pay for it) and those with pre-existing conditions (who are too expensive). These people will crawl over broken glass to get coverage. So, they will do whatever it takes to get insurance even if that means waiting hours on an 800 line, getting a 40 page form in the mail and filling it out. We see this already because the bulk of those that have signed up in the first four weeks are medicare people. Secondly, the young (who are going to pay for most of this) aren't going to wait hours to get on. They are healthy and they really don't need another $300 per month bill. So, they aren't going to wait hours to sign up. Thirdly, according to several people we are looking at 16 million people who are loosing their insurance (didn't Obama say we could keep our insurance if we liked it?). I suspect that we will have more uninsured after Obamacare than we had before. And, fourthly, the costs are starting to come in. It looks like a 20% across the board cost increase.
I expect Obamacare to collapse under its own weight. Already, democrats up for election are calling for a delay in Obamacare. Do you think any of these democrats are going to apologize to the prophet Ted Cruz. They are making him look good.
|Sunday, August 18th, 2013|
I have studied the history of WW2. However, I started reading the actual source material. It is quite interesting reading what the actual participants said and thought. I was reading the correspondence between Admiral King and the British. King hated the British and the feeling was mutual. King felt that the US was being used to maintain the British empire. Not something he wanted to do.
What is most interesting is how both the British and the American failed to understand the reality of American industrial output. They were so busy arguing about shipping priorities that neither realized that within 16 months the US would have an overwhelming Naval advantage.
The American intelligence community was aware of this. There was a big disagreement about the Midway battle. The intelligence community wanted to simply withdraw from Midway and allow the Japanese to have it. Their thinking was that cracking the japanese Naval code might have been a trap. Why take the bait? The japanese would find the logistic support of a base at Midway almost impossible. They thought that within a year the US would have a dozen fleet carriers and could take Midway at their convenience. Why take a chance at Midway? The only way the Japanese could win was to win battles (which they had been doing) and defeat the Americans piecemeal. But, wait a year, and the US goes into a battle with a 2:1 advantage in carriers and even an incompetent admiral would win.
King, Nimitz, and the British did not perceive any of this.
|Monday, July 29th, 2013|
|Obamacare is doomed
I was watching what Detroit and Chicago have done. Both of these cities have just transferred their pension medical care liabilities to Obamacare. The approximate cost of these two plans is about $20 billion. If other cities do this, and why not, we are looking at a shift of about $150 billion from city liabilities to the federal government. Or, should I say, a shift to the taxpayer?
When one looks at this extra cost on top of the already costs, well this is just not affordable.
|Monday, July 8th, 2013|
|Flying across country
I flew to Eastern Arizona on business. I thought it would be fun but my little plane just cooked in the sun. I must have lost 10 lbs. I was very happy that it made it and didn't overheat the engine. It was well over 100 F outside. So, I went to 9500 feet where the air was cooler.
The week in Arizona was basically a tryout for hell. It was, routinely, 106 F in the afternoon. It just cooked me. by 3 pm I was just heat exhausted. I went back to the hotel, drank a quart of water, took a cool shower and slept for two hours. Too much heat.
After about a week and a half I went to Arizona to see Jean's new house. Levy and her bought this house on short sell and I was astounded how much they got in San Diego. Beautiful house, nice pool, and a very nice yard.
Spent a week there and flew back across Arizona, New Mexico, and Colorado. It was a good experience but I am tired. So, I went in to work (didn't do much, I was gassed) and went back home and slept.
|Thursday, May 9th, 2013|
|Social Security overpayments
I was listening to the TV today and it said that the social security administration in a new crack down had found a few thousand dead people who were receiving payments in 2012. Well, I thought, great. Finally. However, as I listened to the story I found out what they did was that they decided to investigate recipients between the ages of 111 to 129. In this age group they found over payments of $108 million in 2012.
So, if someone was receiving payments of a deceased person and that person would be under 111, well that was OK. Yeah.
|Sunday, May 5th, 2013|
|Obamacare and the states
I was wondering how the republican governors could decide not to set up their Obamacare exchanges. Afterall, the fed was going to pay 100% of all costs for the first few years and then 90% after that. The income to the state was just too good to say no.
However, I was looking at the new Obamacare benefit for people with pre-existing conditions. It turns out that the costs for this program have turned out 2.5 times higher then expected. The Fed ran out of money and has now said that the costs for all new enrolees go to the state. So much for the 100% pledge from the fed. Maybe Perry was right not to set up the exchange in Texas.
|Tuesday, April 30th, 2013|
I spent many months working on an Ammonia Nitrate plant in Arizona. Ammonia Nitrate is used for two purposes: explosives and fertilizer. It was what Timothy McVey used to blow up the government building in Oklahoma. Ammonia Nitrate is dangerous and has been the source of a lot of industrial accidents in the world including the Texas City disaster of 1947. So, I have a lot of respect (or should I say fear?) for it.
Anyways, I was looking at their plant and I came up with a series of recommendations to their safety system. These would not have been cheap. So, they were a bit reluctant. They paid my consulting fee and I went on to my next job.
So, a couple of weeks ago I was working on a contract in New Mexico. I got a phone call at the hotel at about 6:30 am in the morning. I rolled over in my bed and picked up the phone. It was the engineer I had worked with at the Ammonia Nitrate plant.
"David, we have been re-thinking your recommendations."
"Yeah", I said groggily. I was still trying to wake up.
"Yes, we want you to pursue some of these options."
"Ok, I will call you back in a few days."
I hung up, gave up on sleep, and got up. Might as well get ready for work, I thought. I turned on the TV and went to take a shower. I couldn't figure out why he had gone to the trouble of actually finding the hotel I was in. I would have answered an email, just not at 6:30 am.
As I got out of the shower, I watched the news about the West, Texas plant. When the said it was an explosive at a fertilizer plant it was obvious to me it was Ammonia Nitrate. Just another reminder of the danger. No wonder they were interested, I thought.
|Saturday, March 30th, 2013|
I am working with an African engineer named Geraldo. Why someone from Nigeria is named Geraldo is beyond me, but that is his name. Geraldo came to this country when he was 17. I met his older sister and mother after we worked together for a while.
His older sister is Shari. Why Shari? Apparently, it is a shortened, Americanized Nigerian name. When I talked to them, their story is amazing. Geraldo, his sister and mother came to American when he was 17. His older sister was 22. None of them spoke english well. His mother got a job as a housekeeper. Shari went to high school as a freshman and Geraldo went to 8th grade. They got away with this because they are both compact, small people. Even today, Geraldo is only about 5'7" and 130. Shari is quite a bit smaller.
Shari went to school and worked as a housekeeper first. As she learned english, she got a job as a waitress (she said it paid better). Geraldo and Shari finished high school pretty much as soon as they mastered english. Geraldo was a driven student, mostly by Shari. Whenever he got tired she would say in that clipped voice of hers, "do you wish to go back to Nigerian? You can carry a gun there." They were refugees from a military war against their tribe. Many of their tribe as well as their father had been killed.
anyways, Shari bootstrapped herself to a degree in economics and accounting. she was working as an accountant. Geraldo had a chemical engineering degree. They are both driven. Amazing people, really. Their mother speaks broken english and still works as an housekeeper. She doesn't have to with the success of both Shari and Geraldo but she believes that to not work would be letting her family down.
Shari once told me, "American, what an amazing country, all you have to do is work hard and look what you can become." Well said.
|Monday, March 25th, 2013|
|Jean Iris Friend, RIP
My mother in law died this week. I went to the funeral. I liked that old woman and, at 87, she didn't get cheated out of life. But, the impact of her death hit me much harder then I thought. Much of my youth was spent traveling to the house that she and her husband Ray had built. Every room in that place held a memory to me and every picture of her and Ray brought back something. I spoke to my brother in law, Chris, and he said, "we are the old men of the family now. How did that happen?"
Indeed. My son, Michael, was busy all weekend telling me what to do and he started to give advice to Chris. As he walked away Chris said, "How old is he? How did he get so smart?"
I laughed, "He's 29. He has entered that phase of life where he knows everything. I suffered through it."
Chris smiled, "what brought your enlightment?"
"25 years of children."
Chris nodded, "Were we that insufferable? Don't answer. Of course, we were. I want to apologize to my father."
Ann and all three sons gave really good eulogies. John said that death came graceful to Jean. And, when she faced it she said, "look around. I have four children, ten grandchildren, and two great grandchildren. You might win this battle, but I won the war."
She was cranky and she didn't need to make it so obvious I wasn't worthy of her daughter, but I will miss her.
|Tuesday, March 5th, 2013|
|Eric Holder and drone
I was listening to Eric Holder today. He said that Obama had the right to use drones to kill even Americans. Furthermore, the right extends even to the US. In the election of 2008, Obama ran against Bush saying that to do a wiretap the US had to have a judge's order. Now, apparently, Obama is saying, yes we need a warrant to tap your phone but, kill you? that's ok.
|Sunday, February 17th, 2013|
I was watching Steve Kroft, you know, the man who basically gave Hillary oral adoration with the interview with BO. Anyways, they were doing follow up with Wilmington, Ohio. This town was the one that was the US headquarters of DHL. Guess what, life was bad there. Really? And, guess what, it is just as bad now as it was two years ago despite stimulus, cash for clunkers, etc. Gosh, this would have been nice to now BEFORE the election. But, of course, that would not have helped BO to win. No, better for the press to focus on Romney's business background.
What a POS is the MSM.
|Friday, February 15th, 2013|
I was reading the WSJ today and I read that the EEOC is filing suit against companies for racial discrimination. No surprise? But, the basis the suit was interesting. A truck company was doing a background check on a new employee. The employee had a felony conviction for larceny. On that basis the trucking company refused to hire him. The EEOC file suit saying that since 7 times more black people have felony convictions that whites, rejecting someone for a felony conviction was an inherently discriminatory act. The EEOC argued that the company could only reject an applicant if the felony conviction is directly related to the applicant's ability to do the job. Thus, a larceny conviction has nothing to do with the ability of the worker to control a tractor trailer rig.
Well, this is a bit absurd. Any truck company will tell you that their biggest problem is "leakage". This means that things drop of the truck and never get to the final customer. Another case was an applicant was rejected by a company looking to hire security guards because he had two larceny convictions. How would you feel about a security guard being a convicted felony working at your place? Wondering whether when things fail to turn up, maybe the security guard took them or some of his buddies? How about a women, would you feel good about a security guard who was convicted of rape or sexual abuse? Yet, the EEOC is saying that these are not convictions that show he cannot do the job.
|Tuesday, February 12th, 2013|
|The evilness of the Progressive Agenda
I was watching Stossel tonight and I found a few things he said quite odd. I went on the net and checked the facts. Stossel was, indeed, correct. Since Bill Clinton, federal government spending has grown (adjusted for inflation) by 35%. Per capita spending now, at the federal government level, has hit $20,000 per capita. Think about that! For a family of four, the federal government spends $80,000. Why is there any poor? You could just give a family $50,000 and, voila, problem solved.
That does not work. People are poor, generally, because of their behavior. They abuse drugs, alcohol, have little economic skills. Giving them money just sustains them, nothing more.
But, the real problems with this spending is the opportunity cost. We remove that money from the economy and the result is 1.4% economic growth. The result is that our young cannot find jobs. The result is jobs and money is moving overseas. This is the inherent evil of the progressive agenda. In trying to bring justice, they deliver hopelessness. In trying to help people they emasculate business. In the end, progressive programs create more evil than they solve.