Monday, August 27, 2007

Lil' Tikes Nanny Statism Woefully Wasteful

Exploring the most literal interpretation of "nanny statism", a study has shown that early childhood education initiatives in the UK have wasted about £21 billion over the last decade. (In the neighborhood of US $42.2 billion.)

"Sure Start", which sounds a lot like "Head Start" in the US, has "done more harm than good". Other research suggests state-sponsored daycare has "hindered their intellectual development as well as exacerbating their behaviour problems."

The solution? More state intervention!

"Undeterred by such failures, ministers are trying to produce a national curriculum for babies that will set targets for infants to reach before they are a year old."
...
"Alongside Sure Start, the Government has also introduced free nursery education for all year- olds and an early years curriculum.

This requires children to smile at toys at 11 months, respond to words by 20 months, recite numbers by 36 months, and sing familiar songs by the age of four."

Smile, kid. Or you fail!

Why, Governor Rendell, would we want to impose pre-kindergarten statewide in Pennsylvania when those funds could be used to better fund traditional education?

Early Childhood Education: When Governor Rendell took office, Pennsylvania was 1 of only 9 states in the nation that failed to fund pre-kindergarten. Today, thousands more students have access to high-quality pre-kindergarten, full-day kindergarten and small classes in grades K-3 through strategic investments in Head Start and the landmark accountability block grant. With continued commitment to our future, Pennsylvania will expand its investment in quality pre-kindergarten and full-day kindergarten to give all children the chance for a jump-start across the commonwealth.

While we're at it, let's give all the kids laptops too. Such a shame that "classrooms look exactly the same today as they did a generation ago". Too bad they don't get the same results.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Meet the New War...

...same as the old war.

This video is all over the place, but Hillary Clinton is simultaneously saying that the surge is working, but that it's "too late" - we're fighting "the last war" and "we have to be preparing to fight the new war".

Just so everybody has that straight, the war we're in right now, currently, in the present, is "the last war". And no matter how well we do, it's too late. Not sure what the new war is. Is Hillary getting ready to attack Iran? Surely not.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Enough with the Huckabee already

Frm Arkansas Gov Mike Huckabee is not in any position to be "the next" Fred Thompson, or the next anything. Ramesh Ponnuru at NRO thinks otherwise.

Huckabee and Thompson [Ramesh Ponnuru]

If Gov. Huckabee manages to make something of his strong showing yesterday, isn't it a problem for Fred Thompson? Like Thompson, Huckabee is a southerner. But he has stronger social-conservative credentials and more executive experience, and he is now what Thompson was a few months ago: the new thing.

Huckabee placed second in the Iowa straw poll because nobody else was there except for Romney. Somebody on that list of losers had to be the "surprise" second. Huckabee trailed Romney by 12.9 percentage points. Senator Sam Brownback followed only by another 2.8 points, and only 4.4 points separates Huckabee from Tancredo, who wants to keep open the "deterrent" option of nuking Mecca and Medina.

(By the way Tanc, those cities don't lie in some imaginary Islamastan, but in Saudi Arabia, our supposed ally in the WOT. Ya might want to keep the nukes away from them.)

Huckabee has zero chance of being President, and a near zero chance of being Vice President. The Iowa poll is meaningless since only one of the big dogs decided to play. To me, Huckabee has the smell of Bush, somebody who will continue to implement new Federal spending programs that have a whiff of "social conservatism".

Thompson is (yawn!) blogging about Federalism and how Washington needs to continually ask itself whether any proposed program is within its proper purview. Heck, that's almost Ron Paul territory! Oh, and Thompson gets a second chance at being "the new thing" whenever he gets around to officially announcing.

Though totally statistically insignificant, I find it interesting that Fred beat all the other "no show" candidates, plus that Cox guy that less than nobody cares about.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

The Recession That Wasn't

Ken Fisher cites the Bureau of Economic Analysis in his book "The Only Three Questions That Count" for quarterly GDP data (pp 60, table 2.1), finding that no quarter in the period from 2000 to 2002 had negative GDP growth. The lowest was 2001-q3 at 0.06%.

Thus, for the classic definition of "recession" (two negative GDP growth quarters), we didn't have one.

(Fisher doesn't like the GDP definition of recession, and cites other evidence that there was a brief one in 2001. Fair enough, Ken Fisher is smarter than I am and a gazillion times richer. The point is things still weren't terrible.)

So now Larry Kudlow can stop talking about the "recovery" now as there was hardly anything from which to recover. And we're well into the business cycle, possibly going down the other side if you listen to some. At some point the "recovery" blends into "the normal cycle of economic expansion". Also, the Democrats can stop talking about how the economy under Bush has been awful, because that's a flat lie.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Hillary won't "socialize" medicine

socialize - Verb, trans. : (1) To place under government or group ownership or control. (American Heritage Dictionary via dictionary.com)


When asked about her continued plans to socialize medicine in the US, Senator Clinton responded:

"That was a string of misrepresentations about me and about the systems in other countries," Clinton started. "Number one, I have never advocated socialized medicine, and I hope all the journalists here heard that loudly and clearly because that has been a right-wing attack on me for 15 years."

Clinton's plan, which died in Congress in 1994, would have required employers to provide health-care coverage to employees through health-maintenance organizations. Insurance firms opposed the proposal, as did political conservatives who thought it removed health care -- a huge portion of the nation's economy -- from the competitive marketplace.

"Do you think Medicare is socialized medicine?" Clinton asked her inquisitor, who did not identify himself.

Hillary, get a dictionary. Yes, Medicare is indeed socialized medicine. The only reason it isn't a total disaster is that it is parasitic on the free(er)-market healthcare system for little things like hospitals, doctors, and drug research.

If anybody doubts this is socialization of medicine, ask whether her proposals tend towarad "free market capitalism", or "government or group control". Let's call things by their proper names - this is increased socialism. Don't like the word? Think it sounds to harsh? Tough crap.

Monday, August 06, 2007

The Presidential Panderfest Tour: 2007-2008

I hate to call them debates because virutally nothing gets debated.

We had the Af-Am debate at Howard, the YouTube debate - did they have the gay debate yet? I know I just watched part of a GOP Iowa debate.

Now we're looking at a Spanish language debate for Univision.

I don't want to get into the whole "speak English in America" thing. It's been done to death. I'm disturbed by the broader fractionalizing of the electorate. Or to put it another way, the utter lack of any unifying goals as Americans. We're no longer debating the best way to skin the cat. We can't even agree that the cat needs to be skinned. Today's most pressing political question: What can you do for my extremely narrow identity?

With the arguable exception of gay marriage, every single issue addressed at one of these forums impacts the rest of the country. The Corn Mafia demands ethanol promotion, which raises food prices for the rest of America - nay, the whole freaking world!

Not just Iowa.

Immigration affects school districts with ESL class expenditures, small businesses, labor wages, etc.

Not just Hispanics.

Politics would be so much easier if politicians couldn't just get away with saying "I secured X percent more funding for project Y" without having to justify why Y needed more funding and whether the additional funding was empirically beneficial to Y. But I digress.

Let's have actual debates among few enough people that they can all be in the same camera shot. Let's debate tax policy, Iraq, immigration, gay rights, energy, healthcare, free trade, whatever. And let's do it all at the same time. For everybody.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

House Dems perform economic voodoo in energy bill

Apparently, the House Democrats want to ensure lower energy costs by mandating that power companies use more expensive fuel. This was part of a bill to tax oil companies and mandate the use of renewable fuels in electrical generation.

"This will save consumers money," said Rep. Tom Udall, D-N.M., the provision's co-sponsor, maintaining utilities will have to use less high-priced natural gas.

Yes, because those greedy profit-motivated utility companies hadn't considered the high cost of NatGas, and just figured they'd burn fossil fuels for the sheer fun of polluting the air, ignoring their much impugned profit motive.

For the record, I'm all for getting rid of tax incentives for oil companies so long as they are then allowed to drill offshore and in ANWR and any other place where there might be resources.

Clearly when a Democrat says they respect or understand market forces you should reach for your wallet. A more realistic energy plan would pump money into R&D in order to make alt-energy sources economical, rather than just legislate that they be economical. To be fair, the article mentions some R&D funding for cellulosic ethanol, but I must have missed the mention of increased nuke-fission power plants and nuke-fusion R&D. And I somehow doubt that the cellulosic ethanol funding is anything close to the order of magnitude required to get the job done within a decade.

No, this is a fantasy-land energy bill destined for the Presidential veto pen, full of scorn for the evil corporations who sell you the products that power your cars and computers.

Fantasy Member of Congress Joe Collins (R-Pennsyltucky) would have introduced an amendment to the bill requiring windmills to be built within view of the Kennedy compound.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Double Standards

I'm not just paranoid - I'm not just paranoid - I'm not just paranoid.

I'm not just paranoid?

If this incident of alleged vote-stealing in the US House had occurred under Republican management I doubt the media coverage would have been as accommodating. People would be screaming bloody murder. Culture of Corruption and all that.

Dark Lord of the Sith Nancy Pelosi (D-Tatooine) attempted a Jedi mind trick, "There was no mistake made last night."

And If Prez Bush or any GOP candidate had talked cavalierly about invading Pakistan (in hot pursuit or on impeccable intelligence) I doubt he would have gotten the lenient treatment Obama got.

Mitt debates Moron

During a recent radio interview in Iowa, Mitt Romney was accosted by the radio host about the relationship between Romney's Mormon faith and his political views, particularly about abortion. Fortunately this clip (see link) reveals the idiocy of the host Jan Mickelson by showing him making some ridiculous argument about how a real conservative President would ignore spurious Supreme Court decisions. You know, just tell them who's the man. That's real democracy for ya.

I'm not the biggest Romney fan, though I certainly see some good qualities in him, and I wouldn't mind if he was the veep pick. But I think Romney did very well, and even though some described his demeanor in this clip as "heated", I think Mitt responded rather mildly to some asinine statements by the radio host even when he thought he wasn't being recorded.

A Romney spokesman said, "...[W]e reviewed and thought the governor handled the situation very well."

I agree. Score one for Mitt.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Surge...working? Sort of.

Michael Barone asks "Is The Surge Working?", and seems to imply "yes". Foreign policy wonks Michael O'Hanlon and Kenneth Pollack (I've heard of Pollack and generally respect him, if I don't always agree - never heard of O'Hanlon) currently of the Brookings Institution argue that "here is enough good happening on the battlefields of Iraq today that Congress should plan on sustaining the effort at least into 2008."

Sunni tribal leaders are flipping against AQI, and overall, Petraeus seems to be performing at or above the level we were promised.

It's standard boilerplate for Democrats to say that the surge isn't working or can't work, and that anybody who tells you otherwise is feeding you a line of bovine excrement. But here we have the very not-conservative Brookings, and Pollack - a former Clintonite - telling us to give it a shot.

Democrats - the "reality based community"- seem incapable of believing it. And they don't want to hear that public opinion may not be as universally negative against the war as they had supposed.

"Poll Surprises out-of-touch Paper"
WHEN THE New York Times poll found that the number of Americans who think it was right for the United States to go to war in Iraq rose from 35 percent in May to 42 percent in mid-July, rather than promptly report the new poll findings, the paper conducted another poll. As the Times' Janet Elder wrote Sunday, the increased support for the decision to go to war was "counterintuitive" and because it "could not be easily explained, the paper went back and did another poll on the very same subject."

Hardly overwhelming support, but enough to give the so-called Washington Clock a little more time.

So the surge is working, but differently than planned. The military aspect is going better than expected, possibly creating spillover/bottom-up support, but the government in Baghdad seems incapable of making progress. But proclaiming the surge failed is at best very premature. For heaven's sake wait until Petraeus gives his report before pulling the plug.