Friday, February 07, 2014

Cruising the Web

I've been so amused by all the pictures and stories coming out of Sochi of how unprepared the area is for all the foreigners and reporters arrive for the Olympics. Is this any surprise from a society that continually failed to meet its five-year plans? The picture of the sign in the toilets telling people to place their toilet paper in a trash can rather than the toilet brought back unfond memories from the time I spent in the Soviet Union in 1979. That is what we had to do at all the toilets. And we were lucky if we had something recognizable as toilet paper to use. Often we had cut up squares of newspaper giving rise to many jokes about the best use of Pravda. Once we encountered squares of wax paper - not the most absorbent material which somehow misses the point of toilet paper. I wrote my husband at the time that we were inevitably going to win the Cold War since no modern country that could not manage to provide toilets and toilet paper could defeat us. What is amazing is that they have not made much progress in modern bathroom implements since 1979.

And now their Deputy Prime Minister has revealed that they have surveillance camera in the showers. Truly, the more things change, the more....

Powerline has a letter from William Henck who worked inside the IRS Office of the General Counsel for 26 years. Henck recounts the corruption he has witnessed in the IRS. Amazing revelations.

Ron Fournier reminds us that our national debt is at near record high and our Washington politicians are doing nothing about it. And economic growth is going to be slow for the long-term which will make our debt even worse.

North Carolina's improvement in its employment numbers confounds conventional wisdom.
There's nothing like a market test to see if government policies work. The latest comes from North Carolina, which was denounced by the usual suspects last year for refusing to extend unemployment benefits and has been rewarded with more jobs and a falling jobless rate.

The Tarheel State let 73 weeks of jobless benefits expire in July, and in a mere six months the jobless rate fell to 6.9% in December from 8.9% in July. That's far more rapidly than the decline in the national rate, which fell to 6.7% from 7.3% in July. North Carolina had trailed the national economy with a much higher rate since the recovery began.

Dan Clifton of Strategas Research Partners adds that employment in North Carolina has increased by 1.3% since the benefits expired, while the national average is only 0.5% over the same period. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the state has added nearly 55,000 new jobs during that period to more than 4,333,000, which appears to be a record high. In December 11,100 net new jobs made North Carolina one of four states with statistically significant job gains.

You would think this would be welcome news, but not to the critics who said it could never happen. Our friends on the left attribute the falling unemployment rate to people quitting the state's labor force. And it's true that the Labor Department reports a decline of more than 40,000 people in North Carolina's labor force from July to December.

But declining participation has been taking place across the country, and the Keynesians have told us not to worry because it's merely due to an aging population. But now they want to use it to discredit job creation in North Carolina. Which is it?

Republicans are still way behind the Democrats in their ability to glean "information from voter databases and social media to find potential supporters." However, Charlie Cook identifies a problem for the Democrats - they have money, but for all the wrong races.

Charles Krauthammer reminds us of medical myths that have been overturned in the centuries. There are also health care myths that provided the basis for Obamacare. But they are still myths.
This is not to indict, but simply to advocate for caution grounded in humility. It’s not surprising that myths about the workings of the fabulously complex U.S. health-care system continue to tantalize — and confound — policymakers. After all, Americans so believe in their vitamins/supplements that they swallow $28 billion worth every year.

Here is a reason to end the risk corridors - the bailout for just one insurer's losses under Obamacare will cost up to $450 million in 2014.

AOL CEO announced that they are cutting employee benefits as a result of Obamacare. Whether the health care law is the reason or not, it has certainly become the go-to excuse for companies having to explain why they are trimming employee benefits.

Here are eight reasons for halting or restricting early voting.

Byron York explains how the numbers the Obama administration has given out how many people have signed up for Obamacare have been greatly inflated.

It is always a disappointment to my students when they come to learn that Schoolhouse Rock had deceived them in how a bill becomes a law. I tell them that it is more like Quentin Tarantino's movie, "Kill Bill." Here is a graph from the Sunlight Foundation about what happened to 60,000 bills tried to become a law. (h/t Ed Morrissey)

The NLRB proceeds to ignore a federal judge's ruling.