April 28, 2008

Newspapers’ Slides (Mostly) Continue

Filed under: Business Moves,MSM Biz/Other Ignorance — Tom @ 5:07 pm

I’m (still) buried in a longer-term assignment for Pajamas Media, but wanted to come up for air long enough to point to these three Editor & Publisher articles today:

- “Steep Decline at ‘NYT’ While ‘WSJ’ Gains ” — overall dips in circulation during the year ended March 31, 2008 for the top 25 newspapers in the USA were 3.5% for weekdays and 4.5% for Sunday.
- Weekday detail.
- Sunday detail.

Rush today, as he has in the past, called the Drive-by Media (his term) the only industry in which a customer who doesn’t like the product is routinely told there is something wrong with him or her.

Hopefully, I’ll have more to say and show on this in the coming day or two.

Column of the Day: Steyn on Biofuel Madness

As usual, read the whole thing (bolds are mine; internal link added by me):

The biofuels debacle is global warm-mongering in a nutshell: The first victims of poseur environmentalism will always be developing countries. In order for you to put biofuel in your Prius and feel good about yourself for no reason, real actual people in faraway places have to starve to death. On April 15, the Independent, the impeccably progressive British newspaper, editorialized:

“The production of biofuel is devastating huge swaths of the world’s environment. So why on Earth is the government forcing us to use more of it?”

You want the short answer? Because the government made the mistake of listening to fellows like you. Here’s the self-same Independent in November 2005:

“At last, some refreshing signs of intelligent thinking on climate change are coming out of Whitehall. The Environment minister, Elliot Morley, reveals today in an interview with this newspaper that the Government is drawing up plans to impose a ‘biofuel obligation’ on oil companies … . This has the potential to be the biggest green innovation in the British petrol market since the introduction of unleaded petrol.”

Etc. It’s not the environmental movement’s chickenfeedhawks who’ll have to reap what they demand must be sown, but we should be in no doubt about where to place the blame – on the bullying activists and their media cheerleaders and weather-vane politicians who insist that the “science” is “settled” and that those who question whether there’s any crisis are (in the designation of the strikingly nonemaciated Al Gore) “denialists.”

….. Whether there’s very slight global cooling or very slight global warming, there’s no need for a “war” on either, no rationale for loosing a plague of eco-locusts on the food supply. So why be surprised that totalitarian solutions to mythical problems wind up causing real devastation? As for Time’s (infamous Iwo Jima) tree, by all means put it up: It helps block out the view of starving peasants on the far horizon.

Never forget this:

On Aug. 4, 1994, Al Gore cast the crucial vote which set the United States on the road to taking food out of the mouths of millions, by using food for fuel.

….. Four years after the vote, Gore was still boasting about his central role in perpetrating the ethanol craze.

The inconvenient truth is that a fake crisis may be leading to a really serious one.

Couldn’t Help But Comment (042808, Morning)

The repeated flubs by the candidate I irreverently refer to as “Mr. BOOHOO-OUCH” (Barack O-bomba Overseas Hussein “Obambi” Obama – Objectively Unfit Coddler of Haters) on the effects of the capital gains tax consistently ignore the fact that when it has been lowered, tax revenues have increased. One specific is that the 1997 cut that gave rise to almost three years of very good economic growth caused tax collections to explode, but more importantly, was a huge factor in venture capital increasing by a factor of 7:

In 1995, the first year for which these data are available, just over $8 billion in venture capital was invested. Venture capital is especially critical to a vibrant economy because high-risk/high-return investment permits promising new businesses to blossom, rapidly spreading new technologies and new ideas into the marketplace and across the economy. Such investments, when successful, generate returns to investors that are subject primarily to the tax on capital gains. By 1998, the first full year in which the lower capital gains rates were in effect, venture capital activity reached almost $28 billion, more than a three-fold increase over 1995 levels, and by 1999, it had doubled yet again.

($28 billion x 2 = $56 billion, which is seven times greater than 1995′s $8 billion. — Ed.)

The explosion in venture capital activity cannot be credited entirely to the cut in capital gains tax rates, as the cut fortuitously coincided with technological developments that gave rise to the Internet-based “New Economy.” However, the rapid development and application of these new technologies could not have occurred at such a rapid clip absent the enormous investment flows made possible largely by the reduction in the capital gains tax rate.

Obama either doesn’t get that, or believes it’s less important than an abstract concept of “fairness” — economic growth be damned.

Update: Obama is now saying — “I’m mindful that we’ve got to keep our capital gains tax to a point where we can actually get more revenue.” There’s one way that happens, pal — LOWER it.

___________________________________________

John Stossel, in the Orange County Register (bold is mine):

And are we really experiencing a mortgage-default “crisis”? No. The Mortgage Bankers Association’s 2007 fourth-quarter survey reports that foreclosures came to 2.04 percent of all mortgages. Many of those were speculators seeking flip profits rather than homeowners losing a dream house. During the quarter, 0.83 percent of homes entered the foreclosure process. It may get worse – in March, “foreclosure filings, default notices, auction sale notices and bank repossessions rose 5 percent,” Reuters reports. But let’s keep things in perspective: Ninety-eight percent of borrowers are not in foreclosure. Only a small percentage of them are even late in payments.

Politicians love a “crisis.” John McCain, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama all think that the government should bail out homeowners who can’t pay their mortgages. When they say the government should do this, they mean the taxpayers, including those who are paying their mortgages. They also think the government should regulate the lending and investment industries further.

Why?

Because “crisis” justifies making big government bigger.

“The taxpayers” also including those who are paying rent.

_____________________________________________

The presidential candidate I irreverently refer to “JS3M3″ (John Sidney the Mad Maverick McCain III) has not been pleasing the people who are supposed to be his base lately. That would be conservatives, not Old Media.

But he got this right:

The GOP nominee-in-waiting rapped his Democratic rival for opposing his idea to suspend the tax on fuel during the summer. …..

“I noticed again today that Sen. Obama repeated his opposition to giving low-income Americans a tax break, a little bit of relief so they can travel a little further and a little longer, and maybe have a little bit of money left over to enjoy some other things in their lives,” McCain said. “Obviously Sen. Obama does not understand that this would be a nice thing for Americans, and the special interests should not be dictating this policy.”

Most spending on gas is a fixed cost, at least in the short run. The people who would benefit most from a summer bas-tax holiday would be those for whom gas is a higher pecentage of their total spending.

Positivity: Samoan baby, a miracle survivor receiving treatment in South Florida

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 6:42 am

From Fort Lauderdale, Florida:

April 20, 2008

Severely disfigured from birth defects, “Baby Miracle” was given 24 hours to live.

Now 8 months old, Miracletina Julie Nanai gurgles and guzzles like any ordinary infant. She nestles in her parents’ arms, squirms in the bath and cries for milk.

But unlike most newborns, she is a minor celebrity — a Samoan native whose parents’ drive to help her survive has inspired several Web sites championing her cause and an outpouring of support. To that end, dozens of people turned out at for a festive luau on Saturday to raise money for her medical treatment.

The gathering at Snyder Park was sponsored in part by the Council of Chiefs from Samoa, a Fort Lauderdale-based organization comprising about 50 Samoan clan chiefs across the state. Organizers hoped to raise about $150,000 to help pay for several surgeries she underwent last month at Miami Children’s Hospital and her ongoing treatment.

Aside from the money being raised, two surgeons at the hospital donated their time, and hospital officials agreed to cover about $125,000 for some of her medical bills, said Caroline Paul-Ah chong, a Samoan-based co-founder of Thorn Ministries Inc., a charitable relief organization in Riverview that arranged the baby’s medical treatment.

“I am overwhelmed by the generosity and the outpouring of love that has been given to my baby,” said the baby’s mother, Sefulu Nanai, 28, through an interpreter Saturday. “The hope is that we’ve achieved what we came here for. We hope this will prolong her quality of life.”

Indeed, the baby may live a “long, long” time, said S. Anthony Wolfe, chief of plastic surgery at Miami Children’s Hospital, who teamed up last month with John Ragheb, chief of pediatric neurosurgery, to reconstruct the baby’s cleft lip, nostrils and a plum-sized defect on her spinal cord related to spina bifida, a birth defect.

The corrective surgeries allow the baby eat and breath more easily, Wolfe noted.

From the beginning, those have been her primary challenges.

Doctors initially didn’t feed her as a newborn, Paul-Ah chong said, thinking her deformed mouth made it all but impossible. After four days in an incubator, her father, Mikaele Nanai, secretly fed her formula with a syringe. She thrived. So much so that doctors eventually sent the couple home with their baby. She soon earned the nickname “Baby Miracle” from the local media who chronicled her struggle. Her parents then changed her name to Miracletina Julie Nanai.

Go here for the rest of the story.