December 1, 2011

LA Occupiers’ Defiance Is National News at AP; Their 25 Tons of Disgusting Filth Isn’t

It appears that cleanup crews around the country aren’t the only ones engaging in sanitation exercises in the wake of the largely disbanded Occupy encampments around the country.

At the Associated Press, which made the goings-on in the waning days of Occupy LA national news, the aftermath is apparently just a local or regional story. Here’s a list of results at the AP’s national site of a search on “occupy Los Angeles” (not in quotes):

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Adam Carolla’s ‘Epic Rant’ (Profanity-Free Version) — With a Qualifier

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 9:37 pm

I’m going to offer up a bit of a dissent after the rant (HT The Blaze):

Look, I get the points Corolla is making about “self-entitled monsters.” But there’s an element of smug dismissal here with which I’m more than a little uncomfortable.

The fundamental question is: Do today’s fortysomethings, thirtysomethings, twentysomethings and even those who are younger have grounds for envy (“a feeling of discontent or covetousness with regard to another’s advantages, success, possessions, etc.”)?

Well, sadly, yes — but they’re not directing their anger at the people who have “advantages” and “possessions” which have effectively been and still are being stolen from them. It really isn’t “the 1%,” guys. You don’t want to know how bad things would be if it weren’t for companies, opportunities, and living-standard improvements the company builders in the 1%, so many of whom started out in the 99% (some even quite near its bottom), created.

Generationally, baby boomers have stolen from those who are younger and continue to do so at an ever-accelerating rate. Today’s younger workers are paying boomers to retire (there is no Social Security trust fund with a stash of cash), and to a large extent they’re paying for boomers’ medical care. Now that current workers’ taxes aren’t enough to fund current benefits (even before considering the irresponsible payroll tax reductions which began this year), generations not even born are paying today’s boomers to retire. Today’s young get charged outrageous amounts for college educations they all too often can’t use anywhere administered by public-sector boomers who make sure they get taken care of.

Do young people have a right to “a feeling of discontent”? Uh, yeah. Nobody asked them to pay their elders’ bills; boomers just basically shoved them down their throats. Let’s hope that the reaction of younger people on the whole to all of this ends up being infinitely more mature than we know boomers’ reactions would be if they were in the same position.

In fact, I wonder if part of the motivation behind the left’s behind-the-scenes creation of Occupy Wall Street wasn’t the idea that somebody had better identify a bogeyman as a focus for youthful anger, because if they don’t get distracted, they’ll start looking at spendthrift boomer politicians and the people who supported them and find the real cause of their discontent.

Leon Cooperman’s Open Letter to Obama

Filed under: Business Moves,Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 1:53 pm

Since it’s an open letter, I’m posting the whole thing. Forbes’s profile of Mr. Cooperman is here.

Time-pressed readers can scroll down to the last two bolded paragraphs for the broadsides.

OPEN LETTER TO THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

November 28, 2011

President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20500

Dear Mr. President,

It is with a great sense of disappointment that I write this. Like many others, I hoped that your election would bring a salutary change of direction to the country, despite what more than a few feared was an overly aggressive social agenda. And I cannot credibly blame you for the economic mess that you inherited, even if the policy response on your watch has been profligate and largely ineffectual. (You did not, after all, invent TARP.) I understand that when surrounded by cries of “the end of the world as we know it is nigh”, even the strongest of minds may have a tendency to shoot first and aim later in a well-intended effort to stave off the predicted apocalypse.

But what I can justifiably hold you accountable for is you and your minions’ role in setting the tenor of the rancorous debate now roiling us that smacks of what so many have characterized as “class warfare”. Whether this reflects your principled belief that the eternal divide between the haves and have-nots is at the root of all the evils that afflict our society or just a cynical, populist appeal to his base by a president struggling in the polls is of little importance. What does matter is that the divisive, polarizing tone of your rhetoric is cleaving a widening gulf, at this point as much visceral as philosophical, between the downtrodden and those best positioned to help them. It is a gulf that is at once counterproductive and freighted with dangerous historical precedents. And it is an approach to governing that owes more to desperate demagoguery than your Administration should feel comfortable with.

Just to be clear, while I have been richly rewarded by a life of hard work (and a great deal of luck), I was not to-the-manor-born. My father was a plumber who practiced his trade in the South Bronx after he and my mother emigrated from Poland. I was the first member of my family to earn a college degree. I benefited from both a good public education system (P.S. 75, Morris High School and Hunter College, all in the Bronx) and my parents’ constant prodding. When I joined Goldman Sachs following graduation from Columbia University’s business school, I had no money in the bank, a negative net worth, a National Defense Education Act student loan to repay, and a six-month-old child (not to mention his mother, my wife of now 47 years) to support. I had a successful, near-25-year run at Goldman, which I left 20 years ago to start a private investment firm. As a result of my good fortune, I have been able to give away to those less blessed far more than I have spent on myself and my family over a lifetime, and last year I subscribed to Warren Buffet’s Giving Pledge to ensure that my money, properly stewarded, continues to do some good after I’m gone.

My story is anything but unique. I know many people who are similarly situated, by both humble family history and hard-won accomplishment, whose greatest joy in life is to use their resources to sustain their communities. Some have achieved a level of wealth where philanthropy is no longer a by-product of their work but its primary impetus. This is as it should be. We feel privileged to be in a position to give back, and we do. My parents would have expected nothing less of me.

I am not, by training or disposition, a policy wonk, polemicist or pamphleteer. I confess admiration for those who, with greater clarity of expression and command of the relevant statistical details, make these same points with more eloquence and authoritativeness than I can hope to muster. For recent examples, I would point you to “Hunting the Rich” (Leaders, The Economist, September 24, 2011), “The Divider vs. the Thinker” (Peggy Noonan, The Wall Street Journal, October 29, 2011), “Wall Street Occupiers Misdirect Anger” (Christine Todd Whitman, Bloomberg, October 31, 2011), and “Beyond Occupy” (Bill Keller, The New York Times, October 31, 2011) – all, if you haven’t read them, making estimable work of the subject.

But as a taxpaying businessman with a weekly payroll to meet and more than a passing familiarity with the ways of both Wall Street and Washington, I do feel justified in asking you: is the tone of the current debate really constructive?

People of differing political persuasions can (and do) reasonably argue about whether, and how high, tax rates should be hiked for upper-income earners; whether the Bush-era tax cuts should be extended or permitted to expire, and for whom; whether various deductions and exclusions under the federal tax code that benefit principally the wealthy and multinational corporations should be curtailed or eliminated; whether unemployment benefits and the payroll tax cut should be extended; whether the burdens of paying for the nation’s bloated entitlement programs are being fairly spread around, and whether those programs themselves should be reconfigured in light of current and projected budgetary constraints; whether financial institutions deemed “too big to fail” should be serially bailed out or broken up first, like an earlier era’s trusts, because they pose a systemic risk and their size benefits no one but their owners; whether the solution to what ails us as a nation is an amalgam of more regulation, wealth redistribution, and a greater concentration of power in a central government that has proven no more (I’m being charitable here) adept than the private sector in reining in the excesses that brought us to this pass – the list goes on and on, and the dialectic is admirably American. Even though, as a high-income taxpayer, I might be considered one of its targets, I find this reassessment of so many entrenched economic premises healthy and long overdue. Anyone who could survey today’s challenging fiscal landscape, with an un- and underemployment rate of nearly 20 percent and roughly 40 percent of the country on public assistance, and not acknowledge an imperative for change is either heartless, brainless, or running for office on a very parochial agenda. And if I end up paying more taxes as a result, so be it. The alternatives are all worse.

But what I do find objectionable is the highly politicized idiom in which this debate is being conducted. Now, I am not naive. I understand that in today’s America, this is how the business of governing typically gets done – a situation that, given the gravity of our problems, is as deplorable as it is seemingly ineluctable. But as President first and foremost and leader of your party second, you should endeavor to rise above the partisan fray and raise the level of discourse to one that is both more civil and more conciliatory, that seeks collaboration over confrontation. That is what “leading by example” means to most people.

Capitalism is not the source of our problems, as an economy or as a society, and capitalists are not the scourge that they are too often made out to be. As a group, we employ many millions of taxpaying people, pay their salaries, provide them with healthcare coverage, start new companies, found new industries, create new products, fill store shelves at Christmas, and keep the wheels of commerce and progress (and indeed of government, by generating the income whose taxation funds it) moving. To frame the debate as one of rich-and-entitled versus poor-and-dispossessed is to both miss the point and further inflame an already incendiary environment. It is also a naked, political pander to some of the basest human emotions – a strategy, as history teaches, that never ends well for anyone but totalitarians and anarchists.

With due respect, Mr. President, it’s time for you to throttle-down the partisan rhetoric and appeal to people’s better instincts, not their worst. Rather than assume that the wealthy are a monolithic, selfish and unfeeling lot who must be subjugated by the force of the state, set a tone that encourages people of good will to meet in the middle. When you were a community organizer in Chicago, you learned the art of waging a guerilla campaign against a far superior force. But you’ve graduated from that milieu and now help to set the agenda for that superior force. You might do well at this point to eschew the polarizing vernacular of political militancy and become the transcendent leader you were elected to be. You are likely to be far more effective, and history is likely to treat you far more kindly for it.

Sincerely,
Leon G. Cooperman Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Omega Advisors

I think Mr. Cooperman, who supported Obama in 2008, still gives him more benefit of the doubt than he deserves. Just one point of potentially many: Obama may not have invented TARP, but he enthusiastically supported, and twisted it like a pretzel to justify using tens of billions of TARP dollars to bail out General Motors and Chrysler (remember, George W. Bush “only” but of course very erroneously approved short-term loans out of TARP funds to the two companies).

ISM Manufacturing: 52.7%, Up 1.9 Points

Filed under: Economy — Tom @ 10:21 am

From the Institute for Supply Management:

(Tempe, Arizona) — Economic activity in the manufacturing sector expanded in November for the 28th consecutive month, and the overall economy grew for the 30th consecutive month, say the nation’s supply executives in the latest Manufacturing ISM Report On Business®.

… “The PMI registered 52.7 percent, an increase of 1.9 percentage points from October’s reading of 50.8 percent, indicating expansion in the manufacturing sector for the 28th consecutive month. The New Orders Index increased 4.3 percentage points from October to 56.7 percent, reflecting the second month of growth after three months of contraction. While the Prices Index, at 45 percent, increased 4 percentage points from the October reading of 41 percent, prices of raw materials continued to decrease (registering below 50 percent) for the second consecutive month. Respondents cite continuing concerns about the general economic environment, government regulations and European financial conditions, but are cautiously more optimistic about the next few months based on lower raw materials pricing and favorable levels of new orders.

Given the bad news on unemployment claims earlier this morning, this one’s a bit of a relief. That said, nine industries reported contraction, and eight reported expansion.

The participant comments included are all over the place — so all over the place that I’m going to run them and let readers try to make sense of them (numbered by me for reference purposes):

  1. “Business still holding its own. Some growth in margin now that some of the raw materials prices have abated. Oil is pushing $100 so that has not been favorable.” (Chemical Products)
  2. “Orders for the remaining two months have increased after an extended ‘summer dip’ in sales overall. We expect to finish the year approximately 10 percent above 2010.” (Electrical Equipment, Appliances & Components)
  3. “Seeing a slight slowdown in orders; could be related to the holidays.” (Primary Metals)
  4. “Material lead times are getting longer. Seems like no one is hiring. Trying to do twice the output with the same amount of people.” (Food, Beverage & Tobacco Products)
  5. “Japanese auto production has returned to 100 percent, and domestic manufacturing continues to increase.” (Fabricated Metal Products)
  6. “Oil exploration seems to be really picking up. Government is permitting again, so business is the busiest we’ve ever seen.” (Computer & Electronic Products)
  7. “The EPS (presumably “EPA’s” — Ed.) ruling about higher fees for coal-generated electricity can have a huge, negative impact on our business if implemented in January 2012. We are at the peak of our seasonal demand push.” (Plastics & Rubber Products)
  8. “Thailand flood impacting our business. Honda and Toyota cut production forecasts, and we are chasing some components made in Thailand.” (Transportation Equipment)

Zero Hedge thinks comments 4 and 7 were particularly important. So do I.

Initial Unemployment Claims: Back Above 400K SA for the Fourth Time in Nine Months; 371K NSA

From the Department of Labor — Can’t wait for the “Gee, the Obama administration can’t seem to catch a break” media coverage:

SEASONALLY ADJUSTED DATA

In the week ending November 26, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 402,000, an increase of 6,000 from the previous week’s revised figure of 396,000. The 4-week moving average was 395,750, an increase of 500 from the previous week’s revised average of 395,250.

UNADJUSTED DATA

The advance number of actual initial claims under state programs, unadjusted, totaled 370,616 in the week ending November 26, a decrease of 69,665 from the previous week. There were 412,922 initial claims in the comparable week in 2010.

Business Insider’s email predicted 390K.

Bloomberg had a prediction of 390K, so its headline after the release naturally read “U.S. Jobless Claims Unexpectedly Rise.” The report supposedly means that there is “limited recovery in the labor market.” Uh, when the number goes up to what will probably be 405K or more after next week’s revision, it means that whatever “recovery” we thought we had was an illusion.

Reuters also had a 390K prediction. It said that the result was “reinforcing the view that the battered labor market was healing only slowly.”

If at all, guys. As shown below, this is the fourth time we’ve seen this movie in the past nine months:

UnempClaimsTo112611

Healing, schmealing.

Latest PJ Media Column (‘The ‘Cain Scrutiny Leads to a ‘Reassessment’) Is Up

It’s here.

It will go up here at BizzyBlog on Saturday (link won’t work until then) after the blackout expires.

The column is partially based on personal observations of the candidate at his West Chester, Ohio visit yesterday. Repeat thanks to Matt Hurley at Weapons of Mass Discussion for forwarding the Butler County GOP’s event invitation. I also appreciate Instapundit’s link yesterday to my live-blog post, and PJ Media for getting the column reviewed and posted so quickly.

Thursday Off-Topic (Moderated) Open Thread (120111)

Filed under: Lucid Links — Tom @ 8:03 am

Rules are here. Possible comment fodder may follow later. Other topics are also fair game.

__________________________________________

Occupy Update (120111)

More links relating to the Obama-endorsed (proof hereherehere, and hereOccupy movement.
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Positivity: Dog given medal, certificate for keeping man, granddaughter warm overnight in overturned car

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 5:58 am

From Tokyo:

NOV. 26, 2011 – 06:36AM JST

A 7-year-old Labrador Retriever that helped keep an 81-year-old man and his 3-year-old granddaughter warm after their car overturned, leaving them stranded on a snowy riverbank in Hokkaido earlier this month, has been given a gold medal and a certificate of thanks from the local town mayor.

The man, Yoshimasa Soma, and his granddaughter, Sukai Kimura, had taken the dog, named Junior, for a drive on Nov 15 in Naie town. Their car went off the road and fell several meters down a snowy embankment.

Police said it snowed throughout the night and the temperature fell to -3.8 Celsius. Soma told police that they remained in the overturned car. The engine wouldn’t start, and the windows were broken, so they kept their bodies close to the dog to maintain warmth.

A search party found them just before noon on Nov 16. They were suffering from slight frostbite and attributed their safe rescue to the dog.

In presenting the certificate to Junior on Thursday, the mayor of Naie said it was nice to hear some good news for a change amid all the gloom this year, NHK reported.

Go here for the rest of the story.