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Archive for July 5th, 2010

This disgusts me.

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Ambrose Evans-Pritchard of the UK-based Telegraph has a very dismal outlook for the US economy. I’m more optimistic. While I think Obama’s policies will prevent America from enjoying a Reagan-type boom, I don’t think the current Administration is repeating all the mistakes of Hoover and Roosevelt, so I think a depression or double-dip recession is unlikely.

Roughly a million Americans have dropped out of the jobs market altogether over the past two months. That is the only reason why the headline unemployment rate is not exploding to a post-war high. Let us be honest. The US is still trapped in depression a full 18 months into zero interest rates, quantitative easing (QE), and fiscal stimulus that has pushed the budget deficit above 10pc of GDP. The share of the US working-age population with jobs in June actually fell from 58.7pc to 58.5pc. This is the real stress indicator. The ratio was 63pc three years ago. Eight million jobs have been lost. The average time needed to find a job has risen to a record 35.2 weeks. Nothing like this has been seen before in the post-war era. Jeff Weninger, of Harris Private Bank, said this compares with a peak of 21.2 weeks in the Volcker recession of the early 1980s. “Legions of individuals have been left with stale skills, and little prospect of finding meaningful work, and benefits that are being exhausted. By our math the crop of people who are unemployed but not receiving a check amounts to 9.2m.” …in the first quarter…the economy eked out a growth rate of just 2.7pc. This compares with 5.1pc, 9.3pc, 8.1pc and 8.5pc in the four quarters coming off recession in the early 1980s.

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Deroy Murdock explains in National Review how politicians in Washington have imposed legislation – which most Americans still don’t know about – to ban traditional light bulbs.

As American as the grand slam, the Mustang convertible, and the constitutional republic, Thomas Alva Edison’s incandescent light bulb is among this nation’s most enduring gifts to mankind. …Today’s federal government, naturally, had to hammer something that has hummed along nicely for 130 years. In one of his most shameful moments, former president George W. Bush foolishly signed the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007. EISA establishes performance criteria that Edisonian bulbs cannot meet. …Few Americans realize that federal busybodies plan to snatch their traditional bulbs. Sylvania’s December 2009 survey of 302 adults found that “awareness of the 2012 100-watt bulb phase-out” is just 18 percent (error margin: +/- 5.7 percent).

The political elite are imposing these rules on us because they think we’re too stupid to make intelligent decisions about the tradeoff between cost and energy. That’s offensive, but it’s just one of the problems. Deroy also points out that there are potentially serious health risks associated with the new light bulbs we’ll be forced to use.

CFLs should be discarded at recycling centers. Hundreds of millions of busy Americans, however, will toss these dangerous bulbs in the trash, atop table scraps and junk mail. CFLs will clog landfills from coast to coast. Decades hence, mercury will have leeched into the environment. Americans will wonder why people are suffering brain, kidney, and lung damage. Medical visits will yield lawsuits. And yet another national disaster will erupt, courtesy of Washington, D.C. …“Here we have the government entering all of our homes. Our homes are our castles,” says Brandston, a former adjunct professor of architecture at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and a founder of its Lighting Research Center. “Now they are telling us how to light our homes, and they are putting onerous burdens on us in terms of handling these toxic CFLs. The government should not enter our homes, tell us how to live, endanger our health, and ruin our quality of life.” Republicans and thinking Democrats running for Congress this fall should pledge publicly to repeal the federal ban on Thomas Edison’s monumental creation. Why not try something worthy of the Spirit of ’76? Keep traditional bulbs, CFLs, halogens, and everything else on the market, and allow Americans to purchase whatever bulbs help them pursue happiness.

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