Technology, Oil, and Government

Falling oil prices are a good thing. Except when they’re not. Or….

The irony in the falling prices is that the success of US producers using hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling technologies is partly responsible, along with slowing demand by struggling Asian and European markets. Now that success could come back to bite the so-called fracking industry and other drillers in America.

[Wyoming Governor Matt, R] Mead acknowledged that in the short term, lower gas prices will benefit businesses and residents in his sparsely populated state, where distances between towns are often calculated in hours instead of minutes.

Good for Amazon

‘Way last July, amazon asked the FAA for expanded outdoor testing permits (Amazon Petition for Exemption – Docket No. FAA-2014-0474) so the company could engage in serious testing of its planned drone-based delivery system. To date, the FAA has chosen not to respond. Amazon has renewed its request and advised the agency that continued unresponsiveness will force amazon to take its development out of the country [emphasis added].

More Thoughts on Minimum Wage

And actual data. Econbrowser pointed out a quasi-controlled study by PhD candidate Michael Wither and Professor Jeffrey Clemens that compared populations of workers in states that had minimum wage laws with higher minimum requirements than Federally passed wage requirements at the time the Federal legislation was enacted with populations of workers in states that did not. They also compared populations of workers starting out with wages higher than the new mandates with populations of workers with wages lower than the new mandates (workers with wages less than $7.50/hr and workers with wages between $7.50 and $10.00 at the time of a then-newly Federally mandated minimum wage of $7.25) over the three years following the Federal mandate.

Another Disregard for Congress

Congress passed the Fair Labor Standards Act in 1938, and it last was amended in 2007. Among other things, the FLSA allows the Labor Department to define who, in a business, is a manager and who is not.

There are two problems with this, either of which alone is sufficient to demonstrate the need for a further amendment. One problem is that it lets government dictate to business owners—private citizens—how they will run their businesses by dictating to them who they may have on their management teams.

The Taxpayer and Union Pensions

Here’s the state of the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, a Federal government entity set up to insure union-negotiated pension plans.

Overall, the PBGC has total assets of $90 billion and total liabilities of $152 billion.

The multiemployer subset of that, the section of the PBGC that “guarantees” union-sponsored pension plans to which groups of companies belong, has total assets of $1.8 billion and total liabilities of $44 billion.

The single employer subset, the PBGC section that “guarantees” the pensions of individual companies, has total assets of $88 billion and total liabilities of $107 billion.

Pass the Bill, Anyway

…and force President Barack Obama to sign it or to veto it. On the record. Either way, it shapes the 2016 elections, and if Obama actually signs, it’ll be good for the country.

Obama has said he’ll veto

a potential agreement to permanently enact tax breaks on business investments in new equipment and research and development as part of a plan that would renew dozens of expired tax breaks for businesses and individuals both.

Obama threatened his veto even before any such plan actually has been developed and floated. Because you have to veto the bill before you can find out what is in it, away from the fog of the bill writing.

Illinois and Money

The government of Illinois—a Democratic Party-controlled government at the time—reduced the cost of its public pension programs by passing a law reducing future cost growth, specifically, by reducing the size of future increases in pension payouts, without eliminating those increases.

Illinois’ Constitution has this to say on the matter of public pensions:

Membership in any pension or retirement system of the State, any unit of local government or school district, or any agency or instrumentality thereof, shall be an enforceable contractual relationship, the benefits of which shall not be diminished or impaired.

A Tax Implication of Obama’s Immigration

Via The Daily Caller comes this ugly thought. Illegal aliens, under President Barack Obama’s immigration diktat, will get work permits and be eligible for social security payments in their dotage. They’ll also be required to pay taxes, including their Social Security and Medicare payroll taxes. Never mind that their employers’ cost of labor just went up because they’ll no longer be able to avoid paying their own payroll taxes on those workers (to be clear, they should have been paying all along, but since they were breaking the law hiring these folks, they could hardly be expected to give themselves up by paying up).

Congress over the next Two Years

This is what our newly elected Congress needs to do over the next two years.

  • Re-pass the 40 jobs bills which Senator Harry Reid (D, NV) suppressed, without changing a word. Do it with a roll call vote, forcing the Democrats onto the Congressional voting record. President Barack Obama will veto or sign them.
  • Repeal the ACA and Dodd-Frank. Do these with roll call votes, forcing the Democrats onto the Congressional voting record. Obama will veto or sign them.
  • Repeal various parts of ACA, Dodd-Frank, one by one. Do each with a roll call vote, forcing the Democrats onto the Congressional voting record. Obama will veto or sign them.

Another Installment of the Obama Recovery

The number of part-time workers who’d rather work full time remains heavily depressed. Here are some numbers, via Nick Timiraos in The Wall Street Journal.

  • 3 million full-time workers hired just this year, but the number of full-time workers is still around 2 million shy of the level before the recession began in 2007
  • number of workers who are part time for economic reasons is 4.5% of the civilian workforce, down from a high of 5.9% in 2010 but well above the 2.7% average in the decade preceding the recession

Yeah, we’re doing wonderfully well. Sure.