Sunday, 30 November 2008

Sunday night rock 'n' roll

Creedence Clearwater Revival (often abbreviated CCR) was an American rock and roll band who gained popularity in the late 1960s and early 1970s with a string of successful songs from multiple albums released in 1968, 1969 and 1970. The group consisted of singer, lead guitarist, and primary writer John Fogerty, rhythm guitarist and brother of John, Tom Fogerty, bass player Stu Cook, and drummer Doug Clifford. Their musical style encompassed rock and roll and swamp rock genres. CCR's music is still a staple of American and worldwide radio airplay and often figures in various media.

Looking Out My Back Door

Midnight Special

Suzie Q (John Fogerty)

(Nothing Follows)

Government intervention in markets is seldom beneficial

Government intervention has a nasty habit of not only failing to fix whatever problem needed addressing but actually exacerbate the problem by distorting the free market in favour of one side over another.

Such it has been with the US car industry. Sucking on the government teat for 30 years has allowed Ford, GM and Chrysler to become increasingly less competitive with the end result being the financial ruin that they all face.

Does anyone stop to wonder why ALL three of the US manufacturers are in trouble?

Isn't it normal for one company to be in trouble while others prosper?

Why are those foreign manufacturers doing so well in the US car market?

Star Parker offers an explanation...
How can you not feel that emptiness in the pit of your stomach as you watch our financial markets spin downward? The broad stock market indices are down well over 40 percent since the beginning of the year. Losses are somewhere in the neighborhood of $9 trillion. The real economic realities behind these numbers are starting to show up. The only question at this point is how severe the recession we are now entering will be.

Maybe, when everyone is depressed I am supposed to write cheery things to encourage folks. But I can't, because I care about our country and what I see is not encouraging. We just had a presidential election that in some circles produced a lot of euphoria. But I believe that at some point — I hope sooner rather than later — many Americans are going to wake up and realize that this election was not a cure for our problems but a symptom of the disease.

I think this is what our crashing financial markets are telling us.

There is a well-known quote from a less well-known philosopher — George Santayana — that those who don't remember history will repeat it. The failure of communism and socialism is not that far behind us. Yet Americans cannot seem to recall that it happened — and why it happened. What characterizes these systems? Government control. Central planning. And Godlessness.

Let's consider the sad and pathetic state of our American automobile companies.

As the chairmen of GM, Ford, and Chrysler sat in Washington begging for public money to survive, Honda was celebrating the opening of a new non-union plant in Greensburg, Ind., which will produce 200,000 vehicles annually. The starting hourly wage at this plant will be $18.41 per hour — about $10 less than at the American companies. There were 33,000 applicants for 900 job openings.

Americans want to work, can work, and can compete with anyone. They just need to be free to do it. In 1970, GM had 50 percent of the U.S. auto market. Today it has 20 percent. What happened? The world changed in 1973. We were hit with the oil shock. The oil producing countries' cartel, OPEC, discovered its power, and drove up energy prices.

The power of a free country and free markets is that people, when left alone, will adjust to change and do what they need to do. In fact, that's what happened in businesses that were left alone. Changes and adjustments were made and overall the country is about twice as energy efficient today as it was in 1970.

But in our high profile auto industry that's not what happened. Our politicians, with cooperation from our auto industry executives, decided that the auto companies could not be left to their own resources to adjust to new realities. First, we enacted import quotas on Japanese cars. Second, we enacted fuel standards to dictate to our car companies what kind of cars to make. And, of course, third, the power of the union was left intact.

Now look where we are. We have a destroyed industry that is the product not of Americans not being able to compete, but of allowing itself to become dependent on government.

This is why our auto companies have failed. This is why communist and socialist countries have failed. A few days ago Rahm Emanuel, who Barack Obama has picked to be his chief of staff, spoke to a gathering of CEOs at a Wall Street Journal conference in Washington. He went through the agenda to expect from the Obama administration. He sounded like a commissar from the Soviet Union. Government control and planning in health care, energy, the economy, and financial markets.

Why are our financial markets so pessimistic? They are bracing. The market sees the sad news that Americans have not learned from history. And it looks like we are about to relive its hard lessons.
Government intervention in markets is not needed.

Now it's US auto workers who will feel the brunt of that truth as the Big Three are forced into administration and a much needed restructuring of their operations.

(Nothing Follows)

Friday, 28 November 2008

After Mumbai - Who's next?

While the mainstream media's and liberal arts world's heads spin around trying to blame the latest Islamic atrocity on some policy or other of the United States in order to shift blame from their murderous soulmates to those they see as being the root cause of all of the world's problems, those with greater wisdom are trying to work out where the next attack will take place.

For there will be another attack, make no mistake about it.

These people are in it for the long term.

New York, Washington, London, Madrid, Bali and Mumbai have all suffered from an ideology whose prime objective is the return of the Caliphate and Islamification of the world not through that most liberal of avenues, diplomacy, or through the semi-annoying, overly polite method of door knocking the world and looking to convince people to come on board in the way that the Mormons do but through violence, murder and terror.

So what next?

The world's serious people will now be assessing what the risk is to their assets and areas of responsibility.

What odds of a copycat attack at another major hotel or shopping centre?

Surely, cities with large Muslim populations from which young, radicalised ideologues can be sourced must be sleeping more nervously tonight?

The Mumbai attack must have been planned for many months and it probably started before Barack Obama had won the Democratic Party nomination and the timing can only be seen as a shot across the new administration's bow.

But there is an even bigger issue that needs to be addressed.

How will India respond to the attack when it is clear that it was carried out by Pakistani nationals trained by the Pakistan based terrorist group Lashkar-e-Taiba?

In searching out American, British and Jewish victims the murderers ensured that they would be seen as heroes among the anti-West, anti-Zionist Middle East, as well as ensuring that the West's leftist apologists devote many column inches to blaming America.

By attacking inside India they also inflame tensions between India and Pakistan.

Thus, India is in the difficult position of having to be seen to avenge the deaths of so many people while at the same time avoiding open war with Pakistan.

All in all, they're in a bit of a political pickle.

Why don't they call on the United Nations for support?

Or have Barack Obama sit down with the terrorists and have a bit of a chat?

Actually, I think that terrorist networks around the world are in for a great, fat surprise if they attack the United States or any of its assets around the world.

Unconstrained by having the media or political elites against him, Obama's response to an attack may be much more aggressive than expected.

(Nothing Follows)

Thursday, 27 November 2008

Unmitigated Cowards

This disgusting ideology is not brave and is not morally supportable.

It is nothing but destructive and evil.

These people are nothing but...

The world mourns the loss of so many innocent lives, which is as it should be.

Here's something to think about, though.

If it was a Hezbollah operation inside Israel the you can be sure that the mainstream media - CNN, the BBC, ABC, the New York Times, The Age, PBS, the Guardian, the LA Times and all of the leftist blogs - would be furiously defending Hezbollah and accusing Israel's security of using 'disproportionate' force in its response to the attack.

Such is the inversion of values in the world they inhabit.

(Nothing Follows)

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Who is right and who is wrong in the ongoing Climate War?

Imagine that a Martian arrives on earth and, being obviously uncontaminated with the details of the debate going on regarding man made global warming, is asked to adjudicate on the strength of the arguments put forward by the pro- and anti-AGW sides.

In a massive blow to interstellar relations, our Martian friend is forced to sit through Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth.

Initially, he is impressed. The correlation between CO2 and temperature does indeed seem to be high.

He then sits though a presentation by Bob Carter - the irrepressible Australian scientist (BTW - the term is tautologous, as all Australians are irrepressible) - and discovers that ice core analysis demonstrates conclusively that CO2 lags temperature.

Not to be outdone by such pesky details the Climate Faithful roll out the high priest of climate science himself, James Hansen. Hansen then describes how climate models work along with their predictions of serious temperature rises over the next one hundred years.

Again, our Martian friend is impressed. On Mars, people who can plot lines on bits of paper are held in high regard.

Roy Spencer then appears for the nay sayers and blows the Martian away by plotting two lines on a graph - one with the model predictions and, tellingly, one with observed temperatures.

Now our Martian friend is getting really confused. Who to believe?

Michael Mann then takes the stage and outlines the inconic Hokey Stick, showing that modern temperatures are unprecedented in the history of the world. His presentation is backed up by the head of the UN IPCC, Dr Rajendra Pachauri, who highlights the prominence of Mann's work in IPCC publications.

Impressed by more lines, and bendy ones at that, our Martian gives weight to Mann's presentation. He doesn't know what a Nobel Peace Prize is but he recognises that it must be important.

Enter Steve McIntyre who proceeds to thoroughly demolish the scientific legitimacy of the Hokey Stick. McIntyre demonstrates that Mann's algorithm can be used to produce a hockey stick by using red noise data. Supporting McIntyre is Edward Wegman, chairman of the US National Academy of Science's committee on applied and theoretical statistics.

Now thoroughly confused, our Martian friend decides to take a break before hearing more testimony.

So which side will he choose?

Who knows?

What's clear, though, is that the science is somewhat less than clear, is clearly not 'settled', a consensus does not exist and, critically, the so-called 'deniers' have a high degree of scientific credibility.

Over the last couple of years there has been an increasing body of scientific work demonstrating that other factors are more responsible for the change in the world's temperature than CO2 including solar activity and the effects of the El Nino Southern Oscillation and Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation.

Entering the argument is a piece of analysis by Bill Illis, posted at
Watts Up With That, that adjusts temperatures for the ENSO and AMO. Be sure to read the whole thing. It will be intriguing to see how long it takes for the Climate Faithful to strike back at Illis's thesis.

The result of his work is pretty interesting, as it provides a more accurate explanation of temperature variation than do climate models.
People have noted for a long time that the effect of the El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO) should be accounted for and adjusted for in analyzing temperature trends. The same point has been raised for the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO). Until now, there has not been a robust method of doing so.

This post will outline a simple least squares regression solution to adjusting monthly temperatures for the impact of the ENSO and the AMO. There is no smoothing of the data, no plugging of the data; this is a simple mathematical calculation.

Some basic points before we continue.

- The ENSO and the AMO both affect temperatures and, hence, any reconstruction needs to use both ocean temperature indices. The AMO actually provides a greater impact on temperatures than the ENSO.

- The ENSO and the AMO impact temperatures directly and continuously on a monthly basis. Any smoothing of the data or even using annual temperature data just reduces the information which can be extracted.

- The ENSO’s impact on temperatures is lagged by 3 months while the AMO seems to be more immediate. This model uses the Nino 3.4 region anomaly since it seems to be the most indicative of the underlying El Nino and La Nina trends.

- When the ENSO and the AMO impacts are adjusted for, all that is left is the global warming signal and a white noise error.

- The ENSO and the AMO are capable of explaining almost all of the natural variation in the climate.

- We can finally answer the question of how much global warming has there been to date and how much has occurred since 1979 for example. And, yes, there has been global warming but the amount is much less than global warming models predict and the effect even seems to be slowing down since 1979.

- Unfortunately, there is not currently a good forecast model for the ENSO or AMO so this method will have to focus on current and past temperatures versus providing forecasts for the future.

And now to the good part, here is what the reconstruction looks like for the Hadley Centre’s HadCRUT3 global monthly temperature series going back to 1871 - 1,652 data points.
Here are a couple of graphs that show the problem not only with climate models but also the science that they are based on (click to see a larger version).

The first shows the Hadley data in blue and Illis's ENSO/AMO model in red.

The second shows the temperature record plotted against what global warming theory expects (green), the trend and a simple model.

It's clear that climate science is in serious trouble.

A doubling of CO2 does not lead to a doubling in temperature, as shown below:

...and the end expanded as follows:

Observed temperatures are not in line with models' predictions.

Not by a long shot.

Climate science is based on greenhouse gasses being a forcing agent, which is then amplified by a feedback mechanism, water vapour.

The fact that temperatures are not responding in the way that is predicted by climate science proves conclusively that even if CO2 is primarly responsible for the world's warming then the understanding of the forcing/feedback relationship is not well understood.

Our poor old Martian certainly does have his work cut out for him deciding between the two sides.

No wonder the general public is confused.

(Nothing Follows)

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

'Minor' errors are major problems for climate science

A couple of weeks ago somewhat of a kerfuffle erupted when NASA's Goddard Institute of Space Studies, home of Al Gore's spiritual advisor James Hansen, released data showing that October 2008 was a record hot month in Russia.

As things transpired, NASA's statement was one hundred percent untrue.


Because the data for October contained much data that had been
carried over from September.

When there can be a 14C difference between the two months this makes a serious difference.

So what happened?

Apparently, the data that GISS had received from its supplier (GHCN) was wrong and this led to the faulty conclusion.

Gavin Schmidt, of both GISS and Realclimate,
defended their data quality procedures stating that "the processing algorithm worked fine". He then went on to say that there was not a full time person dedicated to data quality control and that "Current staffing from the GISTEMP analysis is about 0.25 FTE on an annualised basis (i’d estimate - it is not a specifically funded GISS activity)."

Having been exposed by people like Steve McIntyre - yet again - GISS corrected its error but did not provide attribution to McIntyre for highlighting the issue.

Previously, McIntyre had exposed the GISS Y2K fault that, when corrected, meant that 1998 was not the hottest year in the US temperature record, 1934 was.

Now, you might think that these two corrections are much ado about nothing. The scale of the Y2K error was not huge and, anyway, the most recent error was quickly fixed.

The Climate Faithful quickly jumped to the defence of NASA including Australian blogger Tim Lambert, a serial defender of all things AGW, who dismissed the latest problem as
mountains out of molehills.

So here are some questions that are pertinent to not only the debate but also the whole issue of proper scientific practice.

If errors such as with Y2K and 10/08 were not exposed by McIntyre et al then would they ever be corrected?

If there is nobody dedicated within GISS to data quality control and huge anomalies such as have just occurred can not only slip through but be completely missed by those working with the data then what confidence do we have that a myriad of other issues do not also exist?

This is an especially pertinent question given that of the four major centres producing temperature information (GISS, HadCRUT, UAH and RSS) it's GISS that shows the highest temperature trends and is therefore quoted most frequently in the media.

Far from being a 'mountains and molehills' as Lambert posits, the latest transgression by NASA indicates a much deeper, insidious problem within the climate science community - the uncritical acceptance of data that supports their position.

Which raises another question. How far are these people prepared to go in order to promote the proposition that CO2 is the reason for the earth's warming?

The record shows that they are prepared to completely rewrite history:
In 1995, David Deming, a geoscientist at the University of Oklahoma, had written an article reconstructing 150 years of North American temperatures from borehole data. He later wrote: "With the publication of the article in Science, I gained significant credibility in the community of scientists working on climate change. They thought I was one of them, someone who would pervert science in the service of social and political causes. One of them let his guard down. A major person working in the area of climate change and global warming sent me an astonishing email that said: 'We have to get rid of the Medieval Warm Period.'"

So they did. The UN's second assessment report, in 1996, showed a 1,000-year graph demonstrating that temperature in the Middle Ages was warmer than today. But the 2001 report contained a new graph showing no medieval warm period. It wrongly concluded that the 20th century was the warmest for 1,000 years. The graph looked like an ice hockey-stick. The wrongly flat AD1000-AD1900 temperature line was the shaft: the uptick from 1900 to 2000 was the blade.
And thus, Mann et al's infamous Hokey Stick came to be the iconic symbol of anthropogenic global warming.

Fortunately for the reputation of science the Hokey Stick's legitimacy was destroyed by Steve McIntyre and Ross McKitrick.

Unfortunately for the reputation of the media few major organisations gave the story any coverage and, more recently, have actively been promoting Mann's latest reconstruction in an attempt to defend the Hokey Stick.

Minor errors are a major problem for the climate science community because the cavalier way in which they are dismissed, and defended as immaterial, can only serve to reduce public confidence not only in the field of climate science itself but also in the wider field of science itself.

(Nothing Follows)

Monday, 24 November 2008

Financial hindsight has 20/20 vision

Hindsight has 20/20 vision and now we can see who was right and who was wrong on financial matters.
When Michael Lewis looks back on the Wall Street he wrote about in his 1989 best-seller, Liar's Poker, the street looks positively quaint. At the time, it was shocking that an investment bank CEO made $3 million a year.

His newest book, Panic: The Story of Modern Financial Insanity, is a collection of essays and articles written during the past two decades. As Lewis tells NPR's Renee Montagne, it begins with the crash of October 1987.

"It seemed to be the first of a new breed of financial panic, and it was panic without any seeming economic consequence," Lewis says. Since then, "the financial market seemed to be able to convulse in the most extraordinary ways without most people ever really feeling very much. And the lessons people seemed to learn … was that, well, markets do these crazy things, but in the end they don't really matter."

A New Kind Of Crash

The current crash is different — very different. Lewis says he didn't appreciate its distinctions until he began doing research four or five months ago. "The size of the problem is massive," Lewis notes. "Not only did trillions — trillions — of dollars get lent to people who won't be able to repay them, but Wall Street at the same time created a market in side bets about whether these people would be able to repay their loans. And that market in side bets is tens of trillions of dollars."

Where did those dollars go? Most "went to building a lot of houses that we can't afford," Lewis says, pointing to McMansions and other "unproductive assets."

But substantial money also went to "people who took the other side of the bet, and a lot of those people are lying low because they're not going to be so popular," Lewis says. "The biggest sum of money ever made by a single person in the history of Wall Street was made last year by a hedge fund manager named John Paulson, who made almost $4 billion for himself because he took the other side of the bets. … Big money has been made, but by very few."

The cycle of soaring profits and crashes that began in 1987 is unlikely to continue, Lewis contends.

Diminished Interest In Risk Likely

"There will still be people who will take big risks and earn big returns in the financial markets, but they won't be working at places called banks," Lewis says. "They may be working at hedge funds or in private equity, but that will be a much smaller operation and, in general, the appetite for risk will be dramatically reduced. I don't think, going forward, you will see people working at a place called Goldman Sachs taking home $70 million or $80 million at the end of each year, which they have done in the past."

Such earnings are unwarranted, Lewis says. "One of the madnesses of the last 25 years … has been the rewards we've bestowed on financiers," he says. "The people who have actually been allocating the capital on Wall Street have done a rather bad job of it. … The idea that these are essentially the highest-paying corporate jobs in America, by far, seems to me insane."

The 'Distorting Effect' Of High Earnings

Those rewards have had "a really distorting effect" on society, Lewis says, creating a new norm for personal financial rewards for CEOs of all stripes. "That's going to be gone."

Disproportionate earning has another negative effect, luring young people who could contribute to society in other ways, Lewis says. "It distracts lots of young, passionate people from doing the things they probably should be doing."

A few months ago, Lewis visited Princeton University, his alma mater, "to find out what the kids who were going to be investment bankers were now going to do with their lives." He says he was "so frustrated with how unimaginative young people had become in choosing their path in life that I thought that someone should establish a kind of 'Scared Straight' program for Ivy League students." He'd require them to spend a week with a hedge fund manager in Greenwich, Conn., "just to see how miserable" they'd be after 20 years.

The plunging market has changed many of their plans, Lewis says. "The kids … who thought they were going to be financiers are having to rethink the premise, and that's a very good thing."
Mr Doom, aka Peter Schiff, is an economist from the Austrian School of economics. I have come to understand that the people who use Austrian theories to support their economic predictions have a much better track record than others and especially those who follow Keynesian policies, even in so-called 'modernised' form.

He is not at all confident that the next 5-10 years will be anything but slow and hard.

I think that the appointment of Tim Geithner as Treasury Secretary and Larry Summers as a chief economics advisor will lead to egregious, New Deal style attempts to stimulate the economy, which will simply kick the fix-the-underlying-structure can down the road and ensure that Schiff's predictions come to pass.

On this point I don't blame only Democrats.

I think that John McCain would not have appointed people who would have made different decisions.

There is still a lot of pain to go through.

(Nothing Follows)

Sunday, 23 November 2008

Sunday night rock 'n' roll

Edwyn Collins (born Edwyn Stephen Collins, 23 August 1959, Edinburgh) is a Scottish musician.

He formed the musical group Nu-Sonics in 1976, which became Orange Juice in 1979. Critically admired within independent rock circles, Orange Juice are perhaps best known for their #8 hit single, "Rip It Up", their only major UK Top 40 single and biggest commercial success. In 1985, Orange Juice disbanded, and Collins has since then pursued a solo career.

Collins is best known for his 1994 single, "A Girl Like You", which was a hit in both the UK and the U.S. and was featured in the films Empire Records and Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle, and for "Magic Piper of Love", a 1997 single that featured on the soundtrack of Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery.

Collins' music is mostly electric guitar-driven pop. His songwriting and vocal delivery range from the acerbically satirical to the soulfully tender - though he is probably better known for the former.

He built his own recording studio in 1994 and produced his own third solo album, Gorgeous George. He has also worked extensively as a record producer with other artists, including The Proclaimers, A House, Robert Forster, The Cribs, and Little Barrie. In 2005 Collins produced the The New Fellas album recorded by The Cribs.

If you haven't got the album Gorgeous George in your collection then I suggest that you do yourself the proverbial favour and get a copy. It's good listening all the way through.

Girl Like You

You'll Never Know

(Nothing Follows)

Saturday, 22 November 2008

What do the results of the American civic knowledge test say about society?

It says something about the power of the United States' impact on Western culture that an Australian blogger sitting thousands of miles away can take the Intercollegiate Studies Institute's American civic knowledge test and score 90.9% (30/33) against the average score of 77.5%.

Things like the Scopes Trial and Roe v Wade are probably well known to everybody that has had the good fortune to avoid a modern education.

Most people would know that the president is also Commander In Chief of the United States military.

However, it seems that there is a lack of knowledge of key areas of American history among those who really should possess that knowledge to help inform their decision making.
US elected officials scored abysmally on a test measuring their civic knowledge, with an average grade of just 44 percent, the group that organized the exam said Thursday.

Ordinary citizens did not fare much better, scoring just 49 percent correct on the 33 exam questions compiled by the Intercollegiate Studies Institute (ISI).

"It is disturbing enough that the general public failed ISI's civic literacy test, but when you consider the even more dismal scores of elected officials, you have to be concerned," said Josiah Bunting, chairman of the National Civic Literacy Board at ISI.

"How can political leaders make informed decisions if they don't understand the American experience?" he added.

The exam questions covered American history, the workings of the US government and economics.

Among the questions asked of some 2,500 people who were randomly selected to take the test, including "self-identified elected officials," was one which asked respondents to "name two countries that were our enemies during World War II."

Sixty-nine percent of respondents correctly identified Germany and Japan. Among the incorrect answers were Britain, China, Russia, Canada, Mexico and Spain.

Forty percent of respondents, meanwhile, incorrectly believed that the US president has the power to declare war, while 54 percent correctly answered that that power rests with Congress.

Asked about the electoral college, 20 percent of elected officials incorrectly said it was established to "supervise the first televised presidential debates."

In fact, the system of choosing the US president via an indirect electoral college vote dates back some 220 years, to the US Constitution.

The question that received the fewest correct responses, just 16 percent, tested respondents' basic understanding of economic principles, asking why "free markets typically secure more economic prosperity than government's centralized planning?"

Activities that dull Americans' civic knowledge include talking on the phone and watching movies or television -- even news shows and documentaries, ISI said.

Meanwhile, civic knowledge is enhanced by discussing public affairs, taking part in civic activities and reading about current events and history, the group said.
One wonders what the breakdown of knowledge is by demographic.

Younger people (less than 30), it seems certain, would score poorly on this test.

Would there be a difference between Democratic and Republican voters?

I suspect there would.

Anyway, take
the test for yourself and see how you go.

Oh, what three questions did I get wrong?

4-What was the main issue in the debates between Abraham Lincoln and Stephen A. Douglas in 1858?

I knew it was about slavery but picked the wrong answer.

7-What was the source of the following phrase: “Government of the people, for the people, by the people”?

How I got this one wrong is beyond me...

8-In 1935 and 1936 the Supreme Court declared that important parts of the New Deal were unconstitutional. President Roosevelt responded by threatening to:

It was quite unfortunate that Roosevelt managed to overcome the Supreme Court's ruling, which continued America's poor economic recovery post the depression. I picked the wrong option.

Would the same result be reflected in Australia, Canada or the United Kingdom?


There is a debate happening in Australia at present regarding the citizenship test that immigrants must pass in order to become Australians.

I'd make it as hard as this civic knowledge test, myself, but with the cultural equalitists now running the show that seems an unlikely outcome.

(Nothing Follows)

Friday, 21 November 2008

Bail outs and economic stilumus packages mask real trouble lurking at the bottom of the economic garden's Gerard Jackson certainly has a take no prisoners style in his writing on economics and politics.

He gains credibility with me because he attacks both the left and right for getting economic policies wrong.

Jackson has been warning for a long time (at least a couple of years) about the expansion of the money supply by the world's major central banks, which could only ever lead to artificially low interest rates that in turn lead to malinvestments and inevitable bubbles.

And, as we all know, bubbles eventually burst and that's what we're seeing now as the world deleverages from these malinvestments.

It is quite unfortunate that the financial issue has arisen at the same time that Keynesian economists hold sway in the major economies.

The history of spending one's way out of a recession has a zero percent success rate, as this latest effort will, as well.

How often have you heard a commentator talk about consumer demand driving the economy? Too often, is the answer.

Jackson does
not see good news from the US in his column of a couple of weeks ago.
Just as I predicted, the US economy is in another recession. For this you can thank the lousy economics that is taught in universities and practised by the fed. Once again, manufacturing was the first to signal an oncoming recession. When an economy reaches the final stage of the boom productivity usually declines. The US Department of Labor reports that manufacturing productivity has fallen for the second consecutive quarter

So what is the brilliant Mr Obama and his equally brilliant fellow Democrats going to do about it? Well, if they are to be taken at their word, and I see now reason why that should not be so, then they will sink the US economy. Unfortunately, this means that those Americans who had the good sense to see through his veil of economic ignorance will also pay the price for having him as president.

Nancy Pelosi — undoubtedly one of the dumbest people to ever be elected to the Senate — is proposing a stimulus package of between $60 billion and $100 billion. There are rumours coming out of Goldman Sachs that Obama will make it $200 billion. America's greatest economist also said that there would be a tax cut next year to help expand the economy but it would not include a cut in the capital-gains tax. Instead she wants to put the money in workers' pockets. What she really means is that she and her fellow pickpockets intend to transfer millions of dollars from those who earned them to those who didn't, safe in the knowledge that the grateful recipient will continue to vote for Democrats, at lease until the money well runs dry.

However, let us put cynicism aside — difficult as that is when dealing with something like Pelosi — and focus on the economics of the Dems' tax proposals. Lurking behind these proposals is the Keynesian fallacy — it is, in fact, one of the oldest economic fallacies around — that increased consumer spending will promote economic growth. Therefore the handouts are justified on the grounds that those on lower incomes, however defined, have a very high propensity to consume (hifalutin jargon for they'll spend all of the loot).

But this is precisely why this kind of monetary stimuli will actually aggravate the recession. This, unfortunately, is where it might get a little technical. Every economy has a production structure, including even primitive agricultural societies. The more advanced the society the more complex the production structure will be. This structure is sensitive to changes in interest rates. Therefore, when the central bank forces rates down below their market clearing levels they spark a boom.

In creating a boom the inflow of money distorts the production, throwing it out of kilter. These distortions are malinvestments that require more and more monetary injections to remain afloat. Eventually the central bank is forced to step on the monetary brakes which sends the economy into recession. (It's a lot more complicated then this). The recession is really the adjustment process during which these malinvestments are liquidated and equilibrium is restored.

Now if the additional spending by the recipients of the Democrats' generosity is offset by reduced spending by those who were bludgeoned into paying for it there will be absolutely no change in aggregate spending. So if there is no change in aggregate spending there can be no stimulus. Moreover, if those who are paying these phony tax breaks cease saving in order to maintain their level of consumption then there will be less investment — and it is investment that drives up real wages.

If the handouts are funded by the courtesy of an obliging fed this will add to inflation. Moreover, the additional spending on consumer goods will distort the price structure (yes, there is also a price structure) by diverting factors away from the higher stages of production to the lower stages, those stages that are close to the point of consumption, resulting in a great deal of excess capacity. This is what happened in the 1930s. (Try as I can, I still cannot think of an economic recovery that was driven entirely by the demand for consumer goods). As soon as additional monetary injections start driving up prices and the current account deficit the fed would have no alternative but to once again slap on the monetary brakes.

The only genuine stimulus is from cutting taxes on business. It ought to go without saying that if you want more of a good or service you must reduce the cost of producing it and vice versa. (But I have to constantly remind myself that we are dealing with Democrats, people for whom economic laws simply do not exist). It follows with ineluctable logic that reducing the cost doing business will lead to more business. You know the sort of thing I mean, investing and hiring people. (See
The US recession and Obama's destructive economic snake oil).

This is iron law of economics was denied by both Hoover and Roosevelt. The result was the tragic '30s, for which brilliant economic historians like Pelosi, Reid, Byrd, etc., are still blaming Hoover. No matter how low interest rates fell business remained comatosed, which completely baffled Roosevelt and his absurdly named "brains trust". What these great minds were unable to fathom is the simple fact that businesses are not going to invest and hire if you confiscate their profits, including regulating them away. God, before you know it Pelosi and her fellow footpads will be resurrecting Roosevelt's dismal Public Works Administration or something like it. And that would be a sure sign of economic failure.

Rest assured that no socialist or meddling politician is ever short of ideas for running an economy. Mr Obama is no different. He and his fellow compulsive meddlers are going to splurge hundreds of billions of dollars (it doesn't sound like much if you say it quickly) on so-called clean energy. It's neither clean, nor cheap, nor economically responsible. This expenditure would amount to the creation of masses of malinvestments, 'investments' that cannot pay for themselves because they are grossly inefficient economically. If fully implemented Obama's energy policy would lead to a hideous rise in domestic energy prices that would badly cripple the American economy. The left would finally get their hateful wish: A greatly weakened and humiliated America.

But what about Obama's economic advisors? Well, what about them? From what I understand they are nothing but a bunch of vulgar Keynesians. Let's take Larry Summers for example. This genius, who aspires to be Obama's Treasury Secretary, is arguing that there needs to be more government interference in the economy. Brilliant, policies favoured by so-called economists like him cause a economy and trigger a massive financial crisis. And he has the gall to ask for more of the same. Summer's seems to have overlooked the fact that Freddie May and Freddie Mac were brought down by political meddling, not to mention a number of kleptomaniac Democrats.

Summers actually shines against some of Obama's other economic advisors, one of whom is Jennifer Granholm. This woman is surely remarkable. Her mismanagement helped to destroy Michigan's economy. So what did the good citizens do? They voted for more of the same. Then there is the corrupt Elliott Spitzer. The damage he did to New York's economy cannot be measured. This is what Obama calls change! I'm telling you, kiddies, it's going to fun times ahead.

Before I finish, a few words about Obama's dishonest tax proposals. When he says spread the wealth he is talking about raiding the incomes of those on $250,000 and above. (I don't doubt for a moment that the figure will be lowered). I stress once again that he is talking about incomes. But incomes are not wealth. If he were honest he would call for a wealth tax but he won't. This means that his billionaire friends will not be touched by his tax proposals. (See
Teresa Heinz Kerry: You pay taxes, I don't)

But those struggling to accumulate wealth will be hit and hit hard. Do you think Buffet, Soros and the rest of that oily sanctimonious crew would have poured in tens of millions of dollars into Obama's election campaign if they thought for a moment he would raid their assets once he was elected? Of course not. These people are supporting tax increase that they don't have to pay and won't. They bought Obama and he had better bloody well stay bought. They are truly a despicable bunch.
The announcement that President-elect Barack Obama picked Timothy Geithner, head of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, to be his Treasury secretary sent the stock market north as Wall Street responded positively.

Geithner is a colleague and former student of Larry Summers, an arch Keynesian, which does not bode well for the long term.

He is already on record stating that elements of the bailout should become permanent.

No wonder Wall Street rallied on news of his appointment.

(Nothing Follows)

Thursday, 20 November 2008

European leaders run away from tough emissions targets

As I sit here in the cold, for Canberra is 9C (that's 48F for you Seppo readers) against a mean November 9AM temperature of 15.6C, I wonder yet again at the folly of those who intend to reorder the world's economic system using a lever called climate change.

Why can't I have a bit of that so called global warming around here? It's been well below average since the end of winter.

European leaders, trying to deal with financial turmoil that could well see major economies sink for many years, must, like me, be wondering why the world not only doesn't seem to be warming but also seems to be setting cold record after cold record in the last few years.

Actually, because I haven't bought into the CO2 as major driver of climate change myth I wonder a good deal less about it than those leaders who unequivocally accept what their 'scientists' are telling them.

Will one of them ever utter these heretical words?

"I'm cold."

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi seems a bit non-conformist from a European leader point of view so it comes as no surprise that sacrificing his economy on the alter of Big Green religious hooey is less appealing now that the world has not got a few extra hundreds of billions of dollars sloshing around.

And Silvio is
not alone.
To prevent a financial crisis from turning into an economic calamity, the European Union has pulled the emergency brake on green policies. At last week’s EU summit in Brussels, seven eastern and central European countries, together with Italy, threatened to veto the Union’s climate pact. The rebel governments claimed that the originally agreed goal of cutting the EU’s CO2 emissions by 20% by 2020 was too expensive; economic turmoil and rising unemployment meant that implementing the CO2 goal was no longer affordable.
Dealing with Al Gore's "planetary emergency" is "no longer affordable"? The lefties will go nuts about that.
Aside from the uncertainties caused by the global financial crisis, there are increased anxieties regarding dependence on Russian energy. An imposed cap on CO2 emissions and the compulsory auctioning of carbon credits would force the closure of several Eastern European coal power stations. The recent war in Georgia and repeated shut-offs of Gazprom pipelines do not exactly inspire confidence in dependence on natural gas from the Russian-controlled pipeline.These concerns were boosted by Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, who threatened to veto the whole package on economic grounds: “We do not think that now is the time to be playing the role of Don Quixote, when the big producers of CO2, such as the United States or China, are totally against adherence to our targets.”

Faced with failure, the final EU summit declaration dropped all reference to the legal implementation of the climate targets and instead introduced a new pre-condition.
Any future climate bill must now be “cost-effective to all sectors of the European economy and for all member states, respecting each member state’s specific situation.” The new agreement denotes that any binding climate law will now have to be delayed until the completion of a comprehensive cost-effectiveness analysis. In any event, this new hurdle has been raised to such heights that the EU’s original targets are unlikely to survive.

The summit also agreed that the climate package requires unanimous support from all EU leaders at the next meeting of the European Council in December. The concession lends Europe’s climate rebels further muscle by handing each and every member states a veto power.
So, basically, emissions targets in Europe are dead.
The reasons for Europe’s anxiety are not difficult to fathom. The financial meltdown has rendered its climate policy untenable and hugely unpopular among voters who are increasingly hostile to green and climate taxes. Overlooked by most media outlets, Germany, one of the EU’s heavyweights, has also raised the alarm about the climate package’s immense burden on its energy-intensive industries. While Chancellor Angela Merkel more tactfully expressed her country’s opposition than her Polish and Italian counterparts, she ensured that the wording in the summit statement clearly signals (at least according to the German media) the first step of a general break with the EU’s ambitious climate goals.

Remarkably, the climate revolt has failed to generate significant protest among political parties in Europe. It was greeted more with resignation than objection. The turnaround, however, has not transpired out of the blue. It likely would have happened even without the global financial crisis.
Europe’s political elite and decision makers have become increasingly conscious of the fact that its unilateral climate policy has produced pain with little gain. By contrast, the U.S., China and India are not prepared to follow Europe’s ‘avant-garde’ course of green self-sacrifice.
But, but, but...isn't Europe's stance meant to enlighten the world, make us all see the folly of our ways and join in the whole Kum Bay Yah-ism of Europe's onanistic green religion?
Undaunted, UN officials and green campaigners have urged the EU to “set an example to the rest of the world” and maintain its climate change goals regardless of economic costs. Climate diplomats wonder whether the original December deadline can now be maintained. Prior to the climate rebellion, it was hoped that the European Council meeting, which falls on the same day as the UN climate meeting in Poznan, Poland Dec. 12) would produce a legally binding agreement, thereby helping to sway the deadlocked UN negotiations.
"UN officials and green campaigners" - don't you think that those two seem such natural allies, especially when compared to "UN officials and big business" or "UN officials and Republican party leaders"?

What's the difference between UN policies and green policies? The lipstick.
European capitals will become the scene of a colossal round of horse trading in the next few weeks. In an attempt to salvage the climate package, concessions and opt-outs will be put on the table to mollify national concerns and to satisfy economic demands. Yet in spite of these mammoth efforts, it is doubtful whether Europe’s climate pact will become legally binding in the near future. Instead, the EU is more likely to exploit the opportunity of general deadlock to further a different strategy, a new approach based on hard economic facts and national interests rather than the moral high ground.

The new approach was outlined to a certain extent by the Italian government last weekend. It announced that Italy would only be prepared to approve the EU’s climate package at the next EU summit in December under a certain pre-condition, i.e. that the plan remains provisional and amendable until the real costs to all sectors of the European economy and all member states are analyzed by the end of 2009.

The new agreement to implement a comprehensive cost-effectiveness study provides EU member states, at long last, with a golden opportunity to reassess the economics of climate change from a more balanced and less alarmist perspective. This could also include a critical re-evaluation of the controversial Stern Report on which much of the EU’s redundant climate policy has depended. Governments would be well advised to delegate the responsibility of cost analysis to their top experts in treasury and economic departments rather than keeping it in the hands of notoriously biased staff employed by environmental ministries.

Italy’s proviso suggests that the EU climate pact cannot be finalized before a cost-effectiveness study is conducted and published by the end of 2009. In effect, this year-long delay once again will tie in the EU’s decision making process with that of the UN. The meeting of the European Council in December of 2009 will coincide with the crucial UN climate conference in Copenhagen.

Whether intended or not, this timing offers the EU the opportunity to make its future climate policy conditional on the moves by the world’s other regional powers. By linking its decision to that of the rest of the world, Europe would begin to act as a mature competitor on the stage of international power diplomacy.
It would appear that the EU, at long last, is on the brink of breaking away from its unilateral and self-destroying climate policy.
And yet the Australian government is intent on introducing an economy-wrecking emissions trading scheme in spite of the fact that temperatures have decreased this century and the science supporting the AGW argument is falling apart.

One day we will all live in a better world; one in which the left does not hold such sway over public opinion and policy, one in which the content of people's character means more than whichever victim group they self-identify with, one in which pompous tin pot leaders such as Ahmadinejad, Castro, Chavez and Mugabe can be isolated from the international community, and one in which the real problems facing tens of millions on people can be addressed with effective solutions.

(Nothing Follows)

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Unilateral emissions trading schemes do not inspire others to follow suit

The call by the Climate Faithful for countries to introduce economy destroying emissions trading schemes unilaterally on the grounds that it will show the rest of the world the way shows just how out of kilter the whole man made global warming shtick has become.

If these people actually believed that unilateral cuts would show the way then Al Gore and his Climate Acolytes would make clear, unambiguous reductions to the size of their own carbon footprint.

The fact that they don't shows what fraudsters they are.

The other point is that what one country does is almost totally irrelevant to another, which might have completely different values and internal imperatives to consider.

Has Australia's position as a beacon of democracy inspired China, Cuba or North Korea to free their people?

Has the United States' emphasis on individual liberty inspired Saudi Arabia, Iran or Zimbabwe to take the foot of government off the neck of the people?

It's a phony argument made in support of phone science.

At least there are some sensible voices in Europe. Here's a part of a speech to the House of Lords by the Right Honourable Lord Lawson of Blaby:
My Lords, the Minister has given an excellent summary of what we have to discuss here. Let me say just two things. The first is that, as many noble Lords may know, I have taken an interest in this issue for some time. Indeed, I have even written a book on the subject which, I am glad to say, has already been translated into two European languages and three more foreign editions are on the way. It is possible that I have had slightly more influence in that way on affairs than by speaking in this House.

That is not the only reason why I have not spoken previously in this House on the Bill. The other reason is that I felt that it was unbecoming for an unbeliever to take part in a religious service, which is what all this is really about.

Nevertheless, we have the amendments that come back from the Commons to us today. The Bill will go down in history, and future generations will see it, as the most absurd Bill that this House and Parliament as a whole as ever had to examine, and it has now become more absurd with the increase from 60 per cent to 80 per cent. I should like to address as briefly as I can-because I do not propose to speak on any subsequent occasion on this subject- why I think that the Bill is so absurd.

Let us pretend that the planet is warming. We know, of course, that it is not. The figures published each year and, indeed, monthly, by the Met Office or the Hadley Centre, which is a department of the Met Office in association with the climate research unit of the University of East Anglia, show without any doubt that there has been no warming so far this century at all. Some people say that there has been a cooling but, although that has been the slight trend, I think that the margin for error is so great that I would not press that, but there has certainly been no warming.

The majority of climate scientists do not think that if there were a warming, it would be a disaster. Nevertheless, it is possible that warming will resume. The majority of climate scientists believe that warming will resume. I am completely agnostic on that; I do not know. Maybe it will, maybe it will not. The complete standstill this century so far was certainly totally unpredicted by all the elaborate computer models that the scientists use. That is not surprising. The climate is an extremely complex system.

What lies behind this? It was implicit in what the Minister said, although he did not spell it out on this occasion, that by taking this massive step of virtually complete decarbonisation of our economy by 2050 in a mandatory way—something that no other country has done for good reason, because no other country has been so foolish, nor do other countries have the slightest intention of going in this way, but I will come to that in a moment—we in the United Kingdom are giving a global lead that other countries will follow.

To understand that, we have to go back briefly to the G8 meeting last year. At that meeting, Europe, led by Germany and the United Kingdom, sought to isolate the United States in its opposition to binding commitments to cut back carbon dioxide emissions by proposing that the whole of the G8 should agree to a 50 per cent cut in carbon dioxide emissions by 2050. I can understand why people are not dying to support anything that President George W Bush supports, but the plan to isolate the United States backfired horribly. Europe was isolated when we got to the G8 summit. The other member countries, Japan, Canada and Russia, all accepted the United States’ position and therefore there was no agreement on a 50 per cent binding commitment to a reduction in carbon dioxide emissions by 2050. Fast forward from that, what has happened? Far from making any headway in persuading the rest of the world, even Europe is now backing off.

I remind the Minister of the original plan, the unilateral European cut. We are committing ourselves to a unilateral cut really, irrespective of what any other country does. After all, we account for less than 2 per cent of total carbon dioxide emissions and that is falling. Therefore, it makes sense only if we can persuade the rest of the world to go along with this.

Even our supporters in Europe are busy backing off. The unilateral cut of 20 per cent by 2020, agreed to by the European Union—with a little teaser that, if the rest of the world joined in, we would go up to 30 per cent—has been completely abandoned. It was never a binding commitment because you can bind only individual member countries and the individual countries of the union had not agreed—we had but the others had not—to go along with their share in the 20 per cent cut. The seven accession states of central and eastern Europe, plus Italy, have now said that there is definitely no way that they are going to go along with this. The European Union has agreed that this should be looked at again. Nothing will happen. It can only be agreed unanimously and will be looked at again in December this year, after the Poznan meeting, which I hope the Minister will grace with his presence. It will be an educational event for him.

Not only have those countries said that they will not go along with it, but Germany has always had a slightly equivocal position, because, in addition to ostensibly being very keen on this policy, it subsidises its coal industry more than the rest of the European Union put together. Indeed that is contrary to European Union law and it has to secure a waiver from European law to enable it do that, for which it fights to the death, and successfully so far. However, the German Government, have said that energy-intensive sectors must be exempted from the European emissions trading system. Indeed, an official government spokesman said only the other day that we have got to prevent companies being threatened by climate protection requirements. That makes nonsense of the whole policy. If Germany is saying that, the others will go the same way. Therefore, we are in the position of being completely on our own.
Italy, Poland, Germany, Spain and other European countries are seeking exemptions from the impact of emissions trading schemes.

So how's that going to work, then?

And how does it provide 'leadership' to the world?

These people are insane.

(h/t: Greenie Watch)

(Nothing Follows)

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Everything is amazing right now and nobody's happy

Here's a great video of comedian Louis CK on Conan O'Brien putting today's 'tough times' into context.

A great quote:

"Everything is amazing right now and nobody's happy"

"We live in an amazing, amazing world and it's wasted on the crappiest generation of spoiled idiots"

This generation just voted in the least experienced, most radical presidential candidate ever.

One wonders whether these Gen X and Y narcissists will ever gain the one thing generally lacking on the left - wisdom.

(Nothing Follows)

Monday, 17 November 2008

Socialized medicine not only sucks but also lets you die early

Here in Australia we are lucky to have what seems to be a pretty good balance between socialized and private health.

While waiting times to see specialists can be up to six months it's more typically 4-8 weeks and in the circumstances in which you are diagnosed with a life threatening illness then it's almost immediate.

There are medicines and procedures that are fully funded by the state with the others being covered by health insurance up to around 85% leaving the balance to be picked up by the patient.

We do have long waiting times in hospital emergency wards and there are chronic shortages of doctors and nurses, which is a direct result of government controls on salaries but all in all it's OK.

I have never heard of a situation, though they might exist, in which our health system has refused life saving or life extending medication to a patient.

That's what happens in that bastion of socialized health care - the United Kingdom - which inevitably leads to faceless bureaucrats making decisions about whether patients should be given medicine when they're going to die anyway.
Jack Rosser's doctor says taking Pfizer Inc.'s Sutent cancer drug may keep him alive long enough to see his 1-year-old daughter, Emma, enter primary school. The U.K.'s National Health Service says that's not worth the expense.

Rosser, 57, was told the cost of Sutent, 3,140 pounds ($4,650) per treatment for his advanced kidney cancer, was too high for the NHS -- the government agency that funds the nation's health care. The resident of the town of Kingswood, in southwest England, has appealed the decision twice, and next month may find out if his second plea is successful.

``It's immoral,'' Rosser's wife, Jenny, said. ``They are sentencing him to die.''

The NHS, which provides health care to all Britons and is funded by tax revenue, is spending about 100 billion pounds this fiscal year, or more than double what it spent a decade ago, as the cost of treatments increase and the population ages. The higher costs are forcing the NHS to choose between buying expensive drugs for terminal patients and providing more services for a wider number of people.

About 800 of 3,000 cancer patients lose their appeals for regulator-approved drugs each year because of cost, Canterbury- based charity Rarer Cancers Forum said. The U.K. is considering whether to make permanent a preliminary ruling that four medicines, including Sutent, are too expensive to be part of the government-funded treatment of advanced kidney cancer.

`It's Outrageous'

``It's outrageous,'' said Kate Spall, a full-time activist who has helped about 100 patients appeal NHS denials of cancer medicines. ``We are not asking for anything new or exciting or novel. We are asking for what the rest of the western world is getting.''

To help curb expenses, the government created the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, known as NICE, in 1999 to review medicines and recommend whether the NHS should fund them.

``There is a view that all treatments should be available. Unfortunately, that's not possible,'' said Peter Littlejohns, NICE's clinical and public health director. ``There is a limited pot of money.''

He said the four cancer drugs provide a ``marginal benefit at quite often an extreme cost'' and that the agency had to keep in mind that funds spent on the medicines could be used elsewhere to help others at a greater value. ``Those are the hidden patients, the ones who benefit from the things the NHS does spend money on,'' Littlejohns said.

NICE Review

NICE is reviewing its Aug. 7 preliminary recommendation that Sutent, Roche Holding AG and Genentech Inc.'s Avastin, Bayer AG and Onyx Pharmaceuticals Inc.'s Nexavar, and Wyeth's Torisel shouldn't be funded in light of their cost of 20,000 pounds to 39,000 pounds a year per patient. All four medicines have been approved by European and U.S. regulators and are sold in other countries as well. A final ruling is expected in March.

While a drug is under review, the decision whether to pay for a therapy falls to the NHS's 156 local organizations, called trusts.

Of the 3,000 applications for exceptional funding for cancer patients a year, the most-requested drug was Sutent, said the Rarer Cancers Forum, which focuses on cancer cases that fall outside the more common ones such as colon, breast, lung and prostate.

Sutent, which stops cancer cells from dividing and chokes off a tumor's blood supply, was first approved for European use in July 2006. Kidney cancer sufferers taking the drug had a median survival rate of 26.4 months, according to a study presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology in May.

Five Years to Live

New York-based Pfizer provided NICE with Sutent cancer- survival data that were released after its review began to try to persuade the agency to reverse its decision, and has offered to make the first treatment free, company spokeswoman Emily Bone said.

On Nov. 4, the government proposed giving NICE more flexibility in approving higher-cost drugs and allowing patients to buy the medicines themselves without losing access to government-funded health care. Final recommendations on the proposals aren't due until early next year and Rosser can't wait that long for his medicine, Spall said.

Rosser, of Kingswood, England, was diagnosed with cancer four days after Emma was born in July 2007. After operations in August and March to remove a kidney, adrenal glands and bone tumors, he was told he might live two to five years. In July, he was told by doctors that Sutent would help, but the South Gloucestershire Primary Care Trust said it wouldn't pay for the treatment.

`Very Expensive'

``I read the letter and I burst into tears,'' said Rosser, who was forced to retire from his air-conditioning and sheet- metal company because of the illness.

South Gloucestershire, the trust that includes Rosser's home, accepts applications for Sutent funding only for exceptional cases, said Ann Jarvis, director of commissioning at the trust, in an e-mail. ``Unfortunately for very expensive drugs, if they are proven to only provide a small benefit we have to prioritize other treatments.''

The trust plans to review its Sutent policy at a meeting next month, spokeswoman Sue Pratt said today.

Kidney cancer patient Kathleen Devonport, a 65-year-old retired factory worker, called it ``heartbreaking'' to have to beg her local health officials to provide her with Sutent. The County Durham Primary Care Trust, in northern England, initially turned her down in March 2007, then agreed to supply the Sutent seven months later only after she responded to a cheaper medicine paid for by an anonymous donation.

Offer Vetoed

Jenny Rosser, 41, said she is looking into getting her husband into a clinical trial for Sutent, but so far she has been told that his cancer would need to advance further to qualify.

Meanwhile, he is surviving on painkillers coupled with steroids for inflammation after vetoing his wife's offer of selling the house to pay for his treatments. In late October, he had another operation to remove growths on his spine and neck.

Jenny Rosser said the policies seem aimed more at saving cash than treating people.

``It seems like a money-saving exercise,'' she said. ``If a patient dies, tough.''
(Nothing Follows)

Sunday, 16 November 2008

Sunday night rock 'n' roll

Ben Folds Five was a piano-based rock trio formed in 1993 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. The group comprised Ben Folds on vocals, piano, and principal songwriting; Robert Sledge played bass and provided backing vocals; and Darren Jessee played drums, sang backing vocals and co-wrote some of the songs. The group achieved modest success in the alternative, indie and pop music scenes. The band is perhaps best known for the hit single, "Brick" from their 1997 album Whatever and Ever Amen, which gained airplay on many mainstream radio stations.

Much of Ben Folds Five's work was influenced by jazz, evident in frequent improv-styled passages through bridge and/or ending. During their seven years together, the band released three proper studio records, one retrospective album of B-sides & outtakes, and eight singles. They also contributed to a number of soundtracks and compilations. Ben Folds Five disbanded in October 2000, apparently under amicable circumstances.

If you missed the Ben Folds Five and like piano rock then you'll really enjoy these from their Live at Session at West 54th. Brick was their biggest hit and Song For The Dumped is really terrific.


Song for the Dumped

One Angry Dwarf

Battle of Who Could Care Less

(Nothing Follows)