Monthly Archives: July 2013

Chattanooga is not impressed with any of the jobs plans Wile E. Obama and the ACME Economic Destruction Co. have come up with so far, and they’re not interested in hearing about his umpteenth “pivot” to jobs. The editorial board of the Times Free Press doesn’t mince any words:

President Obama,

Welcome to Chattanooga, one of hundreds of cities throughout this great nation struggling to succeed in spite of your foolish policies that limit job creation, stifle economic growth and suffocate the entrepreneurial spirit.wile e obama - help

Forgive us if you are not greeted with the same level of Southern hospitality that our area usually bestows on its distinguished guests. You see, we understand you are in town to share your umpteenth different job creation plan during your time in office. If it works as well as your other job creation programs, then thanks, but no thanks. We’d prefer you keep it to yourself.

That’s because your jobs creation plans so far have included a ridiculous government spending spree and punitive tax increase on job creators that were passed, as well as a minimum wage increase that, thankfully, was not. Economists — and regular folks with a basic understanding of math — understand that these are three of the most damaging policies imaginable when a country is mired in unemployment and starving for job growth.

Even though 64 percent of Chattanooga respondents said they would rather you hadn’t chosen to visit our fair city, according to a survey on the Times Free Press website, it’s probably good that you’re here. It will give you an opportunity to see the failure of your most comprehensive jobs plan to date, the disastrous stimulus scheme, up close and personal.

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 helped fund the Gig to Nowhere project, a $552 million socialist-style experiment in government-owned Internet, cable and phone services orchestrated by EPB — Chattanooga’s government-owned electric monopoly.

Read the whole thing – the editorial describes in painful detail the complete bust that is the Gig to Nowhere project. In related news, the Labor Department has some news about Obama’s efforts to “create jobs” and it ain’t pretty: unemployment is up in 90% of U.S. cities:

Unemployment rates rose in nearly all large U.S. cities in June as college graduates and many of those still in school began searching for jobs.

The Labor Department said Tuesday that unemployment rates rose in 347 large metro areas in June compared with the previous month. They fell in 12 and were unchanged in 13. In May, rates fell in 109 cities and rose in 243.

Unlike the national figures, the metro unemployment data are not adjusted for such seasonal changes. Many of the cities with significant rate increases have large universities where students graduated in June and began looking for work. And many university workers are temporarily unemployed in the summer when the academic year ends.

Nationally, the unemployment rate was 7.6 percent in June, down from 8.2 percent a year ago. Employers added 195,000 jobs last month. That’s close to average monthly gain in the first half of this year of 202,000. Hiring averaged only 180,000 a month in the previous six months.

The city with the nation’s lowest unemployment rate was Bismarck, N.D, where the rate was 2.8 percent.

Yuma, Ariz., reported the highest rate at 31.8 percent. Yuma has a heavy population of migrant farm workers.

Among the 49 cities with more than 1 million in population, Detroit had the highest unemployment rate, at 10.3 percent. That’s up from 9 percent in May.

The unemployment rate in Minneapolis was 5.1 percent, the lowest among the large cities.


Detroit is a mess. Sure, they’re bankrupt – everyone knows that now. But why? Bill Nojay gives some insight into the problems that hamstring Detroit from running the city in an effective way. He served as COO of Detroit’s Department of Transportation for eight months, and he got to see first hand the complete dysfunction of that department, and many others in Detroit. Detroit is crippled by outdated civil-service rules and union contracts that prevent almost anyone from being fired for anything, regardless of their performance. Pouring a bunch of taxpayer dollars into a bailout to “save” Detroit will not solve the problems there, only prolong them. 

We began staff meetings each morning by learning which vendors had cut us off for lack of payment, including suppliers of essential items like motor oil or brake pads. Bus engines that the transportation department had sent out to be overhauled were sidelined for months when vendors refused to ship them back because the city hadn’t paid for the repair. There were days when 20% of our scheduled runs did not go out because of a lack of road-ready buses.

The obvious solution for a cash-tight operation is to triage vendor payments to ensure that absolutely essential items are always there. But in Detroit, no one inside the transportation department could direct payments to the most important vendors. A bureaucrat working miles away in City Hall, not responsible to the transportation department (and, frankly, not responsible to anyone we could identify), decided who got paid and who didn’t. That meant vendors supplying noncritical items were often paid even as public buses were sidelined.detroit cyril-new

A major expense for Detroit is the cost of lawsuits filed against the city for various alleged injuries on municipal property. At the transportation department, there were hundreds of claims arising from bus accidents alone. How many of those claims were fraudulent? How many were settled (with the cost of settlement and legal fees posted against DDOT’s budget) at unnecessarily high cost?

It was impossible to know, since the city’s law department handled all litigation and settled cases without consulting the DDOT staff. It was the law department’s policy to settle virtually all claims—which meant that the transportation department became easy prey for personal-injury lawyers bringing cases with little or no merit, costing the city millions.

In the DDOT we tried to hire our own lawyers to fight these claims. But we were blocked by city charter provisions prohibiting any city department from hiring outside counsel without the approval of the Detroit City Council. When we inquired with the mayor’s office we were told that the union representing the law department—in Detroit, even the lawyers are unionized—would block any such approval.

Disability and workers’ comp claims were routinely paid with no investigation into their validity. More than 80% of the transportation department’s 1,400 employees were certified for family medical-leave absences—meaning they could call in for a day off without prior notice, often leaving buses without drivers or mechanics. Management’s only recourse to get the work done was to pay the remaining employees overtime, at time-and-a-half rates. DDOT’s overtime costs were running over $20 million a year.

Read the whole thing at the Wall Street Journal; it’s amazing: Bill Nojay: Lessons From a Front-Row Seat for Detroit’s Dysfunction –

Health care tourism may be the future of surgery for many in the U.S., as Obamacare drives the cost of medical procedures higher by eliminating competition and entrepreneurship from the market.

Who knew? Entrepreneurship and competition reduces health care costs quite dramatically as Dr. Devi Shetty has proven in India. Shetty opened and now runs a chain of 21 medical centers in India in which physicians offer complicated medical treatments as little as a 1/50th their cost in the United States. As Bloomberg reports:

By trimming costs with such measures as buying cheaper scrubs and spurning air-conditioning, he has cut the price of artery-clearing coronary bypass surgery to 95,000 rupees $1,583, half of what it was 20 years ago, and wants to get the price down to $800 within a decade. The same procedure costs $106,385 at Ohio’s Cleveland Clinic, according to data from the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.“It shows that costs can be substantially contained,” said Srinath Reddy, president of the Geneva-based World Heart Federation, of Shetty’s approach. “It’s possible to deliver very high quality cardiac care at a relatively low cost.”

How high quality? The Economist reported:

Narayana Hrudayalaya reports a 1.4% mortality rate within 30 days of coronary artery bypass graft surgery, one of the most common procedures, compared with an average of 1.9% in the United States in 2008, according to data gathered by the Chicago-based Society of Thoracic Surgeons.

via Cardiac Bypass Surgery for Just $1,583 – Hit & Run :

Funny. Now that unions all over the country -who supported Obama’s awesome plan to get health care for everybody- have found out “what’s in it” (thanks, Nancy), they don’t want any part of it. The IRS employees union is the latest to howl at the prospect of being shoved into Obamacare:

National Taxpayer Employee Union officials are urging members to write their congressional representatives in opposition to receiving coverage through President Obama’s health care law. The union leaders are providing members with a form letter to send to the congressmen that says “I am very concerned about legislation that has been introduced by Congressman Dave Camp to push federal employees out of the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program and into the insurance exchanges established under the Affordable Care Act.”

The NTEU represents 150,000 federal employees overall, including most of the nearly 100,000 IRS workers.Like most other federal workers, IRS employees currently get their health insurance through the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program, which also covers members of Congress.

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp offered the bill in response to reports of congressional negotiations that would exempt lawmakers and their staff from Obamacare.

“Camp has long believed every American ought to be exempt from the law, which is why he supports full repeal,” Camp spokeswoman Allie Walker said.

“If the Obamacare exchanges are good enough for the hardworking Americans and small businesses the law claims to help, then they should be good enough for the president, vice president, Congress and federal employees,” she also said.

via IRS employee union: We don’t want Obamacare |