Political Entrepreneurship, or: How I learned to Stop Worrying and Love Obamacare (Part II)

Top Accident and Health Insurers

  Continuing on with a two-part series on what defensive strategies to take in dealing with the new or modified reality of Obamacare. Part 1 can be found here. Definition of political entrepreneurship, by author Thomas DiLorenzo as quoted on Wikipedia: "a political entrepreneur succeeds primarily by influencing government to subsidize his business or industry, or to enact legislation or regulation that harms his competitors." He says, in contrast, the "market entrepreneur succeeds financially by selling a newer, better, or less expensive product on the free market without any government subsidies, direct or indirect." Cui Bono? In the context of political entrepreneurship, or entrepreneurship alone, it's just about the … [Read more...]

Investing In Fatties, Or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Obamacare (Part 1)

"Doctor's Visit" - Jan Steen, 1663  (not that we'll ever see house calls ever coming back)

Obamacare is on its way, no two ways about it. In fact, let's just stop calling it Obamacare, and call it for what it is, GovCare.  Purported conservatives in the political swamp are learning to defend this provision or that measure or this footnote within this mammoth thousand-page (or two-thousand page, whatever it is) piece of ordure legislation, cherry-picking as it suits.  And for good reason, from the logical perspective  of the politician.  Whatever the majority of the people want, give it to 'em:  shovel out the pork and bacon drippings with both hands, lard it up, baby! And people do want it, apparently.  Maybe not all of it, maybe only this bit or that bit, but in the end, it's like getting only a selective part of a … [Read more...]

Monday Morning Fish Wrap: Sunday Dinner Edition

Perfect Roasted Potatoes...   (photo credit below)

  The title says it all. This random roundup was scheduled to come out yesterday, but Sunday dinner got priority, and as well it should. Sunday is a time to relax, plan a fine table set with delicious comestibles, and execute.  Around the USA Financial Service household, Sunday dinner is likely as not to feature rosemary-crusted roasted potatoes. Easy-peasy to make, but a few little details are key to success. First, the rosemary has got to be fresh.  Sure, you can go ahead use pre-packaged rosemary, and while you're at it, you could also take the Lord's name in vain or ask for ketchup at a French restaurant ... in Paris.  It just ain't done.  Non si fa. Second, toss the cut-up wedges in a bowl with olive oil, kosher salt and … [Read more...]

Undertaking A New Investment

funerals

We occasionally stumble on  an industry which was heretofore unheard of, and think, hey now, this might not be a bad place to plunk down a few hard-earned simoleons.  Or not. It's All Immaterial Industrial material handling is a numbingly dull non-subject to most people. Try bringing this up at a dinner party of your regular group of friends, and see how fast the topic changes in favor of which Hollywood male lead will get to play Christian Grey. To manufacturing geeks like yours truly it carries some measure of interest, in the sense that I've taken more of an interest in fundamental stock analysis, and manufacturing is about as fundamental as we can get.  The foundational strength of an economy is making stuff. Tangible goods and … [Read more...]

Why Does Gas Cost So Much in California?

Old Gas Pump in Savannah Georgia.  Author: Lukelastic from Wikimedia Project.

More unintentionally humorous content from the mainstream media on politically charged issues.   This from one of America's newspapers of record, the LA Times: Tesoro plan to buy Arco gets more scrutiny amid gas-price surge As California gasoline prices set fresh records daily, consumer advocates are gearing up to fight the sale of the low-cost Arco brand and its Carson refinery to a Texas company not known for its cheap fuel. Some experts are calling the proposed $2.5-billion sale to Tesoro Corp. of San Antonio the biggest shift in California's petroleum business in decades. Activists say the deal, announced in August, would reduce competition and possibly raise prices for motorists, and they will ask state and federal regulators … [Read more...]

You Say Debt Consolidation, I Say Individual Voluntary Arrangement

"Les compteurs d'argent" (ca 1575-1600)  - The Silver Buyers, Anonymous --- Museum of Fine Arts, Nancy, France

For individuals, it's debt consolidation, debt recovery, or credit repair. For large corporations and banks,  it's a slightly more benign debt restructuring.  Sounds like a home remodel. Governments playing fast and loose with other people's money instead get to call it a rescue package. It don't hardly seem fair... Each class of debt has its own peculiar lingo:   sovereign default, austerity measures, subordinated debentures, rescue packages, haircuts and bond vigilantes. In the Greek and Spanish debt crises, there are no villains, just perpetual victims.  And central banks riding in on white chargers, bearing sacks of a couple hundred billion euros. Let a large corporation get in debt trouble, and its bankers get … [Read more...]

Gardening Interlude: Catch Cropping

Bonnie Red Bell Pepper plan, pre-grasshopper infestation

Garden pests are a pain in the ass. Dig, mulch, plant and weed, and along come these little bastard grasshoppers and blister beetles, eating up the fruits of your labors. I've already ranted at length about little demons rampaging through the vegetable beds. Last year they were bad enough, but another year of drought has brought out a bumper crop of grasshoppers out at the hacienda.  And with bumper crop, we're talking about a plague of locusts of Biblical proportions, a weird mutation that's made them bigger and nastier, with appetites to match.  They even "et up" a whole plum tree sapling. Gone. Using Neem Oil and BT as organic deterrents is all well and good when the garden is a few steps away in the backyard. When it's an … [Read more...]

The Amazing Profits of Payday Loan Companies (?)

villain

Common sense would suggest that a lender charging interest rates of three to four hundred percent a year would soon amass the kind of fortune that Scrooge McDuck himself would envy. The way these companies are reviled in the commentariat of the mainstream media, we'd also expect the people who run these companies to be all top hat, cigar, red satin lined cape and twirling mustaches. After a hectic day of evicting widows and orphans from seedy tenement apartments,  these dastardly Snidely Whiplash characters might cap off the day by driving up to their storefronts in limousines to collect bags and bags of money (with the comical and obligatory big $ sign). Truth is, cash advance and payday loans are a business like any other, more … [Read more...]