Saturday, February 27, 2010
Freedom and Liberty are like sunshine to a vampire - once the curtains are pulled aside to let in the light of truth, the Democrats can be seen for what they are and then their demise is certain. terrifies
Let no rock be left unturned this year to make sure all liberal progressive Democrats are exposed and defeated in November.
Friday, February 26, 2010
Wake up to reality!
CLIMATE CHANGE: DEVELOPING COUNTRIES CONTROL THE THERMOSTAT
Source: H. Sterling Burnett, "Climate Change: Developing Countries Control The Thermostat," National Center for Policy Analysis, Brief Analysis No. 694, February 25, 2010.
It has long been recognized that no policies undertaken solely by Western countries can reduce future global warming, regardless of the developed world's past and current contributions to atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations. Rather, fast-growing developing countries control the climate change thermostat, says H. Sterling Burnett is a senior fellow with the National Center for Policy Analysis.
As early as 1995, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the International Energy Agency (IEA) recognized that most of the emissions in the 21st century would occur in the developing world:
The IPCC predicted that developing nations would account for the majority of greenhouse gas emissions by 2020.
The IEA stated that by 2025 China would emit more CO2 than the current combined total of the United States, Japan and Canada.
These predictions proved to be very optimistic. Since 2003, China has doubled its greenhouse gas emissions, surpassing the United States as the world's largest emitter. In fact, China already emits more CO2 than the United States and Canada combined, and will likely surpass the combined total of the United States, Canada and Japan by 2015.
Richard Muller, a physics professor at the University of California, Berkeley, recently examined IEA data and found:
China's emissions intensity (CO2 per dollar of gross domestic product) is five times greater than that of the United States.
Even if China cuts its emissions intensity 45 percent, it will still surpass the United States in per capita annual CO2 emissions by 2025.
Indeed, every 10 percent cut in U.S. emissions would be negated by one year of China's growth.
Furthermore, Muller's calculations show: Because China's economy is growing annually by 10 percent, a 4 percent cut in intensity is actually a 6 percent annual increase in emissions.
CO2 emissions are increasing at a similar rate in India and other developing countries -- far surpassing industrialized countries' output.
He concludes that even if China and India's goals are met -- and other developing countries make similar cuts -- total atmospheric CO2 would rise from 385 parts per million currently to 700 parts per million by 2080.
Thursday, February 25, 2010
Where do they come from - they can't be from around here, right?
You decide what is reality and what is fantasy, or is this a purposeful grab for absolute power.
BENDING THE CURVE
Source: Jason Fodeman and Robert A. Book, "Bending the Curve: What Really Drives Health Care Spending?" Wall Street Journal, February 19, 2010.
Much of the motivation driving health care reform is grounded in the belief that U.S. health care spending is too high and rising too quickly. Whether measured by individual insurance premiums, average spending per person, total national spending, or federal and state government health spending, U.S. health care expenditures are growing faster than inflation, faster than average wages, and faster than the gross domestic product (GDP).
Thus, the President has declared that one key purpose of health care reform is to "bend the cost curve" downward, explain Dr. Jason Fodeman, an Internal Medicine Resident at the University of Connecticut, and Robert A. Book, a health economist with the Heritage Foundation. However, this strong consensus that health care spending is too high and growing too fast has not led to agreement on the causes or the appropriate responses, say Fodeman and Book.
The most commonly proposed explanations for increases in overall health care spending include:
Increasing prevalence of disease, whether due to an aging population, unhealthy lifestyle choices, or other factors.
The inefficient structure of the health insurance system.
Expensive new health care technologies, such as new drugs, medical devices, and other treatments.
Wasteful spending, such as over-treatment, "defensive medicine," excessive malpractice costs, and fraud.
Each of these possibilities leads to a different set of appropriate policy solutions and has different implications as to whether the current proposals could, in the President's words, "bend the cost curve" downward, say Fodeman and Book.
Regrettably, neither the House nor the Senate health care reform bills that were passed in late 2009 would "bend the cost curve" downward. On the contrary, these bills would exacerbate the same inefficiencies and perverse incentives that have led to the current situation. Even taking into account only a few of these factors, independent assessments by the Office of the Actuary in the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services have concluded that total national spending would increase even faster if either the Senate bill (H.R. 3950) or the House bill (H.R. 3962) become law.
The House and Senate bills appear to be based on a fundamental misunderstanding of the basic factors driving health care spending upward. As a result, instead of restraining these basic factors, the bills neglect some and reinforce others, driving spending upwards instead of downward, say Fodeman and Book.
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
What a legacy that he and the Democrats can be proud of!
Yikes - wait a minute - it's not about pride, it's about power and control of everything and everybody.
Nonetheless, good solutions are at hand if only we will take notice - here is just a few that can help solve or lessen the problem of 'preexisting conditions' as well as provide good insurance for the rest of the community.
TEN EASY REFORMS TO COVER PREEXISTING CONDITIONS
Source: John C. Goodman, "Ten Easy Reforms to Cover Preexisting Conditions," Heartland Institute, February 19, 2010.
Most current proposals for dealing with the problems of preexisting conditions would completely divorce health insurance premiums from expected health care costs. Yet a policy of trying to force health plans to take enrollees they do not want risks jeopardizing the quality of care people receive, says John C. Goodman, President, CEO, and the Kellye Wright Fellow of the National Center for Policy Analysis.
Instead of suppressing the price system, we should make greater use of the price mechanism. In a reformed health care system, the chronically ill, along with their doctors, their employers, and their insurers, should all find lower-cost, higher-quality, more-accessible care to be in their economic self-interest.
Here are 10 reforms to cover preexisting conditions, says Goodman:
Encourage portable insurance.
Allow special health savings accounts for the chronically ill.
Allow special needs health insurance.
Allow health status insurance.
Allow self-insurance for changes in health status.
Give individuals the same tax break employees get.
Allow providers to repackage and reprice their services under Medicare and Medicaid.
Allow access to mandate-free insurance.
Create a national market for health insurance.
Encourage post-retirement health insurance.
If the past is a guide, more than 80 percent of the 78 million baby boomers will retire before they become eligible for Medicare. This group has the greatest potential for denial of health insurance because of preexisting conditions. Fortunately, one out of every three baby boomers has a promise of post-retirement health care.
However, two out of three do not, and even for those who have a commitment, almost none of the promises are funded, says Goodman.
Hence employers should (a) be encouraged to negotiate with insurers to cover their retirees, (b) be able to pay some or all of the premium for retiree-owned insurance or make deposits to the retiree's HSA with pre-tax dollars, and (c) both employers and employees should be able to save in tax-free accounts in anticipation of these needs, says Goodman.
Tuesday, February 23, 2010
I believe this is on the mark as most anyone will witness this decline in their own communities. The actions of people that complain the most are the ones, for the most part, that can not control their own lives. Self control, apparently, is not part of the mind set of those most in need of it.
Taking responsibility for our own actions is key to bring back America from the ash heap of history. Step up to the plate and take a swing - if we let someone else bat for us, we will never get to first base let alone home plate!!
Starner Jones - MD
Dear Mr.. President:
During my shift in the Emergency Room last night, I had the pleasure of evaluating a patient whose smile revealed an expensive shiny gold tooth, whose body was adorned with a wide assortment of elaborate and costly tattoos, who wore a very expensive brand of tennis shoes and who chatted on a new cellular telephone equipped with a popular R&B ringtone.
While glancing over the patients chart, I happened to notice that her payer status was listed as "Medicaid"! During my examination of her, the patient informed me that she smokes more than one costly pack of cigarettes every day and somehow still has money to buy pretzels and beer. And, you and our Congress expect me to pay for this woman's health care?
I contend that our nation's "health care crisis" is not the result of a shortage of quality hospitals, doctors or nurses. Rather, it is the result of a "crisis of culture", a culture in which it is perfectly acceptable to spend money on luxuries and vices while refusing to take care of one's self or, heaven forbid, purchase health insurance.
It is a culture based in the irresponsible credo that "I can do whatever I want to because someone else will always take care of me".
Once you fix this "culture crisis" that rewards irresponsibility and dependency, you'll be amazed at how quickly our nation's health care difficulties will disappear.
STARNER JONES, MD
Monday, February 22, 2010
Fatted Leviathan *
The time bomb of runaway benefits for government employees
The collapse of the housing market has been an object lesson for America. Households and banks borrowed too much on expectations of continuing appreciation in real-estate prices. This extra borrowing inflated a bubble until it burst. By discounting the future too optimistically, we let the good times roll away.
The collapse of Chrysler and GM has been another object lesson. Management and unions pledged too many worker and retiree benefits on expectations of continuing demand for their gas-guzzlers. By discounting the future too optimistically, they let the good times roll away. The private sector is now rethinking its unrealistic optimism. It has to, since its asset valuations have tumbled. Payrolls are shrinking. Benefits are being cut back. Both management and workers are accepting that they have to work harder for less. Government is upping the pressure by hiking taxes, requiring banks to raise more capital, and demanding more-objective risk reporting. But the government is not applying these lessons to itself.
On the contrary, the public sector’s tendency to discount the future too optimistically is growing. It is pledging ever more payoffs to its employees and wards and concealing more than ever their true costs, even as private-sector incomes fall.The public sector employs about one-sixth of the U.S. work force. Apart from the expansions and contractions of the military, that share hasn’t changed much since World War II.
About one in five public-sector jobs is federal, with civilian government and the military each employing roughly 2 million. Nearly another million work in federally owned enterprises, most of them in the Postal Service.Average federal pay is distinctly higher than private-sector pay. After adjusting for part-time work and the cash value of payment in kind, the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) reports a wage and salary premium in 2008 of 33 percent for the military and 58 percent for civilian government. It wasn’t always that way.
All of the military premium and nearly half the civilian premium were created between 2000 and 2005.These premiums were needed to improve recruitment and retention. In 1997, the Congressional Budget Office concluded that the government paid 22 percent less than the private sector for similar jobs.
Bolstering the military after 9/11 was also a priority.For reasons of efficiency and fairness, the extra pay might have been coupled with reducing the job security and trimming the benefits that federal employees traditionally enjoy. It was not. On the contrary, the federal benefit edge has widened. It is not easy to measure how much, for the government refuses to publish direct comparisons. However, a few months ago, Chris Edwards of the Cato Institute deduced from BEA statistics that from 2000 to 2008, benefits grew a whopping $16,000 per full-time federal civilian employee, versus $3,000 per private employee. Federal benefits are now more than four times private benefits.What was intended as catch-up, then, is now in overdrive. In 2008, federal employees were relatively well insulated from the financial crisis. Their benefits were guaranteed, they bore little risk of layoff, and the thriving business of government buoyed housing valuations for D.C.-area residents.
A sense of shared national burden would have called for public-sector restraint in 2009. Instead, as millions of private workers lost their jobs and real incomes declined, civilian federal salaries were boosted 3.9 percent. Not surprisingly, resignation rates for federal employees have sunk to less than a third of private-sector averages.Fortunately for taxpayers, about 80 percent of public-sector employees work for state and local governments. The great majority of them are employed in education or public safety.
These are middle-tier occupations for the most part. By BEA’s accounting, state- and local-employee salaries track private-sector salaries fairly well.But the data the BEA uses can be crude. The Labor Department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) provides far more detailed breakdowns, except for federal employees, about whom it has been ordered to keep quiet. In particular, the BLS monitors employer costs per labor hour. From fiscal and productivity standpoints, this measure is far more important than take-home pay.According to the BLS, state and local governments in September 2009 paid $39.83 in salary and benefits per hour worked. That is 45 percent higher than what private employers paid. The salary component was one-third higher.
The benefit component was two-thirds higher.While state and local employees’ salary advantage has been stable for at least a decade, their benefit advantage has widened considerably. In inflation-adjusted terms, private benefits per working hour have risen by nearly a dollar since 2000. The corresponding state- and local-employee benefits have risen by nearly three dollars.Compounding the disparity, public-sector employees typically receive benefits that are far more secure than those that private-sector employees receive. According to a recent study from the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, almost 80 percent of state and local workers age 25–64 have pensions from their employers, and 80 percent of these pensions provide strictly defined benefits (i.e., they impose no risk from shortfalls in investment proceeds).
In contrast, only 45 percent of private employees of the same age have pensions from their employers, and only 40 percent of these pensions provide strictly defined benefits.Moreover, public-sector benefits tend to kick in at lower ages, with better cost-of-living adjustments and fewer deductibles for health care than private-sector benefits. Only older, heavily unionized private firms offer comparable perks, to their regret. They have been sinking for years under the load and need another $150 billion–plus from the federal Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation to meet their commitments.
They have become international symbols of how not to regain an edge. Yet our civil service is emulating them.In the pecking order of socioeconomic sins, overpaying public-sector employees is hardly the worst. Better to overpay, for example, than to grossly underpay, which encourages both bad work and corruption. Paying people well to work well can be win-win.But these perks aren’t. To begin with, they pay for comparatively little work. Full-time federal employees with three years of service or more can take off 43 weekdays a year with full pay: 10 holidays, 20 days vacation, and 13 sick days.
Employees with 15 years of service get an additional six days of vacation a year. A program called “time off as an incentive” grants extra paid leave “to recognize excellent employee performance.” And those with two to three decades of service qualify for retirement at ages 50 to 60 with full or nearly full benefits.Some state and local programs reward not working even more. Since 1999, California has allowed state employees to retire at age 50 with as little as five years of service. Each year, pensioners receive a certain percentage of their final salaries for each year they worked.
Most employees hired in their twenties can retire by age 55 or earlier with 50 percent or more of their highest salary locked in for life, with full inflation adjustment. The state also pays 100 percent of health-care costs for retirees with at least 20 years of service.Such pledges are anachronistic. They date from an era in which 25 years of hard manual labor broke workers’ health, medical technology was limited, benefits were low, average lifespans were under 65, and the worker-to-retiree ratio was extremely high.
They are totally unsuited to the 21st century, in which people can work productively for 40 years or more, expensive medical technology is beating back infirmity, benefits are extensive, and the worker-to-retiree ratio is dropping below two to one.These programs will have to adjust, be it through the market incentives that the Left abhors or the health-care rationing that the Right abhors. But it is difficult to roll back previously granted benefits, no matter how foolish or exorbitant. Experts at the Center for Retirement Research explain that “many state courts have ruled that the public employer is prohibited from modifying the plan” once an employee has started work.
Increased employee contributions can come only from new hires.While wrapped as public-spiritedness, such benefits are actually assaults on future generations. When education bills get padded with extra retirement benefits for teachers, they guarantee that a larger share of future education budgets will be siphoned off to people who no longer teach. That can’t possibly help the next generation to learn. Nor can it help the next generation of teachers, who will have to settle for lower pay and worse benefits to keep their states afloat.State and local fiscal crises will force these issues to the fore.
Wages and benefits account for about half of state- and local-government spending. Medicaid, a benefit awarded without any requirement to work, absorbs much of the rest. Over time, wage and benefit expansion has strained the government’s capacity to service debt, even under higher tax rates.The Great Recession is now pushing some over the brink. State and local operating budgets, which exclude capital expenditures, have traditionally run small surpluses, reflecting legal requirements to stay in the black. Back in 2007, even before the crisis hit in full force, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) warned of breakdown, with deficits increasing from now until doomsday.
In January 2009, the GAO was even gloomier, adding about 0.5 percent of GDP a year to projected shortfalls.If they stay on their current track, state and local governments will within a few decades accumulate higher average debt-to-GDP ratios than the federal government has now. Yet they command far fewer resources with which to repay their debts. They cannot print money, and their residents are free to relocate if they raise taxes too much. The short word for where this leads is “insolvency.”Some of our biggest states and localities are already insolvent. California is so far under water that serious budget-balancing has given way to creative gimmicks for borrowing against the future.
New York is racing to beat it to the bottom.The problem is less the nominal deficit than the gaping holes off the balance sheet. If state pension funds were held to traditional accounting standards for banks, never mind the tighter new standards, most of them would have negative capital. They owe clearly defined benefits, with no right to scale them back, yet don’t hold nearly enough assets to guarantee debt servicing out of ordinary dividends. So they invest heavily in risky equities, hope for high returns, and get hammered in downturns.It’s a bit like buying a home beyond one’s means and counting on appreciation to service the mortgage. Lenders are rightly castigated for having exacerbated this practice through low standards and deceptive packaging, the so-called liar loans.
But liar loans still abound in the public sector, under the guise of “Pension Obligation Bonds.” Strapped governments borrow at U.S. Treasury rates plus a premium, pledge to make even more by reinvesting in equities, and treat the wished-for profits as hard assets on their balance sheets. Presto, the budget looks balanced again. And if the equities get nailed, well, distract the public with a new accounting trick.
The Center for Retirement Research estimated in November 2008 that equities held in defined-benefit state and local retirement plans lost $1 trillion from their peak in October 2007. Even at the peak, these plans were only 87 percent funded; a year later, the funding coverage had declined to 65 percent. Due to the growing gap between liabilities and contributions, the Center’s most optimistic scenario projected a rebound to only 75 percent funding by 2013.Recently, the GAO estimated that unfunded retirement benefits for state and local employees exceed $530 billion.
Top dishonors go to New York State, whose government, largest city, and largest counties underfund pensions by at least $119 billion. Authorities in California underfund by at least $91 billion. New Jersey underfunds by at least $51 billion. Together these three account for nearly half of all underfunding. Illinois is almost surely fourth, but Cook County refused to report its liabilities. Special mentions go to Detroit and Boston, which despite their moderate size have racked up unfunded liabilities of roughly $6 billion apiece.
Hardly any of the most insolvent state and local authorities can haul themselves back to solvency on their own. Few are even trying. They are simply rolling over their debt as long as they can, and counting on the federal government to bail them out when they can’t.Last year’s stimulus staved off a reckoning, but that won’t last. Lucy Dadayan and Donald J. Boyd of the Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government report that state tax receipts, adjusted for inflation, have declined an average 12.5 percent over the past four quarters. This is the worst decline on record.
Hopefully, the federal government will not reward irresponsible state and local authorities with bailouts this time around. But if for political reasons it must, there are various ways it can do so. The most transparent is for the federal government to assume their debts. This is also the most embarrassing. It openly taxes residents of other states for debts they did not assume and government services they did not receive. It openly rewards the spendthrift over the frugal. It openly belittles the Obama administration’s pledge of enhanced fiscal discipline going forward.
The most efficient and fairest bailout would be a partial one. The Obama administration would disclaim responsibility for state debts, in line with the Constitution and historical precedent. But in recognition of the severe recession, and of the burden previously imposed through unfunded mandates, the federal government would provide bailout funds to the states in proportion to their population. The problem here is political. It would surely offend core Democratic constituencies./_
The most politically appealing bailout would come through a health-care bill_/. Most of the shortfall lies either in future health-care costs for state and local employees or in the current costs of Medicaid. Any transfer of responsibility to the federal government in this area therefore disproportionately helps New York, California, New Jersey, and Illinois. And it will help them even more in legislation that drops the proposed tax on the “Cadillac” health-care plans their employees hold.If deftly executed, such a policy’s economic impact wouldn’t differ much from that of an open bailout. But its packaging as aid to all state and local governments would conceal the massive transfers from frugal to spendthrift.
That is why a modest carve-out from Medicaid financing persuaded Nebraska senator Ben Nelson that his state would come out on top, even though Nebraska reports no underfunded retirement claims at all.And routing bailout funds through health-care legislation is risky. As Donald Boyd has noted, many people currently eligible for Medicaid don’t enroll. If reform makes the option more familiar and mainstream, costs could spiral out of control. States that trim back care in response will face opposition from advocacy groups, Congress, and courts.
That leads back to the path of least resistance. Promise savings that don’t materialize. Roll over debt that can’t be serviced. Preach responsibility while deferring it. Wait for panic to force your hand.The generations that will pay the highest price aren’t of voting age yet, and some haven’t been born. Eventually they will rebel against their burdens. When they do, it will make the current tea-party movement look like, well, a tea party.
*Mr. Osband, an investment professional, is the author of /Iceberg Risk/.*
THE QUIET ENERGY REVOLUTION
Source: Max Schulz, "The Quiet Energy Revolution," The American, February 4, 2010.
The 20th century was the century of oil. Wars were fought over it, and the outcomes of the century's biggest conflicts hinged on the stuff. Two monumental shifts in the world of energy are underway right now: one technological, the other financial. They will change the way we power our lives (especially our cars), provide a real measure of energy security, and help curb greenhouse gas emissions, says the American.
The first shift was made possible by a little-noticed technological breakthrough called horizontal fracking, says the American: Horizontal fracking combines two technologies -- horizontal drilling, which permits wells to move laterally beneath the surface instead of going straight down, and hydraulic fracking, used to extract gas trapped in porous shale rock.
By marrying the two processes into a the single technology called horizontal fracking, engineering has virtually created, from nothing, new natural gas resources, previously regarded as inaccessibly locked in useless shale deposits.
Suddenly, the mammoth shale formations in Texas, Pennsylvania, Ohio, New York, North Dakota and elsewhere have the potential to produce abundant amounts of gas for decades to come.
The second shift is the formation of a global market for natural gas, much the same as the global petroleum market, says the American: The reason is liquefied natural gas (LNG); innovations in liquefaction and re-gasification technologies allow gas to be condensed to 1/600th its size, which then can be shipped by sea.
Major infrastructure investments by energy companies and governments, along with the development of specially designed double-hulled tankers to transport LNG, are creating a robust, integrated market for natural gas. The new mobility of LNG will bring a sorely needed measure of market stability after the past five years of unpredictability in price and supply.
Sunday, February 21, 2010
And as the saying goes, "Freedom means having nothing else to lose". Just how long will we allow this to go on?
ECONOMY CONTRACTS, GOVERNMENT EXPANDS
Source: Michael Jahr, "Economy Contracts, Government Expands,"
Mackinac Center, February 8, 2010.
"Detroitification" is defined as the hollowing out of the private economy to prop up unsustainable (and often unresponsive) government establishments. Is this an apt description of Washington's policies, asks Michael Jahr, senior director of communications for the Mackinac Center?
The comparison seems unavoidable with the federal government spending at a frenetic pace and racking up record debt, while adding to the numbers and cost of government employment, says Jahr: According to USA Today, during the current recession, the number of federal workers earning six-figure salaries has exploded. While Americans struggle with unemployment, falling wages, failing businesses and housing foreclosures, federal employees are flourishing on the taxpayer dole.
One example, according to USA Today:
When the recession started, the Transportation Department had only one person earning a salary of $170,000 or more. Eighteen months later, 1,690 employees had salaries above $170,000. In just one federal agency, the top echelon bureaucrats have padded their generous government packages to the tune of $287,300,000.
So much for shared sacrifice, says Jahr. The decades-long policies that fattened the public sector at the expense of the private have produced tragic results in Detroit. Only if our elected officials realize that the private economy does not exist to provide for the political class can the nation avoid Detroit's fate.
Saturday, February 20, 2010
Friday, February 19, 2010
STIMULUS WEATHERIZATION PROGRAM BOGGED DOWN BY RED TAPE
Source: Andrew Malcolm, "Obama's federal government can weatherize your home for only $57,362 each," Los Angeles Times, February 18, 2010.
A $5 billion federal weatherization program intended to save energy and create jobs has done little of either, says the Los Angeles Times.
According to a new report on the one-year anniversary of President Obama's American Reinvestment and Recovery Act: The $5-billion program is so riddled with drafts that so far it's weatherized only about 9,000 homes.
Based on the initial Obama-Biden program promise that it would create 87,000 new jobs its first year, that would be about 10 jobs for each home weatherized so far.
ABC News reports that the General Accountability Office will declare this week that the Energy Department has fallen woefully behind -- about 98.5 percent behind -- the 593,000 homes it initially predicted would be weatherized in the Recovery Act's very first year.
You'll never guess what the federal government blames for the lack of significant progress: Red tape. It seems that the Pelosi-Reid stimulus plan that was so quickly cobbled together and was supposed to immediately pump so much money into the sagging economy last year included an 80-year-old legal provision requiring all federally funded projects to pay a prevailing wage to workers.
But what's a prevailing wage for weatherization, you ask? Who knows? So the Energy Department asked the Labor Department, which set out to calculate what a prevailing weatherization wage is in every single one of the more than 3,000 counties across these United States.
The Energy folks did tell ABC they've so far spent $522 million Recovery Act dollars on the program. This comes to about $57,362 for each home fixed up so far, says the L.A. Times.
Thursday, February 18, 2010
One has to wonder just how much of this kind of thing goes on in congress. We all know that billions of dollars are directed to special interests around the country and our Representatives have their special projects back home, but absolute and complete wastes of money like this airport has to stop.
There has to be a way to do this. There has to be someone that can make it happen.
Tuesday, February 16, 2010
French Bank: Euro Collapse 'Inevitable'
Monday, 15 Feb 2010 02:48 PM
By: Greg Brown
The euro, already under pressure, came under renewed attack Monday as a French bank speculated that the currency union would inevitably collapse. Meanwhile, a former chief economist of the European Central Bank warned that a bailout for member country Greece could damage the euro's credibility.
Société Générale strategist Albert Edwards warned investors that any help given to Greece merely “delays the inevitable break-up of the euro zone,” while former European Central Bank Chief Economist Otmar Issing, in a Financial Times piece, said bailing out Greece would be a “major blow” to the currency. “The viability of the whole framework — nothing less — is at stake,” wrote Issing. “Financial assistance for countries that violated the terms of their participation in EMU would be a major blow for the credibility of the whole framework.”
The euro could sink to $1.3483 from its $1.5144 high in November, traders told the U.K. Daily Mail.
At issue are the terms of the pact that created the euro, which requires its members to maintain an annual budget deficit no higher than 3 percent of GDP and a national debt lower than 60 percent of GDP. Greece is expected to hit 12.5 percent deficit in 2009 and debt of 72 percent by 2010 and 2011. Details of a plan to bail out Greece are being hammered out today and Tuesday at a special meeting of the European Central Bank's Economic and Financial Affairs Council, Ecofin.
In addition to the open question of Greece, the fate other countries with similar debt and deficit problems, notably Spain, Italy, Ireland, and Portugal, hang in the balance.
Currency speculators have increased their bets on the dollar to their highest since 2008, while short euro positions rose to a record, according to Reuters. Meanwhile, euro critics have piled on. David Cameron, the opposition leader in the U.K., reiterated his statement that Britain would “never join the euro.” Cameron is expected to become prime minister of English in a few months, ending 13 years of Labor government.
Martin Feldstein, a former adviser to President Ronald Reagan, said the euro system wasn't working. “There's too much incentive for countries to run up big deficits as there's no feedback until a crisis,” he said. © Moneynews. All rights reserved.
Monday, February 15, 2010
Think about it. What price are we willing to pay to keep our personal freedom? Or maybe we just don't care anymore about freedom - maybe the price is too high and it's just too much effort to take a stand for what we know is right.
It's certainly easier to bend the knee and bow the head!
THE NATIONAL DEBT: DO YOU KNOW HOW MUCH YOU NOW OWE?
Source: Don C. Brunell, "The National Debt: Do You Know How Much You Now Owe?" Olympia Business Watch/Association of Washington Businesses, February 7, 2010.
President Obama announced his 2011 Budget which is $3.834 trillion dollars with a projected deficit of $1.267 trillion or 8.3 percent of gross domestic product (GDP).
As of Feb. 7, our total national debt was $12,348,804,540,946.54 or $12.35 trillion which is larger than the economies of China, the United Kingdom and Australia combined, says Don C. Brunell, President of the Association of Washington Businesses.
The national debt is growing with the spending spree in Washington, D.C. According to the Congressional Budget Office and the Office of Management and Budget:
Our national debt will grow an additional $9 trillion over the next decade, to more than $20 trillion.
During that time, the United States will accumulate $2.5 billion in new debt each and every day.
That's $1.72 million per minute, for the next ten years.
According to the Department of the Treasury:
Foreign holders of our national debt are owed a combined total of about $3.3 trillion.
The top 10 countries and entities holding U.S. debt are: China, Japan, the United Kingdom, Oil Exporters, Caribbean Banking Centers, Brazil, Russia, Luxembourg, Hong Kong and Taiwan.
Our debt to China is approximately $776.4 billion, having grown more than $240 billion in the last year; that is more than $10,000 in debt for the average American working family -- just to China.
The estimated population of the United States is 307,795,997 so each citizen's share of this debt is $40,146.02.
The National Debt has continued to increase and that is before Congress tacks on trillions for health care, cap and trade, new federal stimulus programs, and other yet to be identified spending programs, says Brunell.
Part of the way President Obama plans to pay for his new round of spending is to eliminate the 2001 and 2003 Bush tax cuts families making more than $250,000 per year which impacts a ton of family-owned, small businesses which are the backbone of our economy and nation, says Brunell.
Saturday, February 13, 2010
But wait, how can we have any more disasters? We won't have any money - we will be living in card board boxes and gnawing bark off of trees to survive.
WOW - isn't "hope and change" a wonderful thing!!
(The following author unknown)
So, Let's Recap "2009".........what a year!
1. The American people inaugurate a president with a total of 142 days experience as a US Senator from the most politically corrupt state (city) in America whose governors have been ousted from office. The President's first official act is to order the close of Gitmo and make sure terrorists civil rights are not violated. (honest mistake?)
2. The U.S. Congress rushes to confirm Attorney General, Eric Holder, whose law firm we later find out represents seventeen Gitmo Terrorists. (An honest mistake?!)
3. The CIA Boss appointee, Leon Panetta, has absolutely no experience, has a daughter Linda, we find out, who is a true radical anti-American activist and a supporter of all the Anti-American regimes in the western hemisphere. (There were socio-economic factors involved!)
4. We got the second most corrupt American woman (Pelosi is #1) as Secretary of State; bought and paid for. (You can put lipstick on a pig, but it still stinks!)
5. We got a Tax Cheat for Treasury Secretary who did not properly file his own taxes for 12 years. (He misspoke!)
6. A Commerce Secretary nominee who withdrew due to corruption charges. (Another honest mistake???)
7. A Tax cheat nominee for Chief Performance Officer who withdrew under charges. (Hmmm... Another screw-up?)
8. A Labor Secretary nominee who withdrew under charges of unethical conduct. (Ok, maybe this person was just plain stupid.)
9. A Secretary HHS nominee (Daschle) who withdrew under charges of cheating on his taxes. (I'm running out of excuses for these idiots!!)
10. Multiple appointments of former lobbyists after an absolute campaign statement that no lobbyists would be appointed. (Dear God, I am getting a headache!)
All this occurred just during the first three weeks. . . But who's counting? America is being run by the modern-day Three Stooges ; Barry, Nancy and Harry and they are still trying to define stimulus..."it's spending!!!" The congress passes the $800,000,000,000 (that's $800 billion) pork-loaded spending bill where the government gives you a smidgen of your tax dollars ($13 per week), making you feel so good about yourself [stimulated], that you want to run out to Wal-Mart and buy a new Chinese-made HDTV and go home and watch Telemundo! (Pray for our country.)
Here's the good news though - Obama took Air Force One to Denver to sign the stimulus package, wasting as much as 10,000 gallons of fuel OR 24 JOBS FOR ONE YEAR. Don't you just love hypocrites?
Obama went to the International Olympic Committee to have them choose Chicago for a host city, he failed.
Obama went to Copenhagen to lecture them on global warming, he failed.
Obama went to new Jersey to promote the Democratic candidate for governor, he failed,
Obama went to Virginia to promote the Democratic candidate for governor, he failed.
Obama went to Massachusetts to promote the Democratic candidate for senator, he failed.
Speaking of praying, Obama has now been president for a full year and yet he & wife (first lady) Michelle, the Christian family they claim to be, have not attended church since the inauguration.
Obama is the 1st president in history who did not attend any Christmas religious observance. He must miss Reverend Wright!
And finally, he is the 1st president to remain on vacation after a terrorist attack. In these times 'I'll keep my God, my freedom, my guns and my money.
Anyone that supports this insanity can keep "THE CHANGE".
Friday, February 12, 2010
The voice of the people grows stronger every day, but the liberal socialist Democrats care not. Truly, these socialists have lost all sense of direction or national obligation to their office.
The means justifies the ends : Obama, " - -I want to fundamentally change the way America lives". " We must change the way the Constitution reads - that is, the Constitutions reads what government can not do to you, I want it to read what government can do for you".
They, the New Progressive Liberal Socialist Democrats, are morally bankrupt.
THE SUPER-SIZED BOONDOGGLE
Source: Michelle Malkin, "The Super-Sized Census Boondoggle," Jewish World Review, February 10, 2010.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Tuesday that the Stimulus II plan -- reportedly with an $85 billion price tag -- was a "really nice piece of legislation." You'll have to take his word for it since no one outside the Democratic leadership and K Street had seen an actual bill as of Tuesday afternoon. Few will read the whole thing before casting their hasty votes. And once again, we'll only be informed of the last-minute sweeteners, Cash for Cloture handouts and backroom deals after the ink of the president's signature is dry, says columnist Michelle Malkin.
Public-sector unions are pushing hard to include their precious card-check plan, which would allow Big Labor bosses to sabotage workers' rights to a federally supervised private-ballot election.
Democrats plan to stuff a reauthorization of the Patriot Act into the bill to make it harder for Republicans to oppose it.
It will also include a $20 billion bailout for the beleaguered federal Highway Trust Fund, which has been raided for years to pay for bike paths, beautification programs and other pet projects, while its core targets -- basic roads and bridges -- have deteriorated.
Democrats will throw in some small-business tax breaks and a temporary payroll tax holiday gimmick, supported by some Republicans, for companies that hire unemployed workers.
What we do know for sure:
The $154 billion Stimulus II passed in the House on a party-line vote in December is crammed to the gills with special-interest spending.
Half of the money would go to government bureaucracies already overflowing with Stimulus I money.
Nearly $30 billion would go to protect public-sector union employees in state governments.
While tax relief would be temporary (Democrats always make sure of that), the Reid bill will follow the House version in continuing the endlessly "temporary" extension of jobless benefits that will cost billions of dollars and encourage more and longer unemployment.
That's on top of the $58 billion in jobless benefit extension funds paid out by Stimulus I, says Malkin.
Additionally, President Obama wants $23 billion added for a fraud-friendly "Cash for Caulkers" weatherization program. Instead of returning the money to reduce the debt as stipulated in the law, Obama is also pushing to siphon $30 billion from the ever-morphing Toxic Asset Relief Program (TARP), says Malkin.
Tuesday, February 09, 2010
"Frankly, I don't know what it is about California , but we seem to have a strange urge to elect really obnoxious women to high office. I'm not bragging, you understand, but no other state, including Maine , even comes close.
When it comes to sending left-wing dingbats to Washington , we're number one. There's no getting around the fact that the last time anyone saw the likes of Barbara Boxer, Dianne Feinstein, and Nancy Pelosi, they were stirring a cauldron when the curtain went up on 'Macbeth'.
The three of them are like jackasses who happen to possess the gift of blab. You don't know if you should condemn them for their stupidity or simply marvel at their ability to form words."
Although, maybe now that there isn't any money anywhere for the politicians to steal, they will have to do the right thing - hmmmm, maybe.
PHOENIX FOOD TAX INCREASE A SIGN OF FAILURE
On Sept. 11, 2007, Phoenix voters were asked to approve an 11 percent increase on the general sales tax that, it was promised, would result in 500 more police and firefighters. Last week, the Phoenix City Council voted to impose a five-year, 2-cent sales tax on food purchased from grocery stores -- to save the jobs of 500 police and firefighters. Media reports say Phoenix officials intend to use the food tax revenues to stop staffing cuts announced in January for the police and fire departments.
Taxes are a poor substitute for doing the heavy lifting of re-thinking, reorganizing and re-prioritizing government, says Byron Schlomach, Director of the Center for Economic Prosperity at the Goldwater Institute:
Phoenix City Councilman Sal DiCiccio has pointed out that the average cost for a Phoenix city employee is $100,000, including all benefits.
The average private sector total compensation in the Phoenix-Mesa area, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, is $54,100 -- about half the Phoenix average.
In just the past six years, the City of Phoenix budget grew by 59.6 percent, more than double the sum of inflation and population growth.
The current economic downturn started early in 2007, but the fiscal 2010 budget was the first time that Phoenix actually reduced overall spending.
Operating expenditures were cut by just 0.6 percent.
The General Fund budget, currently only 44 percent of the total budget, saw its first reduction in fiscal 2009.
Clearly, there is a failure by the City of Phoenix to address fundamental reform in the face of shrinking tax revenues, says Schlomach. Public safety should be the city's first priority for funding, not an afterthought that depends on the promise of additional taxes. Many of the funds in the city's total budget are dedicated for various purposes such as public art.
Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon said it's possible the council could cancel the food tax after hearing from the public during budget hearings in the next few months. Perhaps now is the time to ask the voters for their priorities, says Schlomach.
Source: Byron Schlomach, "Phoenix food tax increase a sign of failure," Goldwater Institute, February 4, 2010; Scott Wong, "Phoenix gives OK to 2% tax on food," Arizona Republic, February 3, 2010; and Sal DiCiccio, "Solutions for Phoenix's billion dollar labor bubble," City of Phoenix, February 1, 2010.
Monday, February 08, 2010
Poll: Data About Palin, Romney, Gingrich Revealed
A recent Newsmax Media-Zogby poll showed former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin leading the Republican field as the party’s preferred candidate for president in 2012. And a breakdown of demographic and other data from the survey offers some interesting insights on current Republican thinking about GOP candidates in the next presidential election:
Sarah Palin, who grabbed 22.2 percent of the vote in the poll, is more popular in the East than anywhere else in the country. Interestingly, she has been described as a Western and Southern candidate, but our Zogby poll found that 25 percent of Easterners supported her. The West, in fact, gave her the lowest figure — 20 percent.
Palin is not as strong with 65-plus voters — her percentage there dropped to 19.7 percent. She seems to be popular with younger voters, with 23 percent of those between ages 18 and 29 supporting her.
Newt Gingrich came in at 12.4 percent, but he seems to skew with stronger support among males, 14 percent, while female Republican voters gave him 11 percent.
Palin skews favorably with women, with 23.3 percent of Republican women supporting her compared to 21 percent of Republican men. She also does very well in the 55-to-69 demographic group, where 24 percent of Republicans back her. That number drops dramatically to just 14 percent in the 70-plus group.
Mike Huckabee seems to be a favorite of black Republicans, garnering 24.2 percent of the vote, more than any other candidate in the field.
Palin draws exceedingly well with born-again and Evangelical Christians, pulling a strong 28.4 percent of their vote. She also gets strong support from less educated voters — 28.6 percent of those who said they did not have a college degree voted for her, while those with a college degree gave her just 18.5 percent.
Mitt Romney had consistently strong poll numbers across all demographic groups. Interestingly, although he is a Mormon, he led the pack among Catholic voters, even beating out Palin, 23.6 percent to 21.1 percent. Romney also seems to be very favorably viewed by Jewish Republicans, gaining a remarkable 32 percent of their support.
Geographically, Palin is very strong in small cities, 27.4 percent, and rural areas, 27.8 percent. Romney, on the other hand, is very strong in large cities, with 22.8 percent of the vote, and in suburbs with 22.3 percent.
Other possible GOP candidates included in the poll were Scott Brown, Jeb Bush, David Petraeus, and Tim Pawlenty.
Sunday, February 07, 2010
This is insane - right?
A national health care plan that is laid out on one page as against 2400 pages? What!?
Saturday, February 06, 2010
No, raising taxes is not the answer - giving free health care to everyone certainly is not the answer or taxing the rich.
Let's get real - time is running out. Time to take responsibility for what is about to happen. We, each one of us, has the power to make a difference by voting to change the system in such a way as to secure a future for our families and there by the entire country.
Learn more and vote responsibly!
WHAT COSTS $282 MILLION AN HOUR?
Source: Editorial, "What Costs $282 Million an Hour?" Wall Street Journal, February 4, 2010; and Peter Landers, "Public Health Tab to Hit Milestone," Wall Street Journal, February 4, 2010
The United States spent $2.472 trillion on health care last year, according to a paper published this week in the journal Health Affairs. That's $282 million an hour, says the Wall Street Journal.
Health spending as a percent of gross domestic product (GDP) -- a key metric that shows how much of all U.S. spending goes to health care -- rose from 16.2 percent in 2008 to 17.3 percent in 2009, far higher than any other industrialized country. That's the largest one-year increase since 1960, when the feds started closely tracking national health expenditures.
The figure went up so much because health spending continued to rise, even as the overall economy shrank. The aging population accounted for a small part of this rise, but two other factors were more important:
rising prices and increasing use, says the Journal:
Health care prices rose by 3.2 percent in 2009, according to the Health Affairs paper, significantly faster than prices rose for the overall economy. Utilization, which includes both volume and intensity of health care services, rose by 1.5 percent.
The share of health care spending paid for by the government (through programs such as Medicare and Medicaid) is also rising, and is projected to cross the 50 percent threshold soon.
For the first time, government programs next year will account for more than half of all U.S. health care spending, federal actuaries predict, as the weak economy sends more people into Medicaid and slows growth of private insurance, says the Journal:
Over the next 10 years, health spending is expected to balloon to $4.5 trillion.
Government health programs are a growing burden on the federal budget, which is running annual deficits of more than $1 trillion, and rising health costs continue to batter private industry.
By 2020, according to the new projections, about one in five dollars spent in the United States will go to health care, a proportion far beyond any other industrialized nation.
"It's going to be a desperate issue five to 10 years out," says Gail Wilensky, the former top Medicare official in the George H.W. Bush administration. She says the United States will have to decide soon between raising revenue to pay for Medicare or reducing benefits.
Friday, February 05, 2010
What exactly do we call a government with a philosophy that " - - stands for centralized autocratic - - government"?
In case you missed it, on a recent Glenn Beck Show, he had a graph that illustrated the percentage of each past president's cabinet who had worked in the private business sector prior to their appointment to the cabinet. You know what the private business sector is... a real life businesses, not a government job. Here are the percentages presented by Glen Beck.
Wilson ..................... 52%
Hoover ................... 42%
F. Roosevelt............. 50%
GH Bush................. .51%
Clinton .................. 39%
GW Bush................ 55%
And the winner of the Chicken Dinner is..............Obama................. 8% !!!
Yep! That’s right! Only Eight Percent!!!..the least by far of the last 19 presidents!! And these people are trying to tell our big corporations how to run their business? They know what's best for GM...Chrysler... Wall Street... and you and me?
How can the president of a major nation and society....the one with the most successful economic system in world history.... stand and talk about business when he's never worked for one?.. or about jobs when he has never really had one ?? !
And neither has 92% of his senior staff and closest advisers.! They've spent most of their time in academia, government and/or non-profit jobs.....or as "community organizers" ..when they should have been in an employment line.
MAY GOD HELP US THROUGH THIS TRIAL!!
Watch and then you decide!
Thursday, February 04, 2010
The problem with all this wishful thinking is will the Republicans and Conservatives turn over a new leaf and stand on principles, or will they do as they have done in the past, cave to the powers in Washington that want them to be just like everyone else, corrupt.
I have a bad feeling about all this as I don't trust the Republicans to act any differently than they have in the past - once in office, they want to be just like everyone else. They want to be liked so much by everyone and to get along, they abandoned their core principles to become whores for the Democrats.
Government union members now outnumber private for the first time.
It's now official: In 2009 the number of unionized workers who work for the government surpassed those in the private economy for the first time. This milestone explains a lot about modern American politics, in particular the paradox that union clout with Democrats has increased even as fewer workers belong to unions overall.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported recently that 51.4% of America's 15.4 million union members, or about 7.91 million workers, were employed by the government in 2009. As recently as 1980, there were more than twice as many private as public union members. But private union membership has continued to decline, even as unions have organized more public employees. The nearby chart shows the historical trend.[1unions]
Overall unionism keeps declining, however, with the loss of 771,000 union jobs amid last year's recession. Only one in eight workers (12.3%) now belongs to a union, with private union employment hitting a record low of 7.2% of all jobs, down from 7.6% in 2008. Only one in 13 U.S. workers in the private economy pays union dues. In government, by contrast, the union employee share rose to 37.4% from 36.8% the year before.
In private industries, union workers are subject to the vagaries of the marketplace and economic growth. Thus in 2009 10.1% of private union jobs were eliminated, which was more than twice the 4.4% rate of overall private job losses. On the other hand, government unions offer what is close to lifetime job security and benefits, subject only to gross dereliction of duty.
Once a city or state's workers are organized by a union, the jobs almost never go away. This means government is the main playing field of modern unionism, which explains why the AFL-CIO and SEIU have become advocates for higher taxes and government expansion in cities, states and Washington.
Unions once saw their main task as negotiating a bigger share of an individual firm's profits. Now the movement's main goal is securing a larger share of the overall private economy's wealth, which means pitting government employees against middle-class taxpayers. And as union membership has grown in government, so has union clout in pushing politicians (especially but not solely Democrats) for higher wages and benefits. This is why labor chiefs Andy Stern (SEIU) and Rich Trumka (AFL-CIO) could order Democrats to exempt unions from ObamaCare's tax increase on high-cost health insurance plans.
To the extent Democrats have become the party of government, they have become ever more beholden to public unions. The problem for democracy is that this creates a self-reinforcing cycle of higher spending and taxes. The unions help elect politicians, who repay the unions with more pay and benefits and dues-paying members, who in turn help to re-elect those politicians. ( Slickster Highlite)
The political scientists Fred Siegel and Dan DiSalvo recently wrote in the Weekly Standard about the 2006 example of former New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine shouting to a rally of 10,000 public workers that "We will fight for a fair contract." Mr. Corzine was supposed to be on the other side of the bargaining table representing /taxpayers/, not labor.
From time to time, usually requiring a fiscal crisis, middle-class taxpayers in the private economy will revolt enough to check this vicious political cycle. (See Scott Brown.) But sooner or later, the unions regain their political advantage because taxpayers have other concerns while unions have the most to gain or lose.This is why most Democrats once opposed public-sector unionism.
Such 20th-century liberal heroes as New York Mayor Fiorella LaGuardia and Franklin Roosevelt believed fervently in industrial unions. But they believed public employees had a special social obligation and could too easily exploit their monopoly position. How right they were.
As we can see from the desperate economic and fiscal woes of California, New Jersey, New York and other states with dominant public unions, this has become a major problem for the U.S. economy and small-d democratic governance. It may be the single biggest problem. The agenda for American political reform needs to include the breaking of public unionism's power to capture an ever-larger share of private income.
Wednesday, February 03, 2010
I believe he is showing us just how he wants to make government the absolute controlling factor in our lives. Of course, that is, what lives we will have left after he accomplishes this won't be worth spit anyway, so what will it matter.
IF JOBS ARE JOB ONE: FIRST, DO NO HARM
Source: Josh Barro, "If Jobs Are Job One: First, Do No Harm," Investor's Business Daily, January 29, 2010.
The president could spur investment and job creation if he would calm the market's nervousness about policy changes. He should take steps to reassure markets about his intentions on taxes, health care and carbon, so investors do not have to speculate about what the government will do to their future profits, says Josh Barro, a Senior Fellow with the Manhattan Institute.
The clearest opportunity is on tax policy, says Barro:
President Obama has already made clear that he intends to let the Bush tax cuts for high earners sunset next year, restoring a top income-tax rate of 39.6 percent. But that's a floor -- investors don't know how high tax rates could go; for example, the House health care bill would take the top rate to 45 percent and also raise taxes on capital income.
Obama should announce that he will veto any bill that raises income taxes higher than Clinton-era levels, so investors and small- business people have clear expectations about how they will be taxed.
It would be best to also maintain the 15 percent capital gains tax set in 2003; but even a firm commitment to a 20 percent rate -- again, the Clinton-era level -- would provide valuable certainty.
The health care bill is also a source of market uncertainty, says Barro:
The primary risks to employment from the health care bill come from damaging tax provisions and potential increases in employee insurance costs.
So long as he holds the line on tax and cost-control measures -- essentially, insisting that the Senate bill remain as untouched as possible, with principal reliance on an insurance premiums tax instead of new income taxes -- Obama can greatly reduce investor nervousness (calming the restive electorate is a separate matter).
On carbon regulation, Obama should admit the obvious -- cap-and-trade is politically radioactive until the economy improves -- and put it on the shelf. Climate change is a long-range problem, and there is no need to attack it during a major recession when the electorate is least receptive to energy taxes.
We've heard enough about what the government will do to "create jobs." If President Obama really wants to spur job creation, he must start making promises about what the government will not do, says Barro.
Tuesday, February 02, 2010
Waiting to Exhale - Surprise! You’re a polluter.
Dave Hoopman (Wisconsin Energy Cooperative News)
"How about if we sue you for breathing,” The Wall Street Journal asked in a December 2009 editorial. Of course the idea seems absurd, but that’s not the same thing as saying prudent persons or businesses would bet their futures that the U.S. legal system is incapable of producing absurd results.
Since the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) almost a year ago made clear its intention to declare carbon dioxide—the stuff we all exhale—a dangerous pollutant that threatens human health and welfare, federal appeals courts have shown themselves willing to entertain litigation that validates the logic of the Journal’s rhetorical question.
Twice in recent months, appellate courts have revived lawsuits with potential consequences ranging from an impact on the cost and reliability of electricity to monetary damages that would ultimately be paid by all consumers, based on a finding that someone’s emissions of carbon dioxide—not necessarily those of the defendants—could have caused or might eventually cause harm to plaintiffs or their interests.
Something Special from Wisconsin
When new uses were being invented for an old legal concept, Wisconsin was in on the ground floor. Six years ago this July, then-Wisconsin Attorney General Peg Lautenschlager joined Richard Blumenthal, still Connecticut’s attorney general, and six other A-Gs in a federal lawsuit alleging five of the nation’s largest electricity producers had created a “public nuisance” by allowing their power plants to emit carbon dioxide.
Named as defendants were Xcel Energy and four other utilities (only Xcel operates in Wisconsin) serving a total of 20 states. Lautenschlager got out a press release claiming the emissions threatened Wisconsin with “increased ozone and respiratory illness, more heat-related deaths and ailments, debilitated winter sports and tourist economy, reduced natural fishery stocks, decimated forests, lowered water levels in our Great Lakes…and intensified catastrophic droughts, storms, and floods…”
In September 2005 federal Judge Loretta Preska of the Southern District of New York decided the A-Gs were asking her court to rule on questions outside its authority. In her dismissal, Preska called the issues “transcendently legislative” and said the suit presented “non-justiciable political questions that are consigned to the political branches, not the judiciary.”
The following month, lead plaintiff Blumenthal said Preska should have asserted greater judicial powers rather than leave the environmental policy decision to elected legislators. He and his fellow A-Gs appealed, asking the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit to compel the five utilities to cap their CO2 emissions and then reduce them by an unspecified percentage annually for 10 years. Just over one year later with the appeal still pending, Wisconsin voters retired Lautenschlager.
Forgotten but not Gone
Until last September nothing more was heard of the lawsuit. Then, almost exactly four years after Preska’s dismissal, the Second Circuit reinstated the case. Wisconsin remains a plaintiff.
In an opinion that came close to saying the problem cited by Preska can’t occur, the appeals court wrote, “Given the checks and balances among the three branches of our government, the judiciary can no more usurp executive and legislative prerogatives than it can decline to decide matters within its jurisdiction simply because such matters may have political ramifications.”
Within days, Law Seminars International (LSI), a private-sector Seattle firm offering legal education and specializing in regulatory issues, was marketing a “telebriefing” on the case, saying its implications could spread far beyond the 20 states and five utilities originally sued.
Painting a picture of regulatory chaos, LSI claimed a decision favoring the plaintiffs “could result in numerous federal judges each setting different emission caps and reduction schedules for various groups of defendants.”
Obviously LSI has a commercial interest, but it’s undeniable that barely more than three weeks after the Second Circuit’s order, another federal appeals court breathed new life into a CO2 lawsuit previously dismissed.
Last October 16, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit ruled that District Judge Louis Guirola erred in his 2007 dismissal of a suit brought by a group of Mississippi property owners.
The plaintiffs accused some two-dozen defendants, including oil companies and electric utilities, of emitting carbon dioxide that intensified Hurricane Katrina, making its damage to their properties worse than it otherwise would have been.
Pushing the Judicial Envelope
Hearing transcripts quote District Judge Guirola saying the suit amounts to a “debate” about global warming “which has no place in this court until Congress enacts legislation which sets appropriate standards by which this court can measure conduct…and develops standards by which…juries can adjudicate facts and apply the law.” Guirola said the plaintiffs were “asking the court to develop those standards, and it is something that this court is simply not empowered to do.”
But the Fifth Circuit thought the court was empowered to hear the case. The defendants maintain it’s impossible to show their lawful actions harmed specific plaintiffs but the Fifth Circuit framed the issue, “not as an inquiry into whether a defendant’s pollutants are the sole cause of an injury but rather whether ‘the pollutant causes or contributes to the kinds of injuries alleged by the plaintiffs.’”
The plaintiffs cannot expect an easy win. Abundant research over the past few years has debunked the supposed link between global warming and more frequent, stronger storms. In January 2008, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) published findings that warmer ocean temperatures worldwide tend to increase vertical wind shear, reducing the intensity of developing storms.
The court did not weigh the damage claims, saying, “Plaintiffs will be required to support these assertions at later stages in the litigation, [but] at this pleading stage we must take these allegations as true.”
Who’s on the Hook?
Big, plump, and to many people unsympathetic targets are the common thread connecting the 2004 nuisance suit and the Katrina case, but the reasoning in last October’s LSI promotion and in The Wall Street Journal editorial is that nothing says it will stay this way: Anyone could become a defendant.
In fact, the Journal echoed LSI’s warning about defendants being held to unpredictable standards, saying, “The courts would become a venue for a carbon war of all against all,” adding, “Judges would decide the remedies against specific defendants,” meaning “ad hoc command-and-control regulation” that could vary from one judicial district or lifetime-appointed federal judge to another.
The Journal quoted attorney David Rivkin’s friend-of-the-court brief in the Katrina case, saying, “There is no logical reason to draw the line at 30 defendants as opposed to 50, or 500, or even 10,000 defendants. These plaintiffs—and any others alleging injury by climatic phenomena—would have standing to assert a damages claim against virtually every entity and individual on the planet, since each ‘contributes’ to global concentrations of carbon dioxide.”We may be small-time polluters, but as long as we keep exhaling, polluters we are—in the eyes of the law.—
Obama will do what ever it takes to strangle our industries with high priced energy to bring down our economy. This is historic.
(This from the Wall Street Journal)
Obama Underwrites Offshore Drilling
Too bad it's not in U.S. waters.
You read that headline correctly. Unfortunately, the Obama Administration is financing oil exploration off Brazil.
The U.S. is going to lend billions of dollars to Brazil's state-owned oil company, Petrobras, to finance exploration of the huge offshore discovery in Brazil's Tupi oil field in the Santos Basin near Rio de Janeiro.
Brazil's planning minister confirmed that White House National Security Adviser James Jones met this month with Brazilian officials to talk about the loan.
The U.S. Export-Import Bank tells us it has issued a "preliminary commitment" letter to Petrobras in the amount of $2 billion and has discussed with Brazil the possibility of increasing that amount. Ex-Im Bank says it has not decided whether the money will come in the form of a direct loan or loan guarantees. Either way, this corporate foreign aid may strike some readers as odd, given that the U.S. Treasury seems desperate for cash and Petrobras is one of the largest corporations in the Americas.
But look on the bright side. If President Obama has embraced offshore drilling in Brazil, why not in the old U.S.A.? The land of the sorta free and the home of the heavily indebted has enormous offshore oil deposits, and last year ahead of the November elections, with gasoline at $4 a gallon, Congress let a ban on offshore drilling expire.
The Bush Administration's five-year plan (2007-2012) to open the outer continental shelf to oil exploration included new lease sales in the Gulf of Mexico. But in 2007 environmentalists went to court to block drilling in Alaska and in April a federal court ruled in their favor.
In May, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said his department was unsure whether that ruling applied only to Alaska or all offshore drilling. So it asked an appeals court for clarification. Late last month the court said the earlier decision applied only to Alaska, opening the way for the sale of leases in the Gulf. Mr. Salazar now says the sales will go forward on August 19.
This is progress, however slow. But it still doesn't allow the U.S. to explore in Alaska or along the East and West Coasts, which could be our equivalent of the Tupi oil fields, which are set to make Brazil a leading oil exporter. Americans are right to wonder why Mr. Obama is underwriting in Brazil what he won't allow at home.
His intentions are clear - he wants to destroy the American dream of personal freedom and accomplishment, and install his own dream of what America should look like, an America of total dependency.
His vision is - all citizens must be dependent on the government for everything. He, of course, will be the supreme leader for life.
An economics professor at a local college made a statement that he had never failed a single student before, but had once failed an entire class. That class had insisted that Obama's socialism worked and that no one would be poor and no one would be rich, a great equalizer.
The professor then said, "OK, we will have an experiment in this class on Obama's plan". All grades would be averaged and everyone would receive the same grade so no one would fail and no one would receive an A....
After the first test, the grades were averaged and everyone got a B.
The students who studied hard were upset and the students who studied little were happy. As the second test rolled around, the students who studied little had studied even less and the ones who studied hard decided they wanted a free ride too so they studied little. The second test average was a D!
No one was happy.
When the 3rd test rolled around, the average was an F.
The scores never increased as bickering, blame and name-calling all resulted in hard feelings and no one would study for the benefit of anyone else.
All failed, to their great surprise, and the professor told them that socialism would also ultimately fail because when the reward is great, the effort to succeed is great but when government takes all the reward away, no one will try or want to succeed. Could not be any simpler than that.
Remember, there is a mid-term election in 2010! Do not fall asleep and believe some one else will do the heavy lifting - you must decide the fate of our country!
Monday, February 01, 2010
I guarantee the rewards are enormous.
(Great story here and words of wisdom - author unknown)
to go for a joyride.
to be pure ecstasy.
nuzzle them gently.