Tuesday, November 30, 2010
I'm always amazed at the thinking of these people - it's like they never venture outside of their respective little worlds that they live in from the day they are elected until they are tossed out into the street trying to be reelected, and then they still wonder how did this happen.
Something else to think about as well, who has been in charge of these states, and who has made all of the great decisions in Washington that have caused this economic disaster? hmmmm
The "Build America" Debt Bomb
Source: Steven Malanga, "The 'Build America' Debt Bomb," Wall Street Journal, November 22, 2010.
Build America Bonds (BABs) were created as part of the stimulus bill to re-energize the municipal bond market, which contracted sharply in late 2008, says Steven Malanga, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute. States and cities jumped deeply into this new market.
California alone has issued some $21 billion in BABs, mostly as a substitute for its general obligation debt to support everything from school construction to sewer projects.
New Jersey has used up to $500 million to recapitalize its depleted transportation trust fund.
Columbus, Ohio, issued $131 million in BABs to start construction of a downtown convention hotel.
In Dallas, Texas, when no private operator would finance a new convention hotel, the city went ahead with a government-subsidized hotel, courtesy of $388 million in BABs.
But the BAB program hasn't been the unqualified success its advocates claim, says Malanga.
Indeed, in June, based on the cost of insurance contracts, CMA Datavision listed California and Illinois among the 10 biggest government default risks in the world. Illinois was at greater risk of default than Iraq. Yet thanks to the BAB subsidy, Illinois was still able to borrow some $300 million in bonds by offering a 7.1 percent interest rate.
Meanwhile, investors are realizing that states and localities face long-term costs in addition to their muni debt, especially retirement obligations.
Joshua Rauh of Northwestern University and Robert Novy-Marx of the University of Rochester assess the 50 states' unfunded pension bill at $3 trillion, and they say that the municipal tab for pensions could reach $500 billion. That is on top of some $2.8 trillion in outstanding state and local borrowing, according to the Federal Reserve.
Monday, November 29, 2010
States have lost their collective minds, but then it seems it's a national trend.
Raise Payroll Taxes to Repay Loans
Source: Sara Murray, "States Raise Payroll Taxes to Repay Loans," Wall Street Journal, November 20, 2010.
State governments are borrowing heavily from the federal government to keep paying unemployment insurance benefits and, even with the weak job market, most states are raising payroll taxes to pay off the loans, says the Wall Street Journal. Thirty-one states have borrowed nearly $41 billion from the federal government.
California alone has borrowed nearly $8.8 billion as of mid-November, according to the Labor Department.
As states try to replenish the funds and begin to repay the loans, employers are facing increases in state and federal payroll taxes, a potential barrier to new hiring.
A National Employment Law Project analysis found 41 states increased unemployment insurance payroll taxes this year by an average of nearly 33.9 percent. The largest was a 168.5 percent boost from 2009 in Hawaii.
Payroll taxes levied by states fund unemployment benefits for up to 26 weeks -- longer in some states. The federal government requires states to pay benefits even if their unemployment funds run out of cash, says the Journal. In certain circumstances, Washington will increase its tax on companies in states that aren't repaying loans from Washington.
Employers in as many as 26 states will face tax increases of between $21 and $84 per employee per year if their state governments don't repay Washington by November 2011. Employers in Michigan are already paying the added fee.
Well if you ever thought that maybe sports drinks don't work, then you haven't had the right drink - and if this video doesn't change your mind, then nothing will.
The psychology that is built into the drink is profound. All you need is to believe. Really. Enjoy!!
Sunday, November 28, 2010
Finally a common sense approach to airport security.
Taking Flight: The Israelis are developing an airport security device that eliminates the privacy concerns that come with full-body scanners at the airports
It's an armored booth you step into that will not X-ray you, but will detonate any explosive device you may have on your person. Israel sees this as a win-win situation for everyone, with none of this crap about racial profiling.
It will also eliminate the costs of a long and expensive trial. You're in the airport terminal and you hear a muffled explosion. Shortly thereafter, an announcement: "Attention standby passengers - we now have a seat available on flight 6709. Shalom!"
These individuals are among us and we know who they are, and we are jealous to some extend of their ability to manipulate the system to get ahead without due diligence to the historic form of intelligent enterprise and hard work. And sometimes we are used by these people as stepping stones for their success. Not a pleasant situation as many of us will attest.
But in the end, most system crashers will be found out and derailed. Some will succeed, of course, and rule us all, much to the detriment of society.
What makes up 100% in life?
Here's an analysis that provides the answer.
If A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z is represented as:
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26.
Then: K-N-O-W-L-E-D-G-E = 11+14+15+23+12+5+4+7+5 = 96%
And, H-A-R-D-W-O-R-K = 8+1+18+4+23+15+18+11 = 98%
And, A-T-T-I-T-U-D-E = 1+20+20+9+20+21+4+5 = 100%
However, B-U-L-L-S-H-I-T = 2+21+12+12+19+8+9+20 = 103%
And, A-S-S-K-I-S-S-I-N-G = 1+19+19+11+9+19+19+9+14+7 = 118%
So, one can conclude with mathematical certainty, that while hard work and knowledge will get you close, attitude will get you there. However, bullshit and ass kissing will put you over the top.
Saturday, November 27, 2010
Mystery Surrounds Cyber Missile That Crippled Iran's Nuclear Weapons Ambitions
By Ed Barnes - FoxNews
In the 20th century, this would have been a job for James Bond.The mission: Infiltrate the highly advanced, securely guarded enemy headquarters where scientists in the clutches of an evil master are secretly building a weapon that can destroy the world. Then render that weapon harmless and escape undetected. But in the 21st century, Bond doesn't get the call. Instead, the job is handled by a suave and very sophisticated secret computer worm, a jumble of code called Stuxnet, which in the last year has not only crippled Iran's nuclear program but has caused a major rethinking of computer security around the globe.
Intelligence agencies, computer security companies and the nuclear industry have been trying to analyze the worm since it was discovered in June by a Belarus-based company that was doing business in Iran. And what they've all found, says Sean McGurk, the Homeland Security Department's acting director of national cyber security and communications integration, is a “game changer.”The construction of the worm was so advanced, it was “like the arrival of an F-35 into a World War I battlefield,” says Ralph Langner, the computer expert who was the first to sound the alarm about Stuxnet. Others have called it the first “weaponized” computer virus.
Simply put, Stuxnet is an incredibly advanced, undetectable computer worm that took years to construct and was designed to jump from computer to computer until it found the specific, protected control system that it aimed to destroy: Iran’s nuclear enrichment program.
The target was seemingly impenetrable; for security reasons, it lay several stories underground and was not connected to the World Wide Web. And that meant Stuxnet had to act as sort of a computer cruise missile: As it made its passage through a set of unconnected computers, it had to grow and adapt to security measures and other changes until it reached one that could bring it into the nuclear facility. When it ultimately found its target, it would have to secretly manipulate it until it was so compromised it ceased normal functions. And finally, after the job was done, the worm would have to destroy itself without leaving a trace. That is what we are learning happened at Iran's nuclear facilities -- both at Natanz, which houses the centrifuge arrays used for processing uranium into nuclear fuel, and, to a lesser extent, at Bushehr, Iran's nuclear power plant.
At Natanz, for almost 17 months, Stuxnet quietly worked its way into the system and targeted a specific component -- the frequency converters made by the German equipment manufacturer Siemans that regulated the speed of the spinning centrifuges used to create nuclear fuel. The worm then took control of the speed at which the centrifuges spun, making them turn so fast in a quick burst that they would be damaged but not destroyed. And at the same time, the worm masked that change in speed from being discovered at the centrifuges' control panel.
At Bushehr, meanwhile, a second secret set of codes, which Langner called “digital warheads,” targeted the Russian-built power plant's massive steam turbine. Here's how it worked, according to experts who have examined the worm:
--The nuclear facility in Iran runs an “air gap” security system, meaning it has no connections to the Web, making it secure from outside penetration. Stuxnet was designed and sent into the area around Iran's Natanz nuclear power plant -- just how may never be known -- to infect a number of computers on the assumption that someone working in the plant would take work home on a flash drive, acquire the worm and then bring it back to the plant.--Once the worm was inside the plant, the next step was to get the computer system there to trust it and allow it into the system. That was accomplished because the worm contained a “digital certificate” stolen from JMicron, a large company in an industrial park in Taiwan. (When the worm was later discovered it quickly replaced the original digital certificate with another certificate, also stolen from another company, Realtek, a few doors down in the same industrial park in Taiwan.)
--Once allowed entry, the worm contained four “Zero Day” elements in its first target, the Windows 7 operating system that controlled the overall operation of the plant. Zero Day elements are rare and extremely valuable vulnerabilities in a computer system that can be exploited only once. Two of the vulnerabilities were known, but the other two had never been discovered. Experts say no hacker would waste Zero Days in that manner.
--After penetrating the Windows 7 operating system, the code then targeted the “frequency converters” that ran the centrifuges. To do that it used specifications from the manufacturers of the converters. One was Vacon, a Finnish Company, and the other Fararo Paya, an Iranian company. What surprises experts at this step is that the Iranian company was so secret that not even the IAEA knew about it.--The worm also knew that the complex control system that ran the centrifuges was built by Siemans, the German manufacturer, and -- remarkably -- how that system worked as well and how to mask its activities from it.
--Masking itself from the plant's security and other systems, the worm then ordered the centrifuges to rotate extremely fast, and then to slow down precipitously. This damaged the converter, the centrifuges and the bearings, and it corrupted the uranium in the tubes. It also left Iranian nuclear engineers wondering what was wrong, as computer checks showed no malfunctions in the operating system.
Estimates are that this went on for more than a year, leaving the Iranian program in chaos. And as it did, the worm grew and adapted throughout the system. As new worms entered the system, they would meet and adapt and become increasingly sophisticated.
During this time the worms reported back to two servers that had to be run by intelligence agencies, one in Denmark and one in Malaysia. The servers monitored the worms and were shut down once the worm had infiltrated Natanz. Efforts to find those servers since then have yielded no results.
This went on until June of last year, when a Belarusan company working on the Iranian power plant in Beshehr discovered it in one of its machines. It quickly put out a notice on a Web network monitored by computer security experts around the world. Ordinarily these experts would immediately begin tracing the worm and dissecting it, looking for clues about its origin and other details.
But that didn’t happen, because within minutes all the alert sites came under attack and were inoperative for 24 hours.“I had to use e-mail to send notices but I couldn’t reach everyone. Whoever made the worm had a full day to eliminate all traces of the worm that might lead us them,” Eric Byers, a computer security expert who has examined the Stuxnet. “No hacker could have done that.”
Experts, including inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency, say that, despite Iran's claims to the contrary, the worm was successful in its goal: causing confusion among Iran’s nuclear engineers and disabling their nuclear program. Because of the secrecy surrounding the Iranian program, no one can be certain of the full extent of the damage. But sources inside Iran and elsewhere say that the Iranian centrifuge program has been operating far below its capacity and that the uranium enrichment program had “stagnated” during the time the worm penetrated the underground facility. Only 4,000 of the 9,000 centrifuges Iran was known to have were put into use. Some suspect that is because of the critical need to replace ones that were damaged. And the limited number of those in use dwindled to an estimated 3,700 as problems engulfed their operation.
IAEA inspectors say the sabotage better explains the slowness of the program, which they had earlier attributed to poor equipment manufacturing and management problems. As Iranians struggled with the setbacks, they began searching for signs of sabotage. From inside Iran there have been unconfirmed reports that the head of the plant was fired shortly after the worm wended its way into the system and began creating technical problems, and that some scientists who were suspected of espionage disappeared or were executed.
And counter intelligence agents began monitoring all communications between scientists at the site, creating a climate of fear and paranoia.
Iran has adamantly stated that its nuclear program has not been hit by the bug. But in doing so it has backhandedly confirmed that its nuclear facilities were compromised. When Hamid Alipour, head of the nation’s Information Technology Company, announced in September that 30,000 Iranian computers had been hit by the worm but the nuclear facilities were safe, he added that among those hit were the personal computers of the scientists at the nuclear facilities. Experts say that Natanz and Bushehr could not have escaped the worm if it was in their engineers’ computers.“We brought it into our lab to study it and even with precautions it spread everywhere at incredible speed,” Byres said.
“The worm was designed not to destroy the plants but to make them ineffective. By changing the rotation speeds, the bearings quickly wear out and the equipment has to be replaced and repaired. The speed changes also impact the quality of the uranium processed in the centrifuges creating technical problems that make the plant ineffective,” he explained. In other words the worm was designed to allow the Iranian program to continue but never succeed, and never to know why.
One additional impact that can be attributed to the worm, according to David Albright of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, is that “the lives of the scientists working in the facility have become a living hell because of counter-intelligence agents brought into the plant” to battle the breach. Ironically, even after its discovery, the worm has succeeded in slowing down Iran's reputed effort to build an atomic weapon. And Langer says that the efforts by the Iranians to cleanse Stuxnet from their system “will probably take another year to complete,” and during that time the plant will not be able to function anywhere normally.
But as the extent of the worm’s capabilities is being understood, its genius and complexity has created another perplexing question: Who did it? Speculation on the worm’s origin initially focused on hackers or even companies trying to disrupt competitors. But as engineers tore apart the virus they learned not only the depth of the code, its complex targeting mechanism, (despite infecting more than 100,000 computers it has only done damage at Natanz,) the enormous amount of work that went into it—Microsoft estimated that it consumed 10,000 man days of labor-- and about what the worm knew, the clues narrowed the number of players that have the capabilities to create it to a handful.
“This is what nation-states build, if their only other option would be to go to war,” Joseph Wouk, an Israeli security expert wrote.
Byers is more certain. “It is a military weapon,” he said. And much of what the worm “knew” could only have come from a consortium of Western intelligence agencies, experts who have examined the code now believe.
Originally, all eyes turned toward Israel’s intelligence agencies. Engineers examining the worm found “clues” that hinted at Israel’s involvement. In one case they found the word “Myrtus” embedded in the code and argued that it was a reference to Esther, the biblical figure who saved the ancient Jewish state from the Persians. But computer experts say "Myrtus" is more likely a common reference to “My RTUS,” or remote terminal units. Langer argues that no single Western intelligence agency had the skills to pull this off alone.
The most likely answer, he says, is that a consortium of intelligence agencies worked together to build the cyber bomb. And he says the most likely confederates are the United States, because it has the technical skills to make the virus, Germany, because reverse-engineering Sieman’s product would have taken years without it, and Russia, because of its familiarity with both the Iranian nuclear plant and Sieman’s systems.
There is one clue that was left in the code that may tell us all we need to know. Embedded in different section of the code is another common computer language reference, but this one is misspelled. Instead of saying “DEADFOOT,” a term stolen from pilots meaning a failed engine, this one reads “DEADFOO7.”Yes, OO7 has returned -- as a computer worm.
Stuxnet. Shaken, not stirred.
Friday, November 26, 2010
One would think that things just can't get any worse and then they do - how did all this happen? Who is responsible for getting these monsters into positions of power? America is looking more and more like Venezuela all the time. After all, Obama and Hugo Chavez are buds, right? Remember the hand butt and the big smiles. Who Knew?
What's Good for New GM Is Bad for the Rest of America
Soruce: John Berlau, "What's Good for New GM Is Bad for the Rest of America," OpenMarket.org, November 17, 2010.
The measure of success of the General Motors (GM) bailout should not be how fast GM emerged from bankruptcy, but the degree to which contracts are honored in an impartial process. By this measure, the bailout/takeover is a complete failure, says John Berlau, director of the Center for Investors and Entrepreneurs at the Competitive Enterprise Institute.
The bankruptcy courts rubber-stamped a reorganization plan designed by Obama's "Team Auto" officials that disregarded two centuries of bankruptcy precedent to massively favor the United Auto Workers (UAW) over bondholders.
As a result, according to several prominent business academics, the cost of capital will likely experience a significant rise for all U.S. businesses and entrepreneurs who wish to form new firms.
A look at the disproportionate equity stakes received by the UAW shows the depth of the bondholder robbery that took place. As described by Ross Kaminsky of the Heartland Institute and Rossputin blog:
The UAW will own 75 percent more of the new GM than the investors holding $27 billion of debt to the existing company, even though GM's own bankruptcy filing shows that the "employee obligations" to the UAW are billions of dollars less than the debt owed to bondholders.
Bondholders will get 1/6th the ownership stake of the government despite having lent more than half as much money to GM.
What about the jobs saved? Numbers like "a million jobs" are thrown out, but no one knows what would have happened if the government would have stayed out, says Berlau.
In fact, as a whole, the auto rescue may result in net job losses, both because of the likely increase in the cost of capital from bondholder treatment, and because of the rapid shutdown of auto dealers that has cost tens of thousands of jobs. In other words, the sales forces didn't have the clout with the Obama administration that the UAW has.
Thursday, November 25, 2010
Of course, there other states that have fallen under the mantra of 'income redistribution' and entitlements as a way of life, but they to are going begging for handouts from the taxpayers. See this begging as just another form of entitlement - once a beggar, always a beggar. It's a way of life in the progressive liberal mindset.
As Forbes points out here, getting away from the crushing agenda of liberalism means prosperity for everyone.
California Suggests Suicide; Texas Asks: Can I Lend You a Knife?
Source: Joel Kotkin, "California Suggests Suicide; Texas Asks: Can I Lend You a Knife?" Forbes, November 15, 2010.
California has become a cautionary tale of mismanagement of what by all rights should be the country's most prosperous big state. Texas' trajectory, however, looks quite the opposite, says Forbes.
California was recently ranked by Chief Executive Magazine as having the worst business climate in the nation, while Texas' was considered the best. Both Democrats and Republicans in the Lone Star State generally embrace the gospel of economic growth and limited public sector expenditure.
To be sure, Texas has its problems, but even conceding these problems, the growing chasm between the two megastates is evident in the economic and demographic numbers.
Over the past decade nearly 1.5 million more people left California than stayed; only New York lost more.
In contrast, Texas gained over 800,000 new migrants. In California, foreign immigration has slowed, while that to Texas has increased markedly over the decade.
A vast difference in economic performance is driving the demographic shifts, says Forbes.
Since 1998, California's economy has not produced a single new net job.
Critically, as Texas grew its middle-income jobs by 16 percent, one of the highest rates in the nation, California, at 2.1 percent growth, ranked near the bottom. In the year ending September, Texas accounted for roughly half of all the new jobs created in the country.
Even more revealing is California's diminishing preeminence in high-tech and science-based jobs.
Over the past decade California's supposed bulwark grew a mere 2 percent -- less than half the national rate.
In contrast, Texas' tech-related employment surged 14 percent.
Since 2002 the Lone Star state added 80,000 tech and science jobs; California, a mere 17,000.
California still possesses the basic assets to restore its luster. But given its current political trajectory, you can count on Texas, and others, to keep picking up both the state's jobs and skilled workers.
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
One has to question just what are the motives of the green movement? Common sense says they have no idea what makes industry run and what it costs to keep it running. Do the 'greenies' know just how many people heat and cool their homes with fossil fuel electrical generation? Also, just who will take responsibility for the collapse of the economy if we all adapt the green energy agenda when it fails to support our needs?
There have been many article on this subject detailing how the 'green agenda' will fail and just who is actually behind the demands for more wind and solar and to stop searching for more fossil fuels in America. The result of these articles shows those that demand America to stop being exceptional are the same people that help destroy Europe in the late twentieth century.
Disarmament in America's Energy Security Battles
Source: Larry Bell, "Disarmament in America's Energy Security Battles," Forbes, November 18, 2010.
Development of abundant power and fuel sources is being restrained by regulatory headlocks in favor of much higher-cost "renewable" and "green" alternatives with relatively scant capacity prospects, says Larry Bell, a professor at the University of Houston.
The European Union, which like the United States relies heavily upon coal and oil, has found little salvation through enormous investments in renewable alternatives.
A report from Spain discredited the notion of wind power as a job creator, a claim touted by the Obama administration.
Researchers at King Juan Carlos University concluded that every "green" job created by the wind industry eliminated 2.2 jobs elsewhere in the Spanish economy. The researchers also found that when a government artificially props up the industry with subsidies, higher electrical costs (in Spain's case 31 percent) and tax hikes (5 percent) along with government debt follow.
Every job created was estimated to cost $800,000 to create, and 90 percent of these were temporary.
The researchers specifically presented lessons for the United States, warning that potential "self-inflicted wounds" could cost our country 6.6 million jobs if we follow Spain's example.
The European Commission has finally concluded that nuclear power offers the only clean energy solution that can avert a rapidly approaching energy crisis. Even formerly antinuclear Italy, weary of paying the highest electricity prices in Europe, plans to begin building nuclear plants, says Bell.
Long neglected, expansion of nuclear infrastructure development (which currently provides about 20 percent of U.S. power), is an inevitable priority here as well. Such initiatives are being hampered by regulatory and permitting processes, and also by a lack of safe waste storage accommodations.
Let's heed lessons from Europe's failed green adventures:
Develop all practical energy alternatives, but let free markets, not government, pick the winners, says Bell.
Tuesday, November 23, 2010
If the government is involved, rest assured it will cost more. We also can rely on the fact that what ever the government tells us it will be untrue, misleading or an out right lie.
It is imperative that the new people that are taking over in congress in January reestablish confidence. Without it we are doomed.
Postal Service Announces $8.5 Billion Loss
Source: Tad DeHaven, "Postal Service Announces $8.5 Billion Loss," Cato-at-Liberty.org, November 17, 2010.
The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) has announced a net loss of $8.5 billion for fiscal 2010. Since 2006, the USPS has lost $20 billion, and the organization is close to maxing out its $15 billion line of credit with the U.S. Treasury. Although the USPS has achieved some cost savings, they haven't been enough to overcome a large drop in revenue due to the recession and the greater use of electronic alternatives by the public, says Tad DeHaven, a budget analyst on federal and state budget issues for the Cato Institute.
The USPS is required to make substantial annual payments to prefund retiree health care benefits.
Last year, Congress allowed the USPS to postpone $4 billion of its fiscal 2009 into the future.
However, Congress did not provide similar relief on this year's required payment of $5.5 billion.
Critics of the retiree health care prefunding requirement argue that no other federal agencies or private companies face such obligations. The argument is largely irrelevant for two reasons. First, the federal government's financial practices are nothing to emulate. Second, very few private sector workers even receive retiree health care benefits.
In 2008, only 17 percent of private sector workers were employed at a business that offered health benefits to Medicare-eligible retirees, down from 28 percent in 1997. The actual number of private sector workers receiving these benefits is even lower, as not all employees employed at the 17 percent of businesses that offers retiree health benefits are eligible to receive them.
Policymakers should properly view the retiree health care benefit as a symbol of postal labor excess, which continues to weigh the USPS down like an anchor. Therefore, they should avoid allowing the USPS to further postpone these payments into the future, which could lead to a taxpayer bailout, says DeHaven.
The conventional wisdom among most liberal progressives is 'take from the productive and give to the unproductive'. This is nonsense - the productive are the way they are because they are smart and know how to protect themselves from others that are trying to steal from them, thus the mess we are in now.
Will our new government leaders have the will to make the right decision, time will tell. But I do have a lot of faith in Paul Ryan, the new guy in charge of setting the tone for the new budget. Maybe even the 84 new members of congress that rode in on the Tea Party wave will also make a difference.
The Truth about Entitlements
Source: Arnold Kling, "The Truth about Entitlements," Mercatus Center, November 2010.
Most Americans would be happier if the outlook for the budget could be taken care of without having to make major changes to entitlement programs. Certainly, politicians would have it easier if this were the case. Unfortunately, arithmetic and prudence imply a need to tackle entitlements, says Arnold Kling, an adjunct scholar with the Cato Institute.
Raising taxes on high earners (those in the top 1 percent of the income distribution) is not a reliable way to deal with the budget deficit. Increasing the effective tax rate requires much more than just raising marginal rates because individuals have the opportunity to shift income into forms that are taxed at lower rates.
Structural reforms to the tax system could reduce the ability of high earners to shelter income, but only with adverse effects on capital accumulation, entrepreneurship and risk taking.
In any case, even doubling the effective tax rate on high earners would not make the budget problem disappear. Broad-based tax increases, bringing rates in line with those seen in Europe, will only solve the budget problem if there is minimal response of labor supply.
However, there is notable evidence that higher taxes produce significant long-run reductions in hours spent engaging in market work, with households substituting home production for taxable labor.
Higher tax rates could result in a large loss in consumer well-being with little or no increase in government revenues.
Finally, it is true that we faced a higher ratio of debt to gross domestic product at the end of the Second World War. However, our current position does not resemble that of 1945, when we could look forward to sharp declines in government spending and large primary surpluses. Instead, the outlook over the next two decades is for increased spending and ever-widening primary deficits.
Certainly, if productivity growth greatly exceeds the 1.6 percent per year embedded in current projections, the prospects for the budget would be brighter. However, it is most prudent to align our promised entitlement benefits to realistic projections, not to optimistic hopes, says Kling.
Monday, November 22, 2010
It seems banks have learned the lessons of the past decade of insanity brought on by two lunatics from the liberal progressive left, Barney Frank and Cris Dodd.
The Federal Reserve's Quantitative Easing: Questions and Answers
Source: Robert McTeer, "The Federal Reserve's Quantitative Easing: Questions and Answers," National Center for Policy Analysis, November 19, 2010.
Recently, the Federal Reserve announced plans to resume monetary easing by purchasing $600 billion in U.S. Treasury bonds by June 2011. Bonds purchases give the sellers additional funds in their banks, which adds to banks' reserves and lending ability. The Fed's goal is to expand money and credit and thereby stimulate the economy, says Robert McTeer, a distinguished fellow at the National Center for Policy Analysis, former member of the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) and former president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.
If short-term interest rates are near zero, how is quantitative easing supposed to help?
The purchase of longer term Treasury bonds (as opposed to short-term Treasury bills) may put downward pressure on longer term interest rates. The Fed hopes that banks will use the new funds to lend more to businesses and consumers.
Didn't the Fed's balance sheet grow dramatically during the crisis, creating lots of bank reserves? How is that not inflationary?
It hasn't been inflationary so far because, with all the turmoil during the financial crisis and the erosion of bank capital, banks have become very cautious, raising their lending standards (even as loan demand has declined) and holding onto excess reserves. The reserves are excess in the sense that they exceed regulatory requirements, but they aren't necessarily excess in the minds of the bankers.
If the banks are awash in liquidity, or excess reserves, how is adding even more reserves through a second round of monetary easing going to make any difference?
It might not, but economic theory suggests that bank reserves, like most other things, have diminishing marginal utility. Thus, even if bankers get lots of utility or benefit from present holdings of reserves, even more reserves would add less and less to their utility relative to what could be exchanged for those reserves: namely, more loans and investments.
Sunday, November 21, 2010
Finally the pubic is beginning to see the insanity of big brother and they are rejecting it. The fight now for personal freedom is joined now by the even the man in the street. Thank you Obama!
Health Panel Brings Out Big Guns
Source: Christine McConville, "Health Panel Brings Out Big Guns," Boston Herald, November 17, 2010.
Massachusetts' health insurance connector -- the highly touted agency that aims to bring cheap medical care to the masses -- has turned into a legal pit bull by aggressively going after a growing number of Bay Staters who say they can't afford mandated insurance -- or the penalties imposed for not having it, says the Boston Herald.
The Commonwealth Health Insurance Connector Authority is cracking down on more than 3,000 residents who are fighting state fines, and has even hired a private law firm to force the health insurance scofflaws to pay penalties of up to $2,000 a year.
All told, more than 7,700 people have appealed state fines for not having health insurance.
The agency has hired several private attorneys at $50 an hour to hear many of the appeals, and some 3,150 of them have been denied -- and the losers told to pay up.
The connector has also hired the Hub law firm Bowman & Penski -- at $125 an hour -- to defend itself against 13 lawsuits filed by fed-up taxpayers who insist they can't afford state required insurance premiums or the escalating fines.
National watchdogs say the Bay State's battles with cash-strapped taxpayers foreshadow troubles on the horizon for the Obama administration's health care plan. "Every problem that Massachusetts is running into right now, the federal government will confront in 2014," says Michael Cannon, director of health policy studies at the Cato Institute in Washington, D.C.
Cannon predicts that more and more put-upon taxpayers will resist the law because insurance premiums will continue to skyrocket while incomes remain flat, says the Herald.
Saturday, November 20, 2010
But it's not just ethanol that uses our tax dollars to make it competitive, bio fuels, wind and solar are no better. This is crazy. Maybe not if one looks behind the scenes as to who stands to benifit from all this, politically and financially.
With Conservatives in control of the House of Representatives, it's time to stop this nonsense and return to what works and what this country needs to restore productivity and create jobs.
What we need is to drill for more of our own fossil fuels which drives over 50% of all of our manufacturing needs and supports over 90% of our domestic demands for energy. Also build two new nuclear power plants every year for the next twenty years is another way to stop our dependence on foreign energy sources.
Voters told these guys in Washington, it's time to get real - our entire country and way of life is at risk.
Let Ethanol Subsidies Die
Source: Ronald Bailey, "Let Ethanol Subsidies Die," Reason Magazine, November 16, 2010.
It's time to let ethanol subsidies die, says Ronald Bailey, Reason Magazine's science correspondent.
In 2004, the government started offering a tax credit worth 51 cents for each gallon of gasoline containing 10 percent ethanol. The 2008 farm bill lowered that credit slightly to 45 cents per gallon, but kept it going for another two years.
Meanwhile, diverting grain to ethanol production caused corn prices to soar, lining the pockets of corn growers and refiners while increasing food costs for humans and feed costs for animals.
The good news is that unless Congress acts, the $5 billion in annual subsidies to corn ethanol will expire at the end of the year. The bad news is that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) exacerbated the situation last month when it to raised the amount of ethanol that can be blended with gasoline from 10 percent to 15 percent for fueling late model cars.
The EPA boosted the amount of ethanol that can be blended with gasoline because the industry is currently producing 13 billion gallons. Since the United States consumed only 138 billion gallons of gasoline last year, that brings ethanol producers dangerously close to maxing out their market.
In the meantime, higher feed costs have driven farmers to cut their herds -- in July the number of beef cattle in the United States dropped to the fewest since 1973 and the number of breeding hogs fell to near the lowest level ever.
In addition, it turns out ethanol isn't so green after all. Even an analysis by the EPA found that current ethanol production techniques actually result in higher emissions of greenhouse gases than refining and burning ordinary gasoline.
Failing to make a compelling case for the environmental benefits of ethanol, advocates often fall back on claims about energy independence. But a recent analysis by Robert Bryce, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, finds that ethanol has not reduced U.S. oil imports, says Bailey.
Compare and contrast, if you can, just were you are today with what you see in these old slides of America in the early 40's.
Just how far have we come and have we actually gained any insight to how to live to our potential. I have my doubts.
Friday, November 19, 2010
Little wonder our public schools are failing across the country.
Real lessons can be leaned here from our neighbors to the north, freedom of choice is personal freedom to direct one's own destiny. We, in the lower 48, have a duty to make sure our legacy of freedom is not lost because we are to busy to care.
So at the next school board meeting when the unions demand more money, stand up and shout, 'enough already - get out of our way - leave us alone'.
School Choice in Canada: Lessons for America
Source: Mark Milke, "School Choice in Canada: Lessons for America," Heritage Foundation, November 8, 2010.
In Canada, the province of Alberta has long encouraged school choice. Historically, Alberta has had two school systems between which parents may choose: the "public" system and a "separate" system. Other Alberta choices include charter, private and French-language schools.
Homeschooling is encouraged and supported by the provincial government, and "blended" programs are available where children can take some courses at home and others at school. This large variety of educational choice has led to positive results.
In 2006, the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) placed Alberta's students second in the world (up from fourth) in science (the focus subject for the 2006 tests).
Alberta was also the only province whose overall science score, as well as each individual test score, was significantly higher than the Canadian average. In the two minor areas of study tested that year, reading and math, Alberta tied for third and fifth in the world, respectively. Immigrant children have scored equal to or better than native children -- a result that within Canada occurred only in Alberta and was a unique result for PISA.
The relevant lesson for American policymakers is that widespread educational choice has kept public schools more accountable, encouraged competition in the delivery of quality education, and entrenched a culture and expectation of school choice in Alberta.
Because of constitutional and other differences between the United States and Canada, several of Alberta's choice-based options would not translate into the context of American states. But the key aspect of Alberta's school system that can be copied anywhere is the climate of choice that the province has long encouraged.
American policymakers should consider:
Legislation that allows schools and school boards to create alternative education programs that emphasize a particular subject matter -- for example, some public schools that specialize in music, others in art.
Explicit legislative support for a wide variety of schooling options.
"Opt-out" provisions that allow parents to choose what subject matter their children will be exposed to when a question of conscience arises.
Thursday, November 18, 2010
The governors in Wisconsin and Ohio told Obama to stick his train where the sun doesn't shine. In Wisconsin the cost to maintain the train that would only go about 72 mph and have several stops between Milwaukee and Madison, and parallel the interstate where car are traveling 75 mph with out any stops, would be about 14 million a year. Oh wait, who will pay the overrun costs?
Also, the train would carry about one (1%) of the travelers that would normally use cars.
Given the debt load in most every state in the union now, accepting this money from Obama and the Marxist left is willing putting a rope around your own neck and then jumping off the platform. The best example of this is California. A total disaster. And who brought them this nightmare, decades of liberal Democrats. Who knew?
Source: Iain Murray and Marc Scribner, "High-Speed-Train Wreck," Competitive Enterprise Institute, November 14, 2010.
The Obama administration and high-speed rail proponents have been pushing hard for a revamped passenger rail network. On October 28, the Department of Transportation gave out $2.4 billion in grants to high-speed rail projects. This is on top of the $8 billion that was included in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, commonly known as the "stimulus" package.
But in all of their cheerleading, high-speed passenger rail proponents never mention what is perhaps the most damning fact about these projects, say Iain Murray, vice president for strategy, and Marc Scribner, land use and transportation policy analyst, with the Competitive Enterprise Institute.
Most are not even considered high-speed by international standards.
In Western Europe, for instance, high-speed rail lines must reach a minimum of 125 miles per hour (mph) on upgraded track and 160 mph for new track.
China has trains that can reach speeds in excess of 260 mph for limited stretches.
In contrast, only three of the United States' eight new high-speed rail corridors that received funding will feature trains capable of reaching speeds in excess of 110 mph.
Embarrassingly, passenger trains in the 1940s regularly met or exceeded these speeds. Only California's proposed high-speed rail corridor would resemble anything close to a "modern" European or Asian passenger rail line, say Murray and Scribner.
No one can predict what the transportation needs and preferences of future Americans will be. Thankfully, it is never too late for the Department of Transportation to finally abandon its long-standing commitment to central planning.
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
Just the thought of having a parent tell the NEA what the score is keeps the union big wigs up at night. After all it isn't about what is best for education, it's about power and control of the agenda. And the agenda is changing the way we think through the young. Just what do you think the fight was all about in Texas when deciding what was going to be in the new text books?
The fight was about telling the truth or changing history. It's just that simple. Luckily for all of us that cares about our future, the truth won!
The Radical School Reform You've Never Heard Of
Source: David Feith, "The Radical School Reform You've Never Heard Of," Wall Street Journal, November 13, 2010.
Debates about education these days tend to center on familiar terms like charter schools and merit pay. Now a new fault line is emerging: "parent trigger," says David Feith, an assistant editorial features editor at the Wall Street Journal.
Parent trigger, which became California law in January, is meant to facilitate the transfer of power from teachers' unions to parents through community organizing. Under the law, if 51 percent of parents in a failing school sign a petition, they can trigger a forcible transformation of the school -- either by inviting a charter operator to take it over, by forcing certain administrative changes or by shutting it down outright.
Schools are eligible for triggering if they have failed to make "adequate yearly progress," according to state standards, for four consecutive years.
Today 1,300 of California's 10,000 schools qualify.
California's example has already inspired legislation in Connecticut, although Hartford lawmakers ultimately passed a reform package that doesn't give parents as much direct influence. That hasn't stopped the idea from catching on elsewhere.
State legislators in five states -- Georgia, Indiana, Michigan, New Jersey and West Virginia -- say that they plan to introduce versions of parent-trigger legislation over the next six months, says Feith.
The growing popularity of parent trigger challenges the common assertion that schools fail primarily because they serve apathetic families. Like charter school lotteries bursting with thousands of parents and students, trigger drives demonstrate that legions of parents actively reject their children's failing schools.
In any case, these crashes fall into the category of 'how does this happen?'.
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
Far left liberals Barney Frank and Chris Dodd are central in this disaster.
Unfortunately, not much will happen until we can recapture the White House, but maybe at least we can slow the lunatic left liberal agenda enough to save our country from total ruin.
How to Shut Down Fannie and Freddie
Source: Emil W. Henry Jr., "How to Shut Down Fannie and Freddie," November 11, 2010
Although Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac played a central role in causing the recent economic crisis, they are absent from the reform plans of Congress and the Obama administration, says Emil W. Henry, the CEO of Henry, Tiger, LLC, and an assistant secretary of the Treasury from 2005 to 2007.
The Treasury doesn't need Congress or an academic assessment in order to tackle the most important reform goal: eliminating the government sponsored enterprises (GSEs) and moving their activities to the private sector. Secretary Geithner himself can immediately reshape the mortgage markets -- by withholding his approval of new debt issuances by the GSEs. That's the best way to begin curtailing the GSEs, and it can be done unilaterally.
If the Obama administration is serious about addressing the GSEs, it should re-establish a rigorous process to review all GSE debt issuance. That process should require the GSEs to provide Treasury with full financial data and justification for issuances, including statistics that show the creditworthiness of the agencies after each offering.
In addition, the Treasury secretary should have to approve all new debt issuances personally.
The administration should also announce that in 2012 the Treasury will begin to deny a portion of GSE debt issuances with the goal of reducing their debt 50 percent by 2015 and 100 percent by 2018. This eight-year period of adjustment would allow the private markets ample time to provide secondary market liquidity, says Henry.
Large banks may be wary of this solution because the federalization of the GSEs has offered them a stable vehicle for off-loading their mortgages. Policymakers, meanwhile, will worry about impairing the recovery if a private market is slow to materialize. But the alternative is keeping the flawed system whereby liquidity depends upon distorted price discovery, permanent subsidization and the economic judgments of bureaucrats.
Monday, November 15, 2010
Liberalism, and the eco-fascists in our government have proved that socialism has never worked and will never work, but the liberals know, if they can implement it country wide through environment regulation, they can obtain absolute power. WOW - just think how cool that would be!
Environmentalism is just another form of radical socialism. It's main objective is control of all of us at any price. We don't abide with Communism in this country, but we don't seem to have the same distaste for environmentalism that has the same agenda. Total control. Why I wonder?
Source: Jon Basil Utley, "Job-Killing Environmentalists," Reason Magazine, November 10, 2010.
President Barack Obama seems more concerned with appeasing environmental extremists in his administration than he is with the lost jobs of Americans, says Jon Basil Utley, associate publisher of the American Conservative. Below are three areas where the environmental extremists hope to wreak havoc on the American economy:
Human activity accounts for less than 4 percent of global CO2 emissions and CO2 itself accounts for only 10 percent or 20 percent of the greenhouse effect. Water vapor accounts for most of the other 80 percent.
The Christian Science Monitor recently published an analysis of how the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) plans for reducing carbon dioxide could cause the loss of over a million jobs and raise every family's energy costs by over $1,200.
The EPA wants new, more stringent limits on soot emissions from industrial and factory boilers.
This would cost $9.5 billion according to the EPA, or over $20 billion according to the American Chemistry Council. A study released by the Council of Industrial Boiler Owners says the new rules would put 300,000 to 800,000 jobs at risk as industries opted to close plants rather than pay the expensive new costs.
Ground Level Ozone.
The EPA has asked the U.S. government to enact new smog regulations for ground-level ozone that will cut levels to .006 to .007 parts per million -- this comes less than two years after standards were set at .0075 particles of pollutants per one million. The New York Times reports that the agency quotes the price tag of such a change at between $19 billion and $100 billion per year by 2020.
It's time for Congress to investigate what the EPA and its reckless agenda is costing American workers, businesses and taxpayers, says Utley.
Sunday, November 14, 2010
Delaware wasn't the only place where this nonsense was taking place. Several other races saw divided party support - some where for the Tea Party and some for the "old guys' party.
The fight for the very soul of the Republican party is on the line here, and just where we all decide to stand will dictate the outcome.
Christine O’Donnell Won’t Rule Out Another Run
Tea party favorite Christine O’Donnell, defeated in her run for the Senate this year, says she won’t rule out another campaign for political office. “I don’t know if I’d run again,” she told “Tonight Show” host Jay Leno on Wednesday night. “I’d like to keep that option open.”
The Delaware Republican said she wants to remain in politics and “be able to advocate” for issues, including the abolition of the estate tax, set to be reinstated in 2011. She also disclosed that she has been getting job offers since her Senate bid failed. “The offers have been interesting,” she told Leno. “Everything from a book deal to a reality show.”
But she said she is “not necessarily interested” in a reality show unless it is a “watchdog-type show.”
During the interview, O’Donnell disclosed that she had considered appearing on the HBO show “Real Time With Bill Maher” before he released an old clip showing O’Donnell admitting she had “dabbled in witchcraft.” When Maher threatened to release more clips of her appearances on his former show, “Politically Incorrect,” she decided not to appear on his new show.
“Whether it’s a comedian or a terrorist,” she said, “you should not respond to threats.”
O’Donnell got 40 percent of the vote in her unsuccessful Senate race against Democrat Chris Coons.
Saturday, November 13, 2010
NO TAXPAYER BAILOUT FOR THIS STATE!!!
California Dreaming: Missing America's Wake-Up Call
Source: Larry Bell, "California Dreaming: Missing America's Wake-Up Call," Forbes, November 10, 2010.
At a time when the national appetite for cap-and-tax legislation gas gone gastric, Proposition 23, offering an antidote to the previously enacted economic poison pill called AB 32, was rejected by 62 percent of California voters, says Larry Bell, a professor at the University of Houston.
As it now stands, AB 32, California's climate change law, mandates a 30 percent cut in carbon emissions from cars, trucks, utilities and other businesses by 2020. It is to be accomplished with a web of new taxes and regulations scheduled to take effect in 2012. Proposition 23 would have suspended AB 32 until such time that the state unemployment rate declined to 5.5 percent or less for four consecutive quarters.
A 2009 study estimated that implementation costs of AB 32 "could easily exceed $100 billion" and that the program would raise the cost of living by $7,857 per household annually by 2020.
The regulatory environment has turned dreams of good lives into nightmares for many who are leaving in hordes, taking much of the state's tax base with them, says Bell.
About 2.14 million people fled to other states between 2005 and 2007, while only 1.44 million moved in.
Meanwhile, the state's debt rises at a rate of about $25 million per day.
Some 2.3 million Californians (12.5 percent) are without employment, and factory jobs plummeted from 1.87 million to 1.23 million (34 percent of the industrial base) since 2001.
California, with 12 percent of the U.S. population, has nearly one-third of the nation's welfare recipients and 15.3 percent of all Californians live in poverty.
Its budget gap for 2009 to 2010 ($45 billion) equaled 53 percent of total state spending, despite having the nation's highest state sales tax and third-highest income tax.
Friday, November 12, 2010
Our problem is we don't have a government that believes capitalism is good enough to keep us a contender in the leadership of the Western world. Our government wants to strangle our economic system with rules and regulation to bring us down to other Western nations and therefore demonstrate how 'we just want to be a better partner with our neighbors'.
What nonsense. We are a very aggressive nation because we believe our freedom and our Constitution has allowed us to rise above being merely 'also rans'. This is want has made us what are today and still the envy of the world despite the efforts of liberal Democrats.
American Health Care and American Productivity: An International Comparison
Source: John R. Graham, "American Health Care and American Productivity: An International Comparison," Pacific Research Institute, November 2010.
One of the great myths about American society is that our lack of a "universal" health plan harms our competitiveness, says John R. Graham, director of health care studies at the Pacific Research Institute and senior fellow with the National Center for Policy Analysis.
Domestic critics claim that U.S. health care is a drag on productivity, but the United States is the world's most productive nation. American productivity leads to much higher national income than in other countries, suggesting that our high health spending as a share of gross domestic product is not out of line.
After spending more on health care, the United States has more dollars per person to spend on all other goods and services than other countries do -- about $4,500 more than Canada; $5,000 more than Great Britain; $6,000 more than Germany; and $8,000 more than France.
ObamaCare, which massively increases government control of Americans' access to health care, threatens our productivity and general welfare.
Americans without the means to pay for health care are largely a consequence of misguided government intrusion. Moreover, the American welfare state is capable of subsidizing those truly incapable of financial self-reliance, says Graham.
American crusaders for "universal" health care -- as opposed to universal choice in health care -- emphasize America's uniqueness in lacking this characteristic of the modern welfare state. Given the benefits of America's productivity, perhaps it is a uniqueness we should not rush to abandon.
You can retire to Arizona where:
1. You are willing to park 3 blocks away because you found shade.
2. You've experienced condensation on your butt from the hot water in the toilet bowl.
3. You can drive for 4 hours in one direction and never leave town.
4. You have over 100 recipes for Mexican food.
5.. You know that "dry heat" is comparable to what hits you in the face when you open your oven door.
6. The 4 seasons are: tolerable, hot, really hot, and ARE YOU KIDDING ME??!!
You can retire to Southern California where:
1. You make over $250,000 and you still can't afford to buy a house.
2. The fastest part of your commute is going down your driveway.
3. You know how to eat an artichoke.
4. You drive your rented Mercedes to your neighborhood block party.
5. When someone asks you how far something is, you tell them how long it will take to get there rather than how many miles away it is.
6. The 4 seasons are: Fire, Flood, Mud, and Drought.
You can retire to New York City where :
1. You say "the city" and expect everyone to know you mean Manhattan .
2. You can get into a four-hour argument about how to get from Columbus Circle to Battery Park, but can't find Wisconsin on a map.
3. You think Central Park is "nature."
4. You believe that being able to swear at people in their own language makes you multi-lingual. 5. You've worn out a car horn. (Ed note: if you have a car)
6. You think eye contact is an act of aggression..
You can retire to Maine where:
1. You only have four spices: salt, pepper, ketchup, and Tabasco ....
2. Halloween costumes fit over parkas.
3. You have more than one recipe for moose.
4. Sexy lingerie is anything flannel with less than eight buttons.
5. The four seasons are: winter, still winter, almost winter, and construction.
You can retire to the Deep South where:
1. You can rent a movie and buy bait in the same store.
2. "Y'all" is singular and "all y'all" is plural.
3. "He needed killin'" is a valid defense.
4. Everyone has 2 first names: Billy Bob, Jimmy Bob, Mary Sue, Betty Jean, Mary Beth, etc.
5. Everything is either "in yonder," "over yonder" or "out yonder." It's important to know the difference, too.
You can retire to Colorado where:
1. You carry your $3,000 mountain bike atop your $500 car
2. You tell your husband to pick up Granola on his way home and so he stops at the day care center.
3. A pass does not involve a football or dating.
4. The top of your head is bald, but you still have a pony tail.
You can retire to the Ohio where:
1. You've never met any celebrities, but the mayor knows your name.
2. Your idea of a traffic jam is ten cars waiting to pass a tractor.
3. You have had to switch from "heat" to "A/C" on the same day.
4. You end sentences with a preposition: "Where's my coat at?"
5. When asked how your trip was to any exotic place, you say, "It was different!"
AND You can retire to Florida where:
1. You eat dinner at 3:15 in the afternoon.
2. All purchases include a coupon of some kind -- even houses and cars.
3. Everyone can recommend an excellent dermatologist.
4. Road construction never ends anywhere in the state.
5. Cars in front of you often appear to be driven by headless people.
Thursday, November 11, 2010
Even though Frank has admitted, back-handily, he might have been on the wrong track, his new bill will do more of what caused this financial disaster. He's doubling down on the same disastrous policy.
What a good reason to vote this guy back into power. Where is the common sense? Why would anyone vote for financial ruin?
Taxpayers' Bill on Freddie, Fannie Foreclosures: $2B
Source: Julie Schmit and Stephanie Armour, "Taxpayers' Bill on Freddie, Fannie Foreclosures: $2B," USA Today, November 8, 2010.
Taxpayer-funded Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have spent more than $2 billion this year on foreclosed property expenses after acquiring tens of thousands of homes through foreclosures, says USA Today.
The mortgage giants owned more than 240,000 foreclosed homes on September 30, they reported last week. That's about 25 percent of all lender-owned homes in the United States, according to RealtyTrac.
Fannie and Freddie, which buy mortgages from lenders and package them into securities to sell to investors, own or guarantee half of all U.S. mortgages. Together, they have more than twice as many foreclosed homes now as they did this time last year, with a combined value of $24 billion.
The U.S. Treasury has invested $148 billion in preferred stock in Fannie and Freddie -- and received almost $17 billion in dividends -- since taking them over two years ago.
Their losses have narrowed, but further Treasury investments are expected.
Excluding dividends, the government's cumulative cost could range from $142 billion to $259 billion by December 2013, estimates their regulator, the Federal Housing Finance Agency.
The longer foreclosed homes stay on their books, the larger taxpayers' expenses will be, says USA Today.
As of September 30, Freddie Mac owned 74,897 foreclosed single-family homes, up 82 percent from a year ago, according to its third-quarter financial report.
From January through September, Freddie spent $842 million -- vs. $480 million in the same time last year -- on properties acquired in foreclosures.
Fannie owned 166,787 foreclosed single-family homes on September 30.
Its foreclosed property expenses approached $1.3 billion from January through September.
Wednesday, November 10, 2010
This nonsense has to stop and very soon - time is running out for us and our offspring. Our economy is totally dependent on fossil fuels and will be for the foreseeable future. Wind, solar and bio fuels are not the answer and all subsidies must stop.
The billions that we spent on subsidies can be used to further research on these alternatives, not prop up industries that send money to Washington.
Will Masses Embrace Electric Cars Despite High Prices?
Source: Chris Woodyard, "Will Masses Embrace Electric Cars Despite High Prices?" USA Today, November 8, 2010.
The biggest automotive revolution since horseless carriages first rumbled along rutted roads is about to take place -- and you'll have to strain to hear it, says USA Today.
Automakers such as Nissan and Chevrolet are touting the new vehicles in splashy ads, but already there are signs that wary mainstream consumers won't be quick to embrace the largely untested electric models. Automakers likely will have no trouble selling out their initial, limited production to electric enthusiasts and early adopters who have to have the latest thing, but mass acceptance that would lead to profitable production in big numbers remains a question.
The government and the auto industry are promoting electric transportation as a way to cut U.S. dependence on foreign oil, ease the need for more U.S. oil drilling and cut carbon dioxide in the air.
Buyers still have to be convinced that being Earth-friendly is worth several trade-offs -- beyond the cars' sticker prices, which can be double the cost of a similarly sized conventional car.
Most prominently, most electric cars for now will have a range of about 100 miles before they need to be recharged. That process can take as few as 30 minutes with special chargers, but in most situations will take up to eight hours.
President Obama has set a goal of a million plug-in electric vehicles on U.S. roads by 2015, though that rollout pales compared with the more than 11 million conventional vehicles that will be sold this year alone, says USA Today.
Even with all the subsidies, promotion and consumer education efforts, only 0.6 percent of cars sold in the United States in 2020 will be fully electric, predicts auto researcher J.D. Power and Associates. And only 9.6 percent will be hybrids -- with or without a plug-in recharging cord.
Tuesday, November 09, 2010
This article is a little long but so informative on just how bad the 'new energy' crazies demands are on our economy will be if they get their way. Stay tuned - stay awake - demand information from our new congress on all 'green' energy projects.
The Great Transmission Heist
WSJ November 8, 2010
The latest scheme to subsidize solar and wind power to the detriment of rate payers.
How would you like to pay higher utility bills to finance expensive electricity from solar and wind power, which you would never use? That's the issue now before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), and it deserves more public and political scrutiny before it becomes a reality.
FERC has a draft rule that could effectively socialize the costs of paying for multi-billion dollar transmission lines to connect remote wind and solar projects to the nation's electric power grid. If FERC rules in favor of Big Wind and Big Solar, the new policy would add billions of dollars onto the utility bills of residents of at least a dozen states—including California, Michigan, Oregon and New York—that will receive little or no benefit from the new power lines.
Transmission lines connect coal, natural gas and nuclear plants to the electric grid so that power can be delivered to homes and businesses. The costs of building this infrastructure, hooking up to the national electric grid and transporting electricity to the end users has traditionally been paid by the industries and passed on to rate payers. This long-standing user-pays policy would be replaced with a policy of everyone pays under FERC's plan.
As FERC chairman Jon Wellinghoff has put it: "This is a country where transmission lines have traditionally been built by the incumbents who serve that area; the question is whether we should continue that policy in the future." He told Congress that we should steer away from pricing that would "calculate the precise monetary benefits expected to accrue from a new transmission facility." But that's exactly what investors try to do in assessing the economic viability of any new project.
The big winners from socializing transmission costs would be wind and solar projects that tend to be in remote areas, like the desert or offshore. In many cases, thousands of miles of new transmission lines would have to be built to get the power to the end user. Google recently announced it will be a major investor in a $5 billion wind farm off the coasts of New Jersey, Delaware and Virginia that will require hundreds of miles of underwater transmission lines. No one is saying who will pay for those transmission costs, but it's a safe guess the investors are betting that FERC will decide to socialize them.
Very big dollars are at stake in this fight. By some estimates the cost of building out new transmission lines to accommodate renewable energy and other new electric power sources could exceed $160 billion. Wind and solar proponents insist that renewable energy standards can only be reached if transmission costs are shared by everybody. This sounds like an admission that these energy sources are inefficient sources of power that can't compete in the marketplace without subsidies.
The policy the renewables are pushing would be analogous to taxpayers underwriting the cost of tankers and truckers that transport oil to service stations.
Senators Harry Reid of Nevada and Jeff Bingaman of New Mexico, both of whom have big wind and solar projects in their states, pushed a Senate energy bill this summer that would have socialized these transmission costs. That bill has stalled, so FERC—supported by the White House and Democratic leaders—may move on its own.
Fortunately, the "loser" states are finally catching on to how much this cost-shifting would add to their utility bills. Last year Governors Jan Brewer of Arizona, Jim Gibbons of Nevada, Christine Gregoire of Washington, Ted Kulongoski of Oregon and Arnold Schwarzenegger of California opposed the plan as "inappropriate to assess the cost of transmission build-out to customers that cannot make use of the facilities, or who elect not to because they can access more cost effective options that do not rely on large, new transmission investments to meet environmental goals."
Eleven eastern governors have raised similar objections, arguing that this policy would "undermine the significant renewable energy potential along the East Coast by subsidizing distant terrestrial wind resources which would stifle economic recovery in the east by destabilizing competitive electricity market structures and increasing energy prices in regulated markets."
Massachusetts Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs Ian Bowles, hardly a Milton Friedman apostle, describes cost-sharing as "a radical Soviet-style approach to transmission planning."
One of the biggest losers would be Michigan. One economic analysis sponsored by Michigan utilities found that, despite some initial gains for certain wind projects in the northern part of the state, under a proposed regional payment scheme, "Michigan will be sending hundreds of millions of dollars annually outside the state to fund transmission projects which not only provide little value to the State, but will actually harm our ability to develop our own renewable energy market." Michigan rate payers would have to subsidize 20% of the cost of some $16 billion of transmission projects outside the state. Talk about outsourcing.
This is all the more maddening given that renewable energy projects already receive tens of billions of dollars of loans, grants, tax credits, earmarks, renewable energy mandates, stimulus money, and on and on.
According to a 2007 U.S. Department of Energy study, wind and solar already receive subsidies that are more than 20 times greater per kilowatt of electricity than conventional power sources. But as with ethanol, even these subsidies are never enough.
Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee has sponsored legislative language that would instruct FERC to allocate transmission line costs in a way that is "reasonably proportionate to measurable economic and reliability benefits." In other words, no charging rate payers in New Jersey for the costs of a wind farm in Texas based on vague benefits of reduced planetary carbon emissions.
The courts have also generally ruled that pricing for electric projects must be commensurate with benefits derived by rate payers. If Congress or FERC mandate a cost-spreading scheme for transmission projects, then the highest subsidies will go to the least efficient projects. That wastes money and energy, which doesn't sound too green to us.
Monday, November 08, 2010
Obama said he wanted 'fundamental change' in America. By support institutions, colleges and universities and the progressive left that run them, he has a very good chance to do just that.
Obama Spends Billions, Only Adds to College Costs
Source: James A. Bacon, "Obama Spends Billions, Only Adds to College Costs," Washington Times, October 29, 2010.
The Obama administration has doled out a record amount of college loans this year to help students cope with the affordability crisis in college tuition. Meanwhile, college tuition has become yet more unaffordable, says James A. Bacon, author of Boomergeddon.
Uncle Sam handed out $28.2 billion in Pell grants to students in the 2009-2010 school year, almost $10 billion more than the previous year.
Since taking office, President Obama has increased spending on student aid by nearly 50 percent, to $145 billion, the Wall Street Journal reports.
From 2000 to 2010, tuition and fees at four-year institutions increased an average of 5.6 percent faster than inflation. Apologists for higher education blame cutbacks in state appropriations, which declined 5 percent in 2009-2010.
Higher education has been one of the great growth industries of the 2000s. According to the 2009 Digest of Education Statistics, published by the National Center for Education Statistics, which lists data from the 2003-2004 to 2006-2007 school years, operating expenditures for all U.S. institutions of higher education increased 16 percent (in real, inflation-adjusted dollars) over that three-year span.
Where did the money go? Here are the spending categories that enjoyed the largest rates of increase:
Instructional wages and salaries: 16.8 percent.
Auxiliary enterprises: 17.8 percent.
Institutional support: 19 percent.
Academic support: 19.9 percent.
Student services: 20.6 percent.
Operations and maintenance: 25.4 percent.
In other words, expanded college loans are paying for the growth of higher-ed bureaucracies. The only way to make higher education more affordable over the long haul is to demand greater cost efficiency from our colleges and universities. But as long as the federal government keeps the money spigot flowing, higher education can evade accountability, says Bacon.
Friday, November 05, 2010
As promised, the new governor, Scott Walker, cancelled the train that our former governor, Jim Doyle, signed into law last weekend without any input from anyone. So much for the 'Diamond Jim' and his friends from Spain. And in the words of Palin, "What a corrupt bastard".
This cancellation is indicative of high speed rail and the Democrats this November: both went into the dumper!
Calif. Rail Project Is High-Speed Pork
Source: Robert J. Samuelson, "Calif. Rail Project Is High-Speed Pork," Washington Post, November 1, 2010.
High-speed trains connecting major cities are a perfect example of wasteful spending masquerading as a respectable social cause. In reality, they would further burden already overburdened governments and drain dollars from worthier programs, says Robert Samuelson.
Let's suppose that the Obama administration gets its wish to build high-speed rail systems in 13 urban corridors.
The administration has already committed $10.5 billion, and that's just a token down payment.
California wants about $19 billion for an 800-mile track from Anaheim to San Francisco.
Constructing all 13 corridors could easily approach $200 billion.
Most (or all) of that would have to come from government at some level.
What would we get for this huge investment? Not much. Here's what we wouldn't get:
any meaningful reduction in traffic congestion, greenhouse gas emissions, air travel, oil consumption or imports, says Samuelson.
High-speed intercity trains (not commuter lines) travel at up to 250 miles per hour and are most competitive with planes and cars over distances of fewer than 500 miles.
In a report on high-speed rail, the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service examined the 12 corridors of 500 miles or fewer with the most daily air traffic in 2007. Los Angeles to San Francisco led the list with 13,838 passengers; altogether, daily air passengers in these 12 corridors totaled 52,934.
If all of them switched to trains, the total number of daily airline passengers (about 2 million) would drop only 2.5 percent, and any fuel savings would be less than that.
High-speed rail would subsidize a tiny group of travelers and do little else. With governments everywhere pressed for funds, how can anyone justify a program whose main effect will simply be to make matters worse?
Thursday, November 04, 2010
Obama wants to build public sector jobs at the expense of the private sector with the agenda of make all people more dependent on the federal government. He feels it more fair this way.
What it seems he misses is that without the private sector paying all the bills, there won't be a public sector.
A Con Job on Jobs
Source: Veronique de Rugy, "A Con Job on Jobs," The American, November 2, 2010
During a speech last week, President Obama claimed, "Job growth between 2001 and 2009 was the most sluggish since World War II, more sluggish than it's been over the last year." Obama's claim is deeply deceptive, says Veronique de Rugy, a senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University.
Between September 2003 and July 2007, there were 45 months of uninterrupted job growth.
That represents roughly 7.8 million jobs created during that time.
President Bush did not create these jobs, of course, since governments do not in a meaningful sense create sustainable jobs. But whatever the reason, it cannot be fairly characterized as sluggish job growth. More importantly, let's look at the jobs data over the past year.
After a few months of job growth between January 2010 and May 2010 (total growth: 1 million jobs), the last four months have been bad for total employment. In June employment decreased by 175,000 jobs, in July by 66,000 jobs, in August by 57,000 and in September by 95,000 jobs.
That is a total loss of almost 400,000 jobs. Interestingly, these job losses were concentrated in the public sector. Perhaps President Obama was looking only at private sector job growth, says de Rugy.
Between February 2001 and January 2009, the number of new private sector jobs reached 7.6 million, whereas the number of new private sector jobs thus far in 2010 is 938,000. If Obama meant that the annual private growth rate in 2010 will end up higher than the annual rate during Bush's tenure, he could be correct.
But singling out 2010 and ignoring 2009 while using all of Bush's tenure is just cherry-picking numbers to score political points.
The real sad part of all this is most people believed him, even many Conservatives that knew better. Now the liberals that drank the coolaid are having a very hard time kicking the habit of sitting in the front pew of Obama's church of 'hope and change'. It must be like kicking a cocaine habit. Many can't do it. Many a doomed to the 'dark side'.
With the election last Tuesday of so many Conservatives to all branches of government from governorships to state legislaters and the federal government, it is hoped that they can lay a foundation in the next two years to stop the insanity of ObamaCare and all of the other destructive legislation that he has rammed down our throats in 2012 by winning the presidency from the socialists.
The Cost of "Free" Medical Care
Source: Matt Kibbe, "The Cost of 'Free' Medical Care," Washington Times, November 1, 2010.
One of the most difficult economic concepts to grasp is that we live in a world of limited resources. For better or for worse, scarcity forces us to choose from among our many wants, says Matt Kibbe, president of FreedomWorks.
The Obama administration promises to "give" the American people more. But at what cost? No matter how hard it tries, the administration cannot repeal the basic laws of economics.
President Obama promised that his health care law would give us more health care coverage and "bend the cost curve downward." In some way or another, Obamacare was supposed to cover more people for less money. Seven months after the passage of Obamacare, the laws of economics have struck back, says Kibbe.
Under the new Obamacare law, insurance companies are forced to provide "free" screenings and preventive care, but there's nothing free about Obamacare. Ultimately, we all will pay the cost of these "free" services in the form of lower wages, higher taxes or higher health insurance premiums.
Some insurance companies have already increased their premiums by an average of 20 percent to help pay for the extra benefits required under Obamacare. It has been reported that consumers may face total premium increases as much as 47 percent in the near future.
Under the new law, it is mandated that all employers who offer health insurance must spend at least 80 percent of their revenues on patient care. "Mini-med" policies offered to 2.5 million low-wage workers do not meet this requirement. Many businesses, including McDonald's, have spoken out against this costly provision.
Some small businesses that are harmed by these costly regulations will have to choose between ending health care coverage and going out of business. Surely, even the most ardent supporters of Obamacare would agree that mini-med coverage is better than no coverage at all. This is an example of a trade-off that the fact of scarcity requires.
No matter what politicians may promise, you cannot get something for nothing, says Kibbe.
Wednesday, November 03, 2010
Jails and Nursing Homes
Here's the way it should be:
Let's put the seniors in jail and the criminals in nursing homes. This would correct two things in one motion:
Seniors would have access to showers, hobbies and walks.
They would receive unlimited free prescriptions, dental and medical treatment, wheel chairs, etc.
They would receive money instead of having to pay it out.
They would have constant video monitoring, so they would be helped instantly if they fell or needed assistance.
Bedding would be washed twice a week and all clothing would be ironed and returned to them.
A guard would check on them every 20 minutes.
All meals and snacks would be brought to them
They would have family visits in a suite built for that purpose.
They would have access to a library, weight/fitness room, spiritual counseling, a pool and education...and free admission to in-house concerts by nationally recognized entertainment artists.
Simple clothing - ie., shoes, slippers, pj's - and legal aid would be free, upon request.
There would be private, secure rooms provided for all with an outdoor exercise yard complete with gardens.
Each senior would have a P.C., T.V., phone and radio in their room at no cost.
They would receive daily phone calls.
There would be a board of directors to hear any complaints and the ACLU would fight for their rights and protection.
The guards would have a code of conduct to be strictly adhered to, with attorneys available, at no charge to protect the seniors and their families from abuse or neglect.
As for the criminals:
They would receive cold food.
They would be left alone and unsupervised.
They would receive showers once a week.
They would live in tiny rooms, for which they would have to pay $5,000 per month.
They would have no hope of ever getting out. "Sounds like justice to me!"