Saturday, September 24, 2011

Abbas gives his final answer to Palestinian statehood

On Friday afternoon, Abbas said he was adamant about not recognizing Israel as the Jewish state.

"They talk to us about the Jewish state, but I respond to them with a final answer: We shall not recognize a Jewish state," Abbas said in a meeting with some 200 senior representatives of the Palestinian community in the US, shortly before taking the podium and delivering a speech at the United Nations General Assembly.

More HERE

What he denies to Israel will inevitably be denied to him

**************************

A veiled threat of a pre-emptive strike on Iran?

Excerpt from PM Netanyahu's speech to the UN. The reference to an Iranian winter suggests a nuclear winter and when it is followed by a statment that: "I cannot risk the future of the Jewish state on wishful thinking", it seems rather clear that Israel is ready to use nuclear weapons to contain the Iranian threat

Ladies and gentlemen, Israel has extended its hand in peace from the moment it was established 63 years ago. On behalf of Israel and the Jewish people, I extend that hand again today. I extend it to the people of Egypt and Jordan, with renewed friendship for neighbors with whom we have made peace. I extend it to the people of Turkey, with respect and good will. I extend it to the people of Libya and Tunisia, with admiration for those trying to build a democratic future. I extend it to the other peoples of North Africa and the Arabian Peninsula, with whom we want to forge a new beginning. I extend it to the people of Syria, Lebanon and Iran, with awe at the courage of those fighting brutal repression.

But most especially, I extend my hand to the Palestinian people, with whom we seek a just and lasting peace.

Ladies and gentlemen, in Israel our hope for peace never wanes. Our scientists, doctors, innovators, apply their genius to improve the world of tomorrow. Our artists, our writers, enrich the heritage of humanity. Now, I know that this is not exactly the image of Israel that is often portrayed in this hall. After all, it was here in 1975 that the age-old yearning of my people to restore our national life in our ancient biblical homeland -- it was then that this was braided -- branded, rather -- shamefully, as racism. And it was here in 1980, right here, that the historic peace agreement between Israel and Egypt wasn't praised; it was denounced! And it's here year after year that Israel is unjustly singled out for condemnation. It's singled out for condemnation more often than all the nations of the world combined. Twenty-one out of the 27 General Assembly resolutions condemn Israel -- the one true democracy in the Middle East.

And yet even here in the General Assembly, the truth can sometimes break through. In 1984 when I was appointed Israel's ambassador to the United Nations, I visited the great rabbi of Lubavich. He said to me -- and ladies and gentlemen, I don't want any of you to be offended because from personal experience of serving here, I know there are many honorable men and women, many capable and decent people serving their nations here. But here's what the rebbe said to me. He said to me, you'll be serving in a house of many lies. And then he said, remember that even in the darkest place, the light of a single candle can be seen far and wide.

Today I hope that the light of truth will shine, if only for a few minutes, in a hall that for too long has been a place of darkness for my country. So as Israel's prime minister, I didn't come here to win applause. I came here to speak the truth. (Cheers, applause.) The truth is -- the truth is that Israel wants peace. The truth is that I want peace. The truth is that in the Middle East at all times, but especially during these turbulent days, peace must be anchored in security. The truth is that we cannot achieve peace through UN resolutions, but only through direct negotiations between the parties. The truth is that so far the Palestinians have refused to negotiate. The truth is that Israel wants peace with a Palestinian state, but the Palestinians want a state without peace. And the truth is you shouldn't let that happen.

Ladies and gentlemen, when I first came here 27 years ago, the world was divided between East and West. Since then the Cold War ended, great civilizations have risen from centuries of slumber, hundreds of millions have been lifted out of poverty, countless more are poised to follow, and the remarkable thing is that so far this monumental historic shift has largely occurred peacefully. Yet a malignancy is now growing between East and West that threatens the peace of all. It seeks not to liberate, but to enslave, not to build, but to destroy.

That malignancy is militant Islam. It cloaks itself in the mantle of a great faith, yet it murders Jews, Christians and Muslims alike with unforgiving impartiality. On September 11th it killed thousands of Americans, and it left the twin towers in smoldering ruins. Last night I laid a wreath on the 9/11 memorial. It was deeply moving. But as I was going there, one thing echoed in my mind: the outrageous words of the president of Iran on this podium yesterday. He implied that 9/11 was an American conspiracy. Some of you left this hall. All of you should have. (Applause.)

Since 9/11, militant Islamists slaughtered countless other innocents -- in London and Madrid, in Baghdad and Mumbai, in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, in every part of Israel. I believe that the greatest danger facing our world is that this fanaticism will arm itself with nuclear weapons. And this is precisely what Iran is trying to do.

Can you imagine that man who ranted here yesterday -- can you imagine him armed with nuclear weapons? The international community must stop Iran before it's too late. If Iran is not stopped, we will all face the specter of nuclear terrorism, and the Arab Spring could soon become an Iranian winter. That would be a tragedy. Millions of Arabs have taken to the streets to replace tyranny with liberty, and no one would benefit more than Israel if those committed to freedom and peace would prevail.

This is my fervent hope. But as the prime minister of Israel, I cannot risk the future of the Jewish state on wishful thinking. Leaders must see reality as it is, not as it ought to be. We must do our best to shape the future, but we cannot wish away the dangers of the present.

More HERE

************************

It's an old story

Why shouldn't the United Nations recognize an Arab state of Palestine alongside the Jewish one called Israel? It wouldn't be the first time. On November 29, 1947, the UN's General Assembly voted 33 to 13, with 10 abstentions, to partition the disputed territory then called Palestine into two states whose people were going to live happily ever afterward.

Fat lot of good it did.

Riots erupted throughout the over-Promised Land as soon as the vote was recorded. The Arab Higher Committee for Palestine declared it would "fight for every inch" of old Palestine. The learned sages of Al-Azhar University in Cairo declared jihad against the infidels. (The term would become familiar to Americans after September 11, 2001).

Arab militias, aka gangs, began attacking Jewish settlements all across the Galilee. The British, who were supposed to keep the peace as the mandatory authority in Palestine, declared themselves unable to stop the assaults; they had all they could do to disarm the Jews. They wound up turning over their bases in the country to the Arab fighters streaming across the border from what was then Trans-Jordan. ("I will have the pleasure and honor to save Palestine." --King Abdullah I, April 26, 1948.) Suspected of making peace with the Jews, the king would be assassinated by the inevitable fanatic three years later. The UN, to no one's surprise, would prove as impotent then as it is now. It still passes plenty of resolutions; only resolve is lacking.

In 1947, the American president who was shifting back and forth on the Palestine question, now known as the Middle East conflict, was Harry Truman. He would wind up recognizing the Jewish state once it was declared. By then it was a presidential election year, and one of his political advisers (a then young Clark Clifford) kept urging Mr. Truman to support the idea of a Jewish state if he intended to carry New York in the fall.

In 2011, the American president shifting back and forth is Barack Obama. Appearing before the United Nations this past week, he was no longer emphasizing the need for Israel to negotiate on the basis of its vulnerable pre-1967 borders, which were essentially the 1949 armistice lines. Instead, he shifted his emphasis to urging direct negotiations between Palestinians and Israelis, which the Israelis very much want to resume.

It's a familiar pattern: The closer a presidential election year gets, the closer an American president gets to the Israeli position. Especially if the president's party has just lost a congressional election in a largely Jewish district of New York, as Barack Obama's just did. It would be unfair to say that this president puts his vaguely leftish ideology first when it comes to making important decisions. It's clear, as in this case, that he puts winning re-election first. I'm not sure which is worse.

More HERE

**************************

Who's Your Daddy?

For millions of folks, the federal government is now their sugar daddy. According to The Wall Street Journal, 47 percent of people in this country, both citizens and non-citizens, are receiving one or more federal benefits payments. That is the highest entitlement percentage in U.S. history.

And that's just the way some in the Democratic Party want it. Get the folks hooked on government benefits, and you'll have their votes for life because those mean Republicans are so full of self-reliance that they'll always oppose federal largesse.

From 2007 to 2010, the Democratic-controlled Congress added $5.3 trillion to America's already astronomical debt -- a record spending spree over a three-year period of time. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid led the wild ride, with Presidents Bush and Obama signing off on the binge.

Now, the USA is approaching bankruptcy, and the Democrats still don't want to rein in spending. They fight cuts every step of the way, offering up phony "take the rich" mantras to deceive the voting public into believing that increasing revenue will dig America out of its well of red ink.

Liberal Americans like to think of themselves as compassionate, championing a vast flow of public money to those who have not. But what is compassionate about wrecking an entire economy?

America's economic status was downgraded because our government has failed to deal aggressively with deficit spending. The dollar is being hammered because confidence in it is flagging all over the world. While countries like Switzerland and Germany retain healthy balance sheets, the USA is following the philosophy of Zorba the Greek: dancing all day long rather than confronting the reality of irresponsible behavior.

Simply put: The federal government cannot continue fiddling while the economy burns. It must begin implementing aggressive spending cuts across the board.

If that were to happen, we finally could look at revenue enhancement in a fair and effective way.

But it's a lot easier to trot out Warren Buffett in the role of the ancient mariner. My secretary pays more income tax than I do, he whines. Well, Warren, you could write a monstrous check to the Treasury anytime you wish in order to right that wrong. But demanding the feds raise the capital gains tax will assure a long winter for the stock market. Would it not?

President Obama will not win re-election on the class warfare ticket, but it seems he is determined to try. By all means, close up loopholes that allow corporations like General Electric to avoid paying taxes. Yes, dial back lavish deductions that fat cats use to dodge responsible tax payment. But let's knock off the "fair share" myth, OK? Affluent Americans have been paying a disproportionate amount of income tax for decades, and still the nation remains deeply in debt.

Punishing achievement is not the road to fiscal solvency, Mr. President. Just ask the Swiss.

SOURCE

****************************

Look What We've Made in Taiwan

As I write this column, my plane is taking off from Taiwan's Taoyuan Airport to bring me back home. It was a special visit to Taiwan -- one that helped put so many earlier visits into a larger perspective.

My first visit to Taiwan occurred 40 years ago. The changes since then have been remarkable.

When I first visited, U.S. foreign aid was still a mainstay of the Taiwan development pattern. Today Taiwan provides assistance to other nations. Back then, products made in Taiwan were certainly not high-quality -- the label "made in Taiwan" was something of a joke.

Today workers there build components for the most sophisticated consumer electronics and high-tech industries around. "Made in Taiwan" is now a label of quality and a badge of pride.

On the political front, Taiwan has long since shed its martial-law past and has evolved into a full-fledged democracy. In January 2012, elections for the legislature and the presidency will take place. The two primary candidates for president are running neck and neck, and the people of Taiwan are paying attention to real policy questions.

The Americans who participated in the first policy roundtable discussion -- liberals and conservatives, Republicans and Democrats -- have served in various presidential administrations over the years, but all of us share a single commitment. We've seen how Taiwan has developed as a democracy with free institutions. We've seen it become home to a thriving, market-based economy and a carefully constructed rule of law. And we're determined to highlight the fact that these principles can indeed work in the Chinese context.

It's important for other leaders throughout Asia to recognize this. It's also a moment for us to take pride that we have stood by the people of Taiwan through some difficult times and worked with them in developing a free and prosperous society.

More HERE

My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. I have deleted my Facebook page as I rarely access it. For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, GUN WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena

List of backup or "mirror" sites here or here -- for readers in China or for everyone when blogspot is "down" or failing to update. Email me here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or here (Pictorial) or here (Personal)

****************************

The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)

****************************

Friday, September 23, 2011

Leftist "civility" again -- including racial slur: "Chink"

‘Go Give Someone a Pedicure Chink’: Alec Baldwin Fans Attack Michelle Malkin Over Davis Execution

Wednesday’s execution of convicted murderer Troy Davis sparked heated, passionate debate, though perhaps no protests reached the same level of vitriol as a Twitter exchange between actor Alec Baldwin and conservative commentator Michelle Malkin.

Baldwin live-tweeted a chronicle of events as they unfolded Wednesday, including the Supreme Court’s refusal to grant a last-minute stay of execution. Once it was announced that Davis was dead, shortly after 11 p.m., Baldwin turned his ire toward Malkin, who had also been following the developments:





It didn’t stop there. Over the next couple hours, Baldwin attacked former Vice President Dick Cheney, former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and the “blood-thirsty right wing trash”:





On her own Twitter page, Malkin began re-posting and responding to some of the hateful, racist slurs she began receiving from other online users, presumably at Baldwin’s behest:







It appears Malkin was the first one to engage Baldwin Wednesday night with the following tweet touching off the ensuing back-and-forth:



Regardless, the sheer level of maliciousness Malkin received in return is decidedly stunning. Incidentally, Baldwin’s attacks on Malkin did not end Wednesday night. Thursday morning, he posted:



SOURCE

*************************

More "civility"

Texas Teacher Calls Tea Party President A ‘Nazi’

On Tuesday, the San Antonio Tea Party was part of a panel supported by a local public radio station – 89.1 KSTX. The topic of discussion – the DREAM Act and the problem of illegal immigration.

Jonathon Bryant, a Government Studies teacher from John F. Kennedy High School attended the event along with some of his students (who, according to Bryant, may be illegals). Mr. Bryant asked a question of the panel about students that were illegal aliens and what should be done with them.

After the president of the group affirmed his support for the laws governing illegal aliens in the schools, Mr. Bryant just couldn’t contain himself. He decided to levy a “Nazi” charge:



SOURCE

**********************

Bam's Government Loans to Nowhere Bill

Michelle Malkin

President Obama still hasn't learned the classic First Rule of Holes: When you're in one, stop digging. Up to his earlobes in failed stimulus grants and tainted federal loan guarantees, the shoveler in chief tunneled forward this week on his latest Government Loans to Nowhere bill. His willful ignorance is America's abyss.

Little noticed in the White House jobs-for-cronies proposal is a provision creating yet another corruption-friendly "government corporation" that would dole out public infrastructure loans and loan guarantees.

Because, you know, the government-chartered, political hack-stacked Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac "public-private partnerships" -- which have incurred an estimated $400 billion in losses while enriching bipartisan Beltway operatives -- worked out so well for American taxpayers.

The new monstrosity, dubbed the "American Infrastructure Financing Authority" (AIFA), would "provide direct loans and loan guarantees to facilitate investment in economically viable infrastructure projects of regional or national significance," according to the White House plan.

President Obama would have the power to appoint AIFA's chief executive officer and a seven-member board of directors. No doubt the nominees would include the likes of AFL-CIO Chief Richard Trumka on the left and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce on the right -- strange Obama bedfellows who have formed a Big Labor-Big Business-Big Government alliance supporting Obama's infrastructure slush fund.

In addition, a new bureaucracy to support AIFA would be created, including a "Chief Lending Officer" in charge of "all functions of AIFA relating to the development of project pipeline, financial structuring of projects, selection of infrastructure projects"; the "creation and management of a Center for Excellence to provide technical assistance to public sector borrowers in the development and financing of infrastructure projects"; and creation and funding of "an Office of Rural Assistance to provide technical assistance in the development and financing of rural infrastructure projects."

In its first two years, AIFA would rake in $10 billion in congressional appropriations; $20 billion over the next seven years; and $50 billion per fiscal year after that. How would Obama ensure the loan review process is protected from special interest favor-trading and White House meddling? If the ongoing, half-billion-dollar stimulus-funded Solyndra solar company loan debacle is any indication, the answer is: not very well.

And consider Obama's naked partisan stunt on Thursday at the Brent Spence Bridge connecting GOP House Speaker John Boehner's home state of Ohio and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's home state of Kentucky. "There's no reason for Republicans in Congress to stand in the way of more construction projects. There's no reason to stand in the way of more jobs," he railed. "Mr. Boehner, Mr. McConnell, help us rebuild this bridge. Help us rebuild America. Help us put this country back to work. Pass this jobs bill right away!"

While he has high-mindedly called on "Washington" (as if he isn't at the center of it) to put country over politics, he continues to use tax dollars to travel the country for campaign events assailing Republicans in front of decrepit bridges that wouldn't see a dime of his "immediate" jobs bill money for years. If ever.

The point was made not by evil GOP obstructionists, but by the local Cincinnati Enquirer newspaper, which pointed out that the Brent Spence Bridge is not named in Obama's jobs bill, has no guarantee of funding in the jobs bill, and "is still in the preliminary engineering and environmental clearance phase. In a best case scenario, the earliest that workers would be hired would be in 2013, but more likely 2015."

It gets worse. Obama's infrastructure loan corps wouldn't just oversee bridge loans to nowhere. The AIFA board would get to dispense billions and score political points for their favorite photo-op-ready roads, mass transit, inland waterways, commercial ports, airports, air traffic control systems, passenger rail, high-speed rail, freight rail, wastewater treatment facilities, storm water management systems, dams, solid-waste disposal facilities, drinking water treatment facilities, levees, power transmission and distribution, storage, and energy-efficiency enhancements for buildings.

As I reported in my Tuesday column, a separate $6 billion "private nonprofit corporation" would be created by the Obama jobs plan to oversee the "Public Safety Broadband Corporation." The panel would consist of 11 board members and four Obama administration officials. It, too, would be tasked with choosing winners and losers. Instead of local and state governments overseeing construction, this new federally created investing entity would "hold the single public safety wireless license granted under section 281 and take all actions necessary to ensure the building, deployment, and operation of a secure and resilient nationwide public safety interoperable broadband network."

Given last week's bombshell revelations of White House pressure on military and government officials to promote the president's old broadband cronies at shady LightSquared Inc., the idea of empowering a new Obama bureaucracy to dole out more broadband contracts in the name of "public safety" is unsettling at best. Deeper and deeper we go.

SOURCE

************************

Romneycare update

A leading indicator of where Obamacare is heading

Paying for more benefits for more people inevitably makes medicine more expensive. Costs for Commonwealth Care, the Massachusetts government's subsidized insurance program alone are up a fifth over initial projections. Last year State Treasurer Timothy P. Cahill wrote: "The universal insurance coverage we adopted in 2006 was projected to cost taxpayers $88 million a year. However, since this program was adopted in 2006, our health-care costs have in total exceeded $4 billion. The cost of Massachusetts' plan has blown a hole in the Commonwealth's budget."

State finances have not collapsed only because RomneyCare spread the costs widely, forcing virtually everyone in and out of the state to share the pain. Cahill cited federal subsidies as keeping the state afloat financially. Indeed, a June study from the Beacon Hill Institute concluded that "The state has been able to shift the majority of the costs to the federal government." The Institute pointed to higher costs of $8.6 billion since the law was implemented. Just $414 million was paid by Massachusetts. Medicaid (federal payments) covered $2.4 billion. Medicare took care of $1.4 billion.

But even more costs, $4.3 billion, have been imposed on the private sector — employers, insurers, and residents. This estimate is in line with an earlier study by the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation, which figured that 60% of the new costs fell on individuals and businesses.

As expenses have risen, so have premiums. Noted Kuttner, "because serious cost containment was not part of the original package, premium costs in the commonwealth have risen far faster than nationally — by 10.3%, the most recent year available." Economists John F. Cogan, Glenn Hubbard, and Daniel Kessler figured that RomneyCare inflated premiums by 6% from 2006 to 2008. This at a time where the state-subsidized Commonwealth Care was displacing private insurance for many people, thereby reducing demand, which should have reduced cost pressures.

Unfortunately, noted the Beacon Hill Institute, "private companies have no choice but to pass the higher costs onto the insured. Some of these costs fall in the double-digit range." That naturally displeased public officials, since it undercut their claim to have solved Massachusetts' health care problems.

Gov. Deval Patrick responded like King Canute: he insisted that premiums not rise. Predictably, his rejection of proposed rate hikes required insurers to operate at a loss and placed several in financial jeopardy.

Robert Dynan, the career insurance commissioner tasked with maintaining insurer solvency, wrote that the state "implemented artificial price caps on HMO rates. The rates, by design, have no actuarial support." Last year Sandy Praeger, Kansas' insurance Commissioner, observed: "Right now, premium increase have never been more political. If there is any way to justify not granting the increase, commissioners are looking for them."

Thankfully, Gov. Patrick's price controls did not fare well when challenged in court and his administration eventually negotiated reduced rate hikes. But the governor then came up with a new legislative program to arbitrarily reduce medical costs.

Even weaker restrictions would be counterproductive. The Beacon Hill Institute warned that "Controlling costs will translate into capping services provided by physicians and other caregivers. These are, in effect, price controls that will dampen the incentive to provide services and lead to longer wait times and the rationing of healthcare."

Even worse, bankrupt insurance carriers would mean either no health care coverage or expensive government bail-outs. Yet John Graham of the Pacific Research Institute detailed shrinking margins and pervasive losses for Massachusetts health insurers. He warned "that if politicians refuse to allow health plans to increase their premiums at a rate commensurate with the increase in medical costs, health plans will plunge into financial crisis within a remarkably short period of time." Indeed, carriers "will stand at the precipice of insolvency if the political class in Massachusetts insists on continuing to follow the path that it has chosen."

Unfortunately, worse is likely to come. The Rand Corporation concluded that "in the absence of policy change, health care spending in Massachusetts is projected to nearly double to $123 billion in 2020, increasing 8% faster than the state's" GDP. Added Rand, continued cost increases of this magnitude "threaten the long-term viability of the initiative." Nor can the state count on an increasingly strapped federal government to continue its generous subsidies. Moreover, at some point people and businesses will flee the state rather than pay ever more to underwrite the state's health care program.

Finally, RomneyCare inflated demand for medical services without increasing the corresponding supply. The Beacon Hill Institute concluded: "The vast number of the newly insured residents in Massachusetts is responsible for bottlenecks in the primary care system that forces residents to utilize emergency room care at a significantly higher than expected rate."

A fifth of adults report difficulty in finding a physician to treat them. Earlier this year the Massachusetts Medical Society discovered "more than half of primary care practices closed to new patients, longer wait times to get appointments with primary and specialty physicians, and significant variations in physician acceptance of government and government-related insurance products."

New York internist Marc Siegel observed: "The wait time for an appointment is now routinely over a month for primary-care doctors and specialists. Internists and family practitioners report being so overwhelmed — too many patients, too much time pressure — that more than half are closing their practices to new patients." You'd think Massachusetts was a province of Canada.

The state's subsidized programs effectively drive away doctors. Explained Siegel: "More than half of primary-care docs in Massachusetts find themselves unable to work with Medicaid or Commonwealth Care (state-subsidized insurance), which both pay providers poorly." Acceptance rates are far lower than even for Medicare, and one Massachusetts legislator has proposed making medical licensure contingent upon acceptance of state-subsidized plans.

Although the expansion of insurance was supposed to reduce emergency room use, visits rose 9% from 2004 to 2008. Ironically, noted Grace-Marie Turner of the Galen Institute, "difficulties in getting primary care have led to an increasing number of patients who rely on emergency rooms for basic medical services." Thus, uncompensated care still costs more than $400 million annually.

The state also encouraged adverse selection, as predicted. Many healthy people chose to remain uninsured and pay the fine (or lie about having purchased coverage). They then bought insurance when sick, and dropped the policy when it was no longer necessary. Massachusetts was forced to institute an open enrollment period, limiting when people could sign up for insurance — an otherwise bizarre restriction when the objective is to increase the number of people insured.

ObamneyCare is bad policy. Gov. Romney's signature policy achievement, no less than President Obama's principal legislative victory, is a bust.

More HERE

My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. I have deleted my Facebook page as I rarely access it. For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, GUN WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena

List of backup or "mirror" sites here or here -- for readers in China or for everyone when blogspot is "down" or failing to update. Email me here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or here (Pictorial) or here (Personal)

****************************

The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)

****************************

Thursday, September 22, 2011

A small note on the Tuskegee Syphilis study of the 1930s

The Tuskegee Syphilis Study has been widely condemned as an example of American racism -- and Leftists love it for that reason. It enables them to be "holier than thou". THEY would never do such an evil thing! It is usually portrayed as the U.S. government infecting black men with syphilis.

The truth is nothing of the sort, of course. The key fact that nobody seems to notice is that the study lasted for 40 years. 40 years? Shouldn't the men have died long before that? Once you ask that question, the truth begins to come out. The men recruited for the study ALREADY HAD tertiary syphilis. And in the tertiary stage the disease has usually been naturally "beaten" in some way. In other words, most such patients are no longer ill and live on rather as if they had never been infected. THAT intriguing fact was what sparked the study. It was an attempt to get more information about the life history of tertiary syphilitics. Richard Shweder has all the details.

And the amusing thing is that the study was founded and carried out by "progressives". "Progressivism" was overwhelmingly dominant in pre-war America. And it wasn't even a government study initially. It was started by a private charity funded by the former chairman of Sears Roebuck, a Progressive Jew named Julius Rosenwald. A small excerpt from Wikipedia:
Julius Rosenwald, an American clothier, became part-owner ofSears, Roebuck and Company in 1895, and eventually served as its president from 1908 to 1922, and chairman of its Board of Directors until his death in 1932.He became interested in social issues, especially education for African Americans, and provided funding through Dr. Booker T. Washington of the Tuskegee Institute, a historically black college (HBCU), prior to founding the fund....

The Rosenwald Fund was also one of the original backers of the Tuskegee Syphilis Study. With support from the Rosenwald Fund, an ambitious program had begun to improve the health of African Americans in US southern states in 1928. Emphasis was on treating people with syphilis, then found at a high rate in poor African-American communities.

I am pointing that out in the hope that it will take one of the Leftists' toys away from them. Where other facts fail to penetrate their prejudiced brains, perhaps the fact that the study was the work of a "progressive" Jewish philanthropist might cause them to lose their erections.

************************

The Attack on Accidental Americans -- and would-be expatriates

Being American is a trap that is very difficult to escape. There's no Berlin wall but there is a big financial wall, courtesy of Obama. So too bad if Obama piles up debt for your children or devalues your savings

When Julie Veilleux discovered she was American, she went to the nearest US embassy to renounce her citizenship. Having lived in Canada since she was a young child, the 48-year-old had no idea she carried the burden of dual citizenship. But the renunciation will not clear away the past ten years of penalties with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).[1]

Born to American parents living in Canada, Kerry Knoll's two teenaged daughters had no clue they became dual citizens at birth. (An American parent confers such status on Canadian-born children.[2] ) Now the IRS wants to grab at money they earned in Canada from summer jobs; the girls had hoped to use their RESPs (registered education savings plans) for college.[3]

The IRS is making a worldwide push to squeeze money from Americans living abroad and from anyone who holds dual citizenship, whether they know it or not. It doesn't matter if the "duals" want US status, have never set foot on US soil, or never conducted business with an American. It doesn't matter if those targeted owe a single cent to the IRS. Unlike almost every other nation in the world, the United States requires citizens living abroad to file tax forms on the money they do not owe as well as to report foreign bank accounts or holdings such as stocks or RSSPs. The possible penalty for not reporting is $10,000 per "disclosed asset" per year.

Thus, Americans and dual citizens living in Canada (or elsewhere) who do not disclose their local checking account — now labeled by the IRS as "an illegal offshore account" — are liable for fines that stretch back ten years and might amount to $100,000. A family, like the Knolls, in which there are two American parents and two dual-citizen children, might be collectively liable for $400,000.

Approximately 7 million Americans live abroad. According to the IRS, they received upwards of 400,000 tax returns from expatriates last year — a compliance rate of approximately 6 percent. Presumably the compliance of dual-citizen children is far lower. Customs and Immigration is now sharing information with the IRS and, should any of 94 percent expats or their accidentally American offspring set foot on US soil, they are vulnerable to arrest.

So far, the IRS push into foreign territory has been a rousing success by their own standards. In 2009, the IRS offered "amnesty" — that is, lessened but still hefty penalties — to whoever stepped forward to disclose foreign bank accounts. According to FOX Business News, the 2009 program netted

the government $2.2 billion in tax revenues … and $500 million in interest from the 2011 program, for a total of $2.7 billion.… Moreover, the IRS says it has yet to reap penalties from these evaders, which could rake in hundreds of millions more.
IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman stated,

we are in the middle of an unprecedented period for our global international tax enforcement efforts. We have pierced international bank secrecy laws, and we are making a serious dent in offshore tax evasion.[4]

Going after the college money earned by children born and raised in Canada (or elsewhere) is just one part of the international enforcement effort. The entire package is called the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act or FATCA; it was a revenue-raising provision that was slipped into one of Obama's disastrous stimulus bills.

Starting in 2013 — or 2014 if an exemption is granted — every bank in the world will be required to report to the IRS all accounts held by current and former US citizens. If account holders refuse to provide verification of their non-US citizenship, the banks will be required to impose a 30 percent tax of all payments or transfers to the account on behalf of the IRS. Banks that do not comply will "face withholding on U.S.-source interest and dividends, gross proceeds from the disposition of U.S. securities, and pass-through payments."[5]

Australia and Japan have already declared their refusal to comply. Canada's Finance Minister Jim Flaherty has publicly stated that the proposed American legislation "has far-reaching extraterritorial implications. It would turn Canadian banks into extensions of the IRS and would raise significant privacy concerns for Canadians."[6]

According to the Financial Post:

"Toronto-Dominion Bank is putting up a fight against a new U.S. regulation that would compel foreign banks to sort through billions of dollars of deposits to find U.S. citizens who might be hiding money.… TD has complained that the proposed IRS rule is unreasonable because it would require the bank to make US$100-million investment in new software and staff. Other lenders resisting the effort include Allianz SE of Germany, Aegon NV of the Netherlands and Commonwealth Bank of Australia.… Now the Canadian Bankers association has joined the fray. In an emailed statement the CBA called the requirement "highly complex" and "very difficult and costly for Canadian banks to comply with."[7]

The Financial Times reports:

"[O]ne of Asia's largest financial groups is quietly mulling a potentially explosive question: could it organise some of its subsidiaries so that they could stop handling all US Treasury bonds? Their motive has nothing to do with the outlook for the dollar.… Instead, what is worrying this particular Asian financial group is tax. In January 2013, the US will implement a new law called the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act.…

[T]he new rules leave some financial officials fuming in places such as Australia, Canada, Germany, Hong Kong and Singapore.… Implementing these measures is likely to be costly; in jurisdictions such as Singapore or Hong Kong, the IRS rules appear to contravene local privacy laws.… Hence the fact that some non-US asset managers and banking groups are debating whether they could simply ignore Fatca by creating subsidiaries that never touch US assets at all.

"This is complete madness for the US — America needs global investors to buy its bonds," fumes one bank manager. "But not holding US assets might turn out to be the easiest thing for us to do."[8]

Meanwhile, banking will become more difficult within the United States. FATCA will hold banks liable for any "improper" transfer of money to outside the United States. The Wealth Report, a financial analysis site, states:

"US banks will be desperately trying to cover their liability by checking the exact purpose of the payment, to make sure it doesn't come within the scope of the legislation. The burden of proof will naturally pass to the account holder who is trying to transfer money, to demonstrate that the transaction is not subject to the new withholding tax. If the sending bank in the USA has any doubt at all about the purpose of the transaction, they will be forced to deduct 30 percent tax. Net result? It is going to be darned difficult for anyone to transfer money out of the USA. If that isn't a form of currency control, then I don't know what is!"

Returning to the Little Guy and Gal

Expat Americans and children — a.k.a. dual citizens — will be caught in the indiscriminate steel net that the IRS wants to throw around the globe. Their innocence or ignorance will not matter. The IRS wants money. If expats and duals do not owe money from their earnings, then the IRS will pursue obscure reporting requirements and apply them to people who did not even know they were American. It will try to yank their college funds and drain their parents' retirement savings.

They can renounce their American citizenship but that is an imperfect solution. For one thing, it does not immunize them from the past ten years of nonreporting. For another, following the United States' "exit" sign takes many people directly through the Treasury Department where they may be required to pay a brutal one-time exit tax. Basically, for those with more than $2 million dollars in assets, the tax comes to $600,000.

Moreover, renunciation is a difficult process. The Globe and Mail is one of many Canadian newspapers now explaining to readers how they can renounce American citizenship. G&M states:

"Renouncing your U.S. citizenship starts with a hefty fee — $450 (U.S.), just for the chance to appear in front of a consular official. Need it done in a hurry? Forget about it. It can take about two years to get an appointment.[9]"

The true hope lies in a worldwide refusal to comply. The only power strong enough to rein in the United States is the world itself. There is hope that this will happen. Reuters declared:

"A U.S. law meant to snuff out billions of dollars in offshore tax evasion has drawn the criticism of the world's banks and business people, who dismiss it as imperialist and "the neutron bomb of the global financial system." … A senior American finance executive at the Hong Kong branch of a major investment house [declared] that FATCA was "America's most imperialist act since it invaded the Philippine Islands in 1899." The regulation … was "engendering a profound and growing anti-American sentiment abroad."[10]

SOURCE

*****************************

Don't be deceived by the propaganda of the victors

A BOOK REVIEW of "Great Wars & Great Leaders: A Libertarian Rebuttal" By Ralph Raico. Reviewed by: George C. Leef

Essential to the maintenance of support for the government (almost any government, any time) is the idea that the nation’s wars have been just and heroic, and that the leaders who presided over them were great men. Ugly truths about those wars and leaders are routinely swept under the rug. Court historians (and yes, democracies have them) try to convince people that all the blood, sweat, and tears were never expended in vain.

History professor Ralph Raico is a dedicated opponent of the court historians’ cant and deception. Great Wars and Great Leaders is a collection of his essays challenging the conventional wisdom, ranging from the beginning of World War I to just after World War II.

As Robert Higgs notes in his introduction, “Raico’s historical essays are not for the faint of heart or for those whose loyalty to the U.S. or British state outweighs their devotion to truth and humanity.” Raico is usually called a “revisionist” historian, but a more fitting term would be “correctionist” because his work corrects false ideas that glorify wars and political leaders who deserve the sharpest condemnation.

The book’s opening essay is about World War I. What most Americans think they know about that war is roughly this: Militaristic Germany was itching for a reason to launch an expansionist war, and the outbreak of fighting in the Balkans gave it an excuse to attack the peaceful democracies France and Britain. Eventually the United States was compelled by German belligerence to enter the war and “make the world safe for democracy.”

The victors get to write the history, and Raico shows that it’s mostly wrong. The Germans and their Austrian allies were not as devilish as they’ve been portrayed, and the Allies were far from angelic. Most important, President Woodrow Wilson was an authoritarian eager to engage in military interventions to advance his fevered notions of “good government.” Raico points out that Wilson had sent U.S. troops into Mexico in 1914. Some of them died—utterly in vain.

Throughout 1915, 1916, and early 1917 Wilson pursued a provocative policy meant to serve British interests. He was glad to trample on international law with respect to the rights of neutrals and declined to pursue diplomatic efforts at restoring peace. Nevertheless, most historians grade Wilson a “near-great” president. Raico shows how undeserved that accolade is.

Winston Churchill’s lustrous reputation also takes a beating in the book. Most people think of Churchill as a rock-ribbed defender of Western traditions. After all, he was a Conservative prime minister who abhorred communism and fascism. Raico makes it plain, however, that he had no real principles when it came to the economic order. At one point in his career Churchill advocated free trade, but he later abandoned that position when it became a political liability. Nor was Churchill an opponent of the advancing British welfare state. He supported the Trades Union Act that gave legal privileges to unions and advocated “a sort of Germanized network of state intervention and regulation” over the labor market. That made him popular with the socialists. Beatrice Webb applauded him for his support of “constructive state action.”

There are hordes of politicians who will get on popular crusades even though they carry the seeds of long-run social ruin. What puts Churchill in a different class is his willingness to sacrifice innocent lives. Raico gives several particulars. Against the advice of his officers Churchill ordered the British fleet to fire on the French Navy, harbored at Mers-el-Kebir in Algeria after the Germans had defeated France in 1940. The French commander had said that he would neither surrender his ships to Britain nor permit them to fall into German hands. Nevertheless, the British shelled the ships, killing more than 1,500 sailors. Raico comments that this was a war crime and Germans at Nuremberg were sentenced to death for less. Worse still was the continuing bombing campaign against German cities long after it was evident that Hitler was on the verge of defeat. The bombing of Dresden, a city with no military importance, killed some 30,000 civilians in February 1945.

Another “great leader” Raico demolishes is Harry Truman. Truman is often praised these days for his supposed common sense, but the truth is that he was a statist demagogue whose instincts were to escalate the New Deal’s attacks on liberty and property. Americans are fortunate that most of his efforts were parried by Congress or the courts. The same cannot be said, unfortunately, about his decision to use atomic bombs to destroy Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Raico eviscerates the excuse that Truman “had to” use the bomb because the Japanese would otherwise have fought on and killed half a million Americans.

SOURCE

My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. I have deleted my Facebook page as I rarely access it. For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, GUN WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena

List of backup or "mirror" sites here or here -- for readers in China or for everyone when blogspot is "down" or failing to update. Email me here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or here (Pictorial) or here (Personal)

****************************

The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)

****************************

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Obama's Thought Police

The trouble with the White House's "Attack Watch" initiative

To whatever high school intern probably came up with the idea, the White House's "Attack Watch" website and Twitter account must have seemed a spark of genius. After all, they yoked together two trendy ideas—rapid response and crowd-sourcing—in service to the president. Give people the opportunity to report false and malicious things others are saying about Obama, so the administration and its supporters can fight back. What could possibly go wrong?

The intern—whoever it was—must have been too young to remember the left's Bush-era motto: "Dissent is the highest form of patriotism."

But some adult in the West Wing ought to have stepped in. He or she should have pointed out that encouraging Americans to inform on their fellow citizens carries a whiff not just of Nixonian creepiness but of totalitarian menace.

Police states routinely rely on citizen informants; dungeon cells from Cuba to Saudi Arabia are full of political prisoners arrested for "insulting the president and the regime," "disrupting internal order," and other dysphemisms for speaking your mind.

Fortunately, Attack Watch inspired little more than a "national fit of giggling," as Reason magazine put it. Enemies of the People—i.e., conservatives—immediately began denouncing all manner of offenses against Our Beloved Leader: Someone was squeezing the Charmin in aisle six, reported one. Wrote another: "There's a new Twitter account making President Obama look like a creepy, authoritarian nutjob."

Funny. But also not funny. Because this is not an isolated incident. It is only the latest in a string of episodes in which the administration has made itself look creepily authoritarian.

It started even before the administration was an administration, with a campaign that depicted Barack Obama as The One—the savior who would lead a broken people out of darkness. That isn't sarcastic exaggeration. Obama himself described his capture of the Democratic nomination as "the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal." Not even Chairman Mao promised that much.

Scarcely had the planet-healer been sworn in before the public learned that the White House's Office of Public Engagement had teamed up with the NEA's Yosi Sargent to mau-mau artists into cranking out agitprop. "I would encourage you to pick something, whether it's health care, education, the environment," Sargent said in an August 2009 conference call with various artists. "Then my task [to you] would be to apply your artistic, creativity community's utilities" to advancing the cause. "We are just now learning how to really bring this community together to speak with the government," he said.

And for those who don't "speak with the government," there could be Consequences. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius made that clear last year when she sent a letter to the president of AHIP, the national Association of Health Insurance Providers. "It has come to my attention that several health insurer carriers are sending letters to their enrollees falsely blaming premium increases for 2011 on the patient protections in the Affordable Care Act," Sebelius sniffed. "There will be zero tolerance for this type of misinformation and unjustified rate increase," she went on, warning that those who did not come to heel might be shut out of the new government-run exchanges.

There have been other episodes, too—the EPA employees ordered to take down a video critical of cap-and-trade legislation, for instance. When the Bush administration silenced NASA scientist James Hansen, Rep. Henry Waxman fumed that "Democrats are not going to sweep [censorship of scientists] under the rug." By the time Obama's EPA started silencing dissent, he had found his broom.

HHS Secretary Sebelius isn't the only one who objects to "misinformation." In the first chapter of On Rumors, Cass Sunstein, the president's regulatory czar, writes: "As we have seen, false rumors can undermine democracy itself." But as others have noted, we have "seen" no such thing. (Was Sunstein trying to start a false rumor?) Nevertheless, Sunstein numbers among the apparently numerous administration officials who think the government should be managing people's thoughts and ideas much more closely. He has even suggested government agents should "cognitively infiltrate" groups that promote ideas of which the government disapproves.

One doesn't want to strain analogies too far. Albert Einstein and Josef Stalin both wore mustaches, but the similarities end there. Nobody expects the Obama administration to start hauling dissidents off to the Lubyanka. Still, let us not forget Naomi Wolf's most popular essay from the Bush years. In "Fascist America in Ten Easy Steps" (later expanded into a book), she noted: "In Mussolini's Italy, in Nazi Germany, in communist East Germany, in communist China—in every closed society—secret police spy on ordinary people and encourage neighbours to spy on neighbours."

Liberals worried about our government doing that kind of thing, once upon a time.

SOURCE

*************************

Ponzi, yes, but is it a lie?

By Walter E. Williams

During the recent GOP presidential debate, Texas Gov. Rick Perry said that Social Security is a "monstrous lie" and a "Ponzi scheme." More and more people are coming to see that Social Security is a Ponzi scheme, but is it a lie, as well? Let's look at it.

Here's what the 1936 government pamphlet on Social Security said: "After the first 3 years -- that is to say, beginning in 1940 -- you will pay, and your employer will pay, 1.5 cents for each dollar you earn, up to $3,000 a year. ... Beginning in 1943, you will pay 2 cents, and so will your employer, for every dollar you earn for the next 3 years. ... And finally, beginning in 1949, twelve years from now, you and your employer will each pay 3 cents on each dollar you earn, up to $3,000 a year." Here's Congress' lying promise: "That is the most you will ever pay."

Another lie in the Social Security pamphlet is: "Beginning November 24, 1936, the United States government will set up a Social Security account for you. ... The checks will come to you as a right." Therefore, Americans were sold on the belief that Social Security is like a retirement account and money placed in it is our property. The fact of the matter is you have no property right whatsoever to your Social Security "contributions."

You say, "Williams, you're wrong! We have a right to Social Security payments." In a U.S. Supreme Court case, Helvering v. Davis (1937), the court held that Social Security is not an insurance program, saying, "The proceeds of both (employee and employer) taxes are to be paid into the Treasury like internal revenue taxes generally, and are not earmarked in any way." In a later Supreme Court case, Flemming v. Nestor (1960), the court said, "To engraft upon the Social Security system a concept of 'accrued property rights' would deprive it of the flexibility and boldness in adjustment to ever-changing conditions which it demands."

Belatedly, the Social Security Administration is trying to clean up its history of deception. Its website says, "Entitlement to Social Security benefits is not (a) contractual right," adding, "There has been a temptation throughout the program's history for some people to suppose that their FICA payroll taxes entitle them to a benefit in a legal, contractual sense. ... Congress clearly had no such limitation in mind when crafting the law." That's the SSA's dishonesty. After all, it was the people in that administration who said, in their 1936 pamphlet, that "the checks will come to you as a right."

There's more deceit and dishonesty. In 1950, I was 14 years old and applied for a work permit for an after-school job. One of the requirements was to obtain a Social Security card. In bold letters on my Social Security card are the words "For Social Security Purposes -- Not For Identification." According to the SSA's website, "this legend was removed as part of the design changes for the 18th version of the card, issued beginning in 1972."

That's a shameless, unadulterated lie. Because we're idiots, we're asked to believe that the sole purpose for the removal of "Not For Identification" was for design purposes. The fact that our Social Security numbers were going to become a major identification tool had nothing to do with getting rid of the statement.

Aside from these lies, Social Security is a Ponzi scheme. The major difference between Social Security and Bernie Madoff's Ponzi scheme is his was illegal. Three Nobel laureate economists have testified that Social Security is a Ponzi scheme. Dr. Paul Samuelson called it "the greatest Ponzi game ever contrived." Dr. Milton Friedman said it was "the biggest Ponzi scheme on earth." Dr. Paul Krugman predicted that "the Ponzi game will soon be over."

Three cheers to Gov. Rick Perry for having the guts to tell us that Social Security is a monstrous lie and a Ponzi scheme.

SOURCE

***************************

Another Obama disaster unfolding

Corrupt, of course

If you thought the half-billion-dollar, stimulus-funded Solyndra solar company bust was a taxpayer nightmare, just wait. If you thought the botched Fast and Furious border gun-smuggling surveillance operation was a national security nightmare, hold on. Right on the heels of those two blood-boilers comes yet another alleged pay-for-play racket from the most ethical administration ever.

Welcome to LightSquared. It's a toxic mix of venture socialism (to borrow GOP Sen. Jim DeMint's apt phrase), campaign finance influence-peddling and perilous corner-cutting all rolled into one.

The company is building "a state-of-the-art open wireless broadband network." Competition in the industry is a good thing, of course. But military, government and civilian aviation experts have long objected to LightSquared's potential to interfere with the Global Positioning System (GPS) satellite network. As the government's own Positioning, Navigation and Timing agency explained:

"The GPS community is concerned because testing has shown that LightSquared's ground-based transmissions overpower the relatively weak GPS signal from space. Although LightSquared will operate in its own radio band, that band is so close to the GPS signals that most GPS devices pick up the stronger LightSquared signal and become overloaded or jammed."

Two high-ranking witnesses -- Air Force Space Command four-star Gen. William Shelton and National Coordination Office for Space-Based Positioning, Navigation and Timing Director Anthony Russo -- have now blown the whistle on how the White House pressured them to alter their congressional testimony and play down concerns about LightSquared's threat to military communications. According to Eli Lake of The Daily Beast, both officials were urged to express confidence in the company and endorse its promise to address any technical concerns "within 90 days."

Gen. Shelton had noted earlier this year: "Within three to five miles on the ground and within 12 miles in the air, GPS is jammed by (LightSquared's) towers. ... If we allow that system to be fielded and it does indeed jam GPS, think about the impact. We're hopeful we can find a solution, but physics being physics, we don't see a solution right now."

Despite industry-wide protests, the firm somehow received fast-track approval for a special FCC waiver that grants LightSquared the right to use wireless spectrum to build out a national 4G wireless network on the cheap. Ken Boehm, of the conservative watchdog National Legal and Policy Center (NLPC) in Washington, D.C., summed up the deal earlier this year: "LightSquared will get the spectrum for a song, while its competitors (e.g., AT&T and Verizon) have to spend billions."

The current "fix" LightSquared proposes to address the interference problems is a costly, conceptual pipe dream that could require massive retrofitting of millions of handheld GPS devices. GPS expert Eric Gakstatter scoffs: "I've been pretty open-minded about LightSquared proposing a solution, but this really insults our intelligence. (A)s we've seen previously with LightSquared, it's not about finding a practical solution for the GPS user community; it's all about selling an idea to the FCC. The problem is that the FCC doesn't have to live with LightSquared's half-baked 'solution'; we do."

So, what's greasing LightSquared's skids? Hint: It used to be known as "Skyterra." In 2005, Obama put $50,000 into the speculative firm -- raising eyebrows even among his water-carriers at The New York Times. The paper noted that Skyterra's principal backers at the time of the investment included four Obama "friends and donors who had raised more than $150,000 for his political committees."

One of those pals who urged him to buy stock in Skyterra was George Haywood, a major Skyterra investor and campaign donor who chipped in nearly $50,000 to Obama's campaigns and to his political action committee along with his wife.

Coincidentally, Obama bought his Skyterra stock the very same day the FCC "ruled in favor of the company's effort to create a nationwide wireless network by combining satellites and land-based communications systems." The Times reported that immediately after that morning ruling, "Tejas Securities, a regional brokerage in Texas that handled investment banking for Skyterra, issued a research report speculating that Skyterra stock could triple in value."

Coincidentally, Tejas and its chairman, John J. Gorman, were also major backers of Obama -- flying him in a private plane for political rallies and pitching in more than $150,000 for his campaign coffers since 2004. Obama sold his stock at a loss in November 2005, but his political relationship with the company was cemented. In 2009, shady billionaire hedge-fund manager Philip Falcone -- whose firm Harbinger Capital Partners is reportedly under investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission for market manipulation abuses -- acquired Skyterra.

Coincidentally, Falcone, his wife and LightSquared CEO Sanjiv Ahuja have contributed nearly $100,000 between them to the Democratic Party during critical White House meeting periods and negotiations over LightSquared's regulatory fate.

Oh, and coincidentally, there's $6 billion earmarked for a "public safety broadband corporation" buried in the Obama jobs proposal just as LightSquared pushes into that market, too.

It's all just one strange quirk of timing, Team Obama shrugs. Except, as we all should know by now: There are no coincidences in Chicago on the Potomac. Just an endless avalanche of quids, quos and taxpayer woes.

SOURCE

***********************

ELSEWHERE

Another view of the Boston Tea Party: "In 1773, Parliament passed the Tea Act, which allowed the East India Company to import tea to the colonies duty-free. Suddenly, all the people who imported tea to the colonies, legally and illegally, were priced out of the market by a competitor that received special government favors. Some of the people on the boats in Boston Harbor the night of December 16 were concerned about overreaching government authority and a pattern of abuse, but lots of them were smugglers or legal shippers who were rebelling against the loss of their livelihood to a government policy that favored one business at the expense of others"

How to make legal advice, services more affordable without taxpayer subsidies: "At Truth on the Market, I discuss how to make legal advice and legal services more affordable at this link. I also discuss the extent to which the legal profession should be deregulated to reduce the cost of legal services and increase their accessibility to people of modest means, and what kinds of regulation need to remain in force to protect the public."

Obama the Greek: "Greece is in economic meltdown. Its economy has become so biased towards the public sector that it is now literally unsustainable. It cannot afford to pay its bills and will surely default soon, unless Germany can be persuaded to bail it out. Unfortunately for America, the principles that got Greece into this mess are the same ones that President Obama wants to use to supposedly get America back to work."

My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. I have deleted my Facebook page as I rarely access it. For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, GUN WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena

List of backup or "mirror" sites here or here -- for readers in China or for everyone when blogspot is "down" or failing to update. Email me here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or here (Pictorial) or here (Personal)

****************************

The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)

****************************

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Why no increase in living standards?

In the excerpt below, economic historian Martin Hutchinson sets out clearly that real incomes for almost all Americans have not increased for a long time. Even the entry of many more women into the workforce has not helped. In the light of past income gains and all the technological progress over recent decades, this is pretty astounding. So why?

Congress, is the simple answer, sometimes with the assistance of the President. Their ever-increasing and amazingly stupid meddling in the economy has choked off growth. The half a billion dollars that Mr Obama recently wasted on a failed "green jobs" company (Solyndra) is merely the latest example of that.

As Hutchinson points out in detail, the blizzard of regulation does fairly closely coincide with the economic pause. He then goes on to blame a second factor for the pause: The expansion of international trade. But that is mightily eccentric. From ancient Athens onward, trading nations have always been beacons of prosperity -- so I think we can regard Hutchinson's excursion in that direction as either a descent into populism or a desire to provoke, probably the latter.

But there IS a second cause of the economic hiatus. The blizzard of regulation has produced both direct and indirect harms. Hutchinson concentrates on the indirect harms: The innumerable costly barriers that business now has to surmount before they can produce anything.

Quite amazingly, however, Hutchinson overlooks the direct harm of ever-increasing regulation: The vast expansion of a largely useless bureaucracy. It is the bureaucrats who are eating the worker's lunch. Why does America need Federal departnents of health, education and the environment, for instance? The States all have departments dealing with those matters. Abolishing all the Federal departments that overlap with State functions would slash the bureaucracy hugely and free up the penpushers to do something useful.

Making a useful citizen out of a penpusher would not happen overnight but with retraining it could happen over time. And doing something useful -- something people will voluntarily pay for -- is what wealth consists of. The national wealth consists of goods and services, not bits of greenbacked paper. The wealth is what the money will buy, not the money itself.

So if Obama had something more than a vacuum between his ears he would be blaming bureaucratic over-reach, not "The rich" for America's present doldrums


The Census Bureau’s study of American incomes, poverty and health coverage issued last week was most interesting when considered, not as a metric of this recession, but as a long-term picture of where American living standards are going. If median incomes are back to 1996 levels in real terms, then the stagnation which followed the 1973 living standards peak has intensified and the prognostication for the future must be thoroughly unpleasant. It’s thus worth examining how much of the decline is only a medium-term problem, due to mistaken policies that can be reversed, and how much is an inevitable and permanent decline from what may have been a fleeting middle class Nirvana in 1950-73.

Real U.S. median household income of $49,445 in 2010 was 6.4% below its level in 2007 and 7.3% below its peak in 1999. Given the performance of the economy it’s likely that this position has worsened in 2011. More alarmingly, median household income is only 0.9% above its value in 1989 and 6.3% above its level of 1973. For most households, an entire working life of 38 years has elapsed with no significant increase in living standards. As is well known, the dispersion of income has also sharply increased; in 1973 only 1.2% of households had an income above $200,000 in 2010 dollars, whereas in 2010 3.9% of households exceeded that level. The middle middle class, with incomes of $35,000 to $74,999 has shrunk from 40% of the population to 31%.

Even this grim tale does not give a full picture of the decline, because household income has been sustained compared to 1973 by a much higher proportion of women in the workforce. Real median male earnings have declined by 4% since 1973, whether you consider all men or only those with full-time, year-round jobs. However the picture is brighter for women, whose workforce participation rate was around 70% of men’s in 1973 if you consider all jobs, or a mere 43% of men’s participation if you consider only full-time, year-round jobs. Today female workforce participation is 90% of male whichever way you look at it. Furthermore women’s earnings have done much better than men’s, up by 85% for all workers or 33% when only full-time workers are considered. Still the bottom line is that for traditional families, real incomes have only increased since 1973 at the cost of the wife going out to work and childcare being hired (if necessary.)

Unsurprisingly, the U.S. workforce is thoroughly disgruntled, with attitudes to public institutions, politicians, churches the media etc. having declined catastrophically since the 1970s. This is in no way a sign of deteriorating national character, but simply of stagnating and in many cases declining national fortunes.

There appear to be two culprits for stagnating or declining living standards, apart from technological change, which may also have played a complex role. The first was a blizzard of regulation beginning in the 1960s and intensifying after 1970, with a second burst in 1989-94 and a third since 2009. In the 1970s, living standards’ fall from their 1973 peak coincided with (i) more U.S. income going into environmental cleanup (probably mostly beneficial, even if not directly included in GDP) (ii) into intensified safety and workplace welfare legislation (a bonanza for trial lawyers but probably little benefit to others, and certainly tending to reduce wages and increase healthcare costs) and (iii) such nonsenses as the Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards, which added a huge drag to the U.S. economy, wiped out well over a million high-paid jobs in the U.S. automobile industry and achieved far less fuel saving than would have been achieved by a 50 cent tax on gasoline. Second and third bursts of regulatory hyperactivity, in 1989-94 and since 2009, have coincided with further erosions of U.S. living standards; this is most unlikely to be a coincidence.

The other major culprit, which kicked in around 1995 or so, is globalization, caused by the immense technological change of the Internet and modern cellphones, which have made multinational logistical sourcing chains infinitely more efficient and cheaper. This is not simply a one-off effect; outsourcing a product or service to India, China or Vietnam not only makes it cheaper, but also increases the capabilities of the local Indian, Chinese or Vietnamese workforce, raising its capability still further and making it competitive in more sophisticated products and services. In this respect David Ricardo’s Doctrine of Comparative Advantage, which essentially said that outsourcing was beneficial to both the rich outsourcer economy and the poor outsourcee economy, has been proved to be completely wrong. Ricardo failed to take account of the improved capabilities in the outsourcee that would result from the outsourcing, and the ability of newly empowered impoverished outsourcee workforces to learn the business, clamber up the value chain and eat the outsourcer’s lunch.

More HERE

*************************

The Dodd-Frank Layoffs: As regulation cuts profits, Bank of America cuts 30,000 jobs

What is the cost of overregulation? Bank of America appears to have provided part of the answer by announcing yesterday that the nation's largest bank will cut 30,000 jobs between now and 2014. CEO Brian Moynihan said the bank's plan is to slash $5 billion in annual expenses from its consumer businesses.

Mr. Moynihan didn't say this, but we will: These layoffs are part of the bill for the last two years of Washington's financial rule-writing. After loose monetary policy had combined with insane housing policy to create a financial crisis, the Democrats who ran Washington in 2009 and 2010 enacted myriad new rules that had nothing to do with easy money or housing.

Take the amendment that Illinois Democrat and Senator Dick Durbin (with the help of 17 Senate Republicans) attached to last year's Dodd-Frank financial law. Mr. Durbin's amendment instructed the Federal Reserve to limit the amount of "swipe fees" that banks can charge merchants when customers use debit cards.

How exactly does forcing banks to charge Wal-Mart less money for operating an electronic payment system prevent the next financial crisis? Readers may wait a long time for a satisfactory answer, but the cost of this Dodd-Frank directive is straightforward.

The Fed dutifully ordered banks to cut their fees almost in half. Bank of America disclosed in its most recent quarterly report that this change will reduce the bank's debit-card revenues by $475 million in just the fourth quarter of this year. The new rules take effect on October 1, so BofA seems to have sensible timing as it begins to shed workers from a consumer business that has become suddenly less profitable by federal edict.

Make that the latest federal edict. In 2009, when a comprehensive overhaul of financial regulation was still a gleam in Barney Frank's eye, President Obama signed the CARD Act into law. It limited the ability of banks to increase rates on delinquent borrowers and to charge fees on unprofitable customers. As Washington encouraged card issuers to be more selective in advancing credit and to demand higher rates when they do, interest rates on card customers predictably increased relative to other types of lending in the months after the law took effect.

Restricting bank profits on a particular product may have obvious populist appeal, but politicians shouldn't be surprised if banks decide that such consumer credit operations aren't good businesses and can function with fewer employees. Add in the various federal programs aimed at extracting penalties for this or that mortgage-foreclosure error and it's understandable that a bank would have trouble forecasting growth to justify its current work force.

To be sure, Bank of America is also suffering from its own mistake in deciding to buy Countrywide Financial in 2008. As for the financial industry generally, it had become distended and needed to shrink after the bubble years of easy money.

But given the real-world results for bank employees, politicians should not be allowed to pretend that there are no consequences when they deliberately reduce the profitability of employers. Mr. Obama proposed last week to spend some $450 billion more in outlays or tax credits to create more jobs, but it would have cost a lot less to save these 30,000.

SOURCE

*****************************

Obama Tax Plan Would Kill Jobs, Small Firms Say

While President Obama's deficit-reduction proposal is sure to win plaudits from Warren Buffett, it may get a chillier reception from small businesses.

Obama's $3 trillion deficit reduction plan includes $1.5 trillion in tax hikes. It would end Bush-era tax cuts on the rich, cap deductions on mortgage interest and charitable donations and close various corporate loopholes.

But the plan's "Buffett Rule"may prove its most controversial feature. It would require those making more than $1 million to pay effective income-tax rates comparable to the middle class. "Any reform should follow (a) simple principle," said Obama. "Middle-class families should not have to pay higher taxes than millionaires and billionaires."

Small Firms' Big Objections

Ray Keating, chief economist with the conservative Small Business Entrepreneurship Council, responds, "That's going to raise taxes on capital. Among high-income earners, you're talking about the people with resources to invest in start-ups, new businesses and growing jobs."

Dan Danner, president of the National Federation of Independent Business, the largest small-business lobby, said in a statement: "New tax increases on America's biggest job creators are the last thing this economy needs to get back on track. At least 75% of small businesses file taxes on business income at the individual rate."

The Buffett Rule was inspired by the billionaire who lamented in a recent New York Times op-ed that due to various loopholes he pays a lower effective tax rate than his employees.

But Obama gave few details. It's not clear how the Buffett Rule would be enforced or how much revenue it would generate. "My understanding is that the president does not even count the revenue from the Buffett Rule" in the deficit plan," said Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., in a conference call with reporters. "Instead, he means it as a first principle as we seek to cut our debt."

While Obama's deficit plan may hike taxes on entrepreneurs, the economic plan he released on Sept. 5 tries to spur job creation. It includes proposals such as a payroll tax holiday for adding new staff or increasing pay and a $4,000 tax credit for hiring the long-term unemployed.

"This is the detachment from reality among part of the political class," said Keating. "Businesses aren't going to hire somebody because of a one-time $4,000 tax credit. They weigh costs vs. returns. They look at where their business is going."

John Arensmeyer, CEO of the liberal Small Business Majority, replied, "It may not change a small business' decision if it doesn't need to fill a position, but makes it less costly to fill positions that it needs to fill."

Republicans accused Obama of engaging in class warfare. "Pitting one group of Americans against another is not leadership," said House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio.

But it may shore up the president's flagging support among his base. Just 68% of liberals told Gallup last week that they approve of his performance, an all-time low.

The Obama plan also cuts spending by $2 trillion — excluding the $447 billion jobs plan. That includes $1.1 trillion from the already-expected wind-down of troops from Afghanistan and Iraq, $580 billion in cuts to Medicare, Medicaid, farm subsidies and other programs, and $430 billion in interest savings.

Keating points out that many of the spending cuts are actually reductions in the rates of growth. "Spending cuts should be spending cuts," he said.

James Horney, vice president at the liberal Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, replies, "The right way to look at it is to say here is the path we're headed on, how much are we proposing to change that path?"

SOURCE

************************

An amazing Grand Mufti of Australia

Grand Mufti Ibrahim Abu Mohamed feels duty to 'cure' radicals



HOMEGROWN Muslim radicals are like "ill" patients in need of guidance and whose extremism is often fuelled by examples of injustice abroad such as the simmering conflict between Israelis and Palestinians.

Australia's new Grand Mufti, Ibrahim Abu Mohamed, told The Australian young Muslims who were in the orbit of extremist preachers must be "corrected".

Speaking just days after his appointment, Dr Mohamed said homegrown radicalisation, considered by security agencies to be the most serious terror threat Australia faces, was the result of a distorted view of Islam. "Our duty is to clarify those matters," Dr Mohamed said through an interpreter.

"An extremist is like an ill person, an unhealthy person. You need to cure him and find the right cure for him more than just to destroy him and finish him off."

Dr Mohamed has earned a reputation as a bridge-builder between Australia's disparate Muslim communities. One law enforcement source contacted by The Australian described the Islamic scholar as "highly respected and very influential".

Dr Mohamed urged Australians to have some perspective on sharia law, saying the Islamic legal code was largely misunderstood and punishments were only a small part. "Sharia also calls for freedom, justice, right of speech and this is something we are very fortunate to have," he said.

"These are all matters that we already implement here as Australians, and we're proud to have it as Australian values."

SOURCE

My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. I have deleted my Facebook page as I rarely access it. For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, GUN WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena

List of backup or "mirror" sites here or here -- for readers in China or for everyone when blogspot is "down" or failing to update. Email me here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or here (Pictorial) or here (Personal)

****************************

The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)

****************************

Monday, September 19, 2011

Leftist anti-science

The major theme in Democrat attacks on GOP Presidential contenders at the moment seems to be that they are "anti-science". As usual, if we want to see what is true of Leftists, we just have to look at what they say about conservatives. Leftists are such good "projectors" that they would be star employees in any movie house. And the multiple fallacies in global warming theory reveal who are the religious believers and who is pro-science.

And if belief in God is anti-science, what are we to make of core Leftist beliefs such as "all men are equal"? Such beliefs are clearly false in any physical sense. They are anti-science beliefs. They are religious (metaphysical) beliefs. And even though I am an atheist I think that belief in "all men are equal" is a lot nuttier than belief in God. Anybody can see with their own eyes that the Leftist belief is false. As many have argued, Leftism is a religion too.

I am very pleased however to present a third argument that it is the Left who are anti-science. Brilliant young American philosopher Nathan Cofnas has given me permission to present a small excerpt from his forthcoming book
Reptiles with a conscience. See below:

Just as some conservatives, mainly religious conservatives, are opposed to science that they perceive as threatening to their religious beliefs, many liberals are opposed to science that they perceive as threatening to their liberal beliefs.

For example, when president of Harvard Larry Summers suggested and provided evidence that innate, biologically rooted differences in aptitude between the sexes explain some of female underrepresentation in quantitative fields, two motions to censure him were introduced by two professors of humanities—anthropologist J. Lorand Matory and sociologist Theda Skocpol—and the ultimately successful movement to fire him was led almost entirely by other professors of humanities, most with no training in psychometrics.

In April 2005 I had an e-mail correspondence with a well-known critic [Nancy Hopkins from MIT] of Larry Summers’ comments on women’s underrepresentation in quantitative fields. Summers said that, because men have a larger variance in math ability, among those qualified to teach mathematics at top universities, which he suggested requires ability corresponding to a math IQ of 160, about 20 percent are women.

I pointed out to this critic that Summers provided data in support of his hypothesis, whereas I had not seen her provide data in any of her public rebuttals of him. She began her response to me with the statement that she is “interested only in the truth!”

She then explained that real potential in mathematics is not measured by the tests on which Summers’ data were based. She wrote: “The top math students in North America are not measured by the SAT score and its tail as Summers suggested, but rather by a much more competitive test that measures the true math genius whiz kids. This test is called the Putnam competition.…

This year, 1 of the 5 Putnam Fellows is a girl. In addition, this year, 4 of the top 15 students in the competition… were women.”

As politely as I could, I pointed out that one out of five is 20 percent, and four out of fifteen is about 27 percent, which is consistent with Summers’ assertion that males are overrepresented at the high end of ability at a ratio of 1:5.

Her response was to tell me that I “cannot listen to the facts that are put before [me]” and that “Old folks like…[me] should retire gracefully into the sunset.”

Her response was very curious to me (not just because I was a seventeen-year-old high school student at the time, which presumably she didn’t know). Why, if Summers said that woman are underrepresented at the high end of ability at a ratio of 1:5, would this critic counter with evidence that confirms exactly that?

She is not stupid. She is a scientist at a top university, and entirely capable of realizing that her own data support the very hypothesis she opposes. If she has no commitment to accepting the implication of evidence, why cite evidence? And why assert interest in truth so emphatically? If she has the intellectual capacity to realize that her own argument is invalid, why would she expect that argument to convince anyone else?

I think that I now can answer these questions. Truth is a value to almost everyone. But most people have many other values to which they are more committed than they are to truth—like in this case, commitment to the belief that the male and female populations have the same distribution of all cognitive abilities and proclivities.

When truth conflicts with more important values, people do not outright deny truth or its importance; they pay as much homage to truth as possible without compromising their more important values. One way of doing this is to pretend to use the method of discovering truth—namely, appealing to empirical evidence or logical argument—to arrive at their predetermined conclusion.

**********************

Throw out cheating Greece before the rot cripples rest of the world

Greece may be far away, it may be a small economy, but it is dragging down the value of your superannuation because its problems are a drag on the global sharemarket. The root cause of the problem is simple. The national sport of Greece is cheating. Cheating across every tier of society.

Greece needs to be thrown out of the euro zone. The crisis is coming to a head, as it must, but we will all pay. It is merely the most extreme manifestation of a failure of democracy by the European Union.

The Greeks are being forced into a humiliating and unsustainable austerity program, which is contracting their economy into a depression. This is one of several misguided policies by the European Central Bank and the EU, which have not grasped the impossibility of maintaining the fiction that Greece is a viable member of the euro zone, or even the European Union itself.

Feel no sympathy for Greece. The Greek government lied its way into the Economic and Monetary Union in 2001, presenting false data, and ever since Greece has been a cancer in the euro zone.

Ostensibly, the national sport of Greece is football, but even football is compromised by the real national sport of cheating. Two years ago, the governing body of European football, UEFA, sent the Hellenic Football Federation dossiers detailing a pattern of illegal betting and match-fixing involving dozens of games. Some of the biggest clubs in Greece were involved.

The Hellenic Football Federation, like so much of the rest of Greek society, preferred the path of delusion, delay and denial. It did not respond. It did nothing. After 18 months, UEFA officials went to the Greek criminal justice system. News of the meeting broke in the media. The Greek government had to begin a criminal investigation. In June, authorities charged 84 officials with offences related to match-fixing, involving 54 games, including even a game last year between the two domestic giants, Olympiakos and Panathinaikos. In July, two other Superleague clubs were demoted for match-fixing.

It was a metaphor for the nation which Transparency International rates as the most corrupt in Europe (with Bulgaria and Romania, except that they had to emerge from a repressive communist system). Greece has the highest rate of tax evasion in Europe. So pervasive is this problem that the nation is bankrupt. Confronted with a need to cut spending and raise revenue, the government has been crippled by an inability to raise taxes because the tax system is so rotten and the culture of evasion is so ingrained across everyday life.

Whereas in most Western countries, including Australia and the US, studies have shown that people do not begrudge paying taxes if they believe the tax system is equitable, no such ethos applies in Greece.

Almost every element of society shares in this inglorious achievement. Successive governments piled up debt to pay for social services and pensions. The public service was bloated and its unions demanded early retirement and generous pensions. Public debt has blown out to about 150 per cent of gross domestic product. The courts have a backlog of 300,000 tax cases. The tax-collection system is riddled with a culture of bribery. The banks have been reckless. The business community is immersed in tax avoidance. A large anarchist subculture wants to cripple capitalism. And the rich are the biggest tax cheats of all.

The black economy in Greece, where tax is avoided altogether, is estimated at 27.5 per cent of GDP, about double the scale of the black economy in Australia, and does not include the underground economy of crime.

As for the larger failure in which the Greek failure is unfolding, Western Europe has created a structural tension between the wishes of its various national peoples, expressed through their parliaments and central banks, and the dictates of a transnational bureaucracy, the European Union.

The most dangerous fault line is the conduct of the European Central Bank, which cannot set the fiscal policies of EU members but is acting as if it can. It has been buying zombie bonds issued by Greece, Italy, Spain and Portugal, the derisively called PIGS economies. The markets see this as folly because the debt mountain of the pigs is much greater than the resources of the European Central Bank.

The euro zone is fractured between the profligate Mediterranean PIGS and the prudent northern bloc led by Germany and the Netherlands, which in recent days have indicated they have reached the limit of their willingness to bail out Greece.

The bond market has worked out this policy schism. The sharemarket has worked it out. The markets have stopped believing in the credibility of European political solutions. The result is a run on the banks most vulnerable to PIGS debt. Greek debt is becoming untouchable, with the yield on two-year debt now an extraordinary 47 per cent.

Ever since the high point for modern Greece, the 2004 Olympics in Athens, it has become increasingly clear that the country was living on borrowed time and borrowed money, a state of collective delusion. Even Greece's two biggest Olympic stars, two medal-winning sprinters, turned out to be drug cheats. They even staged a fake accident to avoid a doping test.

The whole country is heading into a crash now and it is not fake.

SOURCE

***************************

Belgian parties reach deal on government

Dutch-speaking and Francophone parties reached a breakthrough yesterday in the world’s longest negotiations to form a new governing coalition a record 15 months after elections were held.

The eight parties announced they had reached a deal on the breakup of an electoral district in and around bilingual Brussels, an issue that had vexed politicians for almost half a century and was at the heart of the long standoff between the linguistic groups as they sought to change the constitution.

The parties said that negotiations on other issues, such as economic and social policy, would continue later yesterday. “Our work is far from over, and we still need a lot of negotiations,’’ said the joint statement.

Still, after a government stalemate already considered by far a world record, news of the breakthrough was lauded by many as fundamental. “It is a historic breakthrough. It is extremely important and positive,’’ said caretaker Prime Minister Yves Leterme.

SOURCE

*********************

Tax the Rich and Then What?

Warren Buffet has finally gotten his wish on taxation: “My friends and I have been coddled long enough by a billionaire-friendly Congress. It’s time for our government to get serious about shared sacrifice.”

President Obama is listening, and is now proposing a “Buffett Rule”. After all, the “the most fortunate among us...”, can afford to pay a “lil’ bit more”...right?

“Balanced approach”, “shared sacrifice”, “tax breaks for corporate jets”...no matter how you characterize it, it’s a war on the people who hire us and create things. The takers vs. the makers.

It always sounds good to those “less fortunate” to make those “more fortunate” pay all the bills, regardless of whether their lack of “fortune” is related to laziness, bad decisions, or anything else in their control. With the exception of inherited wealth, the “fortunate” have earned their money, through innovation and motivation.

When my husband and I discuss what to do with our money each month, these are the questions we are forced to answer. How much will be allocated, and where will it be allocated? Debt, savings, investments? If there’s any left, that is.

The New York Times said, “...restoring capital gains and dividend rates to the levels before the Bush tax cuts — when capital gains were taxed at a top rate of 20 percent and dividends were treated as ordinary income — would bring the Treasury an additional $340 billion over the next decade.” And your point is...? That’s less than chicken feed, in a world where billion is the new million.

If Obama confiscated every dime of wealth from Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, and Steve Jobs, (none of whom acquired their wealth through luck), the amount wouldn’t even cover the debt that’s increased under Obama’s watch, let alone balance the budget. And I wouldn’t be any better off than I am now. Not to mention the detrimental effect such a policy would have on American innovation and competitiveness.

It goes without saying that all of us should be able to keep as much of our earnings as possible. Sure, it costs money to pay for fire fighters, police officers, roads, etc., but do they have to costs as much as they do?

Can we afford to keep dumping endless money into an education system that isn’t effective? High speed rail lines to nowhere? Employing government workers whose job descriptions are vague at best? Of course not, and those problems won’t be solved by fleecing the rich.

SOURCE

**********************

ELSEWHERE

Report: VA hospital readmission rates deal blow to Medicare: "The Veterans Health Administration, the largest integrated healthcare system in the country, has long employed many of the approaches Medicare is pushing on all hospitals to reduce unnecessary readmissions. But new data show VA hospital patients are just as likely to end up back in a hospital bed as are patients at private hospitals"

There is a new lot of postings by Chris Brand just up -- on his usual vastly "incorrect" themes of race, genes, IQ etc.

My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. I have deleted my Facebook page as I rarely access it. For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, GUN WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena

List of backup or "mirror" sites here or here -- for readers in China or for everyone when blogspot is "down" or failing to update. Email me here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or here (Pictorial) or here (Personal)

****************************

The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)

****************************