Monday, March 04, 2013
Pictures, pictures, pictures!
Every now and again I find a picture, graphic or toon that amuses me in some way and I put it up on this blog or on one of my other blogs. I have just put together what I see as the "best" of my pictures for the period of July to December last year. You can access it here or here
False Prophets and the End of the World
Remember back in 2011 when radio broadcaster and end-of-the-world prognosticator Harold Camping predicted the world’s end on October 21 yet the day passed with nary a sign of Armageddon?
Last year, the ancient Mayans and a few North American self-proclaimed prophets like Warren Jeffs had various dates in December pegged for the end. Imagine the surprise of their true believers when the sun came up the next day. Did they feel relief? Disappointment? Skepticism (somewhat overdue) toward their leaders? Some no doubt have left the cult while others wait in trepidation for their prophet to predict a new date of apocalypse.
More recently, what did those who believed in the sequestration end-of-the-world feel when they woke up this morning and everything was as they left it last night? Air traffic controllers are still directing flights and no planes have fallen from the sky. Medical research is still going on. Teachers are on their way to work as are health inspectors. National parks are open. Children are getting vaccinated. Government satellites continue to orbit the earth. The day will go on as every other day before it. No need to stay in the bunker.
As for the true believers, are they experiencing relief that the $85 billion cut—a mere 2.3 percent from this year’s $3.6 trillion budget—has not thrown the country into crisis? Or disappointment that the great federal government is not so indispensable that its growth rate cannot be trimmed a little without dire consequences? Will they feel skepticism (somewhat overdue) toward the self-interested politicians who use scare tactics to get what they want and the press that hypes fears for ratings? Some no doubt are now tuning out the fear mongering while others wait for the politicians to cry Armageddon once again.
During the past couple of “crises,” politicians’ fear mongering has successfully prevented any spending cuts while justifying tax hikes. It’s been “A tournament, tournament, a tournament of lies” to quote R.E.M.’s manic song It's the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine). Tales of fiscal cliffs and government shut-downs have distracted from the real problems ahead like the $16 trillion in national debt, Social Security and Medicare’s fragile financial footing, and yearly trillion plus dollar deficits.
While sequestration may not be the best way to cut an irresponsible $3.6 trillion budget, it has become the only way that politicians will do what is right. Only the House of Representatives has had the courage to cut spending, but it cannot act alone. Incredibly, Senate Democrats and the White House tried to pass a bill yesterday that would have increased spending and raised taxes. Didn’t Congress just raise taxes? Without sequestration, the status quo remains unchallenged and that is a truly scary situation.
In the end, however, sequestration is insufficient to adequately reduce the deficit. Because it is only a cut in the growth of spending, the government will still spend more taxpayer money next year than it did this year. More cuts in discretionary spending are long overdue and there are countless examples of duplicative and ineffective federal programs and endless corporate and farm subsidies from which lawmakers can choose. Half of the budget, however, is devoted to mandatory spending—Medicare, Social Security, Medicaid, and interest on the debt—all of which is exempt from the sequester. It is clear that lawmakers must summon the will to reform these programs in order to balance the budget now and for the long term. In 2020,interest on the federal debt will rise to $1 trillion a year. Over the next decade the Social Security disability fund and Medicare hospital insurance run out of reserves. In another ten years, Social Security will run dry. The sequester does nothing to stave off these daunting budget crises.
The sequester does, however, prove that government spending can be cut without triggering the end of the world. It shows the crisis mongering on the Left for what it is—a con designed to milk the public for more money.
Leftist obfuscation and deception
I have long contended that public policy issues are as complicated as they appear because the giants of Capitol Hill like it that way, particularly the giants of the left. Bills can be written more simply. Decisions can be phrased with a certain lucidity. Yet, if they were, the electorate would mull them over and, after a cup of coffee, make a decision on them. As things stand today, with talk of budget imbalance and of esoteric matters such as "sequestration," voters scratch their heads, blink their eyes and walk away. Who gives a hoot? It is time for my morning nap, perhaps, two naps.
This is another anti-democratic way that Washington politicians have bootlegged our legislative process. Make policy so confusing to normal people that they will take little or no interest in it. It is all a game reserved exclusively for the political class. Al Gore in his new book, prosaically titled "The Future: Six Drivers of Global Change," bangs on about the power of lobbyists and giant corporations in shaping legislation -- do you know anyone who sits on more corporate boards than Gore? Has he considered the unwieldy nature of the legislation in the first place? Debt piled atop debt that even Warren Buffett cannot conceptualize. Sequestration, indeed -- why not segregation or constipation? It is a geek to me.
Then there is another of Washington's ways, lying. Or merely indulging in double talk until it reaches the point of lying or at least of deceiving. Both Republicans and Democrats do that all the time, though the number one Democrat is showing himself to be a master in the art. Now, however, he is going over the top. I believe, in his current row over sequestration, he has misstated the truth so shamelessly that he is in danger of destroying the one thing he as a politician needs the most, credibility. Once that is gone, he will have critics and even friends raising doubts about what he says on matters vast and puny.
The White House and the president have claimed that the Republicans have raised the present hullabaloo over sequestration. It was their idea, according to the White House and the president. That struck me as odd because, according to my recollection in the summer of 2011, the White House devised the idea of sequestration to ease both Republicans and Democrats into a deal enabling them to raise the debt ceiling -- remember the debt ceiling? Furthermore, if memory serves, included in the 2011 deal was a provision to bar any further tax increases. The president himself endorsed the idea. Actually, in his third debate with Mitt Romney he specifically said, "The sequester is not something I proposed." No, "It is something that the Congress proposed."
Now he is continuing to misstate the truth, but in so doing he casts doubt on Bob Woodward's latest book, and that has aroused Woodward. Says Woodward, "My extensive reporting for my book, "The Price of Politics," shows the automatic spending cuts [sequestration] were initiated by the White House and were the brainchild of [Jack] Lew [at the time White House chief of staff and now Obama's nominee for secretary of the treasury] and White House congressional relations chief Rob Nabors ... " And more: "Obama personally approved of the plan for Lew and Nabors to propose the sequester to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. They did so at 2:30 p.m. July 27, 2011, according to interviews with two senior White House aides who were directly involved."
President Obama, you are being watched. I would not resort to such tricks typical of a community organizer but not so easily resorted to by a president. Too many people are watching. Bill Clinton could advise you on this. It is not wise to play cute with the historic record.
President Obama has a problem on Capitol Hill. He is not trusted. The Republicans do not trust him and Democrats are wary. My guess is that this administration is going to find the years ahead painful.
Study Says Free Lunches Expensive, Lack Nutrition
A controversial government study today revealed an astounding conclusion: free lunches are expensive and lack nutrition. All copies of the study have since disappeared and the members of the blue-ribbon panel which produced it have not been seen since it was released.
President Obama condemned the results, alleging that the panelists were "receiving bread under the table from the restaurant industry."
"It's nonsense," said the president. "Michelle and I get free lunches all the time and they don't cost us a thing. As far as not being nutritious, well, can anyone believe that after seeing the size of my wife's..." The president was interrupted by a loud noise off stage before completing his thought.
Other critics were less tactful than our unifying president.
"Their conclusion is ridiculous!" claimed Mora Forrus, president of Free Stuff Distribution Employees Union, a nationwide labor organization, which represents workers who help distribute free lunches.
"Just think about it: 'free' means it don't cost anything, so it's free! And 'lunch' is food, which means it's nourishing. Put them together and you get a nourishing free lunch! It's not rocket science!"
"This is right wing propaganda designed to deprive people of their free lunches!" said Forrus, whose union is threatening to strike unless their demands for a wage increase are met. "Distributing free lunches is a tough job - you can't expect us to work for NOTHING!"
"I have never read anything so heartless and insensitive in my life" stated Willie Cheatem, spokesperson for the Lunch Manufacturers Association, a food processing and repast fabricators trade group.
A thug union
What would you say if a group of employees working the Alzheimer’s ward in a health care facility deliberately switched the name tags on patient’s doors making patient identification difficult and removed dietary instructions from the patient’s room, putting patients at risk?
Would it matter that these actions were deliberately taken as part of a labor dispute?
That is exactly what happened at HealthBridge, where SEIU members engaged in a deliberate campaign of sabotage against the company, targeting patient’s health in a “work action.”
HealthBridge for their part, refused to let the offending SEIU local that sanctioned the attack on their patient’s safety, back to work.
Pretty clear cut situation, and truth be told, each of the offenders should have been hauled off to jail for reckless endangerment.
But that isn’t what happens in Obama’s America 2013.
In Obama’s America, his National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) appointees ruled that HealthBridge had to take back the nearly 700 striking “workers.”
HealthBridge is now asking the Supreme Court to take up the case, with a request they have submitted to Justice Antonin Scalia.
But Obama’s NLRB rulings of the past 16 months are in trouble for a different reason. The U.S. District Court of Appeals in the Noel Canning versus NLRB decision threw the NLRB’s ability to make decisions into question as they found that Obama had illegally bypassed the Senate confirmation process in putting three members on the Board in Jan. 2012.
This seemingly benign decision has massive ramifications for the NLRB and all of its rulings over the past year and a half due to a separate Supreme Court case known as New Process Steel. In New Process Steel, the Supreme Court ruled that the NLRB needed to have a quorum of at least three out of five members in order to make any decisions or rulings.
If the Canning decision is upheld by the Supreme Court, then all of the NLRB decisions for the past year and a half will become null and void.
This is certainly good news for the patients at HealthBridge, who deserve quality care, rather than being endangered by union shenanigans.
Detroit faces the music
Michigan’s Rick Snyder has appointed an emergency city manager to do for Detroit what Obama, Biden, the UAW, GM, Chrysler, the city’s council and mayor have not been able to even with a $80 billion bailout of the automotive industry.
“Snyder’s decision comes after a state review team report concluded last week that Detroit is in a financial emergency that it cannot fix on its own,” reports the Detroit Free Press. “The report detailed $14 billion in long-term bond debt and retiree pension and health benefits the city owes in addition to a $327-million accumulated deficit Detroit has been unable to tame. That figure could inflate by $100 million by July.”
The city has been powerless to stop plunging tax revenues. According to the Detroit News almost half of the city’s homeowners have not been able to pay property taxes:
“The News reviewed more than 200,000 pages of tax documents and found that 47 percent of the city's taxable parcels are delinquent on their 2011 bills. Some $246.5 million in taxes and fees went uncollected, about half of which was due Detroit and the rest to other entities, including Wayne County, Detroit Public Schools and the library.”
The article notes that delinquency is so bad that in one stretch of 77 blocks only one owner had paid their taxes.
And it’s not just that residents can’t pay. It’s that many of the taxpayers say they won’t pay taxes for services they aren’t getting.
More from the Detroit News: "Why pay taxes?" asked Fred Phillips, who owes more than $2,600 on his home on an east-side block where five owners paid 2011 taxes. "Why should I send them taxes when they aren't supplying services? It is sickening. … Every time I see the tax bill come, I think about the times we called and nobody came."
But at least the average American can take satisfaction that we have a thriving automotive industry, leading an American comeback in manufacturing. Right?
Nope. CNBC reported this week that the average Americans family can no longer afford to buy new cars.
According to a report by Intrest.com, there is only one major city where the average household income is sufficient to buy a new car.
Bingo! You guessed it: Washington, DC.
“According to the 2013 Car Affordability Study by Interest.com,” says CNBC via Yahoo Finance, “only in Washington could the typical household swing the payments, the median income there running $86,680 a year. At the other extreme, Tampa, Fla., was at the bottom of the 25 large cities included in the study, with a median household income of $43,832.”
Only the countries of Lichtenstein and Qatar enjoy higher per capita income than DC’s median income of $86,680 a year.
Thank goodness. All this time, I thought that the runaway federal spending was just fueling a sense of entitlement, privilege and contempt for us commoners amongst the people who run our government.
For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena . GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten.
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Posted by JR at 1:34 AM