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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Some Numbers From The Economic Collapse That Will Trouble You, And They Aren't Even The Really Scary Ones!

50 U.S. Health Care Statistics That Will Absolutely Astonish You

The U.S. health care system has become one gigantic money making scam, and you are about to see the statistics that prove it.  Today, the United States spends more on health care per person than any other country in the world by far.  The health insurance companies and the big pharmaceutical corporations are raking in gigantic mountains of cash and yet the quality of the health care that we receive in return is rather quite poor.  People living in Puerto Rico have a greater life expectancy than we do.  Residents of Cuba have a lower infant mortality rate than we do.  We are the most medicated population on the planet and yet we are also one of the sickest.  If the U.S. health care system was a country, it would have the 6th largest economy on the globe and yet rates of cancer, heart disease and diabetes continue to increase.  The U.S. health care statistics that you are about to read below are absolutely stunning.  For as much money as we shell out for health care, we should have the greatest system in the entire world.  But we don't.  Something has gone horribly wrong.
As you read this, there are hordes of health bureaucrats and greedy corporate fatcats that are becoming incredibly wealthy while the rest of us go broke trying to pay for our health care.  In the United States today, health care bills cause more bankruptcies than anything else does.  Millions of Americans are afraid to go to the hospital because they know that even a short visit would be a huge financial burden.
Sadly, our politicians in Washington D.C. continue to make the problem worse.  Obamacare was one of the worst pieces of legislation that anyone has ever come up with in the history of the United States.  You could put a thousand monkeys in a room with a thousand typewriters for a thousand years and they wouldn't come up with anything as bad as Obamacare.  Rather than doing something to address the abuses of the health insurance companies and the pharmaceutical corporations, Obamacare actually gives them more power.  In fact, huge portions of Obamacare are virtually identical to a bill that was written by the health insurance trade association in 2009.  Under Obamacare our health care costs will go up even faster and the quality of our health care will continue to go down.  So please don't try to tell me that Obamacare is the solution to anything.
The health care system in the United States is so broken that it probably cannot be repaired.  The entire thing needs to be dismantled and completely reinvented.
If you doubt this, just check out the stats that I have compiled below.
As I put together this list of statistics, Business Insider proved to be a very valuable resource.  In addition, I relied heavily on the following articles which I previously authored....
*25 Shocking Facts That Prove That The Entire U.S. Health Care Industry Has Become One Giant Money Making Scam
*18 Ridiculous Statistics About Medical Bills, Medical Debt And The Health Care Industry That Will Make You So Mad You Will Want To Tear Your Hair Out
*The Coming Doctor Shortage
The following are 50 U.S. health care statistics that will absolutely astonish you....
#1 What the United States spent on health care in 2009 was greater than the entire GDP of Great Britain.
#2 According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, health care costs accounted for just 9.5% of all personal consumption back in 1980.  Today they account for approximately 16.3%.
#3 The United States spent 2.47 trillion dollars on health care in 2009.  It is being projected that the U.S. will spend 4.5 trillion dollars on health care in 2019.
#4 One study found that approximately 41 percent of working age Americans either have medical bill problems or are currently paying off medical debt.
#5 According to a report published in The American Journal of Medicine, medical bills are a major factor in more than 60 percent of the personal bankruptcies in the United States.  Of those bankruptcies that were caused by medical bills, approximately 75 percent of them involved individuals that actually did have health insurance.
#6 Over the past decade, health insurance premiums have risen three times faster than wages have in the United States.
#7 The chairman of Aetna, the third largest health insurance company in the United States, brought in a staggering $68.7 million during 2010. Ron Williams exercised stock options that were worth approximately $50.3 million and he raked in an additional $18.4 million in wages and other forms of compensation.  The funny thing is that he left the company and didn't even work the whole year.
#8 The top executives at the five largest for-profit health insurance companies in the United States combined to receive nearly $200 million in total compensation for 2009.
#9 Even as the rest of the country struggled with a deep recession, U.S. health insurance companies increased their profits by 56 percent during 2009 alone.
#10 According to a report by Health Care for America Now, America's five biggest for-profit health insurance companies ended 2009 with a combined profit of $12.2 billion.
#11 In the United States, health insurance administration expenses account for 8 percent of all health care costs.  In Finland, that figure is just 2 percent.
#12 Health insurance rate increases are getting out of control.  According to the Los Angeles Times, Blue Shield of California announced plans earlier this year to raise rates an average of 30% to 35%, and some individual policy holders were slated to see their health insurance premiums rise by up to 59 percent.
#13 According to an article on the Mother Jones website, health insurance premiums for small employers in the U.S. increased 180% between 1999 and 2009.
#14 Since 2003, health insurance companies have shelled out more than $42 million in state-level campaign contributions.
#15 There were more than two dozen pharmaceutical companies that made over a billion dollars in profits each during 2008.
#16 Each year, tens of billions of dollars is spent on pharmaceutical marketing in the United States alone.
#17 Prescription drugs cost about 50% more in the United States than they do in other countries.
#18 Nearly half of all Americans now use prescription drugs on a regular basis according to a CDC report that was recently released. According to the report, approximately one-third of all Americans use two or more pharmaceutical drugs, and more than ten percent of all Americans use five or more drugs on a regular basis.
#19 According to the CDC, approximately three quarters of a million people a year are rushed to emergency rooms in the United States because of adverse reactions to pharmaceutical drugs.
#20 The Food and Drug Administration reported 1,742 prescription drug recalls in 2009, which was a gigantic increase from 426 drug recalls in 2008.
#21 Children in the United States are three times more likely to be prescribed antidepressants than children in Europe are.
#22 The percentage of women taking antidepressants in America is higher than in any other country in the world.
#23 Lawyers are certainly doing their part to contribute to soaring health care costs.  According to one recent study, the medical liability system in the United States added approximately $55.6 billion to the cost of health care in 2008.
#24 According to one doctor interviewed by Fox News, "a gunshot wound to the head, chest or abdomen" will cost $13,000 at his hospital the moment the victim comes in the door, and then there will be significant additional charges depending on how bad the wound is.
#25 Why are c-sections on the rise?  It is because a vaginal delivery costs approximately $5,992, while a c-section costs approximately $8,558.
#26 According to the CIA World Factbook, the United States had a higher infant mortality rate than 45 other nations in 2009.
#27 The infant mortality rate in the United States is nearly three times as high as it is in Singapore.
#28 It is estimated that hospitals overcharge Americans by about 10 billion dollars every single year.
#29 In fact, one trained medical billing advocate says that over 90 percent of all the medical bills that she has audited contain "gross overcharges".
#30 It is not uncommon for insurance companies to get hospitals to knock their bills down by up to 95 percent, but if you are uninsured or you don't know how the system works then you are out of luck.
#31 Over the last decade, the number of Americans without health insurance has risen from about 38 million to about 52 million.
#32 People living in the United States are three times more likely to have diabetes than people living in the United Kingdom.
#33 Today, people living in Puerto Rico have a greater life expectancy than people living in the United States do.
#34 According to OECD statistics, Americans are twice as obese as Canadians are.
#35 Back in 1965, only one out of every 50 Americans was on Medicaid.  Today, one out of every 6 Americans is on Medicaid.
#36 The U.S. government now says that the Medicare trust fund will run out five years faster than they were projecting just last year.
#37 It is being projected that the federal government will account for more than 50 percent of all health care spending in 2012.
#38 Greece has twice as many hospital beds per person as the United States does.
#39 The state of California now ranks dead last out of all 50 states in the number of emergency rooms per million people.
#40 According to one survey, approximately 1 out of every 4 Californians under the age of 65 has absolutely no health insurance.
#41 According to a PricewaterhouseCoopers report, "inefficient claims processing" costs the U.S. health care system 210 billion dollars every single year.
#42 Today, approximately 40% of all U.S. doctors are age 55 or older.
#43 According to the American Association of Medical Colleges, we were already going to be facing a shortage of more than 150,000 doctors over the next 15 years even before Obamacare was passed.
#44 An IBD/TIPP poll taken back in August 2009 found that 4 out of every 9 American doctors said that they "would consider leaving their practice or taking an early retirement" if Congress passed Obamacare.
#45 According to a survey published in the New England Journal of Medicine, approximately one-third of all practicing physicians in the United States indicated that they may leave the medical profession because of the new health care law.
#46 According to a Merritt Hawkins survey of 2,379 doctors that was conducted in August 2010, 40 percent of all U.S. doctors plan to "retire, seek a nonclinical job in health care, or seek a job or business unrelated to health care" at some point over the next three years.
#47 According to the executive director of Physician Hospitals of America, Obamacare has already forced the cancellation of at least 60 doctor-owned hospitals that were scheduled to open soon.
#48 According to a report released in 2010, Americans spend approximately twice as much as residents of other developed countries do on health care.
#49 If the U.S. health care system was a country, it would be the 6th largest economy in the entire world.
#50 According to numbers released by Deloitte Consulting, a whopping 875,000 Americans were "medical tourists" in 2010.
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The Killer In The Living Room

Type 2 diabetes is an epidemic in the U.S. and Obamacare does nothing to address it. The causes are complex and that means reducing it will require a multi-front attack.  The piece from This Week explains just how difficult that is going to be.

Health and Science

Health scare of the week: The killer in the living room

People who watch TV for five hours a day are 13 percent more likely to die prematurely than those who watch only for three.

Watching a lot of TV can kill you, a new study says, and the more you watch, the worse your health is likely to be. Researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health analyzed data from 175,000 people and found that every additional two hours of daily television consumption increased the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 20 percent and heart disease by 15 percent. People who watch TV for five hours a day—the American average—are 13 percent more likely to die prematurely than those who watch only for three. Those heightened risks are “similar to what you see with high cholesterol or blood pressure or smoking,” Stephen Kopecky, a professor of medicine at the Mayo Clinic, tells
Study author Frank Hu says the problem is not just that people sit on the sofa instead of exercising. They also “tend to eat junk foods and sugary beverages” in front of the TV more than when they’re reading. Watching lots of TV ups your odds of early death even if you also spend hours exercising each week; conversely, cutting down makes you lose weight even if you don’t exercise. Hu considers two hours of TV per day—the maximum doctors recommend for children—to be “very generous” even for adults.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

What Is Wrong With This Picture??

1)  U.S. Corporations have more cash on hand than at ANY TIME in history.

2) Ben Bernake is keeping interest rates as low as possible to encourage these same companies to borrow money and spend it to make the economy grow.

I think ol Ben has drunk the Kool Aid of macro economic theory once too often.  Won't somebody please tell him that U.S. Corporations don't need to borrow from him since they have their own interest free stash.

Please do it soon.  30 million unemployed and underemployed Americans really need help and this ain't it!!

Just Follow The Money-It Works Everytime

Obama pushing behind scenes to win over big-dollar donors

By Peter Wallsten, Published: June 27

President Obama and top White House aides are waging a behind-the-scenes push to win over skeptical big-dollar donors — whose early money is needed to help fund a dramatic summertime expansion of his battleground-state machinery.
Campaign officials are working to broaden Obama’s network of “bundlers,” the well-connected rainmakers tasked with soliciting big checks from wealthy donors, while seeking to preserve the aura of a grass-roots movement by luring back the kind of small Internet donations that helped shatter fundraising records four years ago.
To do so, Obama and his aides are leveraging every asset available to a sitting president — from access to top West Wing officials to a possible food tasting with the White House chef.
Much of the fundraising in recent weeks has occurred at targeted events designed to appeal to specific groups, many of which have expressed frustration with administration policies, including Jews, gays and business leaders. Obama has attended 28 fundraisers from coast to coast — a pace that could continue, or even accelerate, over the next several months.
The West Wing charm offensive shows how Obama’s White House, which has eschewed Clinton-style traditions of feeding donor egos with Lincoln bedroom overnights and frequent phone calls from the president, is adjusting itself for a campaign that needs to overcome low approval ratings and a sour economy.
“They were more skewed toward their base,” said Steven Green, a former Samsonite chief executive and donor to Bill and Hillary Clinton’s campaigns who hosted an Obama fundraiser in Miami this month. “Now they realize that there is this large group of donors out there, and for better or for worse, they need to cater to them. To be frank, I think it’s somewhat new to them, and they’re not quite sure how to address that donor base. [The donors] are pretty high-maintenance.”
The push comes as Obama’s campaign has roared to life in recent weeks and strategists prepare for a summer of staff hirings and field office openings across key battleground states.
It is an unusually early move to establish the ground-level infrastructure that past campaigns typically put in place in the final months before an election.
A key player in the closed-door donor recruitment is White House Chief of Staff William M. Daley, a former banking executive who has huddled in recent weeks over breakfasts and dinners with business leaders and Wall Street financiers in Chicago, New York and Washington — seeking to ease tensions over new financial regulations and other administration policies.
Daley and other officials have also tried to help court Jewish donors who have expressed frustration with Obama’s Middle East policies, according to people familiar with the discussions.
In one case this month, White House adviser Valerie Jarrett spent an hour visiting a major pro-Israel donor identified by the campaign as a potential financial supporter. And, this spring, campaign manager Jim Messina made his pitch during at least two meetings in Manhattan with Wall Street executives.
Obama, along with his potential GOP rivals, has been pressing hard for dollars to make a strong showing when the first major fundraising quarter of the 2012 campaign ends Thursday. The president’s team has set a goal of raising $60 million between the campaign and the Democratic National Committee during the three-month period.
Campaign officials declined to say what their fundraising goal is for 2012, although they said it will probably exceed the $745 million the campaign raised in 2008.
They reject media speculation that the effort could reach or exceed $1 billion — perhaps sensitive to the potentially awkward image of waging such a costly campaign at a time of national austerity. Instead, officials seek to focus attention on the quest for small-dollar Internet donations, which helped spur success four years ago.
Recent e-mail appeals, for instance, offered $5 givers the chance through a raffle to have dinner with Obama. On Monday, the campaign added Vice President Biden to the mix, distributing a video in which the president describes the affair as “dinner with Barack and Joe.”
Campaign officials say they have attracted far more small donors than they had by this stage in the 2008 campaign. A weekend solicitation from Messina promoted a goal of attracting 450,000 donors by the Thursday deadline.
Campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt declined to comment on private fundraising meetings. He said the campaign “won’t accept contributions from Washington lobbyists or special interest PACs — instead, we rely on contributions from individuals across the country.”
Nevertheless, the outreach to big donors underscores the campaign’s need for early money to help fend off a revived Republican Party determined to defeat Obama.
Republican front-runner Mitt Romney, for instance, is expected to be able to raise vast amounts of money through his personal wealth, long-standing business ties and connections made during his unsuccessful presidential bid four years ago, when the former Massachusetts governor raised $107 million.
Outside groups are also organizing to defeat Obama. American Crossroads, which is backed by Karl Rove, has set a goal of raising $120 million to spend on the 2012 election and has launched a $20 million ad campaign that attacks Obama’s handling of the economy.
Obama and his campaign are asking high-dollar donors to give up to $35,800 — the combined maximum permitted donation to the DNC and the campaign.
Bundlers who agree to raise $350,000 attain a coveted spot on Obama’s national finance committee, which entitles members to regular invitations to meet with top campaign strategists and administration officials.
‘Like they’re on the inside’
A new initiative inside the campaign, called Gen44, aims to lure small and mid-level donations from professionals younger than 40 and foster the next generation of bundlers.
Young people who agree to raise $100,000 are named national co-chairmen of Gen44 — Obama is the 44th president — and gain access to the same events and strategy sessions as the campaign’s megabundlers. Several, for example, attended a recent national finance committee meeting in Chicago, where they could meet White House advisers such as former National Economic Council chief Lawrence Summers and attend a cocktail party at the home of 2008 campaign finance chairwoman Penny Pritzker.
A number of the high-dollar events headlined in recent weeks by Obama included special sections for smaller donors giving through Gen44. And, across the country, program organizers rely largely on events that charge as little as $44 per person — such as an April gathering at a Boston bar with local and state elected officials.
Boston lawyer Noah Shaw, a national co-chairman for Gen44, said he was working to gin up creative fundraising events for the fall. The 34-year-old hopes to arrange a food tasting that would feature a number of Boston chefs. Shaw plans to ask the campaign for permission to invite White House chef Sam Kass.
Connecting donors to White House and campaign officials is a critical part of the process, fundraisers said. Personal contact is the best, but potential donors are also frequently invited to participate in conference calls with top campaign strategists and presidential aides.
“The best way to get people motivated, I’ve found, is to make them feel like they’re on the inside,” Shaw said.
White House officials have also headlined some high-dollar events.
Senior adviser David Plouffe, who managed the 2008 campaign and works just steps from the Oval Office, addressed donors in Texas.
Daley was billed as a draw for potential donors at a glitzy, star-studded fundraiser headlined by Obama last week with New York gay activists. The adviser wound up not attending, but his presence was anticipated in a Democratic Party official’s e-mail blast before the event — listing Daley along with celebrities such as Tony Award-winning actress Audra McDonald and actor Neil Patrick Harris of TV’s “How I Met Your Mother.”
For those seeking “a little gravitas,” the note said, the “President’s Chief of Staff, the quietly powerful Bill Daley, will be with us.”
‘Quiet hostililty’
In some ways, Obama’s fundraising effort is easier this year than it was four years ago, given the inherent advantages of his being a sitting president. But the president and his top aides also must contend with a number of policy positions and statements that have turned off some potential supporters.
In her meeting with the pro-
Israel supporter, Jarrett listened as the donor expressed dissatisfaction with the White House’s approach to the Middle East. The donor remained on the fence after their discussion but later said the meeting left an impression.
“She’s got very limited time, so I should see it as meaningful, right?” said the donor, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss a private conversation. “You don’t get a visit every day from the White House’s senior adviser.”
Obama received numerous ovations at the fundraiser with gay activists, but a heckler repeatedly interrupted his remarks by declaring “Marriage!” It was a reminder that, despite his rollback of the military ban on openly gay service members and his administration’s refusal to defend the Defense of Marriage Act, the president has yet to fully embrace the idea of legalized gay marriage.
At a $25,000-per-couple dinner in Washington last week with about 80 Israel supporters, a number of attendees stood to question Obama’s recent statements on Israel, in which he declared that any peace deal with the Palestinians would be based on 1967 borders and certain land swaps. A participant, Baltimore real estate developer Stewart Greenebaum, said later that Obama “didn’t dodge any questions.”
Wall Street executives, angry over the financial services regulation bill and Obama’s rhetoric blaming bankers for their role in the country’s economic collapse, have been the target of some of the White House’s most intensive courtship.
Messina has been meeting with potential bundlers from Manhattan to Los Angeles. In sessions this spring with Wall Street bankers, he was “emphatic” that Obama needed their early commitment to give and raise large sums, according to someone in the room.
One major Democratic donor who attended a Messina session described a sense of “quiet hostility” among the Wall Street executives present as the strategist listed Obama’s policy achievements and encouraged their financial assistance.
Another person familiar with Daley’s private talks with business leaders said the process felt like a rushed courtship.
“It’s not a friendly relationship,” the person said.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Maureen Dowd Explains What I Have Been Mumbling About

Here is half of her New York Times column today.  She makes my point beautifully.

Why Is He Bi? (Sigh)

HE was born this way.
Not bisexual. Not even bipartisan. Just binary.
Our president likes to be on both sides at once.
In Afghanistan, he wants to go but he wants to stay. He’s surging and withdrawing simultaneously. He’s leaving fewer troops than are needed for a counterinsurgency strategy and more troops than are needed for a counterterrorism strategy — and he seems to want both strategies at the same time. Our work is done but we have to still be there. Our work isn’t done but we can go.
On Libya, President Obama wants to lead from behind. He’s engaging in hostilities against Qaddafi while telling Congress he’s not engaging in hostilities against Qaddafi.
On the budget, he wants to cut spending and increase spending. On the environment, he wants to increase energy production but is reluctant to drill. On health care, he wants to get everybody covered but will not press for a universal system. On Wall Street, he assails fat cats, but at cocktail parties, he wants to collect some of their fat for his campaign.
On politics, he likes to be friends with the other side but bash ’em at the same time. For others, bipartisanship means transcending their own prior political identities. For President Obama, it means that he participates in all political identities. He does not seem deeply affiliated with any side except his own.
He was elected on the idea of bold change, but now — except for the capture of Osama and his drone campaign in Pakistan and Yemen — he plays it safe. He shirks politics as usual but gets all twisted up in politics.
The man who was able to beat the Clintons in 2008 because the country wanted a break from Clintonian euphemism and casuistry is now breaking creative new ground in euphemism and casuistry.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

I think we now have an answer to my question!

I explained that I was wrestling with the answer to the question of how come Obama became such a failure as president.  I couldn't decide whether he had been bought by the big money he said he would never take, or that he was just incompetent. The article in today's Los Angeles Times provides a very, very clear answer to my question.  What do you think this article means?

Obama campaign team courts wealthy donors

The effort to raise money from deep-pocketed backers comes amid uncertainty about whether the president will be able to reenergize the network of small donors who helped sweep him into office.

By Tom Hamburger and Matea Gold, Los Angeles Times
June 25, 2011
Reporting from Chicago
President Obama's reelection team has launched an invigorated effort to draw money from wealthy donors, buttressing the campaign against a potential decline in contributions from the everyday supporters who helped fuel his massive take in 2008.

A new program called Presidential Partners asks supporters to commit $75,800 to the Obama Victory Fund, a joint project of the campaign and the Democratic National Committee.

That would put Democratic contributors at the maximum they are allowed to give national party committees for the entire 2012 cycle — leaving then unable to donate to the party's congressional fundraising entities.

The effort to court deep-pocketed backers comes amid uncertainty about whether Obama will be able to reproduce the level of small donations that were estimated to have made up about half of the $745 million he raised in the 2008 campaign.

The Obama campaign has not given up on recharging that source of support: A recent email solicitation offered four supporters a chance to have "Dinner with Barack" for as little as a $5 donation.

But the increased emphasis on major fundraisers — including those who gathered money for Hillary Rodham Clinton's competing presidential bid — carries some risks. While Obama continues to woo supporters at low-dollar fundraisers, his meetings with high rollers — including a $35,800-a-plate dinner Thursday night with Wall Street executives in a posh Manhattan restaurant — could undercut the image he has tried to craft.

So far, about 115 donors have signed up for Presidential Partners, one of three major donor programs to offer special access to campaign officials in exchange for contributions.

Early reports filed with Federal Election Commission show the Obama campaign is getting results, with the Democratic National Committee far outperforming its Republican counterpart in drawing large donations.

Between January and May, the DNC raised $11 million from donors contributing more than $30,000 compared with just $3 million raised in that category by the Republican National Committee, according to an analysis by the Center for Responsive Politics.

Big donations — those in amounts of $10,000 or above — represent 38% of the total raised in the early part of this year by the DNC, the Center found, compared with just 18% in that category for Republicans.

Obama's campaign did not dispute the figures but suggested that small-donor activity would be more fully revealed in upcoming campaign disclosure reports. The Obama camp claims a higher standard for donors. "Unlike our opponents, our campaign doesn't accept a dime from Washington lobbyists or special-interest PACs — we rely on contributions from individuals across the country," said campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt.

The press for large donors by both parties has intensified in the wake of recent Supreme Court rulings that allow individuals and corporations to spend unlimited sums on independent campaign efforts. The importance of independent efforts was underscored Friday when Crossroads GPS, a group founded by Bush advisor Karl Rove and other Republicans, announced the Monday start to a $20-million advertising campaign targeting Obama and other Democrats.

Federal election law still limits individuals to giving no more than $5,000 to a candidate in an election cycle. But they can give substantially more to a joint fundraising committees, such as the Obama Victory Fund, which can simultaneously raise money for the campaign and the Democratic National Committee.

In 2008, both Obama and Republican nominee John McCain used such joint committees to raise funds for their presidential efforts. But this year, the Democratic party and Obama's reelection effort are drawing more large donations.

Campaign officials have told donors they hope to raise "north of $750 million" overall, with $60 million in the bank by the end of this month.

Presidential Partners, which locks up contributors for two years, is the most sweeping of the campaign's donor programs.

Members are required to pledge a total of $75,800 over the next two years — contributing the allowed maximum of $5,000 to the Obama campaign, $61,600 to the DNC and the remaining $9,200 to a joint committee controlled by the campaign that will funnel money to key battleground states. In exchange, they — like other major donors — will be invited to quarterly campaign briefings, such as the one in March that Obama himself attended.

"The idea was to get people to commit to give the maximum they had the ability to give over the two-year cycle," said a member of the campaign's national finance committee, who declined to be named in order to speak freely about internal strategy. "For a lot of people, it's very simple: they fill out one form, they're done. They've committed to the president and there are no more phone calls."

The program is similar to the party's National Advisory Board, which requires donors to give the Democratic National Committee the maximum allowed under law for four years. But Presidential Partners requires an extra commitment to the Obama campaign.

Some party operatives fear that the campaign could lock up the resources of major donors, reducing the take of the House and Senate campaign committees. Others were somewhat more sanguine.

"I expect the net effect on down-ballot candidates will be relatively modest," said media strategist Jim Jordan, a former executive director of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, who noted that the program would likely attract donors only interested in the presidential race.

"Still, it would be alarming for the party committees and Senate and House candidates if an enormous number of traditional donors in the party were leaving nothing else for anyone else," he added.

An Obama campaign official who declined to speak publicly said that the campaign would continue "as always to urge donors to give to House and Senate candidates."

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Aw Jeeezzzz...........Here we go again!!

Go to the Economic Collapse to read the rest of  this truly depressing story.  Mitt is right.  Obama has absolutely no idea how this country works.

Barack Obama’s White House Rural Council: Central Economic Planning For America’s Heartland

Barack Obama has issued a brand new executive order that establishes a White House Rural Council.  This Rural Council has been given the task of developing "public-private partnerships" that will seek to bring the "economic prosperity" of our big cities to rural America.  In other words, the U.S. government and the big corporations are going to team up to dominate the economies of our small towns and rural communities just like they dominate the economies of all of our big cities.  So should those that live in rural America be excited about this?  After all, the U.S. government and the big corporations have done such a great job of bringing "economic prosperity" to places like Detroit, Michigan and Camden, New Jersey.  Won't it be great to have the federal government come in and tell rural communities how they should be doing things? (Read More....)

What is wrong with this picture?

The Mayors of American Cities are holding their annual meeting now.  The mayor of Baltimore is quoted as saying, "We are building bridges in Kandahar, but we can't build bridges in Baltimore.  What is wrong with this picture?"

We are also building schools in Kandahar, but yesterday's Los Angeles Times carried front page stories on all the community colleges that were shutting down summer school because they didn't have enough money to operate.

What is wrong with this picture?

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Here Is What I Think

I got a letter from Michele (yeah, right) asking me to continue being an early supporter (and asked for money) so I thought about it and here is what I am sending back to her.

June 19, 2011

Dear whomever is going to read this…………

I understand that you will be the only person who will ever read this, but I am going to write it anyway to get my complete thoughts organized.  The story comes in four parts.

1) I was a life long Republican and the first president I voted for was Dwight Eisenhower.  But when George Bush said torture was O.K., I quit the party because that is not who Americans are.  Then appears Barack Obama, promising to stop everything I hate about Washington, and I was sold.
I was at a meeting on the day he announced from the court house steps and I wrote the first of a dozen or more $100 checks.

I attended meetings, put up yard signs, and had bumper stickers on both cars that said “Veterans for Obama”.  I wrote letters to newspapers and magazines.  Even got them published in the Los Angeles Times and in The Economist.  I made telephone calls to voters in California, Texas and South Dakota.  I even met him behind the Convention Center in San Diego after holding up signs for TV cameras. On Election Day, I drove little old ladies to the polls.

2) But over the past two years, I have been increasingly disappointed in the reality of Barack Obama’s performance as president.  He has failed to show leadership at every crucial juncture.  If you want to read how a former ardent supporter became disillusioned, read htt:// from the beginning.

3) I am fully aware of the good stuff he has done.  Bob Gates, Hilary Clinton and Arne Duncan are (was) doing brilliant work.  While this is good, it is not nearly sufficient.

4) At every crucial juncture, Barack Obama has been a complete failure.  The only way I would ever vote for him again is if the Republicans nominate Sarah Palin.  There are five of those crucial points when he had the opportunity to do the right thing for the country, and instead failed us completely.  Here they are;

a)     We spend twice as much on healthcare than any other developed country and we get worse results.  This cost is growing so much faster than either inflation or GNP that U.S. bankruptcy is a foreseeable possibility.  And yet there is absolutely nothing in the bill he signed to even begin to slow that growth.  Absolutely nothing!  Hence, everything else in the bill is worthless.

b)    The Financial Reform bill does absolutely nothing to prevent TBTF in spite of the fact that every non-Wall Street banker in the U.S. knows we are now counting down to the next big explosion.  He is now busy playing kissy face with exactly the crooks who stole $14 TRILLION from the rest us.  First, he bailed out of public financing in the first campaign and pretended that he was happy with checks like mine while Wall Street bankers (same old, same old) were really financing him.  Now he has announced the $1 BILLION war chest for re-election.  This is the guy who was going to get money out of politics.  Disgusting!  And his treatment of Elizabeth Warren (the only person who always tells the truth) is disgusting and cowardly.  Shame on him.

c)     When he had the chance to end the Bush tax cuts, he rolled over and extended them.  The real effect was to take a huge amount of the U.S. wealth and give it the richest 5% of families, create a huge operating deficit, while making all of the rest of us poorer. No civilization has ever survived when a tiny majority controls all the wealth of the country, and that is exactly where we are headed, thanks to Barack Obama.

d)    Fifteen million Americans are unemployed.  Another fifteen million are underemployed.  That is fully a fifth of the entire U.S. workforce, and he has done absolutely nothing to remedy the problem.  The largest creator of new jobs in the last quarter was McDonald’s!  There are no jobs for college graduates and they moving back into their parent’s homes.  Five to six million Americans have been unemployed for 99 weeks or longer.  They have no incomes.  The longer they stay unemployed, the less likely they will ever work.  We are rapidly creating a subclass of people with no jobs and no future.

e)     Signing the extension of the Patriot Act should have been criminal!  Benjamin Franklin said it perfectly; “Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty or safety”.  There is nothing more needed here.
And that is why I can no longer support Barack Obama, and I am confessing my error in judgment to everyone who will listen, and especially to the people I convinced to vote for him.

And I have spent a lot of time thinking about what happened, and I can only think of two plausible explanations.

1)     Once he became a millionaire, money became his only consideration, hence Wall Street kissy face.  I could have forgiven him anything if just one Wall Street crook had gone to jail, or even faced prosecution.

2)     He just didn’t have the courage to be what George Bush used to call, “The Decider”.

I just don’t know, but I do know that as a country we are deeply in trouble.

Here Are The Facts!

The Republicans (of which I used to be one) argue that the Richy Riches will stop creating jobs if we raise their taxes. What a load of Crap!  Read on.

With executive pay, rich pull away from rest of America

By , Published: June 18

It was the 1970s, and the chief executive of a leading U.S. dairy company, Kenneth J. Douglas, lived the good life. He earned the equivalent of about $1 million today. He and his family moved from a three-bedroom home to a four-bedroom home, about a half-mile away, in River Forest, Ill., an upscale Chicago suburb. He joined a country club. The company gave him a Cadillac. The money was good enough, in fact, that he sometimes turned down raises. He said making too much was bad for morale.
Forty years later, the trappings at the top of Dean Foods, as at most U.S. big companies, are more lavish. The current chief executive, Gregg L. Engles, averages 10 times as much in compensation as Douglas did, or about $10 million in a typical year. He owns a $6 million home in an elite suburb of Dallas and 64 acres near Vail, Colo., an area he frequently visits. He belongs to as many as four golf clubs at a time — two in Texas and two in Colorado. While Douglas’s office sat on the second floor of a milk distribution center, Engles’s stylish new headquarters occupies the top nine floors of a 41-story Dallas office tower. When Engles leaves town, he takes the company’s $10 million Challenger 604 jet, which is largely dedicated to his needs, both business and personal.
The evolution of executive grandeur — from very comfortable to jet-setting — reflects one of the primary reasons that the gap between those with the highest incomes and everyone else is widening.
For years, statistics have depicted growing income disparity in the United States, and it has reached levels not seen since the Great Depression. In 2008, the last year for which data are available, for example, the top 0.1 percent of earners took in more than 10 percent of the personal income in the United States, including capital gains, and the top 1 percent took in more than 20 percent. But economists had little idea who these people were. How many were Wall street financiers? Sports stars? Entrepreneurs? Economists could only speculate, and debates over what is fair stalled.
Now a mounting body of economic research indicates that the rise in pay for company executives is a critical feature in the widening income gap.
The largest single chunk of the highest-income earners, it turns out, are executives and other managers in firms, according to a landmark analysis of tax returns by economists Jon Bakija, Adam Cole and Bradley T. Heim. These are not just executives from Wall Street, either, but from companies in even relatively mundane fields such as the milk business.
The top 0.1 percent of earners make about $1.7 million or more, including capital gains. Of those, 41 percent were executives, managers and supervisors at non-financial companies, according to the analysis, with nearly half of them deriving most of their income from their ownership in privately-held firms. An additional 18 percent were managers at financial firms or financial professionals at any sort of firm. In all, nearly 60 percent fell into one of those two categories.
Other recent research, moreover, indicates that executive compensation at the nation’s largest firms has roughly quadrupled in real terms since the 1970s, even as pay for 90 percent of America has stalled.
This trend held at Dean Foods. Over the period from the ’70s until today, while pay for Dean Foods chief executives was rising 10 times over, wages for the unionized workers actually declined slightly. The hourly wage rate for the people who process, pasteurize and package the milk at the company’s dairies declined by 9 percent in real terms, according to union contract records. It is now about $23 an hour.
“Do people bitch because Engles makes so much? Yeah. But there’s nothing you can do about it,” said Bob Goad, 61, a burly former high school wrestler who is a pasteurizer at a Dean Foods plant in Harvard, Ill., and runs an auction business on the side to supplement his income. “These companies have the idea that the only people that matter to the company are those at the top.”
Through a spokesman, Engles declined to be interviewed. Company officials threatened to call the police as a reporter was interviewing workers outside one of its dairies.
Defenders of executive pay have argued that today’s chief executives are worth more because, among other things, companies are larger and more complex.
But critics question why so much of the growth in income should go to the wealthiest. Douglas, the Dean Foods chief from the ’70s, died in 2007. But his son, Andrew Douglas, said his father viewed wages in part as a moral issue.
If his father had seen how much executives were making today, Andrew Douglas said, he’d be “spinning in his grave. My dad just believed that after a while, what else would you need the money for?”
Inherent inequality
Inequality, economists have noted, is an essential part of capitalism. At least in theory, “the invisible hand,” or market system, sets compensation levels to lead workers into pursuits that are the most productive to society. This produces inequality but leads to a more efficient economy.
As a result, economists have noted, there is an inherent tension in market-oriented democracies because while society aims to endow each person with equal political rights, it allows very unequal economic outcomes.
“American society proclaims the worth of every human being,” economist Arthur M. Okun, former chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, wrote in his 1975 book on the subject, “Equality and Efficiency.’’ But the economy awards “prizes that allow the big winners to feed their pets better than the losers can feed their children.”
Americans have been uneasy about the income gap at least since the ’80s, according to polls.
Repeated surveys by the National Opinion Research Center since 1987 have found that 60 percent or more of Americans agree or strongly agree with the statement that “differences in income in America are too large.”
The uneasiness arises out of the fear that extremes of wealth can unfairly reduce the economic opportunities and political rights of everyone else, according to sociologists. The wealthy, for example, can afford better private schools for their children or acquire political might by purchasing campaign advertising or making campaign donations. Moreover, as millions struggle to find jobs in the wake of the recession, the notion that the very wealthiest are gaining ground strikes some as unfair.
“Americans think income inequality is excessive and have done so consistently for years,” said Leslie McCall, a sociology professor at Northwestern University who is writing a book on the subject. “Their concerns arise when it seems that extreme incomes for some are restricting opportunities for everyone else.”
Whatever people think of it, the gap between the very highest earners and everyone else has been widening significantly.
Income inequality has been on the rise for decades in several nations, including the United Kingdom, China and India, but it has been most pronounced in the United States, economists say.
In 1975, for example, the top 0.1 percent of earners garnered about 2.5 percent of the nation’s income, including capital gains, according to data collected by University of California economist Emmanuel Saez. By 2008, that share had quadrupled and stood at 10.4 percent.
The phenomenon is even more pronounced at even higher levels of income. The share of the income commanded by the top 0.01 percent rose from 0.85 percent to 5.03 percent over that period. For the 15,000 families in that group, average income now stands at $27 million.
In world rankings of income inequality, the United States now falls among some of the world’s less-developed economies.
According to the CIA’s World Factbook, which uses the so-called “Gini coefficient,” a common economic indicator of inequality, the United States ranks as far more unequal than the European Union and the United Kingdom. The United States is in the company of developing countries — just behind Cameroon and Ivory Coast and just ahead of Uganda and Jamaica.
Democratic leaders, whose constituents have expressed more alarm over the divide, have used the phenomenon to justify their policies, such as universal health care.
“A nation cannot prosper long when it favors only the prosperous,” President Obama said in his inaugural address.
Breakdown of earners
But exactly what the government ought to do about the income gap hasn’t been clear, because economists have been divided over what is causing it to grow.
They weren’t even sure, for example, who was making all that money. Sure, people like Bill Gates and LeBron James made lots. But it wasn’t at all clear who the other roughly 140,000 earners were in the top 0.1 percent — that is, people earning about $1.7 million a year, including capital gains.
Then, late last year, economists Bakija, Cole and Heim completed their massive analysis of income tax returns.
Little noticed outside academic circles, their research focused on the top 0.1 percent of earners. From those tax returns, they could glean a taxpayer’s occupation, which is self-reported. Using the employer’s tax identification number, the researchers found the industry they were employed in.
After executives, managers and financial professionals, the next largest groups in the top 0.1 percent of earners was lawyers with 6.2 percent and real estate professionals at 4.7 percent. Media and sports figures, who are often assumed to represent a large portion of very high-income earners, collectively made up only 3 percent.
“Basically, executives represent a much bigger share of the top incomes than a lot of people had thought,” said Bakija, a professor at Williams College, who with his co-authors is continuing the research. “Before, we just didn’t know who these people were.”
Acceptable greed
Defenders of executive pay argue, among other things, that the rising compensation is deserved because firms are larger today. Moreover, this group says, more packages today are based on stock and options, which pay more when the chief executive is successful.
Critics, on other hand, argue that executive salaries have jumped because corporate boards were simply too generous, or more broadly, because greed became more socially acceptable.
Again, in settling these arguments, economists were hampered by a lack of data, particularly any that might give some historical perspective.
It wasn’t until economists Carola Frydman from MIT’s Sloan School of Management and Raven E. Molloy of the Federal Reserve collected and analyzed data going back to 1936 — an exhaustive task because of the lack of computerized records going that far — that the longer-term trends became clear.
What the research showed is that while executive pay at the largest U.S. companies was relatively flat in the ’50s and ’60s, it began a rapid ascent sometime in the ’70s.
As it happens, this was about the same time that income inequality began to widen in the United States, according to the Saez figures.
More importantly, however, the finding that executive pay was flat in the ’50s and ’60s, when firms were growing, appears to contradict the idea that executive pay should naturally rise when companies grow.
This is a “challenge for the market story,” Frydman said.
So what happened since the ’70s that has sent executive pay upward?
While no company over this period of time — from the 1970s to today — can be considered completely typical, Dean Foods offers a better comparison than most because fundamentally it hasn’t changed.
The dairy business is still the root of the company; it was on the Fortune 500 by the late ’70s and remains there today. It grew then and more recently through acquisition.
Moreover, both chief executives — Douglas and Engles — could boast records of growing the company and profits.
From 1970 to 1979, while Douglas was the chief executive, sales at Dean Foods tripled and profits increased tenfold, to $9.8 million, according to company records. Similarly, from 2000 to 2009, sales at what would be Dean Foods had roughly doubled, and so had profits, to $228 million. (Engles became chief executive after the company he led bought Dean Foods in 2001 and adopted its name.)
Yet there are vast differences in the way the two men were paid, even when you adjust for the effects of inflation.
In the late 70s — 1977, 1978 and 1979 — Douglas made about $1 million annually in today’s dollars. The largest part of that was a salary; some came from a long-term incentive based on the stock price that would not mature until he retired.
By contrast, in the late 2000s — 2007, 2008 and 2009 — Engles averaged $10.5 million annually, most of it in stock and options awards and other incentive pay, according to proxy statements. After ’09, which was a particularly bad year, Engles’s compensation dropped to $4 million in 2010. If profits return, so will his higher earnings.
The case of Dean Foods appears to bolster the argument that executive compensation moves with company size: The profits for Dean Foods in 2009 were roughly 10 times what they were in 1979, adjusted for constant dollars. Engles’s compensation has averaged 10 times that of Douglas.
“It’s a different company today,” company spokesman Jamaison Schuler said. He declined to comment further.
But some economists have offered an alternative, difficult-to-quantify explanation: that the social norms that once reined in executive pay have disappeared.
This new attitude, according to this view, was reflected in epigrammatic form by the 1987 movie “Wall Street,” which made famous the phrase “greed, for lack of a better word, is good.” Americans were growing more comfortable with some extremes in pay. Payoffs for the stars on Wall Street, in the movies and in pro sports were rising.
But back in the ’70s, something was holding executive salaries back.
Harold Geneen, the president of ITT, then one of the nation’s largest companies, told Forbes in 1975 that while he might be worth six times as much to the company as he was making, he hadn’t sought a raise.
“No one moved up there, and I didn’t dare do it alone,” he explained.
Over at Dean Foods, Kenneth Douglas was likewise resistant to making more. Most years, board members at Dean Foods wanted to give Douglas a raise. But more than once, Douglas, a former FBI agent who literally married the girl next door, refused.
“He would object to the pay we gave him sometimes — not because he thought it was too little; he thought it was too much,” said Alexander J. Vogl, a members of the Dean Foods board at the time and the chair of its compensation committee. “He was afraid it would be bad for morale, him getting a big bump like that.”
“He believed the reward went to the shareholders, not to any one man,” said John P. Frazee, another former board member. “Today we get cults of personality around the CEO, but then there was not a cult of personality.”
Outside one of the Dean Foods dairies recently, the workers at the plant for the most part only rolled their eyes when asked about Engles’s salary. But they spoke admiringly of Douglas.
“People back then thought enough was enough,” said Ron Smith, 63, who maintains the machines at the plant.
Some were reluctant to criticize Engles to a reporter. Others defended him.
“You’re king of the hill, and you get paid for that,” said Ray Kavanaugh, 61, who operates a filler at the dairy. “He’s worth it if he keep the company making money.”
The employees said they only occasionally dwell on Engles’s riches, anyway. Their primary focus is on making ends meet, they said.
Joe Bopp, 55, said he has a second job taking care of a cemetery during the summer months, mowing the grass and digging graves.
“Twenty-three dollars an hour sounds like a lot of money,” he said. “But when you pay $4 a gallon for gas and $3.29 for a gallon of milk, it goes away real fast.”

This is the first in an occasional series.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

I Will Truly Miss This Guy

The Cowardly Lion has three gold stars to his credit, Bob Gates, Hilary Clinton, and Arne Duncan, and not much else.  Here is today's New York Times story on his good bye.

Looking Back, Gates Says He’s Grown Wary of ‘Wars of Choice’

WASHINGTON — Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, as he prepared to depart the government for the second time, said in an interview on Friday that the human costs of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan had made him far more wary about unleashing the might of the American armed forces.
“When I took this job, the United States was fighting two very difficult, very costly wars,” Mr. Gates said. “And it has seemed to me: Let’s get this business wrapped up before we go looking for more opportunities.”
“If we were about to be attacked or had been attacked or something happened that threatened a vital U.S. national interest, I would be the first in line to say, ‘Let’s go,’ ” Mr. Gates said. “I will always be an advocate in terms of wars of necessity. I am just much more cautious on wars of choice.”
Most recently, he expressed major reservations about American intervention in Libya.
In December 2006, Mr. Gates was brought on by President George W. Bush to fix Iraq, and he was kept on by President Obama to solve Afghanistan. Even as a trained historian, he said, he has learned most clearly over the last four and a half years that wars “have taken longer and been more costly in lives and treasure” than anticipated.
As Mr. Gates, 67, gets ready to return to private life at the end of the month, the futures of those two countries seem far from certain.
In the interview, Mr. Gates was asked to confirm reports of policy duels during the two years before Mr. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney left office, a time in which he was said to have been successful in altering policies or blocking missions that might have escalated into another conflict.
“The only thing I guess I would say to that is: I hope I’ve prevented us from doing some dumb things over the past four and a half years — or maybe dumb is not the right word, but things that were not actually in our interest,” Mr. Gates said.
Pressed to offer more details, Mr. Gates smiled and said, “I will in my book.”
Some of the defense secretary’s confidants, however, confirmed that Mr. Gates prevented provocative, adventurist policies against Iran, in particular, that might have spun into war.
“He’ll be remembered for making us aware of the danger of over-reliance on military intervention as an instrument of American foreign policy,” said former Senator David L. Boren, who, during his tenure as chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, developed a rapport with Mr. Gates when he was director of central intelligence in the early 1990s.
“I also think that he prevented further adventures, particularly in our relationship with countries like Iran, that could have turned into military intervention had he not become secretary of defense,” said Mr. Boren, who is now president of the University of Oklahoma. “I think that he stepped us back from a policy of brinkmanship.”
Mr. Gates, the first defense secretary to work for two presidents of different parties, said he managed the transition from Mr. Bush to Mr. Obama by using a lesson he had learned through various changes of directors at the C.I.A.: “As a holdover, for the first while, don’t talk too much.”
Or, as Mr. Gates elaborated, “Avoid saying, ‘Well, we tried that before,’ or ‘We’ve thought about that,’ or ‘We’ve been down that road and that won’t work.’ Those things always get under people’s skin when they come in.” He concluded that, “frankly, it took a lot of Washington experience to make it work.”
Mr. Gates spoke in his spotless, nearly paper-free Pentagon office, which has sweeping views of the Washington Monument, the Lincoln Memorial and the pleasure boats moored in a Potomac River marina. He was relaxed, although not especially expansive in the midst of a flurry of “lasts” in recent weeks — the last trip to Afghanistan, the last hearing before Congress, the last news conference, a series of last interviews with reporters.
Mr. Gates, who has resisted making comparisons between Mr. Bush and Mr. Obama, declined to discuss his relationship with the sitting president. He also would not describe the role he might have played in moving Mr. Obama, who had run against the Iraq war, to adopt many of Mr. Bush’s national security policies, although he suggested that it was in part a natural evolution for a new president.
“The way I would respond is that reality is a very effective teacher,” Mr. Gates said. “And I would say reality and responsibility. Every president confronts that.”
Mr. Gates said he was aware that “there are some huge, lingering questions” as he turns the Pentagon over to Leon E. Panetta, the current chief at the C.I.A. — among them, how to trim the Defense Department’s bureaucracy and identify $400 billion in savings over 12 years, as ordered by Mr. Obama, and how quickly to draw down troops in Afghanistan.
Other looming challenges, he said, are how to manage the National Guard and Reserve forces during wartime, properly carry out policies that end the ban on gay men and lesbians serving openly in the military, and expand efforts to halt sexual assault in the armed forces.
Mr. Gates, whose taste in food tends toward the meat and potatoes of his native Kansas, said he looked forward to the simplicity of private life in Washington State, where his every move will not require a large security entourage. In Washington, D.C., he has lived on a military compound near the State Department and spent many evenings and weekends writing personal condolence letters to the families of men and women killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. For half of the year, his wife remained home in Washington State near the couple’s two grown children.
“From a personal standpoint, it’s not been much fun,” Mr. Gates said. “A wild and crazy weekend involves sitting on the front porch, smoking a cigar, reading a book.”
Asked what would be among his first retirement activities, Mr. Gates said: “Go to Burger King. Drive myself to Burger King.”

So You Don't Think It Could Happen Here?

The Economic Collapse guy ends today's column with this thought.  Be sure to listen to the Jack Cafferty video embedded in the piece below.  While I mostly think Jack is a jerk (his book is unreadable), the comments he reads from other Americans are frightening!  (Right Here is blue highlighted.)

#19 The American people are extremely pessimistic about the economy right now.  According to one recent poll, 56 percent of Americans have lost sleep due to the economy and about three-quarters of Americans believe that the nation is on the wrong track.
The nation is in a very sour mood right now, and this is causing even many in the mainstream media to ask some very hard questions.
For example, Jack Cafferty recently asked the following question to viewers on CNN....
"What are the chances the U.S. economy could eventually trigger violence in our country?"
You can view the video of Cafferty asking this question right here or you can just watch it below....
Sadly, we are already starting to see violence erupt all over North America.
Yesterday I highlighted the horrifying violence that we saw in Vancouver this week.
In previous articles I have discussed the insanity that has been going on in major U.S. cities such as Chicago.
Now even the mainstream media is being forced to report on the surge in violence.
A recent USA Today article described some of the most recent mob robberies that have been happening in Chicago....
A Chicago Tribune report tells of a 68-year-old man from Washington State who was set upon while he was smoking a cigar on a bench when youths surrounded him, attacked him and reportedly stole a phone and iPad. The report says a 42-year-old Japanese tourist also was beaten and robbed on a bicycle path by the lakefront. The paper says seven were arrested, but that the group participating in the felonies was estimated at 15 to 20 people strong. One 20something suburbanite told Chicago's WGN TV that he was hit so hard in the head with a baseball that it knocked his motorcycle helmet off. he managed to fight his way out of trouble and hail police, he said.
When people don't have hope, they get desperate.
There are millions of other Americans that are suffering through this economy quietly.
There are so many people out there that have worked hard and have followed all the rules and yet now find themselves struggling just to survive.
For example, a reader named Carolyn recently left a comment in which she shared her story with my readers....
My husband lost his long-term job in 2009 due to budget cuts. Don’t worry, I said. I’m still working, and we have a year of our salary in savings. You’re smart, you’re educated, you’re a hard worker. You’ll find a job soon.
Two months later, my long-term job was sent to India.
I still wasn’t worried. I’m smart, I’m educated, and I’m a smart worker.
A year and a half later, I haven’t found new career yet. I’m 50. No one is going to hire me. I am working – at a Home Depot. At a 79% pay cut from my prior position. But it doesn’t pay for anything. My husband found a new position in his field – at a 62% pay cut from his prior position.
We lived off unemployment and our savings, until both ran out. We put our house and investment property on the market the day after I lost my job.
We haven’t had one offer.
We just had our Chapter 7 bankruptcy discharged. Our foreclosure is still pending. No word yet when that will be done.
To add insult to injury, we owe Federal income taxes on the penalties we used to make withdrawals from our 401(k)’s to live off. My husband took a job in another state, and we were SHOCKED to learn that we owed NEW YORK STATE taxes on the income he earned in Mississippi – to New York state! Apparently there is some loophole that if you are a property owner in New York, but earn income in another state, you have to pay New York state income taxes on out of state earned income.
We’ve been told once our foreclosure is finalized, we may owe taxes on that as well.
What happened to our country?

It is so sad to see what is happening to America.
Things are so hard out there for so many millions of American families right now.
But the truth is that things are much better at the moment than they will be in a few years.
So what is America going to look like when there is no doubt that the economy has collapsed and people have no hope at all?

Friday, June 17, 2011

. That is about as bad as it gets.

Here Is The Worst Economic News You Have Heard In The Last Five Years!

Well Fargo and the Bank of America have both announced that they will no longer offer Reverse Mortgages.

Understand that a Reverse Mortgage is basically a bet against the future, e.g., the value of the home with the reverse mortgage will grow enough to pay off the mortgage and all the associated costs.

Wells Fargo and Bank of America no longer believe there will be ANY growth in the home market in the foreseeable future.

That is about as bad as it gets.

Robert Samuelson Explains Why MacroEconomic Theory Is All Crap!!

This column in the Washington Post explains what I have been saying for a long time now, e.g., the mathematical macroeconomic theories that have captured the world's academic macroeconomists are all crap!  Period!  What is interesting here is that he describes exactly what we explain in The Great Recession Conspiracy, but he doesn't seem to understand that the Business Cycle is what is driving the behavior he describes.

Hunkered-down America

By , Published: June 12

It’s a cliche — but true — that a huge obstacle to a stronger economic recovery is the lack of confidence in a strong recovery. If consumers and businesses were more confident, they would be spending, hiring and lending more freely. Even a slight relaxation might do wonders for the subpar nature of the expansion, highlighted by May’s meager 54,000 increase in payroll jobs. Instead, we’re deluged with reports suggesting that, because the recession was so deep, it will take many years to regain anything like the pre-crisis prosperity.
Just last week, for example, the McKinsey Global Institute, the research arm of the consulting firm, released a study estimating that the country needs 21 million additional jobs by 2020 to reduce the unemployment rate to 5 percent. The study was skeptical that this would happen. Ugh. Pessimism and slow growth become a vicious cycle.
Battered confidence most obviously reflects the ferocity and shock of the financial collapse and the ensuing recession, including the devastating housing collapse. But there’s another, less appreciated cause: disillusion with modern economics.
Probably without realizing it, most Americans had accepted the fundamental promises of contemporary economics. These were: First, we know enough to prevent another Great Depression; second, although we can’t prevent every recession, we know enough to ensure sustained and, for the most part, strong recoveries. These propositions, endorsed by most economists, had worked themselves into society’s belief structure.
Embracing them does not preclude economic disappointments, setbacks, worries or risks. But for most people most of the time, it does preclude economic calamity. People felt protected. If you stop believing them, then you act differently. You begin shielding yourself, as best you can, against circumstances and dangers that you can’t foresee but that you fear are there.
You become more cautious. You hesitate more before making a big commitment — buying a home or car, if you’re a consumer; hiring workers, if you’re an employer; starting a new business, if you’re an entrepreneur; or making loans, if you’re a banker. Almost everyone is hunkered down in some way.
Economic models, based on past relationships and assumptions, don’t capture the shift, which embodies new assumptions and beliefs. Of course, most Americans have not consciously rejected the promises of modern economics. Neither did they consciously embrace them before. Judgments were seat-of-the-pants. People simply compared the promises against the evidence. Since the 1980s, recessions had been brief and mild; modern economics had ensured crude stability. Now, that no longer applies.
Attitudes and behavior change. One disturbing fact from the McKinsey report is this: The number of new businesses, a traditional source of jobs, was down 23 percent in 2010 from 2007; the level was the lowest since 1983, when America had about 75 million fewer people. Large corporations are standoffish. They have about $2 trillion of cash and securities on their balance sheets, which could be used for hiring and investing in new products. Meanwhile, the latest University of Michigan Survey of Consumers reports that “record numbers . . . thought that their incomes would lag inflation over the next five years.” Note: They didn’t expect high inflation so much as low income growth.
It’s not that economics achieved nothing. The emergency measures thrown at the crisis in many countries — exceptionally low interest rates, “stimulus” programs of extra spending and tax cuts — probably averted another Depression. But it’s also true that there’s now no consensus among economists as to how to strengthen the recovery. Some, for example New York Times columnist Paul Krugman of Princeton, favor aggressive stimulus. Others, for instance Harvard’s Martin Feldstein writing in the Wall Street Journal last week, want to reduce long-term budget deficits on the theory that doing so would improve confidence.
Economists suffer from what one of them (Ricardo Caballero of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology) calls “the pretense-of-knowledge syndrome.” They act as if they understand more than they do and presume that their policies, whether of the left or right, have benefits more predictable than they actually are. It’s worth remembering that the recovery’s present slowdown is occurring despite measures taken to speed it up: the two-percentage-point cut in the payroll tax; and the Federal Reserve’s QE2 program (i.e., the purchase of $600 billion of Treasury securities).
So modern economics has been oversold, and the public is now disbelieving. The disillusion feeds stubbornly low confidence. Because psychology is so important, the good news is that if the economy surprises on the upside, the boost to confidence could accelerate the recovery. The bad news is that if the recovery continues to disappoint, the discrediting of mainstream economic thinking will grow. The resulting intellectual void will summon forth new ideas. Some may be good, but others — though superficially appealing — will be fringe or lunatic.